Toasting customer experience with digital marketing at Virgin Wines

Australian wine producer adopts new email marketing solution and gains efficiencies with workflow and automation based on customer experience and events

As a small wine marketer launched in Australia in late 2010, Virgin Wines has been heavily reliant on digital marketing to build its brand position and sales.

A core component of that strategy has revolved around email marketing, which over the last two-and-a-half years has delivered revenue growth of between 30 and 40 per cent and become a key component of the company’s marketing strategy.

But with its previous email service provider failing to offer a value-for-money solution, in mid-2012 Virgin Wines began seeking an alternative. “We wanted to improve targeting and segmentation and ultimately make email a more relevant customer experience,” said Robert McGeachie, Virgin Wines’ digital marketing manager.

“We wanted a self-service application that was integrated with our other IT systems, and our in-house design team felt confident using.”

A search of local email service providers uncovered most were high cost in comparison to other markets that Virgin Wines’ parent company, Direct Wines, was operating in. With his counterparts in the US having been long-time users of the e-marketing platform from North Carolina-based company, Bronto Software, McGeachie decided on a trial run.

The results were pleasing. McGeachie said Bronto met Virgin Wines’ requirements on a number of fronts including fast integration, self-service management, customised reporting and visibility of customers on an individual level, as well as delivering the sough-after cost savings.

“We also had a couple of online demonstrations from the Bronto sales team which allowed us to discuss any questions or concerns we had,” McGeachie said.

Another benefit of Bronto was that it enabled Virgin Wines to introduce workflows and automation based on customer events. “This, combined with the significant cost savings gained through the strength of the Australian dollar, gave Bronto a competitive edge,” he said.

Virgin Wines’ marketing and design team had four training sessions with Bronto in the month before the system went live, and since then has found live chat support to be sufficient for handling any subsequent issues.

While McGeachie said a true comparison between Bronto and the previous system is difficult to estimate, Virgin Wines has certainly benefitted from the ability to easily drill down in its customer base to target individuals with more relevant content. The company is also able to generate emails based on events such as sign-up and abandoned shopping baskets.

“Email is part of a multi-channel approach at Virgin Wines,” McGeachie said. “We need it to integrate into the whole experience rather than sit as a standalone channel.”

Even so, the new system is certainly pulling its weight, with McGeachie claiming email sales have grown by 50 per cent in the year since Bronto was implemented.

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