Despite all the advertising, all the marketing, all the emails, and all the other demands on attention, you’d like people to willingly subscribe to your winery’s emails. Hoo! You must have some pretty lip-smacking’ good content heading their way! But if you’re just sending scattershot emails to your entire email list every week, pestering your audience to buy more wine, maybe you should consider putting your winery’s email marketing on hold for a moment before you do any more harm to this valuable communications channel.
Retaining your winery’s email subscribers
Do you subscribe to other wineries’ emails? If you do, you might have already noticed what I notice: wineries generally fall into one of the following three categories with their email marketing:
- They send no emails at all,
- They send very infrequent emails which are almost always a sales promotion, or
- They send incessant sales promotions
Can you spot what is missing? For me, when I receive emails from wineries, I usually feel like they don’t know who I am, and that I am being marketed to. In other words, I don’t feel a connection. In fact, I don’t feel that any winery, whose emails I’ve signed up for, have ever made an attempt to get to know me. I’ve never received an email that said, “Hey Brad, what kind of wines do you like?” or anything personal in any way whatsoever. Am I mad at them? “Me? no!” Am I taking it personally? “Well, kinda. I mean, I didn’t subscribe to your winery’s emails just to receive sales pitch after sales pitch. I was hoping you’d take the time to get to know me a bit before you tried unhooking my bra.“
As a result, winery marketing emails are seeing increasingly lower engagement (by which I mean very low rates for emails opened and link click-throughs), and high unsubscribe rates. For wineries in the new reality of the COVID pandemic, where we’ve had to reduce our dependence on tasting room sales and turn more towards online sales, telesales, and … wait for it … EMAIL MARKETING, a decrease in engagement for that channel is bad news.
Take a look at marketing emails sent out by wineries, and you’ll see no evidence of content strategy whatsoever. Just random scattershot emails pestering recipients to buy something. There is no connection, very little engagement and high unsubscribe rates. If this describes your winery’s email marketing, you’re doing damage to your brand.
Your Winery’s Email Marketing Should Be Building Relationships
To retain your existing email subscribers, you need to be thinking of your email communications as relationship-building rather than marketing. This requires sending a balance of engaging content that is focused on building connection with your audience, along with the occasional invitation to your readers to take you up on an offer that provides genuine value (and is preferably not offered to the general public).
To achieve this, a good starting point is to create a content strategy for your emails. An email marketing content strategy does the following:
- It describes the goals of your email marketing. Your goals should be long-term, and, as mentioned above, should be relationship-focused;
- It describes each different segment of your audience in terms of what they care about (this is called segmentation)
- It explains how this will have an impact on your business, and
- It describes different categories of content you will be sending.
Gaining new email subscribers
In growing your winery’s email list, there are some best practices you should be following. The most important of these is:
- Never add anyone to your email list unless they’ve agreed to receive emails from you. If your emails are frequently being reported as spam by people who haven’t given you permission to email them, your email deliverability will go down, meaning that emails from your domain are more likely to be blocked.
The other best practices are:
- Offer something of value in exchange for subscribing. The example above which offers a free download of a Content Calendar for new subscribers is providing a useful tool for content creators at wineries. Some examples for your winery might include a free tasting upgrade, or a $10 discount on any wine purchase. This is where you get to be creative.
- Use technology to capture new subscribers. The download offer above could be thought of as an incentive offer, but there are other similar ways of signing up new audience members. We can add script to your site that detects when users are about to leave, and display an invitation to not leave empty handed (receive a discount on your first order simply by subscribing). The script can be set so that it only gets displayed to users who are not already subscribed, or to users who haven’t already seen the message.
- Automatically add your customers to your email list. Having a business relationship with someone (i.e. your customers) permits you to send them emails. Make it part of your standard process to add new customers to your email list — with, of course, the option to unsubscribe.
- On-board your new subscribers. When someone subscribes to your email list, don’t make them wait until next month before they receive the first edition from you — send them something welcoming right away. Thank them for signing up, tell them what kind of content they can expect, how often you send emails, and how they can contact you. Follow that up a day or two later while your winery is still on their mind, with something useful, informative, or entertaining.
- Remember that you’re developing a new relationship. Don’t start off on the wrong foot with repeated sales offers — share with them something to make their day better. Remember that you’re building a relationship that you want to grow stronger for many years to come. This requires that you do some of the giving (not just taking) and make your readers feel like you know them and would hang out with them if you had the chance. There are some tools that can help with this, such as merging your readers’ names into your email messages, and creating personalized landing pages that recognize your readers when they arrive at your website, but there are also things that you can do that are more personal, such us knowing the favorite wines of your customers, or sending simple staying-in-touch emails.