Wine.com Expands Sales

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Wine.com boosted sales of several products this Valentine's Day by tracking response to its virtual catalog, e-mails and placement of promotions on its Web site.


Because the e-tailer aimed to expand beyond simply offering wine as a gift during the holidays, it focused its promotions not only on wine, but also chocolate, flowers, games and other gifts.


"We have a lot of people who come to our site in the fourth quarter who really just want to be gifters," said Jay Shaffer, vice president of customer experience at Wine.com. "We need to show them we're a yearlong gifting company, not just during the holidays."


This is the first year Wine.com offered such a broad selection of products -- to interest shoppers who want to buy gifts other than wine and champagne -- and a separate boutique, its Valentine's Day Shop, in addition to featuring the same products in other areas of the site.


"We've increased our Valentine's sales at least 10 to 15 times from what we did last year," Shaffer said.


He attributes that partly to the use of Omniture's SiteCatalyst software to track time spent and click-throughs on banner ads -- in the site's virtual catalog and other areas of its site as well as within e-mails and search engine marketing.


"There are so many different channels of traffic -- e-mail, search marketing, organic and affiliate -- it is important for us to know which is performing so we know what return on investment we're getting," Shaffer said. "We put Omniture tags on every single e-mail, every link and every image, so I know that people who are buying Dom [champagne] also bought this other product."


In e-mails leading up to Valentine's Day, Wine.com tracked click-throughs and sales on four featured products.


"If we find that one of the products is pushing much higher on click-through and conversion, we'll take that as a lead and help that property throughout the site," Shaffer said. The product may move up to the site's front page or on to the site's list of recommended products.


Wine.com's drop of a Valentine's Day catalog for the first time also pushed sales. The glossy book featuring about 25 products and gift baskets went Feb. 1-3 to the site's top-performing customers and many of its gifting customers, who use the site mainly for gifts rather than personal consumption.


"The catalog was a big driver of sales," Shaffer said.


The same catalog was available online. The ability to track where in the catalog customers lost interest, and which products got their attention, will help Wine.com design the catalog better in the future.


"It's very difficult to get that kind of feedback from the printed version of the catalog," Shaffer said. "You have no idea how many pages people turn, or what their interests are."


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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