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Increase DTC Wine Sales with Earned Media in 2024

Thanks to the immediacy and ease of communication in the digital age, consumers are effortlessly exposed to what the media, friends, relatives and peers say online.

For wine brands, this means that the messages consumers receive are no longer about your wines ONLY coming from you!

That may seem a tad scary, especially for those wanting to ramp up their Direct to Consumer (DTC) Wine Sales in 2022.

FURTHER READING: Powerful Tactics to Increase DTC Wine Sales in 2022

So, how can you ramp up DTC wine sales?

Incorporate the three forms of media (content) – Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned Media into your marketing plan.

If you are new to this concept or need a fresher – here is a quick overview:

Owned Media

Owned Media in the online world means online property that you can control and is unique to your wine brand (brand managed).

Think of it basically as the content you create on your digital channels, i.e. website, email marketing, Facebook Business Page, Instagram, YouTube, Online Listings etc.

Owned Media is an extension of your brand and creates solid avenues for consumers to interact with your wine business directly.

According to a Nielson Advertising Survey, Owned Media is a trusted format for consumers to receive information. Websites are especially a trusted source and are the second most trusted format for consumers to receive advertising messages (Earned Media being is No. 1).

Earned Media

Broadly defined, Earned Media (or Free Media) is consumers talking about your brand. It is usually content created by others (that you have not paid for) and, in many ways, is the online equivalent of word of mouth endorsements.

Earned Media covers Social Proof such as testimonials, star ratings, reviews, endorsements and even social engagement stats, plus User Generated Content such as images, videos, comments etc. and PR, centred around your wine business.

The wine industry is no stranger to Earned Media – wine reviews, wine ratings, and PR have long been a driving force. In the digital age, these are still important; we now have even more options.

Paid Media

Paid Media means the content you pay to promote (or advertise). It’s a great way to promote content to generate more earned media and drive traffic directly to your owned media properties.

AND thanks to the specific targeting and remarketing possibilities and the fantastic opportunities to track and measure spending online, you cannot disregard paid media in your wine marketing mix in 2022.
If you are using print publications for your paid media, see if there is an opportunity to combine their print and online channels in your advertising spend. Paid Media is a powerful option, and most traditional media outlets now offer some form of this combination in their advertising packages.

Why is earned media so important?

Don’t get me wrong – all three types of media have a decisive role to play in your DTC wine marketing strategy. As a content marketing tactic, though, earned Media is possibly the most impactful. Why?

According to Nielson (2014), 92% of consumers say they trust Earned Media, such as social media, word of mouth.

And we all know – no one will buy from you if they don’t Know, Like, and Trust you. This is not specific to the online world either – it’s just normal human behaviour.

Trust is a compelling component in your marketing and sales funnel.

Types of Earned Media

We are all savvy to the fact that not all Earned Media is positive – so let’s look quickly at the three types of Earned Media your wine business may experience.

  • Positive organic: this is our favourite kind! It’s spontaneous and genuine and usually evolves due to an experience with your brand, such as visiting your cellar door or buying your wine.
  • Brand stimulated: this is content you incentivised the consumer to generate, i.e. through contests, providing wine samples, etc.
  • Spurned media: this is what we all want to avoid – unprompted communication from customers, Press, etc., about something negative.

So now that you have a better understanding of earned media and its vital role in exposing your wine brand to possible customers let’s look at five ways to incorporate it into your wine marketing strategy.

No.1 Create Awesome, Share-worthy Content

Content IS King. It’s a good idea to remember you’re working in an exciting industry – an area that thousands aspire to be involved.

There are so many truly unique and exciting things happening in the wine industry, and a lot of them taking place in your back paddock (vineyards) – yet, we regularly hear ‘I don’t know what to post’.


Take a look around your world. What you may consider mundane or ordinary is someone’s extraordinary.

That little extra ordinary quote

As mentioned above, Earned Media is broadly defined as consumers talking about your brand – so by creating quality, engaging content that serves a valuable purpose, adds insight, educates or entertains, your target audience will share. Thus, enabling consumers to talk about your brand – creating more reach and exposure for your wines!

No.2 Configure Social Channels Correctly

By making it easy for consumers to share and engage with your wine business, you’re enabling further reach of your content via earned media (people sharing). A Facebook check-in to your cellar door, a retweet, regram, etc. – all Earned Media.

The viral capabilities here are exceptional.

No.3 Incorporate User Generated Content

Let’s face it – the most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust!

In a Nielsen report – more than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) said they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family.

Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to share what your loyal customers are sharing about your wine brand?

FURTHER READING: User Generated Content in Tourism Marketing – A Quick Guide

No.4 Share Social Proof – Positive Press, Reviews and Ratings

Social proof (aka testimonials, star ratings, reviews, endorsements and even social engagement stats) is all about instilling confidence and trust in those who visit your website or other online platforms and providing additional proof that your claims are valid.

If consumers and the Press are saying awesome things about your wines, show us! Add customer reviews to your website and share those wine reviews and awards far and wide on your social media channels.

The result here is that this offer a higher ability to persuade and influence the consumers’ purchase decision.

No.5 Deal with the Spurned Media

So you got a bad review. Deal with it quickly.

The everyday consumer is becoming increasingly savvy to online reviews, and they can easily see through fake, unnecessarily disgruntled or over-zealous reviewers.

If someone genuinely had a bad experience at your cellar door – answer the review. Explain the outcomes you are taking to improve the service or the extenuating circumstances.

Never get into a name calling match! Just state your case and move on.

Consumers do read the bad reviews first – so answer them promptly. You’re more likely to win over other people reading bad reviews if you reply, as it shows you care about your customers.

No.6 Incentivise

Create campaigns and competitions that motivate your brand advocates to set up and share great content. Make sure it is related to your brand, and keep in mind what you want to achieve from this exercise – positive Earned Media.

Within the online space, the voice of consumers continues to be strongly heard when it comes to the most trusted forms of advertising. So get them doing a bit of the heavy lifting for you by creating great user-generated content.

How Does Earned Media Increase Wine Sales?

Well, it all goes back to the fact that no one will buy your wine if they do not Know, Like and Trust your wine brand.

The first step is to get your prospective customer exposed to your wines. And that is where earned Media comes in, as it offers the highest value to wine brands and consumers due partly to its trust-ability, reach and staying power.

So now you have a better understanding of Earned Media in the digital age – has this given you a few ideas on incorporating Earned Media into your own wine marketing strategy?

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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