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If you are looking to grow your wine club and Direct to Consumer sales, Q1 is the best time to invest in updating your website.

Tasting room visitors are your main source of DTC and wine club members – and they come to your winery looking for an experience. Is the first thing they see when they get to your website what they will experience during their visit?

For wineries without a physical tasting room or that have virtual brands crushed at other facilities, wine club revenue is a very important source of year-round income. The Internet is a great tool for recruiting new club members.

There is much to consider when designing a winery website. We’ve see lots of great winery websites with wonderful interactive graphics, great content, and beautiful images that help brands cultivate an appropriate image within their target audience.

We’ve also seen a lot of really bad winery websites- many focus on visual design and look like an online brochure.  They often have poor and outdated designs, Flash, awful SEO, and very little or stale-dated content. It’s common to see a homepage with nothing but an image. Many do not even have calls to action such as Join Our Newsletter; Join our Wine Club or Buy Our Wine.

Some wineries place a tiny link to join their mailing list down at the bottom of their website, where few people will ever notice it.

Unfortunately, many winery websites strongly focus on the visual design, while best usability practices are often ignored.  It doesn’t have to be this way. With a few key moves, you can get the jump on your first quarter and be well on your way to a having a fantastic website for 2014.

Your website should be the hub of all your marketing activity, meaning that this is where you want the revenue producing engagement to happen. You want a website that effectively entices people to join your inner circle.

A great winery website offers an experience for a new visitor.  To bring in customers, you’ll need to show them what makes your winery special.

 

What does your website say about your winery?

  • How does it tell your winery’s story?
  • Does it engage new customers?
  • How does it let new customers get to know you and your wines?
  • Does it encourage visitors to take action?

By incorporating website best practices your website will nudge visitors down the funnel, migrating them from a casual website visitor to a loyal customer. We’d like to share some winery website best practices:

 

Determine Your Website Goals

It’s not just about how your site looks, but rather how it works. You need to be really clear about why you’re creating your website or doing a redesign in the first place, and tie those goals to measureable results.  Consider the following data-driven objectives for your winery’s website:

  • Increasing number of visits/visitors
  • Reducing bounce rate
  • Increasing time on site
  • Improving domain authority
  • Increasing number of Wine Club members
  • Increasing total amount of online sales generated
  • Enhancing current SEO rankings for important keywords

Many of these metrics-driving goals are dependent on one other. For example, in order to generate more conversions, you may also need to increase traffic while decreasing your site’s bounce rate.

 

Define Your Branding and Your Messaging

You need to be crystal clear about your desired branding, messaging, and your winery’s unique value proposition so it’s consistent across your entire website. A new visitor should immediately understand what you do, how it relates to them, and why they should stay on your site and not click to your competitors’ site.

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Your Home Page is your Primary Point of Engagement

A combination of the great photos and ease of use makes an ideal website for your customer. Showcase the experience, not just the wines.

Your homepage is your primary point of engagement, and should include at least a few paragraphs about the region, wines you make, vineyards you source from, and the winery experience.

 

It’s really important to define what you want visitors to do, for example:

  • Buy wine
  • Wine club
  • Events
  • Read our Blog
  • Find Us (directions)
  • Media/Trade information
  • Contact Us
  • Subscribe to newsletter

Convert Visitors to Customers

A thoughtful website encourages users to explore and interact with your brand. Your website needs to tell your unique story and act as a primary marketing tool, where you collect email addresses, take orders, and post updated content about your business.

A great website helps you reach potential customers before they come to your region to ensure you are one of the wineries they visit.

Your winery’s website is the best channel to reach a large audience of actual wine buyers, introduce wine buyers to your brand, drive people into your tasting room and turn them into lifetime customers.

To bring in customers, you’ll need to show them what makes your winery special. You must create a unique experience, something that is going to be different from every other winery they visit.  You want your website visitors to relate to your wine in an emotional way that gets them ready to take the next step.

 

Keep Navigation Simple

Your website needs to take visitors by the hand and help them find what they’re looking for. Your navigation should be simple, and hierarchical based on what you want customers to do. Have your site clearly laid out so it directs people where they need to go. A combination of the great photos and ease of use makes an ideal website for your customer.

Your navigation should be prominent, i.e. it should be at the top of the page or above the fold on either side. Keep your homepage navigation to manageable primary navigation links.  If you need more, you can always have drop down menus.  On the navigation bar, drop down menus are the most basic of web usability standards. You want your user to avoid having to continuously hit the “back” button because they went in the wrong direction.

