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August 29, 2007 | eCommerce , Site Design and Management | WineDirect Admin

Why wineries really need to care about their online content

You’ve heard it before: “On the Internet, content is king”. Okay - so what does that mean? A website’s success is closely dependent on the amount and quality of its content. Yes - that’s true, but it’s not the whole story. The message here is that content is the first weapon you compete with in the age of web 2.0.

The comforting thing about this is that you control your content. This is empowering because it means that you are now less dependent on what a loud few have to say about you – you have the opportunity to contribute, knowingly or not, to any discussion on your brand. Your online content will greatly influence how your brand is represented online.

In today’s over-saturated wine market, getting shelf space and editorial coverage is quite the challenge. The race is on to gain more exposure and acquire new direct customers. As Inertia is proving to its clients, technology is enabling new ways for wineries to sell more direct and increase the exposure of their brand. How you set-up up your content /data / product information is crucial in this race – one could argue that it is almost as important as the bottle containing your wine.

Let me borrow a brilliant analogy from Ben Chinn. Let’s say your website is like the wine bottles that you lovingly produce. Your website’s content is like the actual wine in that bottle. The website’s design is the bottle, the label, the closure, etc. The care you put in setting up your content should mirror the care you put into making your wine. Just as bottling is a crucial part of your production process, properly creating and setting up your product information and online content is vital to your sales and marketing efforts. No matter how good your wine is, if the bottle is ugly, many will shun it. The same goes for your content; if it is lame, short and hard to sort out, few will look at it and be interested in your wine. Just as winemakers display maniacal care when bottling, the same care is needed when you create and set-up your content.

For your content to reign, it must be:

  1. Complete. More is better when it comes to wine. You do not know in advance what will make consumers tick, so give them as much as possible. Lay on information on brix at harvest, let them know the pH of your wines, dare to say you used Hungarian oak.
  2. Accurate. Don’t recycle information just to fill out fields, be honest or risk being found out. If you are releasing a 2-year old vintage, don’t say it aged 36 months in oak.
  3. Searchable. This is the crucial factor in allowing your content to be propagated to all. For anyone to search detailed information on wine, your wine information must be categorized. This means that you must use all available data fields built in your database. Don’t’ bundle up all the information in one place, make sure that each bit of information is categorized so it can be searched. If you have a single vineyard designate and a field for that bit of data, use it: it will show up in searches for all wines from that vineyard.

Your content needs to be ‘clean’ to leverage the power of the Internet.

Okay, great! Now your content is good and ready, but how do you get it out there for all to use and see? Search engines will help and allow people looking exactly for your information to find you. But what about the others potential customers that are not using search engines to get their wine information? Spreading the word about your wines then depends on the technology used to propagate your content and who picks it up.

The most effective method to make your content available to all is RSS. Since a video is worth a thousand words, check this one out if you are unfamiliar with RSS:

http://www.videojug.com/film/rss-in-plain-english

Via RSS, content comes to the user - instead of having the user come to the content. For example, if your content has been picked up by a wine community website, your next best customer might be the wine enthusiast that checked out what new wines were listed on that site. At IBG we have built an aggregate RSS feed that will allow us to disseminate our clients’ content to the growing number of wine community sites and databases.

Okay, great! Your content is clean and you have a way to share it – who do you share it with? Well, that will be the subject of my next blog post.

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