Digital Marketing Strategies for Wineries

October 11, 2016

Affordable Online Stores for Wineries

May 4, 2016

The Best Website Hosting for Wineries

December 20, 2015

Three Big Mistakes Your Winery Is Making Online

June 6, 2015

The Technical Pitfalls of DIY Website Design

April 14, 2015

Mobile Websites for Wineries: What You Need To Know

April 7, 2015

Best Winery Websites 2015

March 10, 2015

Winery Website Design Trends 2015

March 3, 2015

Expectations For Your Winery Website Are Rising

February 5, 2015

How To Craft a Digital Marketing Plan For Your Winery

Affordable Online Stores for Wineries

By | Ecommerce | No Comments
Selecting an online sales platform for your winery can be confusing, complicated by high costs and unclear differences between platforms. It feels like selling wine online should be easy and affordable, but all too often wineries overpay for features that go unused and ultimately lose money in the process.
The reality is that many wineries don’t sell much wine on their websites. Most consumers prefer to pick up their bottles in person at the tasting room or the nearby wine store, and nobody is going to buy wine from some random winery online without being familiar with the brand first or reading amazing press about the wines.
This isn’t to suggest that your winery should avoid having an online store. Your sales goal should be to build your following, receive great press, and use email marketing creatively to drive online sales. When these things are done properly, you will indeed have enough sales through your website to justify the cost. However, we recommend starting with a budget-friendly option and not spending on a fully-loaded online sales platform until you have a proven marketing strategy and customer-base.

Which Online Store is Right For Your Winery?

The Young Winery

You are just starting up and need to focus most of your spending in the cellar to make the best possible wines. For these wineries, we suggest steering clear of the full-featured platforms with high monthly fees (i.e. Vin65, Vinespring, Orderport, etc.). You won’t need the allocation/club management for awhile, and when that time comes it is easy to have those companies match the online store to your core website design. Instead, opt for a low-cost option that allows for easy online sales without the extra features and costs. Our two recommendations are Squarespace and WooCommerce for WordPress.
Recommendation #1: Squarespace + Squarespace eCommerce
5-Year Cost= $3720. $500 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs ($2500 avg) + $12/month Squarespace cost
Besides being a very user-friendly website platform, Squarespace comes packaged with a great online store system. The online store backend allows for easy inventory management, custom shipping and taxation rules, promo codes and quick integration to the bank account of your choice. Your website and store are hosted on the Squarespace company servers, which are extremely secure and reliable. This is the most affordable option available right now. Learn more about setting up a Squarespace website and store with Vinbound. Examples of wineries using Squarespace eCommerce include Rafael et Fils, Thomas-Hsi and Kelley Fox Wines (screenshots shown below)
Recommendation #2: WordPress + WooCommerce
5-Year Cost= $5328. $500 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs for WordPress ($4500 avg) + SSL($82/yr through Siteground, first year waived) + website hosting fees to the server of your choice. No monthly fees.
Over a quarter of the world’s websites are built on WordPress, and for good reason. It is fairly easy to make ongoing content changes yourself without hiring a developer, and WordPress websites can be customized to your unique needs without constraints. The leading online store option for WordPress is WooCommerce, a free WordPress plugin that integrates seamlessly with your website. You can edit inventory and manage orders directly from your WordPress dashboard, and there are scores of WooCommerce extensions that allow you to extend the store capabilities to include extremely custom shipping calculations, the payment processor of your choice, compliance checks, and much more. WordPress websites also are top-ranked when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
Examples of wineries that use WordPress + WooCommerce are Lazy River Vineyard and Cherry Hill Winery (Screenshots shown below)Learn more about setting up a WordPress website and WooCommerce with Vinbound.

The Established Winery

You are a well-known winery with a healthy wine club and a high volume of sales. You need a platform that goes beyond simple online sales to include wine club management, allocations, POS integration, etc. Full-featured platforms are considerably more expensive than a simple online store alone, and wineries just getting off the ground or with a smaller following will almost certainly lose money with these bigger types of solutions. However, established wineries will love that ecommerce, POS, wine club management and more are all bundled into one package, and won’t be bothered by the higher costs. We aren’t going to go into the specs of each of these platforms on this post, but they all offer very similar features.
Orderport: $1500 + $150/month avg x 5 Years = $10500 + website development costs
Vin65 Lite: $999 + $159/month x 5 years = $10539 + website development costs
Vinespring: $209/month avg + $1000 setup x 5 Years =  $13540 + website development costs
Vin65 Plus: (required for allocation mgmt): $999 + 549/month x 5 years = $33939 + website development costs