Your internal pages should maintain the same navigation and content so that your site has a consistent look and feel.

Above the fold: the first thing visitors see.

When you visit most winery websites, you’ll notice a few common traits. Most of calls-to-action appear below the fold, often at the very bottom of the website.

The fold is a term used by webmasters and website owners to mean the portion of your site which can be shown when first entering the site without scrolling down. Research has shown that the majority of clicks made by a reader of a website are made on that portion which is above the fold. Because users engage more with the content above the fold than below the fold, key site functions and content related to your winery’s business goals should appear at the top of the Web page.  MailChimp’s home page does a great job placing the calls to action, Sign Up Free above the fold.

 

mailchimp

 

Winery websites should include calls to action above the fold like “Join Our Newsletter,” “Shop our Tasting Room Exclusive Wines,” and “Join our Wine Club.” So simple, yet can be so effective in increasing sales.

If you provide a clear call to action – and if you’ve written your copy persuasively, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the results you want!

 

Make it Easy to Subscribe

Email marketing is consistently the number one and least expensive way to generate online sales for wineries.  Because emails are a great method for adopting people into your inner circle, wineries need to constantly focus on growing their email subscribers.  Join our Newsletter should be a key goal for every winery website.

In order to see the highest ROI on email marketing, wineries need to constantly building their list. Visitors should be able to easily add their name to your mailing list first if they’re not quite ready to join your Wine Club.

Use better calls-to-action on your signup forms, and to encourage visitors to offer their email to you. We recommend making your call-to-action plainly visible by creating a graphic, adding it above the fold, and ensuring it appears on every page of your site.  Clearly spell out the benefits of subscribing and make sure your sign up is personal and reassuring.

At this point in the sales cycle, you only need to collect their name and email. Your can collect more information when they become a customer.

 

Here’s an example of an email sign subscription form we recently created for 3Cru Winery

 

How many Wine Club members remember everything that is available to them as a member?  Take every opportunity to remind them!  Engage your Wine Club members with a regular email campaign.  Invite them to visit your tasting room and attend special wine club-only member events. Create brand advocates by letting them feel “part of” what’s happening at the winery.

Email marketing is serious business.  MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) is a fantastic affordable platform for managing your mail campaigns and tracking their results.  We love MailChimp- it only takes a few clicks to create a professional looking branded theme we know our clients will love.

Here is a gorgeous branded email campaign we created for closdusoleil.ca

 

About Us

Wine is about stories and relationships. Does your About Us page tell as story and introduce the people behind your winery?

 

Make it Speedy to Gather Information

Is it quick and easy for visitors to gather information on your website? Does your website inspire more involved purchase decisions?

Your visitors want to get in, get what they need, and get back out. How much do your wines cost? Where can I buy them? How are they made? Where are they made? Which recipes should I pair them with? How do I find your winery?

If you do not clearly convey all this to your audience within the first five seconds of them arriving at your site…you’ve lost them. They’ll click away and go somewhere else.

Photos

Ideally, your website should have gorgeous photos and show your potential new customer what he or she can expect to experience with your wine – whether at the winery, in a restaurant, at home, on a picnic, etc. Don’t forget to include professional bottle shots.

Keep Your Site Fresh with Compelling Content

Winery brands can increase their overall exposure and awareness by creating compelling content at every stage of the customer journey. Engaging copy helps build a relationship with your potential new customers.

Winery brands can increase their overall exposure and awareness by creating compelling content at every stage of the customer journey. Writing persuasive copy gets your reader to take action.  Remember, content is king!

content king

Present information where visitors can easily find, access and share it with others … on your website and on your social media platforms.

To be effective, updating content must be an ongoing strategy, not just a once-and-done effort. Update this content regularly to encourage return visits. Use the beginning of Q to create a Content Calendar that correspond to your events, sales or wine releases and to plan out content for keeping your site fresh.

Get a great jumpstart for Q1 by recycling content!  If you produced some big hits, package them together for an outbound email campaign.

A quick tip:  Make sure you get all the content together before you start designing your website.

Make Wine Club Benefits Clear

hume

Wine Clubs have taken on a more important role in generating year-round revenue for wineries.  Your Wine Club page is most important in terms of Direct to Consumer business growth. Many wineries make this page overloaded with content making it hard for users to understand the benefits or compare options.  Make the benefits of joining your wine club clear– the discounts, members-only events, special treatment in the tasting room, and exclusive releases.

