17 replies
I don't come into this section of the forum and ask for help lightly, heck I've tried to hire one writer from WF already who turned down my project because I'm in a niche he knows little about.....so here goes nothing.

We have 300+ unique visitors to our site daily from targeted terms like wine clubs, wine club, wine gifts and wine gift baskets. Each term directs to the appropriate landing page.

Some things we know:
-We're expensive when compared to our competitors. Please note, this isn't changing both because of our intent, but also because our lower priced competitors have major media backing and a different cost structure (think NY Times and Wall Street Journal)
-Our checkout process is actually quite good. About 50% of the people who put something in their cart, follow through.
-Our conversion rate is under 1% and perhaps well under.
-Our competitors have conversion rates of 3-4x ours. We know this from numbers available via affiliate traffic.

My question for the copy writing forum is this: is our problem bad copy...bad page design or some combination of the two?

Any suggestions you could make would be extremely helpful as we gear up for the holidays here in 10 days or so. Company is Uncorked Ventures (link excluded so that no one things I'm simply trying to take a link)
#site #wine
  • Profile picture of the author JoniWBeadle
    Hey Mark...I think the actual site is done very well. It's crisp - clean - nice soft colors and easy to navigate.

    I think what I would do is study your competition...what is the one thing your wine offers that theirs doesn't? Maybe give some kind of reason, turning it into a benefit of why yours is sold at a higher price.

    In my copywriting studies, I seen an example of a bread company that took a different angle to make their bread stand out. It was ordinary wheat bread however, they tagged onto it that it was "Gluten Free." That caught the attention of a different market which lead to a very successful campaign.

    So if you could find something about your wine or your service that's a little different, make that one reason stand out.

    Does that make sense to you?
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  • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
    You have no opt-in. That's the first thing you should add to your homepage with a compelling offer to get people to sign up.

    By creating a powerful list and marketing to them regularly with well-written emails, your business can really expand.

    Your copy is nothing special. Your headline is boring.

    You should add a powerful FAQ section to your site.

    No one wants to learn anything. I would change your tabs from "learn more" to "discover more."

    The copy on most of your pages is focussed on your company. You need to focus your copy on your customers.

    You need a serious rewrite of your web copy.

    Your header is flat.

    Some quick ideas.


    Thomas O'Malley
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Hi Mark,

      Here's what I see so far:

      1. The overall design, while clean, is also awkward...

      The text lines are too long making it hard to read...

      The descriptions of the products are not next to the order buttons and pictures...

      2. The copy is bland.

      You need to get better at romancing the products and where/when when they're used. Or with gift baskets, embellishing on the great feelings of the giver when they send the product to a friend.

      3. Images: Not to be over the top, but imagine integrating scenes of an intimate picnic, on a boat, a fancy dinner party, sharing an anniversary, etc.

      I'll give you the overall secret: Make sure the pictures have PEOPLE enjoying themselves with wine in them.

      Pictures of bottles, crates and corks do not inspire emotion. You can keep them, but also include the others above.

      I'm not advocating using models, stock photos will do just fine.

      4. Reviews: Obviously, holiday season is almost upon us, and although a redesign is in order, it is ill-timed.

      One of the short term things you can do is encourage some great reviews. You can have a contest for the best review. Maybe have a few contests with different review categories.

      Reviews are very much read and usually carry greater weight than copy.

      The other thing you can do is include a one page letter in each shipment asking for a review. Emotions will be highest then.

      5. When redesigning: Take a page from Amazon, Walmart, Zappos, etc. They spend millions testing different things. There are dozens of design-oriented things you can do to improve navigation, time on site and conversion.

      Good luck and happy holiday season,

      - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author Mel White
    Speaking as a casual browser, I would like to know things like "is there a selection list"? I see a "club" and so forth, but no list of wines if I wanted a very special private label rose, for instance. If there's such a beast, I didn't notice it on the first page (it should have been very noticeable.)

    It's fine to have someone select wine for a gift I'm sending...but people might buy for themselves more often.