The Growing Winery

You have a wine club around 100-200 and some history of online sales. You are in the awkward transition period between being able to keep everything tracked on separate systems (excel spreadsheets, POS, separate online store) and needing a bigger system like Vinespring that consolidates everything into one platform. We have many clients in this category, and the best choice for ecommerce really depends on whether the winery needs POS integration and streamlined club management and allocations. If it was our winery, we would go the WordPress+WooCommerce or Squarespace route as long as possible until we absolutely required the all-encompassing features offered by the likes of Vin65 or Orderport. If you are still just selling some wine here, some wine there online, and don’t have plans for an overhauled marketing campaign soon, then go with the cost-effective platforms. Both WordPress and Squarespace look great and cater to your customers when they come knocking, without adding to your debt load.
The nice thing is, when you are ready to upgrade from Squarespace ecommerce or WooCommerce to something more fully-featured, you can send over your site to the third party provider and their team can create an online store to be a perfect or close match to your existing website design. Thus you can start budget-friendly and go into something bigger with little pain. Get your branding down pat, figure out an email marketing campaign that works, deliver a great experience in your tasting room, and when the time comes to expand you are in a good place to do so.

The Best Website Hosting for Wineries

By | Digital Marketing, Website Design | No Comments
Choosing a hosting provider (server) for your winery website may not seem like a very important task, but in truth it is a pivotal decision to be made when launching a new website (or transferring an existing website somewhere else). The thing to know is, there are a lot of crappy hosting providers out there! Slow-loading websites, terrible customer support, confusing admin areas and websites that go down completely are all common traits of low-quality hosting providers.
We have experience with all of the big-name website hosts (GoDaddy, HostGator, DreamHost) and lots of lesser known local providers.  In dealing with all of these different options, we have come to the conclusion that there is indeed one website hosting provider that stands about the rest… Siteground.
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1) Speed & Reliability
Unless you are a very large business and can afford a dedicated server, you will be on what is called a “shared server”. This means your website files are on the same server as many other websites. Many website hosts will use this as their excuse as to why your website is loading slow or not loading at all, claiming that surges in traffic to yours and other websites slows everything down. In a recent conversation with WestHost, the response from customer support was “oh that’s a WordPress site with lots of pictures, sometimes it’s just going to look down to people since you are on a shared server…”
Winery websites are naturally going to have lots of photos and video to show off the beauty of the vineyard and winery. You shouldn’t have to pay ridiculously high fees to get a website that loads quickly just because it is media-heavy. Fortunately, you have an excellent solution with Siteground. Their lower-priced plans (between $5 and $10/month) are indeed on shared servers, but we are constantly impressed with speed and uptime of their hosted websites. There are a number of great studies online (see here and here and here) that really geek out on the numbers, but their conclusions almost universally are that Siteground is the winner when it comes to server speed and reliability. We agree.

2) Great Support
Website hosts are not known to have good service. Even if someone does respond to a ticket or live chat , there seems to be a long delay in response or a considerable language barrier. Siteground is different. Their live chat service is truly top-notch. It normally takes about 10-20 seconds from initializing live chat for someone to be on the other end and ready to go to work to answer your question. They are excellent at their jobs and we have never had them not be able to answer a question or solve an issue immediately. They also humanize the process with the name and photo of the service representative helping you.
The customer support chat window from Siteground

The customer support chat window from Siteground


3) Email Spam Protection
Many of our clients have us move them to Siteground simply to take advantage of their excellent email spam protection. All email accounts (email is included on any Siteground package) have the option of running emails through Spam Assassin, an automated mail filter that uses a wide range of algorithms on mail headers and message body text to identify unsolicited email. This software is capable of eliminating more than 98% of all SPAM messages. Other hosting providers may claim to have similar services but Spam often finds its way through. To make things even better, email accounts are a breeze to set up in the Siteground backend.

4) Cpanel
If you need to tinker around on your hosting settings (set up email accounts, change DNS settings, create 301 redirects, manage spam settings, etc.), then it’s important that you have an intuitive setting to make these administrative settings. Unfortunately, many hosting providers have a custom solution to manage these solutions that only makes sense to the developers that built it. It can take an hour working your way through the backend trying to change a setting that should take 30 seconds. Fortunately, Siteground uses cPanel and has extensive documentation for every administrative feature. This is seriously the easiest admin backend to use and it comes packed with all sorts of cool tools to speed up your site and protect it from threats.

5) Price
Finally we come to price. With glowing reviews on everything, one would expect that Siteground would be charging an arm and a leg. You will be pleased to discover that Siteground keeps their prices very modest. There are three shared server hosting plans that range from $3.95/month to $14.95/month.

If you have just one website you will probably be perfectly suited for the $3.95 StartUp plan, which comes equipped with unlimited email accounts, free daily backups, cpanel, and even a free domain if you haven’t purchased one yet. Wineries with multiple websites are better equipped for the $7.95/month GrowBig plan, which comes with a one year SSL certificate for better site security. Prices do jump up to $10-30/month in year 2, but even at this higher price it’s all very much worth the cost.


