Wine Websites - What Makes One Good (AND Effective)?

A good digital marketing strategy is not about leveraging one channel versus another it is about finding out where your potential customers live online and then effectively utilizing as many channels as necessary in the best manner possible.  The idea being that not everyone is on Facebook, nor Twitter, nor Mobile, etc., so a comprehensive plan is crucial.  The traditional and still most influential showpiece is the good old fashioned website.  There are as many opinions about what makes a good website as there are websites so it is difficult to provide a cast in stone method or magic bullet for designing and building a winery or wine related website.  That said, there are certainly things that work well on the traditional website that will help anyone considering building a new website or redesigning an existing website.  There is one over-arching concept to remember when it comes to websites and it is familiar to most and it can help streamline the process.  That would be the KISS concept (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Simple doesn't equal boring it just means that anyone coming to your site should not be bombarded by content that does get to the heart of who you are...FAST.  You only have so much time to draw your audience in if you are lucky enough to have someone visit your site.  So, videos, images, and (most annoyingly) sounds must fit your brand to all the while helping folks try to figure out where you are in the world and what wines you make.

Having spent the last 12 years in the Technology space including Web Development and Social Media, it is clear that folks who are getting introduced to your brand need to be given clear and concise information but it needs to be presented in a pleasing package that will attract your target market.  The key piece there is to understand who your target market is.

Take for example, the new web presence for Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON.  This is a winery that sells higher end wine from a LEED-Certified Winery.  If you look at their new web presence it is built with a very clean design and with minimal navigation targeting those who are interested in buying their products.  Then there are other wineries with a more fun presence closer to their branding like Middle Sister Wines, Big House Wines, and Holy Expletive.  For Holy Expletive, they are an online sales only winery which is an interesting concept.  Now they have decided to build their website in Flash which is an interesting choice.  It is absolutely an interactive means to have a website with motion and transitions but it is not iOS friendly (think iPhones and iPads) which means a certain portion of their audience can't see them (not good in my mind).

After all is said and done, you truly need a web presence that represents your business.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that you hopefully know your product and who is generally attracted to your terrior/flavour profile.  So, your website should reflect not only those people but people who may stumble upon your site.  What would encourage them to dig deeper into who you are and where you are in the world?  Engagement is the key goal of any digital medium.  What will get people talking, clicking, and reaching out and most importantly buying your wines (either online or in-person)?

Keep on drinking!

Chris & Shannon


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