With the significant increase in food and wine expenditure by international visitors thanks to campaigns like Restaurant Australia and 100% Pure New Zealand, many wineries are increasingly relying on selling wines direct to consumers via their tasting rooms.
Even though a lucrative multi-million dollar market, wine tourism is also an extremely competitive market.
Let’s put this into perspective – over 2,500 wineries dotted throughout 65 wine regions in Australia and 11 wine regions in New Zealand.
In this space it’s next to impossible to be found, let alone increase wine tasting room visitation and direct to customer sales without establishing a credible online presence.
Sadly, many wineries still have not perfected the online space and are ignoring the value of a cohesive digital strategy to increase wine sales.
To jumpstart your 2016 marketing strategy and increase visitation to your cellar door, here are a few tips to help promote your winery through online means.
Website, website, website
It’s 2016, not 2006! You do need a website.
Invest in a website that is responsive, user friendly and search optimized (please take note of these 3 important components).
If you do not have a website that covers at a minimum, these 3 components you’re just hemorrhaging wine tourist visitation and sales.
There are many reasons, but at the end of the day your customer expects it and Google expects it.
Don’t worry though.
Your website doesn’t have to be a big expensive deal – there are many options available from affordable monthly payment eCommerce sites, fully customized WordPress sites and beautiful one page websites – it really does depend on your business objectives and budget.
This may seem a complex area, so familiarize yourself with a few key terms as they will save you time and money.
- Responsive – simply means it fits or adapts to the size of the screen on which it is being viewed – one website viewable on many devices.
- eCommerce is an online store where you can sell your wines
- Wine Club – a members’ only area. This can get a little confusing so be clear on whether you want a members’ only area in the back of your website or just an email capture area to be able to gain emails or phone numbers for email or SMS marketing
- Search optimized means you’re easy to find on search browsers when your prospective customer types in certain key words
We offer a free eBook on putting together a website winery brief – download our website design brief guide which will step you through the whole website process.
Google is the undisputed Big Daddy of Search Browsers and also has a suite of products that assist business online. The most important for any tasting room is Google My Business as it is ‘the one stop shop’ to get listed on Google.
Listing on Google My Business will save time and avoid the need to make duplicate entries across Google’s multiple products. You need only enter information one time and it will populate into all of Google’s services. As Google notes “My Business connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+”.
It’s a free service AND if you’re asking why should I bother – type your winery name into Google. If your cellar door doesn’t immediately pop up with website link, opening hours, great photos and address…. Let me put it this way… you’re sunk!
Keep your listing updated – don’t just set and forget. By adding new content such as images every 3 to 6 months, you’re giving Google more content. Google loves new content and will reward you accordingly in the search rankings.
Triumph on TripAdvisor
Like Google, TripAdvisor is the undisputed industry leader in its’ space – Travel Review Sites.
Make no mistake, wine tourists use TripAdvisor, so ignore at your own peril!
Go to TripAdvisor and type in your town or region – then type in “things to do”. Are you even on page one?
To get front and center of wine tourists when you’re competing with 20 to 50 other wineries in your region is not just tough, it can be a herculean feat.
Claim you listing, keep the information up to date and where possible reply to Reviews – the good, bad and ugly in a timely manner. Ask people when visiting your winery to please write a review. It should become part of your customer service culture – these tactics will eventually reap rewards.
With the increasing need to ‘pay to play’ on the major social media sites and the lack of reach due to a crowded playing field, many wineries are just giving up.
Stop worrying about Likes and Reach – shift your thinking to social search and user generated generated content.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you stop posting quality content on the major social platforms. What I am saying is tweak your strategy. Give your customers visual cues in your tasting room to encourage them to post their experiences on their preferred social platforms. Think of it this way – thanks to the viral nature of social media, they’re doing the heavy lifting for you and promoting your business to their friends and family.
General consensus is as users become more savvy with regard to social search, search engines will increasingly use this social data to improve search results. We’re seeing this already.
Optimize your winery Facebook Page for check-ins. Actively encourage people to check-in on Facebook and reward them with a Like or a quick comment.
Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) and Tourism Operator Database (NZ) are free central storage and distribution platforms housing digital tourism information. The content is accessible by tourism operators, wholesalers, retailers and distributors for use in their websites, booking systems and other digital channels. It’s also a great resource that wine and travel writers use regularly. Think of it like Google My Business – you need only enter information in one area and it will populate into many services – globally. Your cellar door information really needs to be on here if you’re serious about increasing visitation.
Spend a bit of time on this. Write good copy, use great imagery and similar to your Google My Business listing update it regularly. Also, list your Food & Wine Events on here.
Partner, Package and Promote
Your business is tied to the success of wine related tourism in your area, so share content that is related to your destination on social platforms. Work with your regional and state tourism bodies – sign up for their newsletters and find out what campaigns are running online to promote your region and how you can get involved.
These are just a few ideas to help you establish a credible online presence and gain increased winery visitation. If you need more help in this area, please feel free to get in contact as we offer a suite of services created specifically for the wine tourism market.