Head over to Siteground.com to check out their plans for yourself. If you need us to transfer your existing winery website to siteground, just contact us!

Web Hosting

Three Big Mistakes Your Winery Is Making Online

By | Digital Marketing, Website Design | No Comments

Google-Business-Profile-For-WineryMistake #1: Neglecting Your Google Business Profile

When someone searches for your business, a window should appear on the righthand side of Google search results summarizing your business address, hours, phone number and website. There also is usually a set of pictures showing your business. You may think that what is shown here is left up to the Google Gods, but the reality is you have a lot of agency in how your business presents itself in this Google search area. Beyond editing the address, hours, website and phone number, you can add in whatever images you want to represent your winery. For consumers looking for places to go tasting, this is your chance to make a great first impression with a captivating image of your tasting room, vineyard, cellar, etc. This can all be done from the Google Business hub. If you are more of a delegator (or time-crunched), we are happy to set this up for you.
At right: A winery Google Business Profile done right. Notice the excellent aerial image of the winery, a map to the tasting room, correct business information and some solid reviews.

Mistake #2: A Subpar Website

First, what makes a website Subpar?

  • Small, unattractive pictures (See Mistake #3)
  • Not easy to use on mobile devices
  • A complicated online store (or none at all)
  • Difficult to locate your tasting room hours / location
  • Difficult to tell what sets you apart from competitors

The excuses I hear most often for having a subpar website:

  1. “I don’t have the money for a nice new site”: This is based on the fact that websites used to cost a lot more than they do now. Times have changed and beautiful sites can be built quickly at affordable prices (Vinbound sites start at $2500 for Squarespace and $4500 for WordPress).
  2. “Nobody is influenced by websites”: Not everyone thinks this, but some of my clients definitely did. My winemaker clients often are subconsciously channeling the reality that they themselves don’t often go wine tasting or buy wine online, and thus they completely underestimate how powerful a website is in shaping consumers’ first impressions of your winery. Websites remain a major first touchpoint for consumers when it comes to interacting with your brand, and you want to ensure you are putting your best foot forward to encourage their patronage.
  3. “I don’t have the time or technological know-how to maintain a site”: Some website elements should be updated fairly regularly, such as your upcoming events and current wine releases. Older website systems were often very difficult to update by anyone but the developer, and thus it became an expensive burden to have to hire a developer anytime a small change was needed. Fortunately, times have changed. We develop on Squarespace and WordPress, both of which make ongoing editing a breeze. Both platforms integrate with a lot of great commerce solutions as well. About half of our clients happily edit and manage their new sites themselves with no issue, and the other half just keeps Vinbound on a low-cost retainer to make content changes for them.

Mistake #3: Not Leveraging Beautiful Photos of your Winery / Vineyard

I manage digital marketing campaigns for businesses in many industries, including a barcoding company. Do you realize how difficult it is to get people excited about barcoding? The row after row of black lines may resemble the rows in your vineyard, but in the end it’s just black ink on paper. Riveting.
Wineries, on the other hand, are surrounded by endless beauty. Unfortunately, I see so many wineries with gorgeous tasting rooms completely fail to translate this beauty onto their websites and social media. This is a major mistake, especially for wineries trying to get people to visit them. In deciding where to go wine tasting, the bulk of consumers will spend hours online visiting website after website to plan out their ideal tasting trip. Does your website inspire them to visit you? Or did you put up just a couple small images and call it a day? For the love of God, free your pictures from their hard-drive prisons and let them go to work in attracting new business to your winery.
Where to share your beautiful winery images:
A) Instagram. If you don’t have an instagram account, set one up now. This completely visual platform is low maintenance and the perfect place to share your photos on a regular basis.
B) Your Website (See point #2). For examples of some of the highly visual websites we have built, see our portfolio.
C) Your Google Business Profile (see point #1)
D) Pinterest
E) Google Image Search Results. Here’s a Pro Tip: Have your developer tag your images with titles and descriptions like “beautiful Oregon vineyard” or “Vineyards with a view Washington”. People who search Google Images for terms like these in their hunt for wine tasting ideas will now stumble across your images and be led to your website.

The Technical Pitfalls of DIY Website Design

By | Optimization | No Comments

As a small cost-conscious business, there is a strong temptation to do-it-yourself (DIY) and design your business website in-house. About a quarter of my clients start a new website themselves on one of the popular content management systems (WordPress, Wix, etc.). This ends well for a slim minority. The remainder run into one of the many roadblocks that delay launching a new site and hinder the success of their business.

The reality is that developing a website in-house to save costs is often a misguided and costly effort. While the upfront costs of building on platforms like WordPress can be very inexpensive, the opportunity cost of developing a website in-house is very high for novice website builders. In general, the higher-quality the website, the higher the learning curve. I’ve had clients who spend months, even years, attempting to create their new website in-house in an effort to spare expenses. If against all odds they finally get their site to launch, the sweet success of in-house website design is short-lived. For these clients, a seemingly endless barrage of post-launch technical issues appear.