    And I agree -- a mailing list is important for a site like this. Only, PLEASE don't make it one of those 'LEAP UP AND GRAB YOUR BROWSER' ads. That looks desperate.
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  • Profile picture of the author inittowin
    I am a newbie to this site and just starting on my copywriting process but I have this advice. Get bigger more compelling font. I could not read your copy because it was too small and compacted.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    There's an old gag about two lesbians. One lesbian says to her mate "I'm gonna be frank with you tonight". The other lesbian says "Aw...but you were Frank last night" *.

    So I'm gonna be frank with you tonight. For starters...your business name is awful. "Uncorked Ventures". Sounds like the name of a plonk-lovers blog. Bloody awful.

    The writing is hokey. With lines like Experience the best that wine country has to offer in the comfort of your own home - two fingers go down my throat.

    The navigation is very clumsy. Buyers shouldn't have to click twice to read a description of the product. Talking of the product. Why are you talking about "red and white wines" continually? Wine-buffs are passionate about their wines. A wine buff will say "I have a very nice Petrus I'm going to open tonight with the beef" or "I bought some Gigondas the other day - excellent nose". A wine buff won't say "I'm going to open some red for dinner".

    So I get the impression that you don't really know your wine. Otherwise it would show. The "passion" you have for wine should be leaping off the page. Yes...you probably do know your wine. But I'm not getting that vibe with the overall tone of this site. It looks more like "Dude...I've got a good idea for an online business".

    That gift basket with the two bottles of "red", the wine glasses and the bottle opener. Here's your description -
    Refined and elegant. Uncorked Ventures' Wine Essentials Gift Basket includes a pair of the acclaimed Riedel "O" wine tumblers along with a beautiful rosewood Laguiole waiter's corkscrew.
    There's more detail after you hit the "purchase" button. But this description is lame. This doesn't make me go "Wow...that sounds fabulous...gotta have that". What's so special about the tumblers? I want to know. Show me a close-up. Tell me how and where they were made. Same for the bottle-opener. What's so special about it?

    And the reviews. Where are they? Another opportunity lost.

    The most interesting section is the blog. But there again you drop the ball. First story is "Germany Deals With Stolen Grapes". Sounds fascinating. Starts with an interesting bit about how Pinot Noir was established in California with cuttings taken (stolen) from a Burgundian vineyard (BTW I live in France) but then it quickly runs out of puff. The only bit about Germany is this para -
    Germany is confronting the question of vineyard security head on due to stolen fruit from some of their most famous vineyard. As you might expect, securing a 100 acre vineyard is easier said than done.
    So how do they secure a vineyard? You don't tell us. You start by saying something about closing access roads.

    So yeah...this site needs a LOT of work. I'm not feeling the love.

    Have a look at this site - Saddleback Leather Co. I could get lost in there for hours. Beautiful and engaging writing.

    Your site? Boring and bland. Generic. Rick suggests stock photos. I wouldn't go that way. I'd prefer to see heaps of photos of your "family business". And pics of the Californian soil...oak barrels...happy crews of pickers...wine presses...the crew enjoying a glass with cheese at the end of the day - all that.

    Do you have a cellar or is the wine on indent and you just grab it when you get an order? Do you have your eye on some special vintage coming up? A vintage that no other wine club will have? Why should we join your wine club?

    On your "About Us" page you say
    Uncorked Ventures provides its customers with the best wines from California, Washington, and Oregon. A great majority of these wines come from small artisan producers whose wines are not widely available.
    By making frequent trips to wine country, we develop relationships with top winemakers that grant us access to the high quality, limited production wines our customers desire.
    Corporate speak. Could be so much better.

    You say We're expensive when compared to our competitors. Doesn't matter. Remember the Rolls-Royce motto? "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten". Some people could care less about price. In fact they can't wait to spend money. Check this out. Handmade French pastels. La Maison Du Pastel They have one retail shop in Paris. Open one afternoon a week. Full box of pastels costs €8500. And good luck finding the shopping cart. See what I mean? They're not selling "pastels" - they're selling a luxury item. What starving artist can afford to pay €228 for 12 pastels? La Maison du Pastel | Les produits...

