How a Whiskey Spirits Club Increased Efficiency and Customer Acquisition with Personalization
Interviewer: High- end products demand high engagement, and a relationship marketing strategy to survive with our audience. Flaviars is a high- end spirits club for the explorer at heart. They deliver high- end spirits directly to the comfort of your home. Caskers is an E- comm platform for high- end spirits as well. They want you to take pride in what you drink. With Flaviars, their membership program is really the key to their engagement. When you become a member and pick your plan, you have a constant engagement of product, services and content delivered directly to you. Today I'm going to sit down with Tea Dežman, Head of CRM, and understand how they create journeys using Sailthru's platform. We were able to take complex data feeds, product feeds, and other geo restrictions, and create unique, personalized offers and messaging for customers at scale. We're also going to learn how membership programs lead to higher retention, and how higher engagement leads to higher revenue. So join me as we take a peek, and if you'd like, pour yourself a drink. It's going to be an interesting interview. Well, Tea, I appreciate you making the long journey from Slovenia to here in London. Thank you for coming into the studio with us.
Tea Dežman: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Interviewer: Let's explain your role to everyone watching right now. What is your role over there at Flaviars and Caskers?
Tea Dežman: Yeah. I take care of the CRM department, so my official title is Head of CRM. But yeah, we have a team with a few people. Yeah, we basically manage the communication with our customers, with our members, with our leads, prospects, through email. We are also doing some of the text messaging stuff.
Tea Dežman: Yeah, that's pretty much it.
Interviewer: Okay, great. So all about customer CRM. Explain for us what does Flaviars and Caskers actually do and provide?
Tea Dežman: Yeah. Flaviar, it's a bit of a more luxury, high- end spirits club. Yeah, we have our own brands. We have a lot of content. Our customers, members, have access to our spirits, to our own releases. Yeah, it's more of spirits club, maybe a bit more exclusive.
Interviewer: Yeah, it's more like white glove service. You're really getting the best of the best stuff delivered right to your door. You have a few different plans-
Tea Dežman: inaudible.
Interviewer: ...but you can literally get tasters and all kinds of things delivered right to your door, right?
Tea Dežman: Yeah. Even if you're an expert, you can for sure find a lot of stuff for you. But even if you're more of a beginner or more of a knowledge seeker-
Interviewer: That would be me. That would be me.
Tea Dežman: inaudible.
Interviewer: I'm not totally versed. Okay, so there's some education to it, et cetera.
Tea Dežman: Yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. How about Caskers, what does Caskers focus on?
Tea Dežman: Yeah. Caskers is in a way more accessible. It's a really broad E- comm spirits platform, so you can get from the most popular brands, to also the ones more on the expensive side. Yeah, so Caskers is basically your next- door neighbor-
Interviewer: I like it.
Tea Dežman: ...and you can always get what you need.
Interviewer: Well, that's awesome. And what markets do you serve?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, we're in US. So we serve a lot of states, from California to New York. But yeah, we are also present in Europe, Germany, most of European countries, and UK, Ireland.
Interviewer: All right. Well, look, I want to dig into your relationship marketing strategy. How you're acquiring customers, how you're engaging them, and even how you're retaining and creating loyalty with them. But I want to dig into a headache hurdle that your company had, specifically in America. In America, you may or may not be able to ship certain spirits across state borders, and that is a logistical nightmare. Specifically, I live in Colorado, maybe some things aren't available in Colorado for me. Can you talk to us about how your data feeds, your products, the filters of which products and which spirits are available in which states. And how Sailthru is helping you from an email and CRM capacity make smarter recommendations, really personalized recommendations, blending somebody's geography of where they live and the product that would be available for them. Not only from a state law perspective, but also from a stock and inventory perspective.
Tea Dežman: Yeah. Shipping alcohol and working with spirits, it's always a bit challenging as, of course, it comes with a lot of regulations, laws, rules. Also, not only on state level, but each state might have different laws. As you mentioned, shipping alcohol across the border, it's a bit tricky. Yeah, so we need to make sure that our users, from their individual state, get the products that are available in their individual state. For example, before we introduced that update, we were actually manually preparing lineups and data fits for each state, and also building different audiences. Did a lot of segmentation, so the right users got the products that are available. But of course, we couldn't use the Sailthru's recommendation engine with that, because we needed to find a solution where the users would get the products that we could fulfill. Yeah, just a month ago we introduced this new engine that allows us to do that. We automated the whole process of preparing lineups, segmenting users. And we built our templates in a way where we're checking users' state and product availability. And also, at the same time, using Sailthru's recommendation engines, so the users actually get the products that are the best for them and at the same time are available. And of course, recommendations are a lot better if a user has a lot of history, a lot of historical data. So if you're buying a lot of products, of course, also our recommendation can be better.