In short, actually designing and launching a website is just half the battle. The following is a brief overview of the many technical pitfalls that damper the success of new websites on launch.


301 Redirects / URL issues: In transitioning from an old website to a new one, your URL structure almost certainly will change to some degree. For example, let’s say your old About Us page was at website.com/about. You designed your new About Us and upon launching see that the page resides at website.com/aboutus. The search engines will obviously pick up on this small change in URL structure and redirect traffic to the new page, right? Wrong.

Search results will still point to your old URL structure for quite a while until they have fully re-indexed your site. This means if someone clicks on your About Us link in search results, they will land on a 404 Error page. Not good for business…

To avoid this issue, you should design your new page to have as many identical URLs as possible. For those URLS that do need to change, or for pages that are retired and should direct elsewhere, you must log into your website host and provide 301 redirects (there are also WordPress plugins that can help you do this). A 301 redirect is a way to tell the search engines that your page has moved permanently and from now on should point to your new URL. Setting up proper 301 redirects ensures your viewers don’t land on error pages and search engines understand your new site structure.


Image optimization: This is a big one. Images and media must be optimized for load time, which means they should be compressed using Photoshop or TinyJPG before uploading to the website. I try to keep my image sizes under 200kb. Many amateur designers will load very large images onto their site (many Megabytes), which ultimately leads to very slow load times for viewers on mobile devices and with low bandwidth connections. In an age of diminished attention spans, a delay in load time often results in viewers leaving your site.


Caching & Speed Issues: Is your site loading too slow? Besides weighing it down with oversized images and media (see above), you probably have inefficiencies in the way your server provides content. You can check on the speed of your site using online tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix. I generally suggest setting up GZIP compression at the server level and allowing for some degree of caching. Larger websites can also upgrade to more powerful servers.


XML sitemaps & Webmaster Tools: Once you launch your new website and ensure all the above has been taken care of, I suggest you set up an account in Google Webmaster Tools and submit an XML sitemap. This speeds up the rate at which your new site is indexed by search engines. 


All new websites crafted by Vinbound Marketing are designed to avoid the common pitfalls listed above. Already have a website that you think has some technical issues? We are happy to provide a free website assessment for a full technical checkup and suggested solutions.

Mobile Websites for Wineries: What You Need To Know

By | Website Design | No Comments

On April 21, 2015, Google will begin using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. In layman’s terms, this means your winery’s search ranking will fall after April 21 if your site is not mobile-friendly. The impact could be quite significant, with Google warning that “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” Why this change? Google wants its users to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. In short, when your winery website looks terrible on smartphones and tablets, it reflects negatively both on your business and on Google for suggesting your site in the first place…

So what does it mean for a website to be mobile-friendly? It means that your site has been coded in a way that makes it display nicely on smaller screens. The website is smart enough to recognize the viewer is using a phone or tablet and respond to this information with adjusted picture sizes and layout changes. With over a billion people using mobile devices to browse the web, your winery can’t afford to alienate potential customers via a poor mobile website.

MobileFriendlySearchResultYou can check whether your winery’s website is currently mobile-friendly just by doing a google search for your winery name while using a smartphone or tablet. You will see a gray “Mobile-friendly” indicator in your website description section of the search result page if it is responsive. If you don’t see this gray indicator, you better be getting your new mobile site developed now or else face a potentially costly search engine penalty. You can also use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check your URL.

A Bit of a Background on Mobile Websites

When smartphones and tablets first came to market, developers usually created a second website that would be shown just to mobile viewers. This is known among techies as an “m.dot” site after the usual way the separate url is written (m.wineryname.com). One of the main problems with an m.dot site is that every time you update your website, you have to update it both on your normal website and on the mobile version! Your expenses like hosting and maintenance also double.

Nowadays, you don’t have to create a second, separate mobile m.dot website. Rather, your developer can create what is known as a responsive website, which means it is coded to display differently (and properly) on any size screen. This is a fundamental shift in how websites are developed and of pivotal importance considering new web-browsing devices are hitting the market every day. With a responsive website, you don’t need to pay to develop two websites (a desktop and a mobile version) with different URLs, as yourwinery.com will cater to any and all screen sizes. Any time you want to edit your website, you only have to edit it once for changes to reflect on all devices. In our opinion, this is a much better solution than maintaining a separate mobile website.

How To Create a Mobile-Friendly Website

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website right now, you unfortunately can’t flip some switch deep in your admin settings that automatically makes your existing site mobile-friendly. Your best course of action really depends on your current situation. If you recently (within the  last year or two) created a website that you LOVE but is not mobile-friendly, you are best suited for a separate mobile (m.dot) site to hold you over a few more years until your next inevitable complete website redesign.

