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

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

That may seem a tad scary.

Especially for those wanting to ramp up the DTC (Direct to Consumer) wine sales in 2021.

In reality, this has been happening for a long time and to win in this space, winery owners and marketers have to invest time and resources to manage marketing wisely.

How do you do this?

Simply incorporate the three forms of media (content) – Paid MediaOwned 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 simply 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 own digital channels i.e. website, email marketing, Facebook Business Page, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat 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 especially are a trusted source, and is the second most trusted format for a consumer to receive advertising message (Earned Media being is No. 1).

Note: This is another reason for wineries to actually consider investing in a mobile responsive, search optimised and user-friendly website.

Earned Media

Earned Media (or free media) is broadly defined as 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.

For the purposes of our discussion here – 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, all centered 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; it is we now have even more options.

Paid Media

Simply means the content you pay to promote (or advertise). Paid media is a great way to promote content to generate more earned media and can also be used to drive traffic directly to your owned media properties.

AND thanks to the specific targeting and remarketing possibilities and the amazing opportunities to track and measure spend online, you simply cannot disregard paid media in your wine marketing mix in 2021.

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. This 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?

Do not get me wrong – all three types of media have a very strong role to play in your wine marketing strategy. As a content marketing tactic, though, earned media is possibly the most impactful.


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 is going to buy from you if they don’t KnowLike and Trust you. This is not something specific to the online world either – it’s just normal human behaviour.

Trust is an extremely powerful 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 unprompted and genuine and usually evolves as a result of 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 the important role it plays in exposing your wine brand to possible customers; let’s look at five ways how you can be incorporating it into your wine marketing strategy.

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


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

As mentioned above, earned media is broadly defined as consumers talking about your brand – so by creating quality, engaging content that serves a useful 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!

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 amazing.

3. Incorporate User Generated Content

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

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

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

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 true.’

If consumers and the Press are saying awesome things about your wines, show us! Add customer reviews to your website and share on your social media pages.

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

5. Deal with the Spurned Media

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

The everyday consumer is becoming increasingly savvy to online reviews. 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 what the extenuating circumstances were.

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.

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 though 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 some great user generated content.

How Does Earned Media Actually Increase Wine Sales?

Well, it all goes back to the fact that no one is going to buy your wine if they do not KnowLike 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 both wine brands and consumers due in part 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 how to incorporate earned media into your own wine marketing strategy?

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