Selling Wine DTC in 2015 – What’s The Minimum?

Marketing and selling wine DTC can mean different things to different clients. When we engage new clients at VinMarketer, we often discuss whether the site needs a refresher.
Often the idea of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes up. Or, “we’re having decent success – maybe our customers like our consistency?” Our advice is, leave that for the labels on the bottles. An older site visually registers like a polyester outfit worn by the tasting room staff.

While there are many online tools and marketing programs to assist DTC selling, there are two fundamental basic requirements for that visual “first impression” of the brand:

1) An updated, mobile-ready website, and 2) A minimal (at least) social media presence

Why A (New) Winery Website? 

Nearly 50% of your target audience (both DTC and trade) will be viewing your site through a small screen, through a smartphone. Your site has to be able to both look good and operate easily in that format. Easy operation means the fewer clicks to most popular and useful information to a visitor viewing the site on a phone.

Visitors will also be more impressed with a site with a style that is current. Every few years, web styles evolve and a site built only a while ago can look dated fast. Your website is your brand’s first impression for many. A dated style drags down the premium lifestyle brand you are working so hard to create.

Some acid tests to see if your site is dated:

  • If copyright date on bottom of page is before 2010 (or even 2012)
  • If your home page still says “Welcome to our site” or similar. That is VERY dated.
  • If  your site looks more like A than B
A) Older Site StyleB) Newer Site Style

Wine marketing site in need of a newer vintage

Circa 1990s Wine Marketing Site (Click to enlarge)


Current Wine Marketing Site

Current Wine Marketing Site (Click to enlarge)

With prices so low (compared to other winery and marketing expenses), an out-of-date site quickly tells visitors that its owners “do not care.”

So Social Spells Success? *

In 2015 (and beyond), anyone considering doing business with your winery (buying wine, partnering, inviting you to tasting events) will check your website and your social media presence. And not necessarily in that order.

What stops clients from using social media is the fear that it takes too long, or that they don’t get it. See this post for a few hints on using social media to sell wine DTC.  But the bar is pretty low – a winery can get away with the minimum in some cases.  A minimum, which is pretty easy to handle, is a Facebook page where a photo is posted at least every two weeks.

The goal here is to not let a potential visitor see a ghost town. Of course we preach much much more, but that can come later too. Let’s first get out of 2009.



VinMarketer can refresh a basic website at a very affordable price, do don’t let something you’ve heard through the grapevine (“20K?!”) stop you from exploring your options. Contact us today.
* Maybe it’s evident from our clever titles, but we like good copywriting. We can refresh a site and populate it with great blog articles and social media posts for a year, or teach you how to do it, or both!



SEE ALSO:  Social Media Ideas For Busy Winery Staff

If you are spending too much time trying to keep your social media channels active, or just need a little inspiration, check out Social Media Ideas For Wineries, a monthly cheat sheet of ideas for posts and tweets for the wine world.

DTC wine selling with PPC

Selling Wine DTC with Google Adwords and other PPC

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!) DTC wine selling with PPC

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”

wine ppc - selling more wine with google adwords

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.  Catena - start with what they know

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.


SEE ALSO:  Social Media Ideas For Busy Winery Staff

If you are spending too much time trying to keep your social media channels active, or just need a little inspiration, check out Social Media Ideas For Wineries, a monthly cheat sheet of ideas for posts and tweets for the wine world.


9 Tips for Marketing Wine in Social Media

Marketing Wine in Social Media is not hard, but…

Marketing Wine in Social Media can be time consuming, and the payoff may seem nebulous at times. But Social Media is one of the first places people look when considering your brand. And by people we mean more than consumers – we mean distribution partners, restaurants, tasting events, and more. So, a wine producer needs to be smart about it.  Assuming there are limited social media management resources, try to follow the following process and tips, and Just Do It!

  1. pick a few few social media networks to focus on – don’t try to be everywhere for everyone.
  2. use a dashboard and posting tool to schedule regular content delivery and to monitor for items that need your reply
  3. reply to mentions “fast” – the definition of fast being the amount of time relevant to a particular network
  4. post creative, funny content, or content in keeping with the personality of your wine brand
  5. think “experience” as much as “product” and post about that, as well as lifestyle. Promote the experience that your wine delivers.
  6. involve whole team. Ask everyone to contribute ideas to a central shared document (or pad of paper!), interview different staff about their positions, and take shareable photos about everyone’s jobs for that ‘behind the scenes’ look.
  7. photos photos photos! Sunsets in vineyard, new buds, grafting, pruning, pressing, sorting, everything! And people too. Photos are worth a thousand words (and twitter only allows 140 characters, so you can really pack it in!). Sorry, no photos of winemaker dinners if they were hosted at a reseller restaurant.
  8. use guest posts & re-posts to your advantage
  9. go beyond your brand for posts/content when at tasting events. Post for the hosts, partners, et al, and ask them to reciprocate. (provided they’re not resellers or retailers, or other violations of license law)

SEE ALSO:  Social Media Ideas For Busy Winery Staff

If you are spending too much time trying to keep your social media channels active, or just need a little inspiration, check out Social Media Ideas For Wineries, a monthly cheat sheet of ideas for posts and tweets for the wine world.