    If you paid that much you'd be more inclined to use them as a coffee table conversation piece. Or put them under glass. €228 for a dozen pastels!!! $335.

    Obviously there's a select market. Perhaps Colonel Qaddafi's daughters were drawing oasis landscapes with $12,500 pastel sets.

    Coming back to your problem. There's a lot of work to get your site happening. You could probably spend $20k on design and copy. Easily. 300 uniques a day is pitiful. So the traffic problem needs to be addressed.

    In answer to your question of "is our problem bad copy...bad page design or some combination of the two?" Its a combination of the two. But really, I don't think you've thought your marketing through - positioning etc. Are you going for wine-buffs (snobs) or people looking for gift baskets? What makes you different from the Twenty Six and a Half Million "Broad" keyword results thrown up on Google?

    Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg. Like I said - there's a lot of work to get this site cooking. But you could start by getting the navigation right. And as someone else pointed out, having heaps of product on the page. And more comments/reviews/blog posts. Tumbleweeeds are blowing through that site and it shows.

    BTW...talking of traffic...couple of years ago I got over 500k uniques in a month to a blog post on my "vanity blog". Didn't make a cracker off it. LOL. Not even from Adsense as they took objection to my content. Yeah I like to swear and tell people to bugger off.

    * I hope I haven't offended you and offended lesbians everywhere (some of my best friends are lesbians - not really but I had to say it).
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    • Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      Have a look at this site - Saddleback Leather Co. I could get lost in there for hours. Beautiful and engaging writing.
      Wow, fantastic site. That's how you do it.

      Check out the warranty page:

      100 Warranty

      Thanks, love it.
      Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
      - Jack Trout
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    • Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      Have a look at this site - Saddleback Leather Co. I could get lost in there for hours. Beautiful and engaging writing.

      And Malc,

      that site's wicked. Will be bookmarking that, and having a poke around.

      50% converting squeeze pages, 12% converting WSO's, and more...
      BenPalmerWilson Copywriting
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  • Profile picture of the author John_S
    I agree with others here. The site is the web designer's fantasy about what's supposed to sell. Not anything backed up by analytics. You can see that right from the top page.

    You need a top-to-bottom listing of design problems. You'll want to get deeper into analytics and user testing. You need to study up, not just on copywriting, but visual merchandising design.

    I've bought through Geerlings and Wade. So I know a thing or two about the process.

    Absolutely get rid of the generic "picked by our team." Nobody cares about the minimum wage flunky that's shoving overstock into a box.

    I, for one, will not buy said minion's 90 point pick. I don't know the guy. Don't know their taste. Don't trust their taste. And will not spend $95 to $195 on a wine lottery.

    Why not call it "The Catch of The Day?" That's what I thought, reading this.

    Essentially, you're asking me to buy a scratch off to send a friend as a gift. That's an error in understanding the user. A compound error to understand someone who is shopping for someone else.

    For this site, I'd suggest persona and scenario development. Get into the customer base. Get a good data backed target persona for each price tier. Then realign (don't redesign) the site.

    Realignment is retargeting on a specific user type. Redesigning goes into the designer's portfolio of stupid Creative Suite tricks.

    What you may well find is you're casting too wide a net. There is probably going to be a breakoff from your bottom tier -- let's call them explorers.

    These are people who'll need to get more information about the taster's notes. It is this -- proof your client is a wine evaluation expert and drinks what you sell -- that people are looking to the blog for.

    Just about every entry should link back to a specific wine you sell. A luncheon ...a holiday selection ... a special gift for a very well described friend. This is what you blog about.

    In other words make the blogger more than a scrapper bot. This is also where you build trust and personalize team members. And each should be identifyable to a target persona/segment.

    The post on TCHO and Gift Baskets is still in lame, content writer territory. One sentence was salvageable however: "Most chocolatiers are only re-melting chocolate and not actually manufacturing it on site." So close to Claude Hopkins ...yet miles away.

    This is all corporate decison, not a clue about the customer. Content writing makes me cringe.

