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Susan DeMatei
October 15, 2012 | Email Marketing | Susan DeMatei


Email marketing is a staple among wineries trying to communicate to wine clubs, provide holiday offers and reach new customers.

If you’re like most, you have a holiday calendar crammed full of events, sales, shipments and recipes ready to communicate to your mailing list.  Follow some of these tips below to make sure your holidays sales are bright.

There are three major influences in the success of an email campaign. From most important to least, they are: List, Offer and Creative.


Take some time each year in September and October to perform some basic data hygiene.  An intern or consultant can help you here with a well-organized couple-week project.

  • Clean up duplicates, and merge duplicate records from the tasting room, wine club, website, Vertical Response or other  [sales_email_marketing] databases.  When doing so, make sure to think carefully through which is the mast record and take care to fold all the visit history, source and transactional data with the customer record.
  • Append data with addresses, emails and phone numbers.  There are a number of resources to do this simply through excel for pennies a record.
  • Remove bounces and anyone who has opted-out of any communications over the course of the year.
  • Add in any stray lists – like that tasting you did at the event in Vegas in July, or the Winemaker’s alma matter list that wants to hear about his wines.  And, make sure you notate a source on all lists so you can refer back to where they came from.
  • Once you have a clean list, then take some time and segment and time your communications thoughtfully – don’t just send every offer and update to everyone.  Perhaps the October Wine Club should not get the Thanksgiving sales email so close to their Club Shipment email alerts, but instead a printed insert in their club shipment.  If you have the transactional data, you’ll want to target email-marketing messages based on behaviors such as past purchases, tasting note downloads, visits to the winery, links clicked, etc.


Only after you’re happy with your lists should you focus on the offer.  Based on your steps above – what do you think your list will respond to? 

  • What did they respond to in the past?  Did you have any past learnings to guide you on what resonated, or failed, previously?  If not, perhaps you’re database is big enough to split and test.  For instance, if you suspect that shipping offers will be popular this season, should you give a % off shipping, or shipping included, or shipping for $1?  And at what volume: 6 bottles?  A case?  These are things you can test with an email, and then do a follow up email to the entire database of the winner
  • What are your goals?  What wines do you need to move, and at what costs or discounts are appropriate for your other channels?  Make sure the wine you just sent to the Wine Club at 20% off isn’t in a holiday sale email a week earlier for 25% off.  A calendar is very helpful this time of year to keep the tasting room, website team, social media and emails all in synch.
  • Use tracking tools and analytics to determine which emails and corresponding landing pages are the most successful in generating sales.
  • Know (or set) click through and open rate goals.  According to a new benchmark study from digital marketing software provider Silverpop, e-mail open rates for retail average 17.1%, click-through rates for retail average 3.1% and the average retail unsubscribe rate is .15% for 2011 and Q1 2012.


The design of your email is important.  There are two reasons email layout rules should be followed.  First, most email readers, such as Outlook and Gmail, are now blocking images by default. If your graphics contain text with important information, such as the offer or wine details make sure you repeat the information in the text. Second is that according to the Knotice Email Opens report covering the first half of 2012, over 36% of emails are now read on a mobile device – so think clean design appropriate for small screens. 

  • Place your logo in the upper left hand corner of the email. Studies have found that people instinctively look for logos in the upper left-hand side of emails, which is where yours should be. Email marketing is just another branding opportunity.
  • Make sure your email is no more than 500-650 pixels wide. Any more than that means your reader will be scrolling horizontally.
  • Keep it clutter free. The less clutter you have in your email, the better. Don’t use more than 2, or at maximum, 3 typefaces.
  • Keep your main message and call to action (CTA) above the fold. If your call to action is below the fold, most people viewing your email won’t even see it.
  • Create an interesting, concise subject line. A relevant offer that creates a sense of urgency will be your best bet. Your subject line needs to have an incentive for your audience to open the email.
  • Make sure the message is focused. While your site may have a lot going on, your email message shouldn’t. Instead of splitting up readers’ attention, focus on driving home a single-minded message.
  • The landing pages that prospects reach after clicking through is just as important as the initial email. Your landing page should match the email in terms of headline, copy, and content. Use similar colors, fonts, and overall design to keep your customer on the right track and avoid confusion.
  • Make sure your CTA from the email has a connection to the CTA on your landing page. Again, keep the call to action above the fold and relevant to your marketing message.

Having an effective email marketing campaign is about being smart and concise. You have all the information you need to communicate to your customers in a successful and meaningful way with email segmenting and differentiation of offers and beautiful design. Focus on the list first, then deliver a tested offer with clean creative, and your Q4 emails are destined to be a blast!



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