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Sheri Hebbeln
 
December 2, 2013 | Sheri Hebbeln

New ways to build wine club loyalty

The Internet has given wineries far more ways to reach their target customers and increase brand loyalty. However, the additional channels also present new challenges because wine lovers have more information at their fingertips.

The following tips can help winemakers win their customers over for the long run:

1. Never forget birthdays
What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a special offer on wine? A recent study from Fulcrum, a marketing technology provider, revealed 74 percent of consumers who received birthday messages viewed the sending company in a more positive light. For 88 percent of customers, this translated into heightened brand loyalty.

Additionally, the food and beverage industry had the highest surge of positivity from birthday messages. Vintners can use wine software to easily keep track of club members' birthdays and send an appropriate message. Don't forget - birthday emails with a special discount had the highest influence on customers.

2. Be personal - even online
When people buy wine, they often look for a personalized experience to suit their individual tastes. Although the Internet is becoming a more effective channel to sell wine on, vintners need to mimic in-person services by creating a similar online platform. Customers will feel special and that their needs are being met, according to Entrepreneur.

Another important aspect of getting personal with wine drinkers is maintaining a consistent experience on every channel. Customers that have visited the winery will have certain expectations for its online wine store. It can be difficult to create an Internet shopping platform that's as good as the real thing, but it will pay off because customer loyalty can lead to increased online wine sales.

3. Use social media to respond to customers
In addition to winery websites, social media provides consumers with another outlet to connect with their favorite producers. While social networks may seem intimidating to vintners, it's important to take charge of these sites because customers will expect a response if they contact wineries through Facebook or Twitter.

Not only does an active social media presence improve customer loyalty, but it also helps winemakers respond to online reviews, Independent Retailer said. Whether consumers are inquiring about the availability of a particular wine or commenting on their experience, all feedback should get a timely response. Potential customers may be more interested in doing business with the winery if they check the Facebook page and see clients can expect communication in return for feedback.

4. Reward loyalty to boost it further
Customer loyalty should have benefits. If wine club members are making additional purchases on a relatively regular basis, vintners can consider sending them special discounts to encourage even more loyalty. Wineries need to ensure their priorities are in line with their actions. If brand loyalty is a top concern, they need to reward customers, Entrepreneur stated. Winemakers can also offer discounts or points to wine club members who refer friends to join. Customers will want discounts, and this can lead to high club memberships. 

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