The Ultimate Guide to Developing and Executing a Digital Marketing Plan for your Winery in 2019

In order to increase direct to consumer (DTC) wine sales in this digital era you need to have a marketing plan in place. Rob McMillan from SVB said it: “We need to evolve the way we sell and market wine to include the young consumer as well. There is no choice.” This ultimate guide to developing and executing your winery digital marketing plan in 2019 will cover the following topics:

  1. It all starts with the end consumer.
  2. Identify your winery buyer personas
  3. What will be your team’s main business focus this year?
  4. Determining metrics to track progress towards your goals
  5. What digital marketing strategies are you going to use for your winery?
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization and Marketing
    • Email marketing
    • Chatbots and conversational marketing
    • Video marketing
    • Micro-Influencer marketing
  6. Establish a Digital Marketing Budget for your Winery
  7. Define Roles & Responsibilities
  8. Execution of your winery digital marketing plan

It all starts with the end consumer

Just imagine you go to the doctor because you are feeling certain symptoms. As soon as you sit down to get checked, the doctor starts writing down the prescription, without even asking your name! Would you trust that doctor? Similarly you cannot simply market to people without knowing beforehand the things they want and need. Getting consumer feedback will help align your efforts around high-quality goals, just as pruning gives the vines direction. Try to answer the Who, What and Why? 

  • Who is my ideal customer? 

  • What do they like, hate and buy (include things besides wine)? 

  • Why would they purchase from us instead of the competition?

If you are a startup winery with no customer base, you may want to leverage tools like SurveyMonkey. (For a very inexpensive amount you can start a market research for a targeted audience). If you are in business already, leverage your CRM (if your winery is using one) and survey your customers. Ask them what products they like, what do they think about your customer service, what improvements they would love to see. Be sure to ask at least one open ended question that will let you pick the minds of your existing and potential customers. 

After receiving and analyzing consumer feedback, try to outline in a few words the overall direction based on the consumer wants and needs. Also, try to include topics that the wine industry as a whole needs to address like turning around the cumulative negative health messaging, transparency on wine ingredients, etc.

Needless to say is that any business in any industry that does not center their efforts around their customers is simply bound to fail. How can you turn market research results into actionable steps? By doing the following.

Identify your winery buyer personas

Personas are a description of whom you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, job title, interests and more. Each buyer persona should be a direct reflection of your winery’s customers and potential customers. Creating personas enable you to craft specific messaging and content for specific audiences. 

Check out this free Wine Buyer Persona Generator tool

Just click File > Make a Copy to start creating your Wine Buyer Persona


What will be your winery’s focus this year?

Chances are some initiatives have worked for you in the past, and some simply did not. While it is obvious that you want to focus on things that worked, don’t close your eyes to new growth opportunities. 

  • Do you want to increase Wine Club sign ups?

  • Are you looking to increase DTC sales on your website?

  • Want to get more visits to your Tasting Room?

  • Increase referrals from current customers?

  • Increase repeat purchases from current customers?

  • Selling premium wines?

Once you have selected the main focus that you will put all your efforts into, it’s time to decide how will you track progress. You may ask yourself: “Why not tackle all of them? I want my sales to explode!” While that would be ideal, it’s not necessarily a reality. Just as crop thinning enable fewer grapes to receive more nutrients and produce better wine, concentrating on one goal will allow you to go all-in on it and make it succeed.


Determining metrics to track progress towards your goals

Similar to the how the flowering stage of a vine defines the maximum yield they will produce, key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that will help you track progress toward your marketing goals. Here are a few examples:


Metric (KPI)

Wine Club sign ups

Email open, clicks and conversions rates

Increasing DTC sales

Website visits, conversions & cart recovery rate

Get more Tasting Room visitors

Contact / Directions / Bookings page visits


What digital marketing strategies are you going to use for your winery?

There are so many strategies out there that you may feel overwhelmed and left asking yourself which one should you choose. Here is a brief overview of the most popular digital marketing strategies and how they can help achieve your winery’s goals.

Social Media Marketing

When thinking about a digital marketing plan for your winery, social media may be the first strategy to come to mind. Facebook’s user demographic in the United States is mostly made up of Millennials, with 25 to 34 year olds accounting for the largest of share Facebook users in the country. Now, a word of caution. Do not use social media as a place to only post photos of your bottles. Period. This is not the way to market to millennials (and frankly any other generation) on social media. Rather, make your objective to connect and engage with current and potential customers. Show the actual people behind the brand so people can really connect and trust your winery. Bottle shots don’t drive that type of connection. Be more personal. Use video: record yourself working in the winery, interview tasting room staff, winemakers and others. All staff members play an important part of your operations and people want to get to know them. Also, don’t forget about LinkedIn, where you can connect with potential customers with a higher power of acquisition.

Social Media Marketing resources: Facebook Blueprint, Sniply, Buffer, Hootsuite

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

Is search engine marketing still valuable? It has never been more valuable because of intent. People are actively searching for wine, mainly using their phones, and you must be present in those search results if you want to get their business. Both paid search engine marketing (SEM) and organic search engine optimization (SEO) must be included on your winery marketing plan. Make your wines really come up on the first results on Google with Google Shopping Ads and implementing Structured Data (Specific web code that provides search engines with additional details about a subject).