If your current website could use a facelift anyways, we suggest building a new website that is responsive. A good website developer should NOT charge you extra to make your website mobile-friendly. Good website developers understand this is of critical importance and build it right into their normal services. Building a website that isn’t mobile-friendly would be like building a fancy new winery that only 50% of people can get into… not the greatest for business, right?

Mobile Websites for Wineries from Vinbound Marketing

All of the websites that we build for wineries are mobile-friendly. For small wineries, we suggest a new website built on the Squarespace content management system. For medium and large wineries that need larger sites, we build using WordPress and ensure your site is completely responsive. Our goal is to make sure your site impresses visitors and encourages tasting room visits / wine sales whether they discover you via desktop, iphone, ipad, iwatch, etc. etc. etc.

Best Winery Websites 2015

By | Website Design | One Comment

When starting a website redesign, my winery clients often ask me to show them some examples of great winery websites. To some degree this is a matter of opinion, yet there certainly are some characteristics that are universally accepted as being excellent in web design. The best winery websites all share the following traits:

Use of Large, Full Screen Media: Images and video should not be restrained to small little thumbnails. Each of the following websites features large, high-quality images. Anything short of this is an injustice to the beauty of the vineyards and winery.

Mobile-Friendly: A website that displays well on mobile devices is absolutely required. A few years ago many businesses responded to this need by creating a separate mobile website to display on smaller devices. Now we have an even better option, which is one website with fluid design elements that reshape to fit any size screen. All new websites must be mobile-friendly, especially given Google’s announcement that businesses without mobile-optimized sites will be penalized in search results beginning April 2015.

Large-Screen-Friendly: Older websites are often restrained to a certain pixel width (usually 800-1000 pixels), which makes them look blocky and small on large screens. The same code structure that makes websites mobile-friendly can also make them large-screen friendly, meaning the entire browser window is filled with the website. All of the below websites display perfectly on both small and large screens.

I admit that I have not viewed all of the world’s tens of thousands of winery websites, but I did look far and wide for some winery website designs that really stand out. The good news is that the wine industry is finally embracing quality website design and is moving away from the clunky, frumpy websites of yesteryear. Without further ado, here are the best winery websites for 2015:


Lightfoot & Wolfville

Lightfoot and Wolfville

This is the best example of a one-page website that I have seen. Rather than split information out onto separate pages, everything is contained on one page and accessed by scrolling down. This approach makes viewing from tablets or mobile devices extremely easy.

Beyond ease-of-use, Lightfoot & Wolfville used a variety of creative media like audio snippets and full page galleries to make an immersive, visually stunning experience. This website was developed on WordPress with a custom theme framework.


Rhys

Rhys Vineyards

Terroir Nerds, Rejoice! The website of Rhys Vineyards puts all the emphasis on the vineyards, complete with interactive charts on climate conditions and galleries of soil samples. This more technical and scientific approach is a breath of fresh air and a fantastic resource to utilize while drinking Rhys wines.


Stoller1

Stoller Family Estate

Stoller’s website is chock-full of beautiful fullscreen pictures from their estate vineyard and winery. Also prominent is a fullscreen interactive map of the vineyards. There is just a classy, polished refinement throughout the site.


Cambria

Cambria Estate Winery

Simple, fullscreen imagery throughout the site makes for a beautiful, uncluttered aesthetic. Bonus points are given for the use of Tumblr as the blog, which makes browsing through the various blog posts a breeze.


Glasshaus

Glasshaus Wines

The website for Glasshaus Wines features modern design with ample breathing room. The site is designed on the excellent Squarespace Content Management System, which is our recommended platform for small wineries. The site uses the full width of the screen with prominent, attractive header images. The built-in Squarespace ecommerce is very easy to use (both as consumer and admin), and the site looks great on mobile devices.


Domainedelacote

Domaine de la Côte

This website achieves Best Website status because it is an early adopter of fullscreen video backgrounds. Viewers on desktop devices are greeted to a video of Rajat Parr opening a bottle of Domaine de la Côte, followed by well-shot scenes from a dinner party. It makes for an attractive and memorable design. The site is built on WordPress with a custom theme framework.

As a side-note, video backgrounds are poised to make a big splash in the next few years. Very few wineries use video backgrounds currently, but that is quickly changing (it’s only recently become a design option thanks to HTML5 and increasing bandwidth). Viewers on smaller devices are not shown video backgrounds to keep page loading times down, but creative design can still give them the option to watch video (such as the case with Domaine de la Côte, where pressing play on mobile devices shows a beautifully shot video of the vineyard/proprietors/wines).


Soter Vineyards

Fullscreen, high quality photographs…. I’m sounding like a broken record here, right? Soter does everything right with their website, starting with a wide range of fullscreen images to visually tell the story of their vineyards and winery. The online store is particularly impressive, with beautiful bottle shots on a minimalist and uncluttered interface. You leave feeling inspired to give them a visit, which is exactly what a winery website should do.


