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Email Marketing: An Essential Guide for Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries

How do I make more DTC sales?

This question is a constant thought for any business owners or marketers.

Yet, one of the highest ROI offerings available is still overlooked or poorly executed because of lack of time or forethought.

Many still ignore Direct to Consumer Email Marketing as they believe that the once-off email newsletter will not increase sales.

Or worse, they do send an email ‘blast’ after months or years of silence and wonder why it didn’t get the sales they hoped.

Email marketing is more complex than sending an occasional email to push sales. It’s a potent marketing tool primarily because of all the different marketing channels available today; email still offers the highest ROI.

What is Email Marketing

Email marketing combines direct marketing (think the flyer dropped into mailboxes) and digital marketing using emails to connect and engage the consumer and sell products and services.

It’s permission-based and therefore has a higher trust ratio than other forms of marketing today. If done correctly, it doesn’t only cover that once in a blue moon email to push sales, but the three types of email marketing sends to grow trust, engagement and ultimately, sales.
permission based marketing quote

Benefits of Email Marketing for Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries

Beer, Wine & Spirits are part of the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) category and, as such, are ideally suited to directly engaging consumers to build greater levels of brand awareness and advocacy.

Email marketing is a powerful tool and offers multiple benefits, including:

1. High Return on Investment

Email marketing has higher return than you can expect from any other form of marketing — digital or otherwise.

Australia’s retail, ecommerce and consumer goods sector averages a return of $45. That means for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $45.

2. Offers Greater Engagement

When someone subscribes to your email list via one of your touchpoints, they have permitted you to communicate with them via email – this is permission-based marketing.

This opens the door for you to send relevant, timely, targeted, compelling communication. But the bonus is that subscribers already know your business, so they are more likely to open and engage with your emails.

Note: According to market research company Statista, Australia in 2020 had the second-highest click-to-open rate of marketing emails globally at 14.9%. The global average is 14.1%.

3. Allows for Personalised Messaging

Email marketing offers the unique opportunity to personalise your messaging and extend your brand through one-to-one marketing campaigns. It enables you to create relevant offers based on the previous activity of your subscribers.

4. You Own It

Unlike social media, which is similar to a rented property, your Email Database or List of Subscribers is real estate that you own.

If your social media channels went dead tomorrow, you would have no recourse to contact your followers. Yet, with email marketing, you already have the email addresses of your subscribers, and you have the right to contact them directly.

5. Ease of Communication

Social Media and Google algorithms change frequently. It continually gets more challenging for your content to connect with your desired target audience. Even if you ‘pay-to-play’ and use targeted digital advertising, the competition is so fierce that it’s still hard to be seen by your fans. Email is a direct line to a subscriber’s inbox.

Email reaches approximately 80% of the people you send it, while in comparison, Facebook’s average organic reach has sat at about 1-6%.

6. Drives Website Traffic

Your website is your most valuable online asset as your eCommerce store acts as your shopfront 24/7/356.

No matter what email marketing campaign you choose, your constant should be to drive people back to your website. This tactic will help grow traffic, which is excellent as Google loves traffic and will rank you higher in SERPs. Driving people to your website offers you other marketing opportunities such as remarketing and upsells.

7. It’s a Sales Machine!

Because your list is already warm and they know you, they are more likely to purchase from you. Email marketing not only increases brand awareness and engagement, but it’s a direct line to tell people about your beers, wines or spirits and make sales!

The Three Types of Email Marketing

Email marketing entails three types of emails, and each email type has a specific purpose. When used in conjunction with a solid marketing strategy, brand awareness, customer engagement, website traffic, and sales increase substantially.

Broadcast Emails – also known as Newsletter, Email Blasts or Promotional Emails. These emails are a one-off communication used to send promotional messages, product updates, etc. They are usually the one-off monthly or quarterly email newsletter to advise your subscribers of an event, new product release or special sales offer.

Transactional Emails – are emails sent to an individual recipient following a commercial transaction or specific action performed by that person, such as a purchase in your connected store, sending an invoice, shipping details or a password reset request.
Transactional Email - 3 types of email

Behavioural Emails – are slightly more complex and are known by different names such as Lifecycle, Event or Triggered Emails. They are so named as they’re sent based on an individual’s action in the shopping life cycle. They are personalised emails based on a subscriber’s behaviour.

Both Transaction and Behavioural emails may also be known as Automated Emails as they are 99% of the time set up to send automatically.

History of Email Marketing

It may surprise you that the first email marketing campaign was a Promotional email sent to 400 people in 1978. The sender – Gary Thuerk, sent an email as a promotion for his company’s computers, and the email resulted in USD$13 million in sales!

Gary is also known as the ‘father of spam.”

