Text Marketing Plan: 3 Easy Steps to Get Started

By: Bryan St. Amant, Founder & CEO of VinterActive

Now that leading wineries have discovered the power of SMS marketing, the race is on to see which brands will profit and at whose expense.

With consumer engagement 32-times better than email marketing, even new wineries can quickly grow a small text messaging list that outperforms thousands of email addresses. For wineries with established DTC lists, the news is even better.

If your winery can convince 3% of your existing list to opt in for text messaging, you’ll succeed in creating an entirely new DTC channel that sells as much wine as the other 97%.

And here’s the best news of all…

Today’s SMS wine marketing solutions are inexpensive, easy to use, and can generate game-changing results in days by following three easy steps.

STEP 1) Plan Your Initial Offer: Once you’ve made the decision to add text messaging to your mix, your next step is to decide what you’ll be using it for so you can create your first text marketing offer inviting your customers to join your brand’s text messaging list.

The latest research shows that consumers are interested in brands that offer exclusive promotions, product news, and customer service delivered via text. And the most successful wineries we’ve worked with use text messaging to deliver all three.

But just because you can do all these things with SMS marketing doesn’t mean you need to do them all at once.

That’s why we recommend most wine merchants start with one of these text marketing offers:

• Concierge Services available via text.
• Wine Club Updates sent via text as needed.
• Order Tracking triggered by new shipments.
• Monthly Winery Updates about new wine & events.
• Weekly Tasting Room Specials.

If you want a proven pilot program and have a wine club, try offering your members the opportunity to receive their club updates via text. They’ll be thrilled, and you’ll have a new text marketing list.

PRO-TIP: For maximum engagement with loyal customers, perform a simple survey asking them what texts they’d like to receive from your brand. You might learn something, and when you offer your fans the chance to sign up for text messaging, they’ll already be on board.

Whatever you decide to offer at first, as long as you focus on real customer needs, you can’t go wrong. You can always start slow and build your text marketing program over time. So don’t stress out. Just getting the ball rolling might be the primary benefit of your first campaign.

For a motivated wine marketer, this first step shouldn’t take more than a day or two.

STEP 2) Select an SMS Wine Marketing Platform:
Once you’ve identified the customer services you’ll deliver via text, your next step is to select an SMS wine marketing platform.

Fortunately, many vendors now serve the wine industry and offer a broad range of marketing tools and price points. So do your due diligence by confirming the platform you select has all the tools needed to support your most crucial SMS marketing goals.

Critical tools for DTC wine marketers often include:

Two-Way Text Conversations: Essential for text-based concierge services. If you have a large hospitality team, make sure the system you select supports multiple team members as needed.

Text Marketing Preference Center: Essential for segmenting customers based on individual interests. Preference-based messaging is the best way to maximize consumer satisfaction and minimize unsubscribes.
Integration with Wine Commerce Systems: Essential for automating transactional messages like order confirmation, reservation reminders, and shipping notifications.

Automated Text Marketing Workflows: Essential for quickly responding to customer inquiries and maximizing staff productivity.

Age Compliance Mechanism: Essential for complying with industry regulations. SMS wine marketing systems must have working age gates that filter out contacts younger than 21.

PRO-TIP: Most wine marketers can send and receive texts using toll-free or local numbers. To send more than 3000 messages daily, use a toll-free service since they can deliver thousands of messages in seconds. But if customers also call you on a local number, you should text-enable it, too.

You can’t go wrong if you choose a platform that delivers the tools needed to support your initial goals. Worst case, if your plans change or your SMS platform doesn’t deliver as expected, you’ll still have all your data and opt-in contacts. So you can change your SMS marketing system if needed.
Even with due diligence, this step should take a week or less.

STEP 3) Launch Your First SMS Wine Marketing Campaign: When your new SMS platform is ready to go, it’s time to launch your new text messaging service. The wineries we’ve worked with have enjoyed success launching their SMS programs using a combination of:

• Email invitations to existing contacts.
• Webforms targeting prospects visiting your website from a desktop computer.
• “Click-to-text” buttons targeting prospects visiting your website from a mobile device.
• “Scan-to-text” signs that use QR codes to invite tasting room visitors to join your list.
• Keywords your customers can text to your brand to join your SMS list.
• Printed offers accompanying product shipments.

Just like email marketing, the success of your text marketing program depends on your list size.
So promote your SMS list wherever you engage the most customers.

If you have a large email list, promote your SMS program to email subscribers. If you have a busy tasting room, promote your SMS list there. And if your website or social media pages host hundreds or thousands of visitors each month, they should prominently feature your SMS wine marketing offers.

PRO-TIP: For an in-depth tutorial on the best practices for growing SMS wine marketing lists, check out our recent article, “The 7 Best Ways Wineries Can Grow Their Text Marketing Lists.”

To help you get started, your SMS wine marketing partner should be happy to assist you with all the tools needed to introduce your new text messaging services and grow your opt-in list quickly.

Even if you take the time to set up all possible subscription channels, this step can be accomplished in less than a week, leaving you ready to begin profiting from SMS wine marketing.

After Launch, What’s Next?

If you’ve already launched your SMS wine marketing program, congratulations! You’ve joined an exclusive club of wine merchants who use text messaging to stay in touch with their customers.

Now the fun begins – optimizing your text marketing program to maximize results.

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is how often you text your subscribers. Since the number one reason consumers unsubscribe to text marketing programs is that they receive too many or too few messages, the frequency of your messages is critical to dial in.

The latest research on text marketing shows that most consumers prefer receiving text messages from their favorite brands every two weeks. But consumer preferences vary widely. So we recommend offering customers a choice of text messaging content so they can hear from you as often as they like.

Your initial campaign could offer winery updates every two weeks. But then, as you build out your text marketing program, you might also offer weekly updates on tasting room specials or perhaps monthly updates featuring recipes that pair well with your wines. With weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly options to choose from, your SMS wine marketing program will appeal to the broadest range of customers.

As you continue to optimize your text messaging program, you’ll need to keep an eye on results. That means regularly reviewing the open, click-thru, and unsubscribe rates generated by your campaigns so you can do more of what works while learning from your less successful efforts.

In our experience, learning from both success and failure is the key to delivering world-class DTC wine marketing results.

The Sooner You Text,
the Sooner You’ll Profit

In a world where 90% of online consumers want text messages from their favorite brands, but only 8% of U.S. wineries text their customers, this mismatch between consumer preference and industry practice spells nothing but opportunity for wineries focused on growth.

Unless you think text messaging is going away soon, you only have one choice to make: whether or not you let your competition profit from text messaging before you.

With consumers hungry for brands that engage them with text messaging and wine marketers reporting results 32-times better than email, now’s the time for savvy wine marketers to embrace text messaging.

We hope the 3-steps we’ve shared with you in this article can help your business quickly profit from SMS wine marketing.

Happy Selling!

About the Author

Founder & CEO of VinterActive, Bryan St. Amant, is a pioneer in developing preference-based direct marketing and its successful application in the wine industry. His award-winning work has been featured in books, magazines, and seminars. VinterActive is located in Windsor, California. For more information please call or visit their website vinteractive.com
707-836-7295

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