How digital marketing is allowing the drinks industry to switch online?
“Content in a modern e-commerce business is absolutely fundamental.” - James Miles, Co-founder of Liv-ex.
It’s a harsh reality of the modern world that if you are not visible online, then when it comes to business, you don’t exist. You could have written a Pulitzer Prize-winning story, an Oscar-worthy screenplay, or created the most perfect bottle of wine, if you don’t get online and tell people about it, then you might as well not have bothered at all.
The internet is now all-seeing, all-knowing and for those that know how to use it, the most efficient and cost-effective way of telling the story about your business or brand. But succeeding online in 2021 means a whole lot more than having a static website that just tells any passing user what you do and what your contact details are.
Digital marketing has fast become a science in its own right and unless you really know what you are doing it's best to call in some ‘digital scientists’ to help you. The good news is digital marketing, when planned and 100% targeted on the needs of your business, is so much cheaper than blasting out expensive TV adverts or covering any billboard or passing bus with your company slogan.
The skill now in creating a brand is not just the initial idea about what the brand does and where it fits into the market, but how you then activate it, sell it and communicate about it to your potential target audiences, explains Nick Palmer, who heads up creative product development at MediaCom, one of the world’s biggest digital marketing agencies with the likes of AB Inbev, LVMH, Tesco, Coca Cola on its books.
Nick Palmer, Creative product development at MediaCom
He is also part of the team that has launched a new wine brand, Bowl grabber that is using digital marketing tools to break through into the wine market. He says the wine category, in particular, is wide open for brands supported by good digital marketing. There might be a lot of talk about the need to use digital but “there is very little about the art and science of actually doing it,” he stresses.
“The bar for digital marketing for wine brands is relatively low. Just a quick look at Google Analytics and Keyword Planner will tell you that,” he adds
To succeed online you need to be as good at SEO (search engine optimisation) and pay per click advertising as you are making a bottle of wine or spirits. Get it right and each time someone types in the country, the region, or the type of drink you make, chances are you will be amongst the top listings that come up on their random Google search. That’s the golden ticket when it comes to digital marketing - for 80% of all click-throughs will go to the top three rankings, says Palmer.
It’s true that the brands and companies with the biggest pockets will have the budgets to ensure their products are regularly coming up top in digital search, but it is not just about flashing the cash and buying up all the key search terms for your category.
Marketing through content
It’s also about content and creating as many touchpoints for potential consumers of your brand to find online, be it directly through your website, or more likely via social media, Twitter, Facebook, or increasingly Linked-in. Providing you seed and tag that content to ensure as many people as possible can see it, you can climb those Google rankings without spending a fortune.
Tom Harvey, co-founder of YesMore, the digital marketing agency that specialises in drinks brands explains: “Content for driving SEO is very different to content appearing in Instagram Reels, for example. Tailoring the ideas for your content to the places that audiences will see them makes your creative, and your ads, resonate."
James Miles, the co-founder of Liv-ex, digital platform that helps the wine trade to price, buy and sell wine, says the “great beauty of content is that it brings to life” all the work you are doing online to run a successful drinks business.
“All business is about stories and building a story around a product and trying to get customers to engage,” he explains. Using your website, and social media to tell those stories give consumers the confidence to come to you to buy their wines. He adds: “Content in a modern e-commerce business is absolutely fundamental.”
The most switched-on wine businesses, for example, are connecting their digital marketing to the management systems they are using to power their businesses. It means there can be a seamless, automated link between someone clicking, for example, on a Twitter post to be sent to a page where they are then shown additional information about their brand or service and a link to how to buy it, says Nick Martin, managing director of Wine Owners that supplies the wine industry with bespoke IT systems.
Digital goes DTC
Digital marketing has also given the power to the consumer to shop directly online for the products that mean the most to them. No more trawling up and down a high street, a few clicks online will take you to the sites with the brands you want. The more you search the more the internet knows what you are looking for, which is why your social media feeds will suddenly become full of alternative options for the last thing you searched for online.
It might feel a bit like Big Brother but if it means you get targeted with ads for brands you are actually looking for then the majority of consumers are happy.
All of which has seen the phenomenal rise in the last five years of digitally native brands, products that only exist online and have succeeded by targeting consumers most likely to buy the brands they are making by using a variety of digital marketing tools.
Picture of Dollar Shave Club
Look at most consumer goods categories and they will have hero digitally native brands disrupting what the traditional market is up to. There is AllBirds, the super eco-friendly shoes; Casper, the ultimate in comfort mattresses; Glossier, which claims to be ‘democratising health and beauty; and perhaps most famously of all the impact the Dollar Shave Club had on men’s shaving that Unilever bought it for a cool $1billion.
AllBirds website homepage
Digital drinks boost
The last year has seen so many drinks companies go DTC for the first time and suddenly have to fast track their digital marketing skills to attract and retain customers.
“In the wine industry, something magical has happened. We are awake to the internet for the first time ever,” he says. “It’s an amazing time in our lives and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the internet allow wineries around the world to connect with consumers.”
He even likens the switch to digital in wine as being like the “gold rush” where “consumers, retailers, wineries and wholesalers, are all leaning into digital in a way we have never seen in the history of time”.
He adds: “As we learn what works and what doesn’t work - it drives the market forward. That’s what the golden age of the wine is going to be about.”
Tom Harvey at YesMore adds: “The advantages of DTC are clear. When customers buy direct, you own the relationship and data. You can drive traffic to a product listing and see when it converts. There’s no reliance on securing and keeping listings from major retailers. And of course, cutting out middlemen can help sales and profit margins. Yes, there are costs involved to direct selling, but the rewards can offset these.”
The final word goes to Palmer at Bowlgrabber and Mediacom who says that ultimately drinks brands need to remember this famous advertising motto: “Be easy to remember and easy to buy.”
“If you apply those principles to wine, there are very few brands that are easy to remember and easy to buy,” he adds.