And that leads to…

Spam and Compliance

2003 Anti-Spam Act
More Information: www.acma.gov.au

New Zealand
The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 came into effect on the 5th of September 2007. The Act defines spam as ‘unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation (GPRP) which is binding legislation, not just a directive. It came into force on Friday, the 25th of May 2018. The primary aim of the legislation is to give control to EU citizens over their personal data and simplify the regulatory environment for international business (any company that is gathering, processing, or storing the personal data of EU citizens).

The GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation. Still, it applies to all businesses (globally) processing and holding the personal data of those residing in the European Union, regardless of that company’s actual location. If you collect EU users’ data from individuals, you must comply with these guidelines.

Choosing an Email Marketing Service Provider

An Email Marketing Service Provider (EMSP) is a platform that hosts email marketing services on its servers, optimised explicitly for bulk, commercial based emails. It’s specific EMAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE.

Suppose you send bulk emails through your regular Internet Service Provider (ISP). In that case, your campaign may be blocked as traditional ISPs are not for bulk email sends. Also, if you are sending bulk emails through your regular ISP, such as Outlook, you are contravening the SPAM Act and may incur a fine.

According to Email Vendor Selection, the total number of EMSPs as of May 2017 was 450. In 2022, it will be well over that figure!

So, there are a lot of choices out there!

EMSPs are equipped with advanced features like newsletter design tools, automation capabilities, ways to personalise content, and measure campaigns. These email marketing platforms have everything you need to grow your business. They can help you build your mailing list, engage with subscribers, and strengthen customer relationships.

It is best to research before locking in any particular EMSP, as your unique needs may not be covered with your first choice.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an EMSP. Does the email marketing service provider offer:

    • A Free trial – Do a test drive to see if the service meets your needs.
    • Apps & Integrations – Does the platform easily integrate with your eCommerce (online) store, POS and other marketing channels?
    • Support & Training – Are there easy-to-access training videos and customer support.
    • Customisable Templates – Are there easily customisable drag & drop templates to ensure your emails are stylised to your branding?
    • Reporting & Analytics – Does it provide detailed reporting on campaigns
    • Segmentation & Personalisation
    • List growth and signup forms
    • A/B Split Testing

    FURTHER READING: How to Choose a DtC Email Marketing Provider

Crafting Your Strategy

Most beer, wine, and spirit business owners are focussed on sales and have no idea how to create a marketing strategy.

Honestly, without a strategy, you’ll have no purpose, no direction and no way to determine if your email marketing campaigns are working.

Before you start designing templates, creating content, or thinking about optimising your subject lines, you need to answer a few questions to craft an email marketing strategy.

Building Your List

We’ve all heard the old chestnut “the money is in the list,” which could not be more accurate at no more critical time in history.

Here is the kicker, though, according to Hubspot, email marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year. That’s why it’s vital to continuously refresh your email database with new leads and ensure your email marketing strategy is not based on a dying asset.

Casting a wide net in your approach to seeking subscribers is essential to keeping your list relevant.

FURTHER READING: 20 Strategies to Grow Your Email List Fast

Creating Your Templates

Most EMSP have pre-built templates built to work on any device, so subscribers can view emails using a mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Once you’ve selected a template, customise it by adding your brand logo, fonts and colours. By having a reusable template, you can drag and drop images, content, and CTA’s depending on your campaign requirements. Having a customised template for all your campaigns will save you time, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel for every email campaign sent.

Segmenting Your Database

Email segmentation is how you can hyper-target and personalise your campaigns. By dividing your email database into smaller groups based on specific criteria, you can send relevant, timely and personalised emails.

Those who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 760% increase in revenue (Hubspot 2021).

Most EMSP will have pre-built segmentation criteria you can use based on Automation Activity, Campaign Activity, and Purchase Activity.

However, spending time segmenting your subscriber list into specific criteria will allow you to personalise campaigns further.

Things to look at:

  • VIP or Club subscribers – the regular purchases
  • Subscribers who purchase a particular product
  • Subscribers who have signed up at a specific point, i.e. cellar door, event or website

This additional segmentation data will enable you to personalise and tailor the messages in your newsletters which results in higher converting newsletters.

Understanding Automation

Email automation is a marketing tool that allows you to create hyper-targeted emails that reach the right people with the right message at the right time.

You can create rules that trigger messaging to predefined criteria.

Subscribers are automatically integrated into your system by automating email workflows as soon as they perform your tracked actions. Their behaviour (remember the three types of Email Marketing Campaigns) tells your EMSP what messages to send without any additional demands on your limited resources.

Examples of automation workflows:
• Welcome Email series
• Abandoned Cart series
• Upsells or reminders of favourite products
• Re-engagement series

Email marketing automation also enables a richer, more detailed picture of potential customer behaviour.

Email marketing automation usually incorporates Transactional and Behavioural types of email.

