How winedirect.com.au lifted customer recency, frequency and value with a digital overhaul

Winedirect.com.au's chief digital officer talks us through the digital marketing and website investments helping bring stronger human connection to customer communications and interactions

Double-digit increases in ROI for every dollar spent on email, higher frequency spending customers and hefty database signups are the kinds of marketing and digital tech investment returns that speak for themselves. But it’s also the ability to lift that human connection with customers that’s top of mind for winedirect.com.au’s chief digital officer, Adam Hollinshead.

Winedirect.com.au is an Australian wine retailer that’s been around for 25 years. Family owned and based in Adelaide, the group sources Australian brands directly from winemakers and producers predominantly in the small to medium business category.

Initially a bricks-and-mortar retailer, the group realised early on the opportunity presented by digital and invested heavily to launch its online commerce presence in 2001. As competitors entered the market, online gained sophistication and complexity, and customer sales increased, the company decided to adopt the community, open source version of Magento’s commerce platform in 2011. It’s since shifted across to version 2(M2) of its site in 2019, transitioning from on-premise server hosting to Amazon Web Services at the same time to improve scalability and flexibility.

“The shift was about providing a more robust, user-friendly version of our site – with M2, there was more of that focus on customer experience,” Hollinshead told CMO. For example, significant time was spent on optimising speed and navigation. Winedirect.com.au also looked to customer feedback to identify areas of friction and inform the site overhaul.

More recently, the retailer brought on dotdigital’s marketing automation platform, replacing a former Mailchimp email marketing set-up lacking the sophistication and flexibility to lift winedirect.com.au’s personalisation game. Off the back of this investment, Hollinshead’s team has spent the last year enhancing levels of personalisation including automated recommendations and communications.

Adam HollinsheadCredit: Winedirect
Adam Hollinshead


As Hollinshead puts it, the challenge for winedirect.com.au as an online-only business is to establish and continue to foster relationships with customers at a personal level by adding a “human touch” to communications and interactions.

“One key thing for us is bridging the gap between customers and our sales team, or tasting panel to create some meaningful connection,” Hollinshead said. “A lot starts with automation, which is necessarily abstract in terms of connection point, but we do have data to make our marketing and communications more personal.

“It’s important to have those personalised conversations… we’re not just an electronic monster trying to sell wine, we want customers know there are real people behind who care about what we offer.”

A friendly reminder

Thanks to segmentation tools available in the marketing automation platform, along with streamlined API integration between dotdigital and M2, winedirect.com.au has increasingly been able to capture, segment and funnel data more effectively to run personalised campaigns.

One of the most successful so far has been an abandoned browse program, which utilises automation and Web insight tools and retargeting to trigger emails to customers browsing products but not completing a transaction. The feature directs customers back to their browsing category and also follows them up on Facebook as a way of encouraging conversion. It’s been rolled out across the full customer database.

In three months, the campaign accounted for 5 per cent of revenue generated via winedirect.com.au’s automation programs and 2.7 per cent of overall company revenue. Other key results include a 72 per cent increase in ROI for each 41 spent on email over the three-month period.

“People’s lives are so busy, they get distracted and move to the next shiny new thing. This feature allows us to flick them an email to say ‘you were looking at this thing, do you still want to look at this thing?’ – and they tend to want to,” Hollinshead said. “I thought we’d get negative feedback if it became annoying, but we didn’t. It’s really simple, not pushy, just a reminder.

“The numbers speak for themselves. But really, it’s about creative authentic connections with people. This gives us another touchpoint and opportunity to reinforce what we are doing and invite inbound contact. It reinforces there is someone here to look after them should they need them.  

“And it builds confidence in the decisions we are making [around technology and strategy].”

Another key dotdigital capability introduced by winedirect.com.au in the last 12 months is its recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) value model tool. While the retailer was already using an RFM approach, this tech-led advancement has seen customers segmented into personas such as ‘champions’ and ‘loyal’, enabling the sales team to identify customers and tailored engagement accordingly.

“The RFM tool has helped streamline the entire process of sending emails while providing in-depth, real-time insights into customers’ core purchase lifecycle and their spending behaviour,” Hollinshead explained. “This has not only aided in segmentation and personalisation but has also led to growth in our database.”

In combination with improved site speed, navigation and usability, personalised communications and more thoughtful customer follow-up, winedirect.com.au’s customer interaction optimisation has resulted in 30 per cent growth in its database since March 2020. In addition, it’s seen a rise in repeat customers – a key metric for Hollinshead’s team. Just over six in 10 customers who made a purchase in 2020, for instance, made a repeat purchase.

Meanwhile, the growing digital and marketing effort has seen Hollinshead’s team grow to four employees.

Next cabs on the rank include relaunching a rewards and loyalty program that takes its cues from RFM data, as well as using more social retargeting. Hollinshead said winedirect.com.au originally had a loyalty program but abandoned the old model when it transitioned to its latest site platform.

“But it’s a massive balancing act between these kinds of programs and our range of offers, such as introductory or continuing offers,” he said.

SEO organic and paid investment is another priority this year now that the core site and digital marketing communications are in place, Hollinshead added. Winedirect.com.au will also transitioned to an outsourced logistic model in 2021.

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