Ecommerce Trends From Online Wine Clubs

Email marketing

Online wine clubs don’t jump out as likely businesses to find ecommerce innovation, but because of intense government regulation, they have to be.  Here’s some of what you can learn about ecommerce innovation by looking at what online wine clubs are doing.

Innovation #1: A Complete Total Focus on Email Address Acquisition

Winc was the first online wine club to really push the envelope in regard to email acquisition.  They realized early on that unlike other ecommerce businesses, the chances of converting traffic to sales immediately when selling wine online was simply not very high. Instead they focused on capturing emails through an introductory quiz and then emailing you, in essence, until you signed up for a wine club membership.

Part of the reason for this innovation is that wine like all alcohol is prevented from being able to retarget via Google Ads and other sources because of the risk of addiction. Email marketing isn’t new, the ROI of email marketing is well known, but this near total focus on email marketing even at the expense of immediate conversions, was new.

Innovation #2: Exact Match Domains Always Did Help

In regard to SEO, we’ve all read article after article about exact match domains and how they once were incredibly helpful for ranking, but now don’t really matter much.  Judging by the Original Wine of the Month Club (yes, they literally invented the industry back in the early 1970’s) I don’t think that common wisdom is necessarily true. 

While it seems true that Google is no longer giving you some type of bonus for your exact match domain, the big value is that when someone links to you (we all know how important backlinks are, right?) they’ll often do so by your domain name.  If your domain name is a keyword you’d like to rank for, it seems that the anchor text is still just as helpful as it ever has been.

Innovation #3: Doing Marketing, Not Work

A few years ago, branded wine clubs for household name businesses started popping up.  But, most of those businesses had literally nothing to do with making any food or beverage product, let alone making wine which is a specialty product by any measure.  As an example, the Los Angeles Times newspaper has had a wine club for many years. 

So why does the LA Times have a wine club and how do they have one?  Quite simply, the LA Times has a wine club because they have a huge email list and they partnered with a company that makes wine to package the wine and ship it on a monthly basis. 

The result is, by sharing their massive email list the LA Times makes several millions of dollars a year. They do marketing through their email list and not work, because they’re never seeing a single bottle of the wine in their wine club, let alone actually shipping it.

In Conclusion:

Of all the industries to drive ecommerce innovation, online wine clubs wouldn’t have ever been my first guess.  But, as the old American saying goes, necessity is the mother of innovation and government regulation which we always hear about and hear complaining about, but rarely get to see in practice, has really driven innovation here. Personally, I’m interested in seeing what the future holds in the online wine space because more innovation is surely coming.