In this two part series we dive into the importance of developing sales strategies that cater to the fast growing DTC wine sales market.  Year over year growth rates report increases at 18% (and counting) for 2017[i].   The double digit growth rates are attributable to wineries shifting focus to the more profitable DTC selling model, new labels entering the market and wineries embracing the growing appeal of customers wanting more direct access to their wine experiences.  As the dynamics continue to shift, it is more important than ever for wineries to find ways to build closer connections whether they are capturing new customers or finding ways to strengthen their loyal client base.   In Part Two we present the importance of personalization and  how name recognition marketing can improve customer relationship strategies leveraging digital  channels.

While many hospitality businesses rely on customer facing staff to create memorable guest experiences, it becomes more challenging when the customer leaves the premises and the depth of the relationship becomes more dependent on digital communications to nurture those relationships.  For every face to face customer encounter there will likely be ten or more occasions to directly interface with your customer through email, website or social media conversations.

                So what’s in a name? A persons’ name is one of the very first gifts acquired in life.  It is ultimately one’s unique assigned identity. When someone sees or hears their name there is a feeling of instant familiarity and instinctively a connection is established.  There is great power behind a persons’ name and how it is used can have a lasting impression in both personal and business relationships. Knowing how to leverage a name to build closer connections within your digital messaging strategy will increase chances your customers will want to connect with what you have to say.

              Starting with your website, most CRM tools are capable of automating name recognition into a unique web based guest experience.  Wineries should consider their websites as virtual visitor centers and integrate tools to use a customers’ name to welcome them to the site, make personal suggestions based on digital behaviors (purchases, shopping carts, searches etc.) and send automated individually addressed emails acknowledging a purchase or encouraging a return visit.  Let’s face it… We are a generation of being “Amazoned” and with average on line purchases representing 51% of what we buy today[ii], we have an expectation that websites are savvy enough to know who we are and what we like if we are visiting often.  Get a firsthand experience of how well your website is hosting your customer visits and set up a faux customer profile to explore, surf, shop and purchase.  Wherever possible try to automate name recognition tools to interface in a personal way.   Make sure you can welcome customers to your site by name and leverage data intelligence to access purchase history to offer buying suggestions or a special on a favorite label.  For new guests, encourage them to create a profile.  These days no existing customer should feel like one of many when they visit your site.  Make the web experience as uniquely engaging as possible so it ultimately feels warm, familiar and memorable.

          Email still represents the most ubiquitous digital marketing strategy among current generation demographics  (at least for now) and statistics show it still generates the highest return.[iii]  From a marketing perspective it is the most versatile as far as generating unique audiences and messaging for businesses.  For recipients it offers selective and flexible choices on what messaging they wish to receive from which senders.  Marketers that know how to leverage segmented messaging using individual customer profiles can build closer connections with focused content.  Matching customer preferences to unique content is step one, but personalizing a subject line and using a customers’ name feels more personally relevant to the recipient. Statistics show personalized subject lines impact open rates by an increase of 41.8%.[iv]   Make sure your messaging is not always about the business and what’s on the menu today. Recognizing customer specific events (birthdays, anniversaries and even recent purchases) also helps strengthen the connection.  It’s fair to point out name recognition marketing is also not always about the recipient.  Establishing familiarity through consistency with who is actually sending the messages can also make great impacts.  Creating a one/one relationship by personalizing the FROM field is more endearing to the recipient as they will recognize who it is from and feel compelled to read it.  Receiving an email from “John Smith” feels much more personal than getting one from “XYZ Wine Club”.

           Social Media is one of the most dynamic ways to engage in ongoing conversations with your customers.  Wineries should be tracking followers, customer posts and comments and replying, thanking and commenting directly on a regular basis.  Addressing your customer by name in your on line digital conversations is a simple way to acknowledge and personalize a post or reply.  It makes the customer feel special and will also be visible to your business network and any other influencers pulled into the thread.  Being actively engaged using a personal approach to the dialog strengthens virtual connections beyond realms attainable through any other DTC channel.  Starting any conversation addressing your follower by name is a best practice which should be used in dialogs you conduct on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networking platforms including tourist applications like Yelp and Trip Advisor.

           Wineries need to consider how to optimize their digital presence on a personal level to build closer connections with each customer.  Integrating name recognition techniques across your website, inbound marketing and social media platforms offer a unique opportunity engage and nurture customers in ways that weren’t possible even a few years ago.    Although an on site visit and tasting wines at the source offers a sensory connection not yet available in pixels, don’t discount the depths to which you can grow your customer relationships through individualized digital communications.   If implemented effectively the payoffs can be impactful on a much grander scale.

 Read PART ONE  of this two part article which was published in June 2017.

Based out of Napa California, Virtual Vines provides project based Direct to Consumer sales and marketing consulting services & training programs designed to help wineries build and implement successful DTC market strategies.
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[i] Wines & Vines; [ii] Fortune; [iii] Campaign Monitor; [iv] Experian