Honorable Mentions


Looking to redesign your winery’s website? Be sure to consider our affordable winery website design services. You can check out some of our latest work in our portfolio. We also offer a digital marketing retainer for ongoing management of your winery’s online marketing.

Winery Website Design Trends 2015

By | Website Design | No Comments

Your winery’s website is the face of your brand online and is arguably your most important marketing asset. According to Thomson Reuters Web of Science, it only takes 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website and therefore your winery. Is that opinion positive? Are viewers inspired to visit your tasting room? Do users find your website both visual appealing and easy to use? Does your website reflect your winery the way you want your winery to be reflected? The following winery website design trends all boost brand perception through eye-popping aesthetics and refined user-experience.


Full Screen, High Resolution Imagery

Full-Screen-Website

Culmina Family Estate Winery uses full-screen imagery throughout their website

Until recently, far too many wineries with beautiful venues and vineyards trapped their images in small little thumbnails. It’s a shame really, but fortunately something that new design trends are putting to rest. The majority of new winery websites are scaling back the use of text and little pictures in favor of large, high-resolution images. Modern browsers and fast bandwidth are fueling the evolution of a creative, visually-impacting digital space that wineries are eager to leverage. This full-screen imagery creates an immersive and memorable experience for viewers and ultimately drives increased tasting room traffic and sales.

Tech-Tip: Be sure your designer compresses your images before uploading to your website. Compressing an image means you are stripping it of unneeded data and thus reducing file size without altering the quality of the image. Doing this will prevent long loading times on your website, particularly for those with slower internet or mobile devices.


 Mobile Optimization

Mobile-Optimized-for-Wineries

A mobile-optimized website is one that is built to display quickly and elegantly on smaller screens. As consumers shift their online browsing habits to their mobile devices, it is vital that your winery caters to this audience through a website that is easy to navigate on any size screen. Studies indicate that many wine tasters decide where to visit while on the road. If your mobile website is lackluster or difficult to use, you can bet that these spur-of-the-moment customers won’t be stopping at your winery.

The transition to mobile-friendly websites is not new in 2015, but it is of critical importance this year due to changes in how search engines will be treating these sites. Beginning April 2015, Google will penalize websites that are not mobile-friendly. This means that users searching for your winery on a mobile device may not see your listing at the top of search results if you do not have a site coded to display well on smaller screens. What used to be a nice-to-have has now become a necessity, and you winery must keep pace or face the consequences.


Video Backgrounds

Domaine de la Cote Caption

Domaine de la Côte features an elegant background video on their homepage

Developments in technology and bandwidth are ushering in the era of video backgrounds in web design. These videos play automatically in a background layer beneath the usual website elements (text, buttons, etc.). Video backgrounds can have a mesmerizing effect on your viewers and provide exactly the spark needed to inspire viewers to visit your tasting room. So far, very few wineries have adopted video backgrounds, but over the next half decade I believe it will become quite common.


Simple E-Commerce

winery ecommerce

Australia’s Pindarie winery uses WooCommerce on their modern WordPress website

The days of complicated e-commerce are waning in favor of simple, perfectly integrated online stores. The key here is keeping plenty of breathing room in the design, thus eliminating distractions to keep the buyer focused on the simple act of purchasing the wine. The clean interface keeps the bottle front and center and takes the pain out of the online buying process. Two cost-effective and beautiful e-commerce solutions for wineries are WooCommerce for WordPress and Squarespace E-commerce.


Drone Imagery

drone photography vineyards

Aerial imagery in the wine industry is not a new thing. What is new are the falling costs to acquire this imagery. The past year has seen the mainstream adoption of drones for aerial imagery and videography, putting the days of expensive helicopter-enabled aerial imagery behind us. Drone imagery can capture very high-quality videos and images, which then can be shared via social media or built directly into the winery website. Look for affordable services to sprout up throughout the nation in 2015.
Note: Vinbound Marketing now offers aerial photography for Oregon wineries and vineyards. Learn More.


Vinbound Marketing provides wineries with affordable, high-quality websites. We pride ourselves on staying on top of design trends and incorporating new features and technologies into our clients’ websites. Full screen imagery, mobile optimization, video backgrounds and clean ecommerce are all provided through our design services.

Expectations For Your Winery Website Are Rising

By | Website Design | No Comments

I’m a millennial… We are tech savvy and we don’t buy anything or travel anywhere without doing a google search first.  We also love wine and consume it at a rate higher than any previous generation at our age. Your tasting room demographic probably includes a healthy segment of twenty to thirty-somethings. If not, it may be because your website sucks (no offense!).

