Need to Interact with Customers? You’ve Got Mail!

Its website showcases trendy, retro fonts. Its tasting room is housed in a 1930s gas station and garage, and its communications are irreverent and edgy.

But when it comes to interacting with its customers, Tank Garage Winery in Calistoga, California makes use of one of this century’s most tried-but-true methods of communicating … good old-fashioned e-mail campaigns.

“Email is considered by people in marketing to be the single most effective channel above all other channels,” said Adrienne Stillman, Director of Marketing at WineDirect, speaking to a virtual audience at the 2021 DTC Wine Symposium. “It’s not to say that SEO is not important, but it’s the single most effective, and this is especially true when you’re really trying to drive a sale.

“People have been heralding the death of e-mail for years, but it’s still very important. It’s only been around for two decades and it continues to be relevant. When you use Facebook, it decides how much it is going to cost you to reach your fans, but with e-mail, you control when it goes out and your customers decide how they are going to engage.”

Ed Feuchuk, General Manager and Head of Marketing for Tank Garage, shared some of his company’s strategy for communicating with its customers. 

“You can see that most subscribers don’t even regularly open their e-mails, and those who do open them only look for about eight seconds,” Feuchuk said. “One thing that works is including animation. Animated gifs and full playable video increases viewing time by about 25%.”

Tank Garage also recommends making sure you send your customers plenty of non-promotional content, including blogs and newsletters. Tank Garage’s communications include books, podcasts, recipes and even vinyl record recommendations to pair with your wine.

“By earning their attention, we increase the odds that they will open promotional e-mails going forward,” Feuchuk said.

Feuchuk said e-mails with personalized subject lines were 26% more likely to be opened, marketers saw an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized experiences, and segmented and targeted e-mails generated roughly 58% of all e-mail revenue.

“There are easy ways to do it,” he noted. “We insert customer names with merge tags, we automate offers for birthdays and club anniversaries, and we send different e-mails to members and non-members with unique pricing for each.”

Analytic tools available through programs like Mailchimp and Constant Contact help companies see how people engage with emails, and have tools to help segment based on engagement. A program called Litmus gets even more technical, tracking pixels that tell the company whether the e-mail was opened on a desktop computer or phone, read time, day and duration and geographic location.

Tools like these help Tank Garage send its customers offers that match their average spending.

But however you decide to interact with your customers, remember that solutions are not one-size-fits-all.

“Test, test, test … always test,” Feuchuk said. “Wineries are not all the same. Customers are not all the same. Find a strategy that works for you.” 

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