Some SEO & SEM tools: SEMrush, MOZ, Ahrefs, Google My Business

Email marketing

Some say email is dead, but the Wine industry in general relies on email for most, if not all, of their digital marketing activities. Still, there is potential to use better email marketing strategies to create more loyal customers, increasing their lifetime value.

Email tips: Segment your list. Hypertarget your message. Include only one link (CTA) to your site.

Recommended reading: 4 Email Marketing Tips for Wineries in 2019

Some email marketing platforms: MailChimp, ActiveCampaign

Chatbots and conversational marketing

Conversational platforms are being touted for delivering personalized 1-on-1 messages that will generate more open rates and engagement than email. You may have heard of them and ask yourself: Is this another marketing fad or is it going to produce results for my winery? Like it or not, 67 percent of millennials said they were likely to purchase products from a brand using a chatbot.  Thus, the fact alone that you implement this communication channel on your marketing plan puts you on the playing field. The truth is, chatbots enable you to bypass slow and inefficient channels like email and connect in real time with customers in a dynamic and personalized way

Here are some use cases for chatbots (computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users) for the wine industry:

  • Provide food-wine pairing options

  • Educational content

  • Wine tasting bookings with ease

  • Redeem offers

  • Deliver stories about wines

  • Generate gift ideas

  • Customer service

  • Updates on order shipping status

  • Loyalty programs

Some chatbot resources: ManyChat

Video marketing

92 percent of online Millennials watch digital videos.  While all other strategies mentioned in this article serve as the medium where you will connect with potential wine customers, video will serve as the perfect driver to get your message across. Start simple: film videos with your smartphone. Provide the raw, unedited experience of visiting your winery, tasting your wines, having fun at one of the events you host. U.S. Adults spend 6 hours per day watching video online. That should give you an idea of how video captures people’s attention. Can you think of any interesting ideas that might capture your audience’s attention? What about recording the different stages of your wine production? Unveiling new products? Live streaming events at your winery? How are impacting good causes in your community? How about revisiting your market research results for video content ideas?

Some free video editing apps for wineries: Adobe Premiere Rush, Adobe Spark Video, iMovie

Micro-Influencer marketing

People trust people. When searching for the right influencer for your winery, think micro rather than macro. Instagram influencers with less than 10,000 have seven times the engagement rate on Instagram as influencers with larger audiences . Analyze the engagement that influencers you plan to hire are getting from their audience using tools like: Phlanx or Tribber. Also, expect to shell out between $50 – $250 per post and free bottles of wines, depending on the influencer.

Establish a Digital Marketing Budget for your Winery

As the saying goes: “You either have the time or the money”. Effective use of digital marketing can result in relatively lowered costs when compared to traditional marketing strategies. While most of the channels are free to use, organic (non-paid) initiatives take longer to harvest results and will require a large amount of time and dedication to see them through. If you want faster, scalable results, you must consider paid advertising into the mix in order to further increase awareness of your brand and content. Organic reach on social media is on decline as platforms are shifting to generate more revenue from paid advertising.

Consider hiring a digital marketing consultant that can leverage their expertise to help define your digital marketing plan & budget.

Define Roles & Responsibilities

Upon researching what some wineries do, I found out that digital marketing responsibilities are usually delegated to an intern or to younger staff members, under the common misconception that they are best suited to deal with technology. While part of that premise is true, results are usually not as expected. This is due, in part, to leadership undervaluing the impact of a well-crafted digital marketing plan.

Involve everyone on your winery staff. Make everyone accountable for contributing in one way or another to the overall goal. For example, winemakers will have an enormous impact on consumer engagement if they make their audience part of the winemaking process. Behind the scenes, explanatory and point-of-view videos will invite prospects and current customers to be part of winemaking experience. Enable your staff members to share what they do for work on their personal profiles and that they also interact with your brand on social platforms.

Since digital marketing is an ever-evolving landscape, consider using the services of a digital marketing consultant that can help you navigate the ins-and-outs and execute on your plan.

Execution of your winery digital marketing plan

Now your digital marketing plan is laid out and you have a clear path to your goal. The main challenge may be executing on the well-crafted plan that you have just produced. Keep one thing in mind: Consistency = Results. You will see no results and get frustrated if you don’t commit to being consistent with your digital marketing plan execution.

Download this free Editorial Calendar for wineries that will help you keep focused on the tasks that matter. Just click File > Save a Copy to start editing your own calendar.

Set a considerable amount of time apart each week to tackle important tasks. Don’t fall for the promises of handling your social media “15 minutes a day”. It is simply impossible to execute a digital marketing strategy that generates meaningful results with so little time invested.

You’ll likely need to test some different approaches and strategies, measure their impact and results, and then refine your strategies and goals as you go.

Getting expert outside help will be crucial to develop and implement your strategy faster, help you understand metrics and progress as well as to free up your time to do other important tasks.

Schedule a brief call with me to talk a bit more about what you want to achieve for your wine sales.

How will your winery approach digital marketing this year?