Australian Wineries, Websites & WT?

This article was written as a follow-up response to a presentation which I delivered to the Winemakers’ Federation Conference (WFA) in Melbourne, October 2010

What are the biggest mistakes wine businesses make with their websites?

1. Your website hasn’t received any love since it was launched in 2006; the colours and layout look tired, the content is stale, and the photos looks like they came from your nephew’s first 1.0 megapixel happy cam (which they did).

2. No analytics in place. You’re flying blind without the hard data to refer to; and Google give their analytics software away for nix, so why wouldn’t you?

3. Search engines such as Google don’t have clue what your website is all about. If you want to do well in search results, make it easy for the search engines to crawl your site and index all of your wonderful keyword-rich textural content.

4. You have no wonderful keyword-rich content on your website. See point 3.

5. No Content Management System (CMS) in place. If you don’t have the means to update or add new content to your website whenever you feel like it, you’ll struggle. Don’t pay others to do this for you – it’ll get all too hard, and expensive, then you’ll give up, and that’s how stale online content is born. Please, no more stale content.

How do you maximise the power of your website?

Treat her with the respect she deserves. Your website speaks volumes about your business in so many ways… don’t skimp on investments of time, money and love. For many people your website will be their first meaningful point of contact with your brands, your wines, your people and your stories. Make a (damn) good impression every time.

What should a homepage look like?

Firstly, it should contain the key information signposts for each of the most important groups of anticipated visitors to your site; in the words of web design guru, Steve Krug: “Don’t make me think”.  Secondly, the homepage should reflect some personality – lighten things up a bit, have some fun. Be human. And drop the clichés: finest, best, award winning… everybody says that.

What do you think of the overall standard of winery websites?

C+.  John is a smart pupil who is not fully applying himself. Needs to concentrate on the important tasks at hand and not get distracted by unnecessary diversions.

How do you draw people to your website?

Make your website highly visible to the search engines with truck-loads of great textural content. Also, give people reasons to refer others to your website – yes, you guessed it, great content worthy of a referral.
What’s the best way of linking your website with Twitter and Facebook?

It’s fairly easy to stream your Twitter or Facebook updates onto your website. Or heading in the other direction, to link to your Twitter or Facebook accounts from your website. But if you’re asking somebody to link from your website to one of these accounts, make sure there’s something good to find at the other end.  A social media icon which links to an inactive social media account is called ‘bling’.

Are Twitter and Facebook worth the effort?

If you’re website is not up to speed – looks less than smashing, is not measurable, and is not getting serious attention from the search engines – then no, Facebook and Twitter are not worth the effort. It’s about limited resources and prioritisation. Always has been.

Do you have examples of great websites?

Plenty, and here’s one: http://www.heathcoteshiraz.com/ It’s not trying to sell, it’s educating (the sales will come in due course). And the search engines love it – looks who comes up number 1 on Google for ‘Heathcote Shiraz’.
Are Australian wineries well placed to cash in on the internet?

Direct online sales are of increasing importance, but they’re nothing compared to websites as global information dissemination points. Many punters who buy wines from a traditional store, and many visitors who walk into a cellar door will have done their research online first. That’s a fact.

Tell us about ‘content marketing’?

Online content = search engine attention & credibility =  self-qualified website visitors = increased conversions (online sales, cellars door visits, newsletter signups, etc, etc.)

What was your main message at the Outlook Conference?

Learn by doing. Don’t outsource. Don’t put this off – it’s too important.

What’s the next big thing with the Internet?

Google will invent a small chip which is surgically inserted into a person’s brain, enabling search queries to be run just by thinking them… (you heard it here first).

Note – NET:101 is running winery and cellardoor full-day internet marketing & social media workshops in conjunction with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia during 2011. Please contact WFA directly for more information.

Photo by soartsyithurts