In Fall, 2018, the university concluded cooperation agreements with two leading companies in the digital wine industry: Weinbau Online from Mainz and EuvinoPro from Berlin.
Weinbau Online, with CEO Tobias Scholl, provides cloud software for wineries and the wine trade to streamline internal processes at the winery. Their product range includes electronic indexing, bottle, cellar and harvest bookkeeping, online shops, statistical company evaluations, newsletters, mailings and much more. In a first joint project with the university, the success factors for online newsletters will be the subject of a master thesis.
EuvinoPro, with CEO Johannes Finze, offers winemakers, the wine trade and associations a wide range of software solutions for administration, procurement, sales & marketing, CRM and data management. The company operates a wine platform for German and international winegrowers and is the initiator of the wine industry's data network. In addition to guest lectures in the seminar "Digitalization in the wine industry" in Geisenheim, joint publications in industry journals and a master thesis on benchmarks in online shops, there is also the project "Experimentierfeld" which is part of the extensive cooperation between the university and EuvinoPro.
"We are delighted to be working closely with the two leading players in the area of digitalization in winemaking", commented Prof. Simone Loose from the Department of Wine and Beverage Business. Such a close cooperation between a university and digital businesses is unique worldwide and advantageous to both sides. "Digitalization allows us to measure and understand what is actually happening in the business. Surveys can always be afflicted with memory problems, approximations or social wishes, while digital data accurately reflects the economic reality of the wine industry. This gives us the tools to deliver reliable results and measurements for areas of the wine business which ahve not yet been analyzed", continued Loose.
Geisenheim students benefit from early insights into the digital wine business which will play a fundmental roll in their future careers. "It is very important that our students see the future of all aspects of the wine business will be strongly influenced and changed by digitalization. The winemakers and wine traders of the future must be prepared for new challenges and a degree from Geisenheim should prepare them for these in good time." emphasized Loose.
What makes a newsletter successful?
The first scientific results of a master thesis, in cooperation with Weinbau Online (WBO) and the Geisenheim Department of Wine and Beverage Business, have already been presented to the wine business. "We would like to thank the 25 wineries and Weinbau Online users who gave us access to their online newsetters and linked data", said Loose. In an age where direct selling is in decline and not only young customers want to have regular digital reminders of the winery, newsletters are an important marketing instrument for wineries. How successful are online newsletters in reaching customers and selling wine? The objective of the thesis was to determine comparative values for the success of online newsletters and to find out how this success can be increased.
In her master thesis, Sarah Adeneuer examined and categorized 552 newsletters sent out by 25 wineries to a total of 259,000 recipients. The newsletters differed not only in design, but also content and main topic, as well as their methods of persuding the recipient to act.
The scope of the address data bank was found to be a significant success factor, with the number of readers increasing proportionally to the number of recipients, meaning wineries must continually try to increase their newsletter recipients.
On average, the reading rate of the newsletters was 42% and 17% of the readers (7.1% of the recipients) clicked on a link in the e-mail. It is known from other cooperation partners that the conversion rate for German winegrowers is around 1 - 2 % as the ratio of purchases to clicks. (see diagram). This means that only 0.07 % to 0.14 % of sent newletters convert to actual sales, which, for the wineries analyzed, translates to one online sale for every 390 recipients. In comparison to paper newsletters, with a sales rate of around 1 %, online newsletters have a significantly lower success rate, although the costs of paper mailings is, of course, much higher than online newsletters.
An increase in mailings only led to a slight decrease in the success rate; the reading rate per ten newsletters fell only slightly by 1%. The reading and click rate was significantly higher outside the core working hours of typical wine customers in the mornings, evenings and weekends. Newsletters should thus be sent when the recipient has time to read them. The success rate was also significatly higher for personalized newsletters with reference lines and personal greeting as well as for newsletters with single-click links to information (no attached PDFs, etc.).
Loose presented the results of the thesis at Hochschule Heilbronn's Weinmarketingtag, on May 9, 2019, and a lively discussion afterwards served to underline the importance of findings from digitally available data for the wine sector. According to the professor, data from the digitalization of the industry will become increasingly important in research and teaching in Geisenheim.