Interviewer: Let me break this down. Essentially you were creating manual email lists and feeds for each state, which had to be a nightmare labor- wise, had to take forever, and it's fairly manual. Now you're able to actually automate all of that. It's got to be a huge time- saving for your team?
Tea Dežman: Yeah. It's not just a huge time- saving, but it's also, the results are obviously better. So click rates, conversion rates-
Interviewer: And obviously revenue because-
Tea Dežman: And obviously revenue-
Interviewer: Are up.
Tea Dežman: ...all went up. Yeah.
Interviewer: So you would say, the investment in personalization, getting your data clean, getting it organized, and scaling in a situation like that, it pays off. It's worth the energy because you're going to have better engagement, which means better revenue.
Tea Dežman: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it took some time to develop this. A lot of collaborating with our engineers and with Sailthru's tag team, but at the end, we are saving a lot of time with this.
Interviewer: That's great. I love to hear it, saving time, generating more revenue. But being a subscription- based business, a lot of people watching right now are probably in that market. There's some direct- to- consumer brands that are thinking about subscription- based things. How do you manage engagement from an email perspective in that model? Because I signed up for the newsletter when I first learned that we were a client. I wasn't a paying client though. How do you manage non paying, non revenue members versus revenue members? Are there different journeys, are there different content? Is there different ways to engage them?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, for sure. A lot of content is different for non- paying customers, non- members leads. It's all about getting them the right content and the content that they're interested in. For example, if we get a new lead coming from our Flaviar Times, or just searching or looking, like articles about cocktails, and the customer or the prospect, they leave us the email, then we started to nurture our relationship with them through cocktail content. And if it's somebody that's really looking for high- end spirits or customer or a user that we get through ads that are talking about exclusive spirits, rare spirits, luxury spirits, we also know where we are getting the lead from. And we also then adjust the content to this interest.
Interviewer: These are all contextual signals. Your SEO strategy, if somebody searches" high- end bourbon" or" rare whiskey," that data is coming into your platform, as well as if they browse your website, user data there. So all of this context helps inform that personalized journey. How important is that data to selecting the right journey or creating that right journey for them? And do they convert to becoming members?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, for sure it's very important for us. For example, even if you create your free account or just leave us an email, we'll ask you for your location. But in this onboarding process, we will also ask you about your favorite spirits category, about your favorite brands, and also about a brand that you can't live without or it's your favorite. And we gather this content, and also in next steps, in the email flows, in the funnels, we have mechanisms how to include the different content, different products, based on what you told us at the beginning. For example, if your favorite spirits category is gin, you'll most likely get a lot of gin content, like product recommendations and articles. We're also working on educational content. We have a YouTube channel where you can find a lot of different... If you are even from the rookie level to the expert level, you can find something for you there.
Interviewer: Got it. Let's talk a little bit about metrics. Your CRM, it's all about these journeys and optimizing these journeys. We also discussed how you have different feeds based on different states, at least in America. Can you see those metrics at a granular level, say per state and per segment of a region, as well as an aggregate in Sailthru? How does the metrics view look for you inside of Sailthru?
Tea Dežman: Inside of Sailthru, yeah, we can... I mean, we are segmenting a lot, so we use Audience Builder on a daily level. We are monitoring the performance of different lists. But at the same time also in the email summary and in the campaign summary, we can also see the different this automated email campaigns, how these are performing, how templates are performing. We can actually see and we can segment from the campaign the user's location, and what was the most successful and the best performing product there.
Interviewer: That's great. The metrics in the back end tell you exactly what you need so you can inform other journeys and moving forward. Now we've talked about a few stages of relationship marketing. We've talked about your engagement layer and your journeys. We've talked about personalization, how you're getting down to that local level in a state in America. How about acquisition, turning unknown into known? Are there other tips or tricks that you might be able to share with someone watching right now of how to gather new customers, or even just new members into a signup list?
Tea Dežman: There are a few different ways. For example, our two most important seasons are holiday season and Father's Day in June. These are big gifting opportunities. A lot of our customers are actually gift givers. And then we also have two different groups of customers. One that are buying only gifts, and the other one that are our members and are buying the memberships for themselves. Yeah, it's a lot harder to retain the gift recipients.
Interviewer: Gift giver?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, the gift recipients, because they got their membership as a gift. So yeah, the communication towards these customers is completely different. Throughout the whole year we try to show them the added value, not just the tangible benefits as the bottles and tasting boxes, but also the events, the community, the content, the video. Everything they can also get with their membership. And in that way we kind of try to convince them to renew.
