Killer newsletters that will boost your Wine sales

Email marketing is an art as there are so many factors to consider when designing, segmenting and sending. Of the numerous newsletters I receive I must say that 90% of them are very similar in terms of content and offers, free shipping and discounts are by far the most common.

So what about spending a little more time and actually coming up with offers that are specific, compelling and aimed at your customers preferences and buying habits? How you say, well take a look at the tips below and you will soon be a master in creating highly successful newsletter campaigns and your boss will thank you for it, or maybe you are the boss, in that case pat yourself on the back for a job well done and sit back and watch the sales come in!

How long does it normally take you to prepare an email campaign before you hit the ‘send’ button, 2 hours, 4 hours or maybe even longer. Why would you invest all that time in building a campaign only to send it out to your entire list and have multiple bounces and unsubscribes and potentially unhappy customers who think you send too many offers to them?

There are many factors that you should consider when designing your next campaign and below are just a few that, if followed will ensure your send, open and click ratios increase and guess what….if they increase so will your sales!

  • Clean, Clean, Clean...I cannot stress how important it is to ensure your mailing list has been thoroughly cleansed prior to sending. There are many reasons for only sending to a clean list including:
  1. Reduced chance of being marked as spam
  2. Trusted addresses will ensure your newsletters land in your customers inbox rather than their promotion or spam box
  3. Ensuring you are Spam Act compliant
  4. Higher likelihood of customers opening your newsletters and not just sending them into junk
  5. Less chance of unsubscribes 

Bear in mind that many newsletter providers will not tell you to clean your lists as their income relies on the number of contacts in your database so it is not in their interests to promote to you how to reduce those numbers but clearly you only want to send newsletters to customers have expressed an interest in your winery and the products and services that you offer..

  • Timing, this is a contentious issue as this may differ between wineries and indeed the type of customers in your database. Think about your own inbox and how you tend to have a full inbox first thing every day and you slowly work through it as the day progresses, then more emails bombard you throughout the day and distract you further. So when should you send your newsletter to ensure the optimum open rate? 

Well as it is wine related and your database may well consist of primarily consumers, towards the end of the day may make sense as people's minds turn to the evening ahead (any maybe a glass or 2 of vino) or they return from work and check their personal emails that they do not normally check during the business day. Your newsletter will then be towards the top of their inbox and they are more likely to open it.

While on the subject of timing, if you do send follow up emails make sure that you leave enough gap in terms of time so that your customers have experienced the product and will hopefully be more open to further promotions around other products that are aligned. Upsells and cross sells can be very effective campaigns if they are carefully planned and targeted at the right time.

  • Subject, this follows on from timing as there is no point sending a newsletter if it is not even going to be opened because the only information presented to the customer is the subject line and the sender, if it does not compel them then it may well be deleted without even being read. What a shame and a waste of all your effort so ensure you have eye-catching subject lines and also be careful not to make the subject line too salesy as this may also put off the customer and could even become marked as spam! A good subject line should be between 6-8 words and bear in mind more newsletters are open on mobile devices now so it pays off to keep it as short and punchy as possible.

So set aside some time to create the perfect ‘1 liner’ that is the ultimate grab line as this should be as important as the newsletter content itself. Subject lines that have ‘$’ ‘Buy’, ‘Free’ or ‘25% off’ (also known as Triggers) for example are more likely to be scrutinised by spam filters so avoid them in your newsletters wherever possible to ensure a higher delivery ratio. Do not, under any circumstances use the word ‘newsletter’ as people associate the word with boring content whereas your’s will be punchy and engaging right?

Understanding who you are sending your newsletter to is very important, if you segment your list then you should tailor your subject line to your audience. Examples could be by location, previous purchases or wine varietal so a subject line such as ‘Top up your cellar with our new release Fiano’ or ‘Try our Shiraz by the fireside this weekend’.

