Historically, beverage alcohol suppliers have underutilized online alcohol sales because the vast majority of sales were made via face-to-face meetings or tastings, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced changes to both regulation and consumer behavior, allowing the industry’s digital capabilities to flourish.

If you are just starting out in alcohol ecommerce, we recommend our companion piece on How to Get Started Selling Alcohol Online. 

1.  How to Maximize Exposure When Selling Alcohol Online

More than 50% of all purchases—both digital and in-person—are influenced by what the consumer sees online and much like brick-and-mortar, shelf space and positioning matter online. Ranking high in search results on any given marketplace is equivalent to being at eye-level on the liquor store shelf. Both are a great place to be, but not always easily attainable for smaller suppliers.

However, this isn’t the only way to show up online. Campari America aims to show up for consumers across various digital touch points including banner ads, creating custom packaging for an online retail partner, or showing up in adjacent search like a specific cocktail recipe.

“It’s not just about where your product is on shelf,” reveals Andrea Sengara, Campari America’s Vice President of Marketing. “There are multiple other touch points that lead up to that moment.”

2. Tracking Alcohol Sales Online by Leveraging Google Analytics Reports

Tracking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is essential to determine whether to continue pursuing a specific digital strategy or pivot to something new. Kim Nguyen, Director of Marketing at Speakeasy, guided us through some of the most valuable free KPI reports on Google Analytics.

All Traffic Report – this report gives you a high-level glance at how users found your site. You can select the “Compare To” checkbox in the Time Period dropdown menu of this report to see how the traffic channels have changed month-over-month or year-over-year and see how an advertising campaign or other marketing campaigns have fared.

Device Report – this shows you which device categories (desktop, mobile device, etc.) are used the most when interacting with your site. The report allows you to quickly diagnose user experience issues if one device is converting less than others.

All Pages Report – shows which pages on your website users are visiting the most and distinguishes a dollar amount to which pages are assisting in converting sales.

3. Why Alcohol Retailers Invest in High-Quality Images

In the alcohol ecommerce space, a consumer doesn’t have the opportunity to taste your product or examine the bottle in person. This is why high-quality images are typically the face of your brand online and can serve as the backbone for brand building. These images provide material for social campaigns, digital advertising, or on a website to entice a consumer and close a sale. There’s a reason that professional photographers make a comfortable living: high-quality images are worth the investment.

“High-quality images are versatile tools that can be used in multiple applications over long periods of time,” advises Nate Manny, Creative Director for Westland Distillery. “While the initial costs may seem daunting, their ongoing value will make up that cost.”

4. Improve Your Marketing Strategy by Segmenting Contacts

Email marketing has the capability to boost your ecommerce sales, but not every person on your contact list needs to receive the same communication. You’re likely to have better results if you segment your contacts and send them the type of communications they prefer or those that end in the result you’re looking for.

Facebook and Instagram allow companies to create marketing lists to target users that have visited your website before, but haven’t converted a sale yet. This is helpful because 60% of consumers have discovered a brand or product on Instagram and 78% say they see brands on Instagram as popular.

Note: Apple has recently allowed users to opt out of Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA), their mechanism for tracking user data for advertisers, meaning that there will no longer be the same amount of clarity and effectiveness in tracking leads and using website data for retargeting via Facebook since many users will opt out. Read more here.

One effective email marketing tactic Tanteo Tequila has adopted is the abandoned cart email. “When someone abandons their cart, we’re retargeting them and seeing more sales through that,” explains CEO Neil Grosscup.

5. Test & Learn

Selling alcohol online is a new and fast-growing space, but can provide you with a lot of data in regards to what works with your consumers. Be aggressive in trying new things and finding out what works best for your brand.

“Do not be afraid to test and learn,” advises Sengara.  “This is what everybody is doing. They are making the best-informed choices that they can with the amount of information that they know, partnering with other platforms that are also sharing and collaborating with what would make sense for their audiences, and trying it.”

Westward Whiskey found success when they took a leap to collaborate with cocktail bar Death & Company on an Ask Me Anything social campaign early on in the pandemic, which exposed the brand to a wider audience of 220k. Of course, Chief Marketing Officer Richard Black is quick to note that you must set key performance indicators to measure the success of these strategies.

To view the entire Park Street University playlist on ecommerce, click here.

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