Interviewer: That makes total sense. So if I went and bought a gift for you, you didn't necessarily show intent as the recipient, although I'm sure you love the box and the gift. Getting them to renew or become a customer is interesting. Let's talk about members, and you also talked about events, physical events. How are members converting for you or retaining and recurring revenue when they go to events? Are events a big driver for keeping them as a customer in a retention play?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, in the past two years it's been a bit hard to do these events. But yeah, even before the COVID, the events were really, really successful. Members get to know each other there. They can taste directly from different distillers. They can talk with their favorite distillers and the people behind the distillers. So yeah, the events are for sure a big retention driver for us. And yeah, we hope we'll have more events in the future. I mean, we have almost every month a few different events, from smaller ones to a bit bigger. But yeah, it's always really nice to see our members getting to know each other, talking about different spirits. And to actually see the real people that are enjoying the benefits they get with their membership.
Interviewer: Well, that's great. And I would imagine a membership owner probably has a higher value for you long- term. Are they also buying? If they've had the intent to buy an annual membership, they're probably also upselling or you're upselling them on new products. Do you find a sweet spot or do you find a segment that actually buys more beyond their membership in any given way?
Tea Dežman: For example, the tasting boxes are great segue great to buying a full- sized bottles, because if you would like to try a different or a new whiskey but the bottle's very expensive, you're not sure if you like it, then this is a great way to try different things. We are all about trying new spirits, new flavors. Yeah, this is our main product, the tasting boxes. And the tasting boxes always come with tasting notes with a story behind the box. It's never just a whiskey box or a bourbon box, it's always comes with a bunch of content. A lot of our tasting boxes also have tasting videos, so you scan the QR code and you can basically get the information about the spirits you're tasting, besides the ones on the tasting box.
Interviewer: Well, I think that's a great example of how digital meets physical in a truly immersive experience. You can have these YouTube videos, you can have all kinds of digital content, but also open the bottle with friends and take some notes and have a physical, really nice high- end box. In fact, I want to fly in here, I'm going to fly in you're an advent box now. This is last year's box, but the idea was Whiskeys of the Galaxy, and look at all these awesome little... If you can see these, we'll get a tight on there, all these little boxes. Explain to me what's actually inside this immersive experience.
Tea Dežman: Yeah, so the advent box, it's our most successful product. Each year we have a different team. It's basically just tasting 24 whiskeys in December. It's a great gift for experts, but also total beginners. You can really find whiskeys from US, Europe, Scotland, Australia, a lot of different spirits packed in one box.
Interviewer: This is awesome. This is the perfect onboarding. Like you said, I may not want to go buy all of these whiskeys at once, but I've got 24 bottles and I can taste this with my family and friends. And obviously I probably shouldn't taste them all or drink them all in one day.
Tea Dežman: One day, yeah.
Interviewer: So advent calendar, this is great. And you're doing this again in 2022. You've got a new version of this?
Tea Dežman: Yeah, we got a new version of this. This year theme, it's a bit different. Last year we were in the universe. This year we are in the sea, in the depths of the sea. Yeah, but also really fun box. A lot of different interesting spirits. Different from last year of course. So yeah, it's a great way to start your spirit journey, the journey of discovering new flavors.
Interviewer: I love it. And look, if you're watching right now, you should be gifting this, A, to yourself, but to family and friends as well. It's a great way to learn about spirits, to have a great high- end experience with spirits. It's great.
Tea Dežman: Yeah.
Tea Dežman: Yeah, flaviar. com/ advent- calendars, and you'll have it there.
Interviewer: Well, this has been really informative. We need to turn the cameras off because I do want to taste this box and I'm not going to do it on camera. I really appreciate you coming in, Tea. This has been great. I hope to see you next year and we'll talk about how this journey continues with Sailthru.
Tea Dežman: Yeah, for sure. Great.
Interviewer: Okay. Go, flaviars. com. Get your box right now. This one's mine.
Flaviar and Caskers are high-end spirits membership clubs and e-commerce sites with a U.S. clientele. Memberships to Flaviar can be gifted, and shoppers who join the club are treated to mini-bottles of rye, whiskey or bourbon with the option to purchase full-sized bottles. But since shipping wine and spirits can be quite complex - each state has its own rules and regulations, the challenge was to offer shoppers products available in their own state.
Sign up for this session to learn more about how Flaviar and Caskers crafted automated journeys and customized content offerings based on knowing if the shopper was coming to them via search, their website or the brand’s blog. Learn how Flaviar and Caskers have increased their retention and renewal rates while reducing the amount of time that was spent crafting 50 versions of a promotional email.
- Personalized content helps generate strong shopper engagement. Flaviar and Caskers spend a great deal of time creating different content journeys with a focus on SEO and search.
- Flaviar and Caskers has reduced shopper friction with overlays that instantaneously ask shoppers about their location. This automatically updates the offering that each shopper will see.
- Thanks to automation, the marketing teams are no longer creating 50 versions of the same email, thereby freeing their teams up for creating more effective and creative campaigns.