Design Expectations are Rising

I was at a party this past summer and was talking to a new friend. We got onto the topic of local wineries and one of the first things she said to me was, “Oh My Gosh have you seen Stoller’s new web site???” I had indeed seen Stoller’s new website earlier that week. I had lost myself in the full-screen pictures, the sophisticated font, the descriptions of the wines. We talked excitedly about their modern and beautiful website, and it reflected very positively on the Stoller Winery brand. Without changing a thing about their actual product (wine), the quality of the brand jumped into a higher tier simply by their investment in a higher-quality digital presentation.

Stoller-Body

If you think this sort of experience is limited strictly to design nerds, you are dead wrong. Very generally speaking, Millennials  have much higher standards when it comes to website design compared to other generations. We grew up with the internet and are very quick to judge the quality of a brand by the quality of their website. A clunky site with poor color choice instantly says that the winery must be frumpy too, their wines lacking in quality. In many cases this is not the reality, but your website has created a negative first impression that may be impossible to overcome.

Website design trends of 2015 favor large, high-resolution imagery and video backgrounds. Full-screen media translates into a more immersive and engaging experience. Communicating a brand’s personality is critical in the wine industry, and high-resolution digital media is a powerful new tool for wineries to leverage.

As new websites continue to adopt better design, the older sites look increasingly outdated. Overheard at a different party: “I love their wines, but their website is just pathetic…” (I’m not making this up). When it comes to wine tasting, consumers decide where to taste by jumping online, reading reviews, scanning through your social media and visiting winery websites. Tech-savvy consumers can jump through all of your various online channels in less than a minute, scanning for signs of quality (or lack thereof). High-quality website and vibrant social media? Let’s visit them! Frumpy website with bad colors and tiny text? Forget about them. Time is a scarce commodity, so consumers use whatever signals and evidence available in making the decision to visit a winery or not.

Search Results Still Primary Website Traffic Source

Millenials1

While millennials are prone to come across your content on various social media channels, they are most likely to discover tasting rooms and wine information through a Google search (source). As a result, it is imperative to take a close look at how your winery displays in search results. There are numerous refinements that can be made (see our search engine services) to improve your listing and increase the chance that searchers navigate to your website.

In regards to updating your website: Take a moment to objectify your site. Forget everything that you know about your winery… the terroir, the backstory, the high-quality wines… forget it all and see your site as a stranger would. You will begin to notice numerous areas where the way you present yourself online fails to capture the true beauty of your vineyard/tasting room/wines. Winery websites are notoriously neglected for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Web Design Costs are Falling

“Yes, yes, I know, I need a new website. I need one every three or four years apparently. Thanks. But I don’t have the 4-5k required to stay up with design trends.”

If this is your line of thinking, you are getting web design quotes from the wrong companies. The last few years has seen rapid beautification of the digital space (full-screen background images, more videos, better fonts). One of the major reasons behind this aesthetic improvement is the introduction of design tools and technologies that are making it easier for web designers to create aesthetically pleasing websites. Those with the technological know-how are able to produce captivating, modern websites in much less time. Therefore, with the exception of large agencies with high overhead costs, the price to create a beautiful website is falling across the board.

Some designers will try to convince you that you need to spend 5k+ to get a well-built website, but the reality is that you can get a solid site at $1000-3000. Start on our site here to see what Vinbound can offer in that price range. If you don’t see what you are looking for, shop elsewhere. Large corporate sites or custom features may indeed require a higher price, but the majority of wineries ought to receive a beautiful site at a palatable price.

How To Craft a Digital Marketing Plan For Your Winery

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

Many wineries do not use the web as effectively as they could. While this is partially due to restrictions in time and budget, it is largely a result of simply not being able to keep up with the ever-evolving digital marketing ecosystem. If your winery falls into this category, rest assured that you are not alone. Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources online (including our winery marketing checklist) to provide your winery with the marketing education (or managed services) to recalibrate your digital strategy.

Start with a Full Website Analysis

Ground zero for wine education and brand awareness should be your core website. This is ultimately where you want all of your traffic from search engines, apps, media articles, social media, directory listings, etc., to end up. Therefore, before you spend another minute developing your social media or pouring money into advertising, take a close look at your winery’s website and identify ways that it can be improved. You want people to learn about your winery. You want them to be inspired to visit or confident in their choice to buy your wines. You want them to be educated on your brand so that they spread this knowledge to their friends when opening the bottle. Is your website achieving this?

No website is perfect, and most winery websites are very flawed. The wine industry is behind the times when it comes to quality winery websites. The reasons for this are not surprising. For a long time, website development was an expensive investment. Wineries would have to shell out a lot of money to get a decent website. With slim profit margins and a 2009 recession, it’s no wonder that a fancy new website was put on the back burner in exchange for investment in better equipment, packaging, labels, etc.

