The best wines in the world are balanced, with fruit, earth, tannins and acid all working in harmony to bring out the best of the varietal and the style.
Digital marketing for your wine label is no different. A good digital strategy lifts the brand through an effective balance of presence and engagement. Presence is the ability for consumer to see you and find you, either through directly searching for your brand or a keyword you should come up under, or through serendipitous discovery while surfing. Engagement is the ability to hold the attention of the consumer for a significant period of time (watch a video) or induce participation in your brand (though conversation or other action by the consumer that benefits the brand). Most wine producers seem to be crushing it with both feet on the engagement side of the equation, primarily with participation in social media, but lack the resonating presence that is also required for their digital efforts to drive sales.
I don’t think I have to go too deep into how important digital marketing is for wineries today. Most wines, particularly the smaller and family labels, have a hard time optimizing their inventories on retail distribution and/or organic winery visits alone. It take a prudent and effective digital strategy to draw crowds to the tasting room and rack up the direct-to-consumer orders. In order to drive digital awareness and revenue, most wineries I encounter rely solely on a website and social media.
Sure, posting to social media gives the brand some level of presence, but with the fleeting nature of your social posts, you’d have to be tweeting every 5 minutes or posting on Facebook every hour to generate any consistent presence on these channels, and at that posting velocity, you’d wear our you welcome with most consumers before you realized any benefit. More importantly, social media posts don’t provide any permanent footprints that can be found through search engines. Social media for the wine label is primary a tool for engagement.
The website is absolutely the brand’s digital anchor and provides the base for the brand’s online presence, the problem is that there is only so much you can say in a website alone and often that isn’t enough to cut through a complex digital marketing world. That’s where the blog comes in.
FIVE REASONS YOUR WINERY NEEDS A BLOG
- It’s the best way to build the story of your brand on a platform you own. Your website probably has an “About Us” section, but the space you have to tell your brand’s story without losing the consumer’s attention is relatively small. Instead of telling you story, the blog provides your brand the opportunity to build your story, in bite size post-after-post, in a way that readily consumable to consumers, but also comprehensive over time. And, unlike social media channels, you own the space, so you can decide how it looks and is presented without fear of what the social media channel might change in its design or algorithm tomorrow.
- It provides a permanent content anchor. The half-life of a tweet is 24 minutes and the half-life of a Facebook post is 90 minutes. That means that half of all view that your tweet will ever receive will occur in 24 minutes and half of all views your Facebook post will ever get is 90 minutes. Fleeting. A blog post is cataloged by search engines and is available to be discovered for years into the future. On this blog, I regularly get visits to blog posts I’ve made 2 or 3 years ago because they are being found on a search engine. Great presence isn’t just visibility when the content is released, but revelation when relevant over time. Yes, blogs are age-worthy.
- Can be longer form than social channels. The optimal length for a Facebook post is between 60 and 250 characters. The optimal length for a Tweet is between 70 – 100 characters (that gives character room in the 140 character limits for a RT). The ideal length of a blog post is between 800 and 1,600 words (I am at 660 words right now, but effective blog posts can also be shorter than this). That gives you more space to tell your story because the format is expected by readers to have more words.
- Blogs help with your Search Engine Optimization. Of course, you want your brand to come up as high as possible in as many different searches as possible. Properly maintaining a blog helps with your SEO because it provides a continual stream of fresh and relevant content (search engines favor sites with fresher content) and it can provide a broader set of search terms and phrases under which you can be found. For example, it would be counter-productive to have a long and uninspiring page on your website that lists every type of food that your wine pairs with well (you actually could be penalized by Google for this because you are writing for the machine, not the reader). In your blog, if you have a post this week about how your wine pairs with grilled chicken, and next week about how one of your wines pairs well with quail eggs, over time you will have the effect of being relevant in “what wine pairs well with” searches in a wide variety of foods, without risking being penalized by search engines for creating a long page of keywords that in itself is not readable content. To get this benefit, though, your blog has to be a part of your primary web domain and not living in a silo on a blog site.
- Blogs provide rich content for social media posts. Most wineries I talk with tell me it’s hard to come up with a variety of social posts that provide value to readers without being self-serving. Since a blog post is longer form content, in most cases there are a number of different angles you can take to promote and link to a single post on your social media channels. For this blog post, I could post to social media about how blogs help with SEO, then tomorrow post to social media about what the optimal length is for a blog post vs. a Facebook post, and then the next day tease in a social media post the difference between telling your story and building your story. Three different social media posts, all that come from and link to this same blog post.
The beneifts to blogging are compelling, but In order to realize the benefits of the blog for your winery, you have to make sure of three things:
- You are committed to it. Like anything in digital marketing, there are no shortcuts and benefit only can be realized by consistency. You should be prepared to post to your blog 1 – 3 times every week to make it pay off.
- You make it interesting. The blog post is not a regularly-scheduled ad for your winery. If your posts become too self-serving, you risk losing your audience and wasting all of your work. You certainly can talk about your winery–give inside views and information, talk about your history and reason for being, or build excitement for upcoming events and launches–but these posts shouldn’t read like sales collateral or ads and should be balanced with other interesting content about the industry, your customers/visitors, and winemaking in general.
- You promote it. Promoting your blog posts on social media is a great start, but you should also have callouts to your blog throughout your website (not just a navigation item), put the url on your handouts or other customer information sheets, promote it in your email blasts, and allow other blogs to repost your best work on their blogs (with the requirement that they give you credit and link back to the original post on your site).
All this can seem daunting, especially since wineries are already putting in long and hard hours just to fill barrels and bottles with quality wine. But digital marketing is only going to get more important and the sooner you start, the better foundation you will build. As Beverly Sills said, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”