Advertising your wine or wine tasting or DTC wine cart with Google adwords (or other pay per click or PPC) can be a smart and powerful strategy.
Everyone uses Google, sometimes without even knowing it. Mobile searches, local, partner sites, blogs, forums, maps – they all tie into the massive Google machine. And winery advertising is still an untapped opportunity. As of this writing, the search “top napa cabernets under $50″ shows NO ads – ZERO, nothing! And, it’s an “auto-fill” search – start typing “top napa cab” and Google will suggest that search. So, plenty of people end up there. You can have the top of page for ten cents a click (assuming you have a top napa cab under $50 to sell!)
There are two ways Adwords can work, A) in a broad keyword context on “partner” content sites and B) in the search results pages (SERPs) that we are most familiar with. The partner content sites are where the real gold is, even though they’re more difficult to see at first. They include wine forums, wine blogs and even travel sites where a winery ad may be the only one showing. Not a partner site, but rather Google, and look at only one ad for “top oregon pinots”
As we typically do, we zoom out to 30,000 feet and consider a winery’s particular situation and how they sell now DTC and how they might want to grow their DTC sales. A winery’s AVA, location on a trail, tasting room and tasting options, their price point and much more all help determine the best PPC strategy.
We ask: Are your typical winery visitors finding your wines because they visited the winery? Are you on a wine trail, or have a tasting room in town?
Are they buying after visiting, or after discovering, or via recommendation? Is your wine out there in the media or blogosphere and trending up (or down)? Or does your wine require that buyers find you or it and taste it first?
Armed with that info, what are the keywords your potential wine tasters or wine buyers are using, knowingly or not? When helping a new client, we research to find if potential buyers are likely to search online (or via mobile) in any of these common ways?
Searching by AVA?
If a visitor to a wine region is researching their trip ahead of time, either to fill in some gaps or educate themselves, then they may search for something like “wine tasting sonoma” or “- russian river” ” – santa rita hills.” A winery tasting room definitely wants to bid on those keywords and compete for that direct business. Some are content to let the tours bring in traffic, but extra traffic without commissions is what DTC is about.
“wine tasting Napa” is an example, as it’s like searching “Disneyland” – it’s too broad. So other strategies need to be employed for crowded spaces like this.
Searching for tasting opportunities?
Advertising for the keywords of the town, or “TOWN activities” or “Things to do in TOWN” is a great way to push up brand recognition and help ensure your tasting room is a ‘must visit’ rather than a hopeful discovery as potential wine buyers wander through town.
Searching by Varietal?
Are you the next top Zinfandel and want new fans of the grape to discover your cuvee? Look at keywords such as “top zinfandels” “old vine zinfandels, etc. Things that appeal to the Zin aficionado. Also, the ZAP tasting event, to raise awareness of your brand before the event.
The same holds for any other varietal. Are you a new entrant to the Killer Napa Cab category? Test appropriate keywords, and in a crowded space like this, experiment to find cheaper alternatives.
Searching by Brand/Name (yours or someone elses’?)
If your wine has a name for itself, and buyers seek it out, you would then want to buy keywords for that name. This assumes that your direct e-commerce site is not showing high enough in the organic search results. If your wine name shows a multitude of (online) retailers before you, then you’re losing DTC sales to the wholesale channel.
For wines that can be positioned alongside better known options in any category, buy those names. Say you have a killer organic Malbec, and know that potential new fans now buy Catena Malbec, then buy “Catena Malbec” in addition to “organic malbec” and others.
Beyond the ads top and bottom
Also look at the “organic” pages your keywords generate. Those are the regular listings beyond the ads top and side of the page (the SERP or search engine results page).
In the Napa example above, in the organic listings on the page, is a site listing “tastings without appointments”:
If you had tastings without appointments, make sure you’re on that page in addition to the ads, as it’s free. (In this case it’s the local association.) Look for other pages that show up in the organic section to see if you might get on them somehow.
A word about Bing
Microsoft’s Bing can be a very effective and cost conscious PPC choice. After working through the kinks in Google, which has more traffic, open up an account on Bing too.
As in many many other industries, some experimentation is needed at the start, and that’s a sunk cost or investment that is required. Here are some shortcuts to save you some of that time and investment. And it could pay to bring in a specialist in some cases.