How One Startup Became Successful Using 4 Digital Marketing Strategies
Many people have utilized sites such as Netflix, Pandora, or Spotify. These streaming services all share one unique quality that drives their success—an algorithm that can match its users with specific movies or songs based on their previous preferences. The idea of this algorithm played a huge role in the development of the startup Bright Cellars, a Milwaukee based wine subscription founded by two MIT graduates in 2014. Since then, this company has grown quickly due to its successful digital marketing tactics.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with an intern and a current employee of Bright Cellars. These women talked in more detail about what exactly this startup did to become so successful and explained their plan for future growth. Some of the digital marketing strategies they implemented are listed below:
1. Online Listening
Overall, Bright Cellars lets consumer preferences drive demand and this is what sets them apart from other companies. Their subscribers do not all receive the same random selection of wine bottles every month, but rather, they are getting wines that match their personal preferences and tastes.
Bright Cellars was targeting a younger generation (21-30), which included mostly women and millennials. Their main goal was to help people learn more about wine by matching them with selections that they might enjoy and they achieved this through the creation of a unique algorithm.
The algorithm is what sets this company apart from other wine subscriptions because it learns about each customer based on the quiz that helps determine each person’s tastes. The quiz asks questions about different food and drink preferences and matches this to the customer’s individual palate in terms of bitterness, sweetness, acidity, and tannin. Once this occurs, the company sends out about four different wines per month that matches these preferences.
One element of online listening includes market research and figuring out what features your consumers like, dislike, or may want in the future. Bright Cellars is an excellent example of utilizing market research because they found that customers are looking for customization, convenience, and variety.
Bright Cellars provides just that by coming out with new wines each month and allowing their subscribers to review and rate their wine. If the customer did not like one or more of the wines they received, the algorithm would adjust and provide a new customized variety based on the quiz their customer had previously taken.
2. Email Marketing
During Bright Cellar’s presentation, someone in the audience asked the employee, “In what ways do you advertise, and of those ways which has been the most effective?” I found it interesting that they mainly advertise their brand through email marketing. The employee explained that this has been the most effective form of marketing because they were able to collect over 500,000 email addresses in their target age range, and this provided the most conversions for them.
Millennials tend to think that email marketing is outdated and ineffective; however, it really works and is the most preferred channel for permission based marketing. In addition, Aliz Savay has written an entire blog post called, “Why Email Marketing is Still Relevant and How You Can Improve It.” It is very informative and interesting to see how using email marketing correctly and effectively can be extremely beneficial for many companies.
Below is a chart that shows how effective email marketing can be, especially for the age range that Bright Cellars is targeting.
Email marketing works well for digital entrepreneurs, specifically: Service Providers, Authors, and Information Products. This is because they can easily and quickly provide content of value and interest to an audience and make offers through an email list.
3. Analytics – can rate their wine
Bright Cellars uses analytics to keep track of what is working well for them and what is not. They are able to track the number of conversions (Total checkouts/Total sessions) based on the emails they send to people and can see how well each marketing strategy is doing based on their overarching goals. In addition, they would carry out A/B tests to figure out which email was working the best and creating the most conversions. Lastly, they are able to keep track of their retention rates to figure out if the subscription is successful at keeping their customers around for a long time.
The company also used big data by keeping track of each customer’s personal profile and then had to aggregate this data to figure out which wines would match these specifications.
4. Content Marketing and Social Media- blog online
Although Bright Cellars is mainly using email marketing to target their customers, they are also aware that many millennials are active on social media; therefore, they have created their own Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages that give their consumers more information. In addition, they use their Twitter page to provide customer service and answer any questions or concerns.
The last element of digital marketing that Bright Cellars uses is content marketing. On their website they have a blog that is useful, entertaining, helpful, and builds community. These are all characteristics of effective content that creates a strong relationship with the customer and the brand.