Now more than ever, wineries are challenged to find creative ways to keep their wine club members engaged, expand revenue, and attract new customers. One key piece of any winery’s operation—the membership-based wine club—may serve as an invaluable solution.

Uncorking Profits Through Wine Club Memberships

Believe or not, your club members — your loyal fans — they want to hear from you! Here are 3.5 things you can do right now to reduce attrition and engage and grow your wine club:

1.) Increase Engagement: Your members want to hear from you!

There is a lot happening right now as we are all adjusting to this new normal and navigating evolving ways of working. Teams are now working remotely, tasting experiences are being held online, and there is a renewed focus on the direct-to-consumer sales channel. The through-line of this moment is that your membership still remains a vital lifeline of engagement and revenue for your winery. How can you keep that lifeline flowing, especially during a time when wineries are unable to operate as normal? And which actions should you focus on to see the best results?

Ideas you can implement this month to reduce attrition and engage your membership:

  • Be proactive in your communications. Evaluate the cadence you have established with your email campaigns, and work to activate additional content.
  • Send a simple check-in email with a sincere note asking how your members are doing. No sales pitch, just check-in, and add a beautiful image from your winery.
  • Up your content on social media. Be active in posting. People at home are glued to their devices, so be present with images, Instagram Stories, and links to your website. Revive old content from your blog and re-link to attract fresh eyes.
  • Reintroduce a member-favorite wine and re-release it. Put a new spin on the campaign with a video of a tasting room host sharing the wine the way they would with a guest at the bar.
  • Coordinate your communications across platforms. When working on an email campaign, make sure your website and social platforms have the same messaging. This shows consistency to your consumer and helps promote sales!

2.) Combating Attrition: What to do now to head off the cancellations

Cancellations are bound to happen when you process your next club run. What can you do to minimize them during this critical time?

Try these quick wins to achieve a higher success rate and reduce attrition:

  • Offer ‘shipping included’ benefits to all membership tiers.
  • Feature a lower-priced wine as an add-on option to drive incremental sales.
  • Offer free local delivery.
  • Do you allow your members to customize their shipments? If not, this is the perfect opportunity to offer this benefit. When given this option, 25% of members will customize their shipment and 66% will add additional wines.
  • Last, but not least, remember to ask upfront for an updated shipping address to avoid redirects and allow extra time from pre-ship email to ship date for members to get back to you.

2.5.) Keeping the Connection: How to re-engage former members 

What happens when a member emails you to cancel? Think differently about the cancellation request. Develop a response that assures your member that you understand their need to cancel their membership at this time. Empathize with their situation and provide solutions.

Try to implement these strategies when cancellations occur:

  • Cancel the membership, but not the communication. Let them know you will keep their membership benefits active through the end of the year and encourage them to stay connected through email, or social media.
  • Welcome them to your Membership Alumni Program. Let your canceled member know they can still enjoy all their benefits of membership, without taking another shipment, including member benefit pricing, shipping incentives, complimentary tasting experiences, and event tickets. Your goal is to retain this canceled member as a new member of your Membership Alumni Program. (If you don’t already have an alumni program in place, now could be a great time to set one up.)
  • Re-engage this segment with email campaigns and special offers. Let them know that when your tasting room reopens, you have saved them a seat and can’t wait to share a glass with them.
  • Invite them back. In the new year, reach back out to this segment and reoffer membership. Share the exciting wines you have planned to release, events you have scheduled (onsite at the winery and virtually), and new guest experiences you are launching. Create excitement around your membership and remind them why they joined in the first place.

3.) Planning for the Future: What’s next?

Eventually the shelter-in-place orders will come to an end and tasting rooms will reopen. How can you prepare now to seize this opportunity and regain traction on your programming?

  • Keep your team in shape with regular training. Now is a great time to prep training content for your tasting room team. You could wait to conduct such training in person or hold it online via Zoom, Google Meet, or another virtual meeting service. Keep your team actively engaged by asking them to brainstorm training topics they would like for the next 12 months, and then schedule into a master training calendar.
  • Conduct a collateral audit. Collect all printed materials your guests see when they visit the tasting room. Assemble them and evaluate the look, feel, and messaging. Take this time to make changes, work with a designer to update them, and have them printed and shipped for when you reopen.
  • Think beyond the tasting room. If your tasting room is your sole funnel for wine sales, membership sign-ups, and data capture, it’s time to get creative and reimagine customer acquisition. Is your website fully shoppable? Can you easily join your wine club via your website? Have you considered setting up a Facebook Group exclusively for your members? How about hosting virtual tours via live video? All of these options offer opportunities for engagement, branding, and customer analytics. Technology has made it possible to get really creative when it comes to customer interaction. What better time to take advantage of it?

The key takeaway here? Don’t think of this as down-time. This is an opportunity for your winery to really shine. Helping your members stay connected to your winery and marketing your products and membership doesn’t necessarily require an open tasting room. It does, however, require an open mind.

Wondering what else you can do to market your winery? Marketing Brix specializes in branding, marketing, and promotion for wineries across the US. Connect with us today to find out how we can help your winery uncork its potential.