May 8, 2024

Strategies for enhancing direct-to-consumer relationships for wineries

In recent years, many wineries have mastered efficient direct-to-consumer (DTC) practices, leveraging robust customer relationship management (CRM) databases and detailed analytics to their advantage. On the contrary, a significant number of tasting rooms are still struggling with identifying their most valuable customers or even determining the total number of guests accepted throughout the year.

Taking advantage of your own customer insights is a huge competitive advantage.

A carefully built DTC CRM database enables your tasting room team to unlock crucial insights about your customers, such as preferences, order history, membership status, or lifetime value. It allows you to personalize customer experience (CX), launch targeted marketing campaigns, and build strong customer relationships beyond the tasting room. Such a database also equips the team to anticipate unforeseen events and adapt to unexpected changes, which, as we all know, inevitably occur in every tasting room.  

Imagine if your winery were unable to sell the majority of the tickets for a summer night event. We all know canceling might be one of the least desirable and most detrimental solutions for your winery’s reputation. In such a situation, the key lies not only in your team’s problem-solving ability but also in the resources your team has access to, and it all begins by shifting the concept to what we call a customer-centric model.

 Now, let's take a step back to a more practical approach so you can prepare with an enhanced strategy for the next peak season.

It's essential to make data collection at your tasting room a top priority. The customer data you can capture is the backbone of your success. In an ideal world with an ideal system, your online booking, e-commerce, CRM, and point-of-sale (POS) systems are all interconnected. When a customer makes an online or POS transaction, their personal information, including name, age, address, phone number, and email address, is automatically logged into one central customer record. If your team is proactive, they will even capture seemingly trivial data, such as family member or friend's names, favourite wine(s), or the time of the year they reside in the area. These customer records are readily accessible to your staff, empowering them to offer a more personalized experience. This enables them to greet customers by name upon arrival, recognize returning visitors, and continue conversations from previous interactions. As a result, your customers will feel appreciated, ensuring you provide the best possible experience.

However, in a customer-centric model, your interaction with visitors doesn't end when they leave the tasting room.

Your ultimate goal is to extend those relationships and maximize their potential to the fullest. You've likely come across the adage that retaining a customer is more cost-effective than acquiring a new one. What if I told you that you could significantly increase revenue from your existing clientele by nurturing customer value, enhancing CX, and proactively remarketing at the perfect time, thereby not only retaining them but also turning them into advocates for your brand? A positive tasting room experience makes your customers eager to continue engaging with your brand beyond their visits, but regardless of your team’s effort, if you don’t capture the visitors’ contact information, your team is leaving money on the table. 

Based on Commerce7’s data, email capture rates and online sales are strongly correlated: with a proactive remarketing strategy, 15.4% of your visitors will place a web order, and 6.7% will sign up for your wine club. That is a significant number, considering that 90% of sign-ups occur through the tasting room. Furthermore, wineries that are the most successful at capturing emails typically achieve double the online sales for every dollar earned in the tasting room, compared to those with the lowest email capture rates.

We learned that with an ideal system, you can lay back and relax as your software automatically collects customer data through online booking and e-commerce platforms. But what about walk-in visitors? There are some common practices you can leverage to maximize capture rates in your tasting room:

Educate your team on the importance of collecting data: emphasize how crucial it is to build strong relationships with your customers and remind them that the customer journey does not end with wine tastings. Highlight how it will impact tasting room experiences and boost wine club signups and online sales.

Ensure a fair value exchange: understand that customers may be hesitant to sign up for another mailing list, but they are often more inclined to do so if they receive something valuable in return. Highlight access to special offers and exclusive events as benefits of sharing their information, making the data exchange feel more like a privilege than an obligation.

Prioritize issuing receipts via email: encourage sending digital receipts to customers as a standard practice. This not only promotes environmental sustainability but also serves as an effective method for collecting email addresses and enhancing future communication.

Incentivize the collection of detailed data: offer a commission to team members for gathering comprehensive customer information.

Szászi Winery (Lake Balaton, Hungary)

For POS orders, adapt the process by first selecting a customer and then adding products to their order. Initiating transactions with a customer profile provides insights into individual preferences, order history, and other pertinent details. Utilizing this information enables a more personalized service, allowing you to tailor the experience to meet the customer’s preferences and needs. For example, if a customer has already made four purchases, it's a strategic opportunity to highlight the benefits of your club membership. This is based on insights that customers typically join the club after their fifth purchase.

You can also build an upselling campaign based on this insight, in addition to many others. The initial step involves segmenting your customers by using manual or dynamic tags, which can be achieved through Commerce7 or an alternate email marketing platform, such as Mailchimp or Klaviyo. Manual tags enable personalized categorization based on specific interactions or characteristics, such as wine preference, while dynamic tags allow for automated segmentation based on criteria like geographic location or purchase history. This dual approach facilitates more targeted and efficient marketing efforts, elevating your strategy for better customer engagement.

Following up on our first example of an excess number of unsold tickets, consider building an emergency campaign. Assuming that pick-up club members have already received an email, you could send an offer, including a discount code, segmented as follows:

a.     Customers from the region (with Mailchimp or Klaviyo, you can also utilize radius from the customers’ postal code)

b.    Customers with previous events’ SKUs

c.     Customers with the highest lifetime value

Sending out a personalized email with a discount can not only help fill up your event but also make your customers feel valued, enhancing overall customer loyalty.

As we discussed earlier, on average, a customer makes five purchases before joining a wine club. Therefore, if a purchase occurs in the tasting room, you can outline the benefits of joining your subscription or wine club. If the fourth order was placed online, you can include a personalized invite in their shipment or automatically send an email after the third purchase. If this is a new strategy for you, consider sending a customized email to all your customers who have placed at least three orders previously, inviting them to join your wine club.

To maximize the lifetime value of each guest, it is essential to plan each touchpoint of the customer journey accordingly.  But don’t forget, it all starts by capturing those details in your CRM. Fortunately, nowadays, you can easily remind your team by setting up smart POS notices for each touchpoint, ensuring your work is maximized and seamlessly executed.

Written by
Peter Miklos