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Can Your Website Handle the Holiday Rush? Here's how to Prepare

Carly Imhof
Nov 12, 2020   |   Carly Imhof Recommended for:   Wine Club, Marketing, Wine Shipping & Fulfillment, Ecommerce
Seo Shopping For Wine 750X450 Seo Shopping For Wine 750X450

Every year, the holiday season presents wineries with an outsize opportunity to promote wines and gift sets online to drive DTC revenue. Yet according to our data, few wineries fully capitalize on ecommerce as a sales channel — during gifting season, or even at all. 2020 is, unequivocally, the year to change that.

The good news is that ecommerce success doesn’t require an outsize budget. Even if you’re unable to invest in retargeting ads or paid social media, your website is open 24 hours a day, for free. And sending emails to your members and mailing list is also, in almost all cases, free.

Step 1: Optimize Your Website for High DTC Volume

Remember: email marketing is just one piece of your ecommerce puzzle. You might build out the most well-written, aesthetically pleasing email using tips from the pros, with a compelling offer that’s segmented and tailored for your various audiences. But if your website isn’t primed to perfection, you will never achieve your maximum sales potential.

Here are our tips to ensure your website is equipped to handle the holidays — in 2020 and beyond.

Make shipping deadlines clear across your website, and set expectations with your customers.

  • Prominently post order cutoff dates on your homepage, in your online wine store, on individual product pages, and in the shopping cart.
  • By encouraging customers to order ahead of time with an extra cushion for shipping, you can give them a more positive experience. DTC ecommerce has exploded since March, and online retailers and shippers across all industries are working tirelessly to deliver on time.
  • Check out WineDirect’s 2020 shipping timeline if you partner with us for fulfillment.

Promote your offers on your homepage and other key areas of your website.

  • If your website uses sliders on its homepage, prepare multiple graphics highlighting your promotion as soon as it goes live. This way, if a user stumbles on your website without receiving a marketing email (via SEO, social or another channel) they’ll instantly learn of your promotion.
  • You may also consider adding a banner above or below your top line navigation, or changing the homepage hero image. Consider what works best with your site’s architecture.
  • Be sure to take these images down (and have replacements ready) as soon as your promotion ends.
  • Leverage upsell tools across your website and in the shopping cart. Here are some of WineDirect’s underutilized marketing tools that can help you do this.

Use these 10 basic metrics to score your website.

  • Give your website a score in each of the below categories. These are just a few of the important items to consider when evaluating your website’s effectiveness.

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Optimize site content.

  • Buy Google AdWords if you have a budget, following our advice in 5 Easy SEO Elements You Can Optimize Today.
  • Even without a budget, you can take steps to make sure your website gets noticed in search engines by tightening up your keywords. Use our tips from SEO for Beginners: Identifying Keywords.
  • Don’t forget to optimize images! Images that aren’t sized appropriately can slow page load times. Use a tool like TinyPNG.com to resize large images while preserving visual quality.

Have a customer service plan in place.

  • Never go silent on your customers after launching a new promotion, during the holidays or otherwise.
  • In the same way that you prep your phone sales team for incoming orders, be sure that your website's live chat team is standing by and has been briefed on the details of each promotion.

Keep your inventory up to date.

  • An excessive amount of orders is always a good thing — until you can’t fulfill them. Before you set promotions live, double check that you have enough wine (and gift sets) at your fulfillment center to meet demand.
  • Always give your fulfillment house advance notice of upcoming, high-volume promotions.
  • Set inventory limits on your back end so that when products sell out, you won’t overcommit.

Drive traffic to your product pages on social media.

  • It's a good rule of thumb to promote every offer on your social media channels, linking out to the offer's unique landing page or directly to the desired product page. Regardless, don't forget to link somewhere on your site. A beautiful photo with no click through destination = lost sales.
  • Get tips for improving your organic social media (which is entirely free) plus paid social strategies in our webinar replay, Amplify Your Winery's Social Media.

Ensure your site is accessible to all users per the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act).

  • Search engines will scan your website for standard accessibility benchmarks in accordance with the ADA. Learn more in this FAQ about steps to help ensure your website passes checkpoints and climbs higher on the search page as a result.
  • If you partner with WineDirect as your ecommerce platform, you can rest assured that we take security and compliance very seriously. We’ve completed a comprehensive third-party audit certifying that our ecommerce platform meets the internationally-recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

All of these moving parts are essential to building a comprehensive ecommerce campaign, and this time of year is when the stakes are highest. By following the steps above and driving traffic to your website with a solid email marketing strategy, you’ll be on your way to crushing your previous holiday sales numbers.

Step 2: Drive Traffic to your Website With Email Marketing

Only once your website is in tip-top shape should you launch your marketing emails. And when you do, launch them far and wide (strategically). Your customers want to hear from you — that’s why they joined your mailing list, or visited you, or however they first interacted with your brand. Yes, it’s difficult to cut through the noise of the inbox (during the holidays, especially) but that’s all the more reason to double down on email marketing this year.

Listen to our webinar replay, Email Marketing for Ecommerce Growth.

Sending off just one promotional email in November and maybe one or two more during December’s holidays isn’t nearly enough. By executing second, third and sometimes even fourth sends to recipients who didn’t open and/or click links in your first email, you’ll amass far more sales than you would with a standalone email. Depending on your winery’s production size and your brand overall, you may also consider running a different offer every 1-2 weeks to promote urgency and keep your list members engaged.

Get more email marketing tips in this webinar replay: Designing Your Holiday Marketing Campaign

Remember to change up your subject line for second sends of the same email. If your email marketing platform allows you to A/B test your subject lines, even better. Different messages will appeal to your audience segments: what resonates with a Baby Boomer may not appeal to a Millennial, the same goes for tenured club members vs. one-time purchasers, and so on. As a rule of thumb, test liberally and continue retooling your subject lines.

In a year unlike any other, this holiday season represents a lucrative opportunity for your winery to focus on ecommerce as a key sales channel. Check out our comprehensive resource library for tips on how to grow your online sales.

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