Here’s an example of Hume Winery’s Wine Club call to action.

Product Pages

Create product pages that describe your wines and their accolades; show additional information about pairing options and give users the ability to share your products on social networks.  Make sure to include teaser text in your product descriptions that highlights member/club discounts and encourages new signups.

Every Winery Should have a Blog

Blog word.

Every winery should have an online blog. If you don’t have a blog started yet, Q1 is a great time to get started!

The blog feed is dynamic, meaning it is updated with new information and changes when a new post has been added.  A blog is a great way to get increase traffic to your website and get visitors to comeback. Use your blog to engage with customers and engage with social media fans.  Create engaging blog posts to showcase your vineyard and your winemaking process, share your personal story in life and in wine, promote your events and make people feel more connected to your winery. Use your blog as a tool to bring your social media fans and email subscribers to your website where you sell your wine.

I always love reading Jordan Winery’s blog– it was voted Best Winery Blog twice by the Wine Blog Awards and captures life on Jordan Estate through videos and photos.

How often to update your blog? I recommend updating your blog with quality content at least once per week, every week all year long.   Blog post ideas include what’s happening in the vineyard at different times of year, the winemaking process, events at the winery, other events where you will be pouring, new wine releases, recent accolades, food and wine pairings and meet the winery team.  You can add special promotions or links in your blog post to your wine club or particular vintages.

Since a blog also allows for commentary in the “comments” section, don’t forget to ask a question at the end of your blog post to encourage readers to leave comments.

Social shares for blogs posts are important.  Shares tell Google that your content is really good and people are sharing it.

share

Embrace Social Media to Tell Your Story

Wineries can incorporate simple marketing tactics like social media to build word of mouth. I encourage every winery to think about the consumer touch points of their business and how they can make it easy for their customers to tell their story using Social Media.

Share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, YouTube and Google + are the norm in mainstream media and should be on your website.

media

Customer Reviews: What Our Customers Say

Customer reviews are a great way to show other visitors to the site how much people enjoy your wines. Be sure to encourage customer reviews, both on and off your website.

Most visitors use sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp (and other user generated sites) BEFORE visiting wine country.  It’s easy to create a Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and Google+ page.  Don’t forget to include a brief note in your email campaigns that encourages people to leave their reviews, and include a widget on your website doing the same.

 

Responsive Design: Your Site should Work Everywhere

Is your site mobile friendly? I’ve found so many wineries’ sites are not. One size does not fit everywhere.  As mobile usage continues to explode and as more people visit your site on different devices, you’ll need to make sure they get the same quality user experience that your desktop version delivers.

Having a responsive website- one that responds to a wide variety of screen sizes is an absolute must. Daytrippers are spontaneous and most people use mobile devices to find information while touring wine country. Make sure your address (for GPS) is front and center.  Here’s a really nice example of a responsive site created by BlackBoxx  for winecollective.ca.

 

Make it easy to find information

When reviewing winery websites, I was surprised to find a lack of search forms. As a customer, I might visit a site and want to immediately find a certain varietal, directions, or information about an upcoming event. Rather than having to hunt for information, it would be much easier to search. Another added benefit of including a search form is that you get a better understanding of user behavior and you can use Google Analytics to see which terms they search for.

 

Gain Valuable Insight with Google Analytics

anaylitics

Have a website?  Do you know how it performs? Google Analytics  data will help you gain insight about what visitors do on your site.  With Google Analytics you can monitor:

  • Campaign analytics, such as visits, engagement, traffic, keywords and landing pages.
  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors (monthly average)
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Top-performing keywords (in terms of rank, traffic, and lead generation)
  • See referral traffic for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Track goal conversions to show ROI from SEO campaigns and Social Media campaigns
  • E-commerce analytics.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what Google Analytics can do for your business.  There is no better way to shape your marketing strategy than by using quality data based on fact.

Get better results from your website! Commit now to building out a website strategy during Q1. You’ll be well on your way to a winning website if you do.

We help wineries increase their online visibility, credibility and profitability. We create, design and develop WordPress websites and blogs that can transform your winery into an Internet marketing powerhouse. We’ve helped wineries leverage their websites to grow their email subscribers and drive DTC sales to new heights.

Every design or redesign needs to start with a clear vision. And the better you are at defining that vision at the very beginning, the more successful your website design or redesign will be — and the smoother the entire process will be as well.  If you are looking for a website design or redesign we would be happy to explore options for you.

Contact us today. What are you waiting for?

 

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