Wineries now find themselves in a much more favorable climate to invest in a new winery website. Development costs are much lower thanks to technological advancements. Content Management Systems like WordPress and Squarespace offer powerful, fully-featured websites that are cost-effective to build and easy for anyone to maintain.  With cost no longer a barrier to improving your winery website, it is time to analyze your current site and start envisioning what your revitalized website will look like. Start by asking these questions:

  • Is my website legible and navigable on smart phones and tables (mobile responsive)?
  • Does it inspire action?
  • Does it serve as a testament to the quality of our wines/winery/people?
  • Is it attractive and sophisticated?
  • Is it fast?
  • Is it informative?

Create a Website Upkeep Plan

When crafting a digital marketing plan, identify a key person who will be able to post content updates and take care of technical issues that crop up. Does this person need training to keep up with the technology? Have you considered outsourcing the maintenance and oversight of your website? Too many wineries totally neglect their websites as a result of being too busy, not delegating, and not having the skills needed to keep the site fresh. It is also critical that you have analytics tools like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools tracking your website and monitoring how users are interacting with it.  Analysis of this data provides valuable insight into ways to refine your website to better meet your business goals (see our Conversion Optimization Services).

winery search results

Review Your Search Engine Presence

Most wineries rank in the #1 position on search engines for their winery name. However, ranking high is not the only goal of search engine optimization. You actually have quite a bit of control over exactly how your listing appears and whether additional information (pictures, business hours, etc.) appear to the right of the search results.

  • Does your meta description (the part of text that describes what the link is about) read clearly, or is it a jumble of random text?
  • Is your complete business information showing in the righthand side of the search result page?
  • Is your business information (hours, phone, address, etc.) standard across all websites?
  • Are you showing up on Google, Apple, and other map platforms? This is a major oversight of many wineries! Many tasting room visitors choose where to taste while out tasting simply by searching for nearby wineries. Your tasting room traffic will be significantly impacted if your winery is not displaying on the popular online maps.

Tech Tip: Google has announced that it will change it’s search algorithm on April 21, 2015. This change will reward mobile-friendly sites and penalize sites that are not coded to display on mobile devices. A mobile friendly website is built on code structure that automatically resizes the site content to fit smaller screens. If your winery’s website is not mobile-responsive (many aren’t!), you should update your site as soon as possible.

Boost Your Presence on External Channels

Social Media: Since wine is such a visually appealing topic, the more media-rich platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest perform well for wineries. Twitter can also be a great way to engage, especially with media/PR and the tech-savvy, but is not utilized by all wineries. Use hashtags liberally since some people discover content through tags like #oregonwine and #pinotnoir. Designate a winery employee who can actively monitor your social media and post interesting content & images to your chosen channels on a regular basis. The key is to have an authentic winery voice that provides engaging content on a fairly regular basis.

Industry Directories: Many people determine where to go tasting by looking through listings on industry websites, like Willamette Valley Wineries Association. Is your site listed in all local industry directories and trade groups? Are you happy with your listing or can it be fleshed out with more images, correct hours, website link, etc.? Take some time to review all the links into your website and ensure you are satisfied with how your business is presented on these various sites.
Pro Tip: Put your winery website address into Open Site Explorer to see who is linking to your website.

Other External Channels / Apps: The more roads you build into town, the more traffic your are going to get. Presence on a wide variety of apps and websites will increase your exposure to a diverse audience. Some channels to consider:

  • Is your business represented on Yelp? Are there negative reviews that warrant a response from the winery?
  • Is your winery well-represented on wine apps like Delectable?
  • Do you have historic photographs of your winery? Consider posting them to HistoryPin.
  • Is your winery and vineyard information profiled in Everyvine?
  • Are you listed in roadtrip / travel apps like Roadtripper?
  • Do you have videos that can be posted on Youtube or Vimeo?

Redesign Your Email Marketing

Email marketing, when done right, is a powerful driver of tasting room traffic and online wine sales. Emails should be well-designed with attractive graphics and a clear call to action. Unfortunately, many wineries send emails that look like an afterthought using outdated, clunky designs. It usually requires adoption of a new email system (we recommend Mailchimp) and some basic design chops to craft beautiful winery emails that actually sell wine and encourage visits to the tasting room.

Here are three key areas to consider when assessing the effectiveness of your email marketing:

  • Recipients: Are you sending to the correct list or segment of subscribers? Has your list been cleaned lately? Do you have segmented lists for customers who prefer certain varietals?
  • Setup: Does your subject line captivate the audience? Is your email personalized? Does your unsubscribe button work? Are you sending emails at the most optimal time? Are email analytics set up and analyzed?
  • Design: Is your email responsive and mobile-friendly? Is your Call to Action clearly visible “above the fold”? Have you included attractive imagery / font consistent with your brand?

Digital marketing is an ever-changing space. Your in-house digital marketing manager should be able to spend an hour or two every day to watch the trends, learn new technologies and implement them into your marketing mix. If this is beyond their abilities or you don’t have the budget for a full time in-house marketer, you should consider outsourcing digital strategy oversight to a managed marketing service provider like Vinbound.

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