How to Avoid the Top-10 SMS Wine Marketing Mistakes

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

Wineries that get text marketing right see incredibly high ROI. That’s why we spend so much time talking about the best practices of SMS wine marketing. Successful wine marketers can optimize their messages in many ways: from writing texts subscribers want to read to better analytics and testing.

  It’s also helpful to know what not to do. Because a few common SMS marketing mistakes can stand in the way of your success.

  To help you avoid them, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten mistakes that can hurt your performance, along with proven solutions.

1.   Sending Without Consent

2.   Texting Outside of Business Hours

3.   Not Sending a Welcome Message

4.   Not Identifying Yourself

5.   Not Staying On Brand

6.   Forgetting to Include a Call-to-Action

7.   Sending Repetitive Texts

8.   Sending More Messages Than Expected

9.   Ignoring List Growth

10. Being too Sales Focused

Sending Without Consent

  Of all the text marketing mistakes you can make, this one is the most serious. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), when you send automated SMS marketing messages, you must first secure express written consent from all your recipients. And since wine is a regulated product, you can’t obtain the consent of anyone under 21 years of age.

  So you can’t simply upload your contact list or even a list of wine club members until they’ve opted-in to receive texts from you and you’ve put appropriate safeguards in place to not text minors.

If you don’t secure written consent before sending a bulk message or your winery sends text messages to minors, you may expose yourself to significant legal liability.

SOLUTION: Wine marketers can use SMS keywords, mobile sign-up widgets, web forms, and tasting room signs to help you obtain express written consent. Using FCC-approved disclaimers, automated age gates, and collecting your customers’ DOB can help you legally text your winery’s followers.

  Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

Texting Outside of Business Hours

  Texting outside of business hours is like receiving a call from a telemarketer right when you’re about to sit down for dinner. It’s not very pleasant and won’t win you any goodwill.

Unless it’s contextually appropriate — think transactional messages like order confirmation texts — it’s best to keep your marketing messages within the confines of regular business hours.

SOLUTION: Using a professional text marketing platform, you can schedule your texts in advance to avoid reaching customers when they don’t want to be bothered.

Not Sending a Welcome Text

  If someone signs up to receive your text messages but doesn’t hear from you right away when you eventually get around to texting them, they might not remember why they signed up in the first place, then unsubscribe.

SOLUTION: Take advantage of your ability to send an automated response to every new subscriber. Use a welcome text to say thanks for signing up and remind them why they subscribed, like this: “Thanks for joining our text club. Soon you’ll receive regular updates from our tasting room about special events and wine deals available exclusively to our text club members.”

Not Identifying Yourself

  One of the differences between personal and promotional texts sent by businesses is that most telecom carriers don’t offer businesses the opportunity to personalize their SenderID. Personal texts often include a picture or a name identifying you as the sender, while business texts only see a number. So unless customers recognize your phone number, they might not know who sent your message.

  This situation will be resolved in the future when telecom carriers adopt a new technology known as Custom Sender IDs. But until then, it’s important to identify yourself clearly when sending messages to your customers.

SOLUTION: The first message you send to new subscribers can prominently highlight your company name like this: “CHATEAU FELICE: Don’t miss our live entertainment at this weekend’s wine club pick-up party. Saturday & Sunday noon to 4 pm.”

Not Staying On Brand

  Texting is an intimate way to connect with customers — it’s how people communicate with family and friends. Don’t be afraid to let your brand’s personality shine through in your texts so your message won’t appear awkward. The fear of meeting a character count can make you sound robotic.

SOLUTION: What’s most important is authenticity. If you’re a bubbly, energetic winery, make sure that comes across in your messages. On the other hand, if you’re more formal and highbrow, don’t feel pressure to stray from that. It’s all about meeting your customers’ expectations.

Forgetting to Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)

How you wrap up your texts will determine whether or not your prospects take the next step.

Not including a clear CTA in each message means subscribers are less likely to know what to do next. The result is fewer sales and more unsubscribes.

SOLUTION: Include links in your text messages that lead to landing pages promoting your upcoming events or special offers.

Sending Repetitive Texts

  When someone opts in to receive your text messages, they expect your messages to be worthwhile. So, sending a text just because the calendar said so or repeatedly sending the same offer can give your audience a case of “subscriber’s remorse.”

SOLUTION: Like social media, you must keep your marketing content fresh. But if you’re already sending promotional emails or posting on social media, you already have a perfect source of new content for your SMS campaigns.

Sending More Messages Than Expected

  While some might advise that texting “too much” is a mistake. Instead, we urge you to avoid texting more often than your subscribers expect. For example, some wineries send weekly TGIF messages to their text subscribers. No one is offended because the invitation to join their list clearly states it’s a weekly update. Since the #1 reason consumers unsubscribe to text messaging is that they’re getting “too many texts,” it’s essential to be clear about what texts you’ll send and how often you’ll send them.

SOLUTION: One way to provide maximum value is to offer consumers a choice of regular updates about upcoming events, new wine releases, or wine club news. This approach allows consumers to control how often they’ll hear from you.

Not Focusing on SMS List Growth

  One of the most common mistakes in text marketing is not focusing on list growth. If you’re new to text marketing, your first step is to build a list of subscribers who want to hear from you. Like any direct marketing list, the more contacts you have, the more success you’ll achieve, whether it’s wine sales or brand loyalty.

  Over the years, wine marketers have already learned the value of email marketing, so most winery websites prominently feature an email sign-up form. And many wineries even pay a bonus for each email address collected by winery staff.

SOLUTION: Now that DTC wineries have learned that text messaging generates 32 times more customer engagement than email, savvy wine marketers should prioritize SMS list growth above just about anything else.

Being Too Sales Focused

  SMS is a marketing channel we’ve seen our customers use to maximize wine sales. The only problem is that nobody wants to feel like they’re constantly being told to buy something.

  Successful tasting room managers know that story-telling is critical. So take a tip from your sales team, and don’t always sell bottles when you can also profit from selling your story.

  While your primary goal may be to generate sales, you must avoid being too salesy.

SOLUTION: Your customers are human, so talk to them in a conversational, friendly tone. Try enriching your strategy by offering customers a chance to receive lifestyle content like recipes, educational articles about wine, or images from their favorite winery.

The Wrap on SMS Marketing Mistakes

  The great thing about SMS marketing is how simple it is to execute. Thankfully, this also means most pitfalls are easy to avoid.  Like email, SMS marketing has its share of new vocabulary, but the concepts should be familiar: comply with the law and treat your SMS subscribers like any other valued guest. By learning from the mistakes of others, SMS marketing can quickly grow to become your most profitable communication channel.


  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, including CFO Magazine, Inc., CNN Money, eMarketing Magazine, Integrated Direct Marketing, Direct Marketing Association, Wine Marketing Report, and the Wine Industry Network.

VinterActive is located in Windsor, California, at 707-836-7295 or

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