How Internet Marketers Retain Club Members … And How Wineries Can, Too

Published on December 11, 2013

Engagement Marketing Increases Club Member Retention

By Michele Peterson

What’s a customer saying when they sign up for a club membership? What do they really want?

It’s not just your wine.

When a customer enrolls in a club membership, they’re telling you they want a deeper relationship with your brand. They definitely want your wine (and at discounts if you offer them), but they also want the experience.

They want to feel special. They want to feel like they’re insiders, part of the inner circle …

They want to be part of your story.

Like wineries, many internet marketers also have incorporated club memberships into their business models. To them, memberships are an integral part of the sales funnel.

These marketers recognize that customers are really seeking relationships, so that’s what the marketers give them. They utilize strategies specifically intended to build those relationships, to engage and retain their club members. Doing so increases the lifetime value of these customers, and ultimately boosts the marketer’s bottom line.

Let’s face it, that’s why they’re in business. They want to make a healthy profit.

That’s what you want, too … Right?

Engage and Retain

Internet marketers have three components to their sales and marketing strategies: acquisition, continuity, and ascension.

  • Acquisition — acquiring new customers
  • Continuity — obtaining the customer’s agreement to continue to receive a product, on an ongoing and regular basis, with their credit cards being charged automatically
  • Ascension — increasing the level of the customer’s involvement and purchases, with each step up having more value

Sound familiar? Sure it does … this is the basic structure of wine club memberships, too.

You know that each of these components is important. Together, they’re powerful. But they don’t work at all, unless you first build the relationship and engage and retain the customer.

Internet marketers carry out this engage and retain mission through the use of blog articles, social media, email campaigns, and newsletters (both digital and print). They publish a lot of web content, and here’s their secret …

Most of it isn’t even designed or intended to sell their product.

At least not directly.

Instead, it’s content that’s valuable in and of itself. It’s content that leads the customer deeper into a relationship with the brand.

A Deeper Relationship by Not Selling

These marketers stay in regular contact with their customers. Remember the old adage “Out of sight, out of mind”? They believe it.

They use social media, email, and newsletters to communicate with their customers monthly, weekly … some of them, even daily. And what would happen if every piece of communication was a sales pitch?

Their customers would be turned off. Annoyed. They’d disengage from the brand …

Soon, they wouldn’t be customers anymore.

Instead, the marketers keep them engaged. They make their customers part of the brand story by sharing testimonials and success stories. They give behind-the-scenes glimpses into their industry.

They give them insider secret tips and special knowledge.

And then, when they present a sales offer, the customer is primed to say, “Yes.”

Patience is a Virtue

Trite, but true … patience is, indeed, a virtue when it comes to building lasting relationships with your customers.

Internet marketers have learned to be patient and to build the strongest relationships possible. They know a strong relationship cements a customer’s loyalty to their brand, which increases that customer’s lifetime value. They’re patient because they know the sales will come …

And when they do, those sales tend to be larger and continue for a longer time. They’re worth the wait.

So to retain club members like an internet marketer — to build relationships with customers who will be loyal to your winery — first, publish engaging content on your website. Then share that content with your customers via social media, email, and newsletters. And do NOT sell to them at the same time.

It’s tempting, because you already have their attention. But this is really the true secret to the biggest success …

Communicate your sales offers separately. Use the same channels — social media and email — to promote sales. But build trust and cement the relationship with valuable non-sales content first.

And repeat the process on a continuing basis.

With a loyal community of fans standing behind you, the sales will definitely come.

I'd love to hear what YOU think! Please leave a comment below.

This article also was published in Wine Industry Advisor as an Expert Editorial.