The best advice for successful wine sales during the holiday season is to map out your marketing campaign early. If you've already checked that one off the list, cheers to you! If you haven't outlined a strategy yet, now is the time to get on it. Thankfully, our friends at Outshinery can give you a leg up on planning with their comprehensive Holiday Marketing Kit, including important dates, monthly content guides and more.
Once you have that plan in place, it's time for execution! Here are tried-and-true tips to ensure a stellar holiday campaign from start to finish.
The Visual Element: Strategically Leverage Festive Imagery
Your winery has incredible potential to create fun and festive holiday imagery that inspires your customers and influences their purchasing decisions. Think about it: wine is at the center of holiday gatherings all over the world, whether shared around a family table, poured at an office party, or given as a gift. In that sense, you're already a step ahead of many industries when it comes to the product you're offering this season. Keep in mind the myriad roles wine plays throughout the holidays as you create holiday marketing content.
To that point, you'll want to strike a balance between product and lifestyle photography in your holiday imagery. Product images (like bottle shots, photos of gift boxes or holiday packs against a plain, white background) are important for brand recognition and an attractive online store. Lifestyle imagery (think festive settings with your wine at the center of a social gathering) will enhance your homepage, landing pages, emails and social media. Lifestyle photography also gives consumers the holiday feels. As Forbes emphasizes, "when customers are happy, they are more inclined to purchase more. Although it seems obvious, brands need to position their campaigns as festive to capitalize on this swelling consumer sentiment."
Get a photoshoot on the books if you haven't already. Ask prospective photographers about turnaround time before you book them, so you know when to expect final edits and can adjust your marketing timeline if needed. If your budget allows for multiple shoots, hire different photographers that specialize in your areas of need. While one photographer might shoot events or lifestyle images well, another will excel at product shots. A friendly tip if you don't have a photography budget: Outshinery offers complimentary lifestyle images to our clients.
Once you have photos in hand, you can design eye-catching emails, web banners and product pages. A holiday marketing campaign sans festive imagery will leave your customers seeking their holiday feels elsewhere.
The Monetary Element: Offer Compelling Promotions
The question of what to actually offer customers is perhaps the toughest of all. What can you give them that other wineries can't? That's always a place to start. If you make unique varietals, or have rare library wines from revered vintages, this is the absolute best time to sell them. What are you waiting for?
There's of course something to be said about Pinot Noir accompanying Thanksgiving Dinner, or a bottle of limited release Cabernet in a stunning wood box. But there's also opportunity in exploring unique gift packs or offering experiences as gifts. There will always be someone seeking out a little something different, and you can stand out by filling that niche - if it's right for your brand.
You also want to make sure the price is right. What is the value add? Are you giving a case discount, or complimentary shipping on a particular gift pack? Leverage the data you already have at your fingertips through your CRM system to see which promotions have worked in the past, and refine them for this year's offerings.
The Technical & Logistical Elements: Ensure Smooth Ecommerce and Shipping Experiences
If there's any time of year to ensure that ordering and shipping go off without a hitch, it's now. The customer experience doesn't end when they click Submit Order, or when they walk out of your tasting room. Deliver on your commitment to service and quality by buttoning up all stages of a customer's interaction with your brand, both pre and post-purchase.
To start, make sure product bundles are set up correctly on your website. Your web store conversion rates and sales will be much higher this season if 1) your checkout process is seamless, and 2) promotion details are clearly communicated. In fact, 28% of U.S. online shoppers cite too complicated a checkout process as a main reason they abandon a cart, and almost one-quarter say they abandon when they can't see or calculate total costs up front, according to the Bayard Institute.
Test your promotions yourself and have staff do the same, so you can avoid these pitfalls. Promotions should be tested multiple times, using different devices (mobile, tablet and desktop) and on different browsers. WineDirect's Checkout Tools not only allow you to easily execute test orders, but are also designed to reduce cart abandons and speed up the checkout process so you don't miss out on holiday sales. If running simultaneous promotions on shipping, gift packs, club offerings, etc. - its' even more critical to double check your steps. Watch our new training videos and learn to master WineDirect's Promo Builder.
Now let's consider shipping. Fulfillment deadlines should be clearly identified on promotional materials, in emails and on your website. Also be sure to communicate these dates to your staff so they can make sound recommendations to customers. If a client has a fantastic experience at your winery and leaves in high spirits, only to learn later that the wine they ordered for Thanksgiving won't arrive in time, you could lose their business. It's an easily avoidable snafu. Check out more tips for successful holiday shipping here.
The Often Forgotten Element: Extend the Customer Journey Beyond the Holidays
Congratulations! Now you know the steps to execute amazing holiday promotions, from all perspectives visual, financial, technical and logistical. So we're done, right? Nope! It's time to follow up. You've successfully won over the customers who shopped with you this gifting season, and now it will take some measured effort to stay on their minds.
One strategy is to surprise and delight. Not every communication needs to be a direct selling opportunity, but you should have a purpose. Surprising and delighting goes a long way to build customer loyalty. Send clients a New Year's postcard wishing them well in 2019, or email a Top 10 list of memorable winery moments in 2018. It will give customers the warm and fuzzies, strengthening their personal connection to your brand.
Or, fire emails to customers who purchased during the holidays and ask how they enjoyed the wines. Regardless of your chosen message, it's imperative to connect with your customers post-holidays to continue nurturing your relationships with them.