In addition to the Subject line you also need to consider the ‘sending from’ address as you should not be using  make sure you change it to be more personal either by using a team members name or even ‘wineclub@ if the campaign is club related for example. Your email is far more likely to be opened if the name is familiar and this can be further personalised by ensuring that your actual domain is included as some newsletter programs utilise their own or a generic domain which increases the likelihood of your newsletter being classed as spam.

The ‘Unsubscribe’ link is by far the most clicked of all links in newsletters for all the wrong reasons, make your most popular link the ‘Buy Now’ button and drive your sales in the right direction!

  • Focus, keep it short, nobody likes to read war and peace so keep your newsletters to the point and promote only 1 or 2 products in the newsletter, this will keep focus and ensure that the decision making process is simplified for the customer. Another tip is to limit the number of images as this could increase the chances of your newsletter going to the promotions tab in gmail which may well be the majority of your customers email platform. If you have more to say then keep it short and link off to content on your website which in turn drives traffic to your site and from there they may visit further pages especially if you create ‘funnels’ to entice them to buy.
  • Offer, think about why you are sending the newsletter before compiling it, what is the offer, is it compelling, what has worked in the past, are you providing enough incentive to ensure customers click through to view the offer/s? Get to the point of the newsletter quickly, in the opening paragraph preferably and make sure you highlight the best bits, either using headings, bold text or a well chosen image. If the offer is time based or restricted in some way make sure you push the point to make sure people act quickly, these types of offers can generate sales very fast and are especially useful if you have limited stock of a certain wine or a special pack offer. Using coupons is a popular way of generating special offers to drive traffic but have you thought about blending your use of coupons with time or number restrictions?

This is a great way of generating fast sales as people are informed that this is a limited offer or that you only have xx packs at this price so first come first served. So you create your coupon for either a $ or % discount and you also mark the coupon with an end date and a maximum number of uses, you then promote this in your campaign to drive fast sales.

  • Segmentation, as you have most likely gathered by now it is pointless sending a newsletter to your entire database every time, you should, if you have the ability to, segment your database to match the offer or promotion that the newsletter is based around. Understanding your customer purchasing habits is ‘gold’ and allows you to accurately target customers with very specific offers. Our customers are seeing open rates over 80% for segmented newsletters as opposed to around 30% for generic newsletters and that is not only a massive increase but the people that it was sent to are more likely to be interested in the topic or promotion as they have been selected. 

Examples of segmentation could include Wine type, Varietal, birth month, series or brand and even location if the newsletter is based on an event. Every newsletters that you send should be targeted so you should be segmenting them so that the information within is actually of interest to the recipient. Some other segmentation ideas that work well include the ability to dissect your database to send to a campaign to your locals for products such as clean skins that they can pick up, new release wines that you may wish to promote to the media or even newsletters to your distributors and/or wholesalers with specific offers. The more you segment and tailor your offer the higher the open and click rate will be which leads to increased sales and happy customers that do not unsubscribe.

We have seen open rates as high as 94% with correctly segmented and targeted newsletters. 

Isn’t it time you started segmenting your newsletters?

  • Split testing, you may be familiar with this term or maybe A/B testing and this is another great way of testing the success of your campaigns based on slight changes made to your newsletter.. This type of testing can take many forms but essentially it relates to sending 2 newsletters with the same offer or similar and testing which works best. You could play with the design and general look and feel or you may tweak the offer slightly, you could also change the subject line to test the outcome. The idea is to test to see which has the better open and ultimately sales ratio and as you continue to test with different campaigns you will start to understand what works best and drives the highest clicks etc. The results of this type of testing provides you with a solid base for future campaigns and can increase your conversions significantly.

Finally, everything you do with regards to a newsletter you should ask yourself it relevant? Relevance is based on many factors which are listed above and if you don’t have the ability to be able to segment your database then you should start looking into how you may do that as it is the single most powerful email marketing tool at your disposal and will increase sales and create more loyal customers who spend more with you, more often. 

Is your newsletter software letting you down?

Would you like to be able to highly segment your newsletter campaigns and provide valuable and compelling content to your customers?