FURTHER READING: 5 Automation Emails that Increase DtC Wine Sales

Deliverability & Other Challenges

In Email Marketing, deliverability is defined by how your emails reach the inbox without bouncing or being marked as spam.

With approximately 306 billion emails sent daily (Statista, 2021), your emails must get delivered directly to your subscribers and avoid the Spam folder!

If you have issues with high bounce rates, flagged spam filters, and low engagement for your email campaigns, you may have deliverability issues.

And even though you are following the rules and have got the basic tech stuff sorted, such as

  • Using a trustworthy ESP (Email Service Provider such as Mailchimp, Klayvio, Constant Contact)
  • Have a solid sender domain reputation
  • Have authenticated your domain with the ESP
  • And have verified your email address…

…your bulk email sends may still end up in the Spam folder!

It’s frustrating as there seem to be so many secrets behind reaching the Inbox 100% of the time.

FURTHER READING: 12 Email Marketing Tactics to Increase Deliverability

Producing Engaging Content

By sending a regular, engaging email communication, you can generate:

  • More customers
  • More attention
  • More opportunity, which of course, leads to
  • More SALES!

Yet, the main challenge is creating engaging email content for many.

Sharing relevant and engaging content is key to the success of any email marketing campaign. And, it shouldn’t always be to push your wine, beer or spirits sales.

Content ideas vary for each business, but here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • New product/service offering
  • Upcoming events
  • Seasonal recipes
  • Behind the scenes happenings in your business, such as birthdays, visitors
  • Other news from your region – anything to stimulate brand awareness, and potential visitation to your business

There are two golden rules before you start tapping away at the keyboard:

1. Please do your best to make the primary content of your newsletter exclusive to the newsletter itself. If the content is not unique, there is no point in anyone staying a subscriber as they can get the content or offer elsewhere.
2. Do not discount your newsletter’s content – make sure the content is as good or, if not better, than the standard content you produce.

FURTHER READING: Content Ideas for your next email newsletter

Timings & Frequency

Your Transactional and Behaviour emails should be continuously running through automation sequences.

Sadly, there is no simple answer to how often you should send a Broadcast email marketing campaign.

It truly depends on a multitude of factors such as your:

  • email marketing strategy
  • target audience
  • your products/services
  • and what content you will be sharing

Campaign Monitor suggests that the best frequency for newsletters is no more than twice a week and at least once a month. Market research has found that the monthly newsletter keeps most FMCG brands top of mind with consumers.

The more regularly you send an email, the more likely you are to stay top of mind in your subscriber’s minds.

According to CoSchedule, the best day to send email is Tuesday-Thursday, at 10 am, 8 pm, 2 pm, or 6 am.

Measuring & Improving

Do you know how well your email marketing campaigns are performing? There are some important metrics that you should regularly measure if you want to maintain email list health and improve the ROI of your campaigns.

Most EMSPs will have tracking capabilities and reporting capabilities such as:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Complaint rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Forward/share rate
  • List growth rate
  • Conversion rate

Other factors to measure are which subscribers are most actively engaged, subject line engagement, sales.

Benchmarking your current email marketing performance is crucial if you want to measure and improve the effectiveness of any campaign. Establish a baseline and track progress to genuinely understand what these numbers mean for you.

The Future of Email Marketing

Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is not dead. By 2023, there will be an estimated 4.3 billion global email users (Statista 2021). Since most email users tend to look at promotional emails in the same light as spam, future email marketing campaigns should be more personalised with targeted messaging directed to individuals.

Hyper-targeted emails will become the norm, and AI will play a significant role.

Email marketing will continue to outperform social media and other forms of marketing, hands down, for a long while. Don’t get left behind.

Need More Help?

As you now can see, email marketing is not just about that occasional promotional email – to gain the best chances for success, it requires incorporating the three email types, a strong strategy, consistent messaging through automation workflows and a bit of creativity.

We work with wineries, breweries and distilleries to grow their sales and have a full suite of email marketing offerings. Get in touch if you require any help.

Done for You Automation Emails Swipe File

20 email templates proven to propel open rates, clicks & sales while taking the stress out of you writing these important automated emails yourself. Each template has highlighted content that you change to make these emails personalised to your subscribers and on-brand for your winery.

The Done for You Automation Email Swipe File includes:

  • Welcome Emails with Automated Sequence Options
  • Thank You for Purchase Email with suggestions to upsell
  • Abandoned Cart Email
  • Anniversary Email
  • Reconnect Emails & Automated Sequence Options
  • Email Newsletter Checklist


Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a marketing strategist specialising in tourism, wine and hospitality marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 14 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of strategic marketing planning, consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, and training. With over 80 customised websites built to date, successful event marketing campaigns and new business branding, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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