    Question: Who'd you send the basket to? You. Yourself. Who'd you design the product for? Because your price points don't allow for some generic, random, web surfer.

    Best Cellars has your bottom tier pegged. For example, they abandon the point system and developed taste appellations. Words like fizzy and fresh actually mean something.


    While upper tiers need a different approach -- they know the 'score.'

    Overall, the site looks like a template. Designed by somebody three layers of abstraction removed from a real customer, site purpose, or reason to buy. It's all generic cosmetic nicety, and vague "sweet nothings," giving the impression the person writing doesn't drink wine ... or live the lifestyle of a person who appreciates wine.

    Certainly nobody in particular who wants to buy wine.

    I once wrote copy about a suit. Called a fine suit a Fantasy Catalyst. When you wrote about TCHO I was half convinced you were going to give me a chemical breakdown.

    Wine and choclate are not SKUs to be crated and shipped. They are a fantasy catalyst.

    Ever taste a fine crafted chocolate? It's like a puff of chocolate mist in your mouth. It doesn't so much melt in your mouth as vaporize. That's an experience worth sharing. And you can't scrape that off a company press release, three steps removed from actually having experienced it.

    I do not get the impression you've experienced this lifestyle. So I am not likely to take your blind "team" recommendations.
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    • Profile picture of the author AlfieBoy
      Originally Posted by John_S View Post

      Ever taste a fine crafted chocolate? It's like a puff of chocolate mist in your mouth. It doesn't so much melt in your mouth as vaporize.
      Man, that is good! That would have Willy Wonka creaming his pants.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Ever taste a fine crafted chocolate? It's like a puff of chocolate mist in your mouth.
    I'm nicking that, John.
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  • Profile picture of the author John_S
    What am I trying to do with this? All that is just sell the sizzle, not the steak.

    Online content writers seem to think that means an amino acid inventory list, plus a percentage of carbon.

    What's this guy selling? Not wine and chocolate -- it's an experience design.

    What's Best Cellars navigating? Not SKUs -- it's an experience nav based on flavor.

    You are supposed to be communicating your enthusiasm for the product here. I haven't even gotten into inner circle status design with the clubs.

    This guy needs to see my post on The Soda Pop Guy.
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    • Profile picture of the author Azarna
      Its a very smart, classy site - perfect for the product type, but ...

      However the numerous typos spoil it for me. Wine is an expensive commodity and the website needs to be totally professional to maintain the ambience required to appeal to wine buyers. Especially if you are trying to capture the upper end of the market (which presumably, with higher prices than your competitors, you are).

      eg - "you can be assured that the wines be shipped are the best available."
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Amazing. A week ago the O.P. has come here asking for help and to my mind got some solid advice - advice that would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars elsewhere.

    Not even a "thanks".

    I sometimes wish there were a "nuke" button as opposed to a "thanks" button.

    What do you think?
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      Amazing. A week ago the O.P. has come here asking for help and to my mind got some solid advice - advice that would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars elsewhere.

      Not even a "thanks".

      I sometimes wish there were a "nuke" button as opposed to a "thanks" button.

      What do you think?
      Haven't been here that long...but that's why I don't critique sites or sales letters anymore.

      You gave some expensive advice for free...I've seen Mr. Subtle offer graphics that would have cost thousands...and yet the advice seems to get taken for granted.

      I saw one guy that asked for a critique and followed absolutely no advice given...then was in another sub-forum looking for JV partners.

      I think sometimes they're just trying to get visits to their site for one reason or another.

      Makes me wonder sometimes.
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  • I'll throw in my 2 cents based on what I know.

    That giant bleeding block of text you've got on the page is hideous to look at. Who wants to sit and read that, and being a content writer for a while allows me to notice where you've placed your SEO as well - if it's not you tend to talk about your business FAR too much.

    I noticed the two words 'Uncorked Ventures' about a million times during that text, mostly at the start of the paragraphs. Where's the consumer-focused copy? Show them the benefits of paying more, not blathering on about how bloody good you and your company are - they don't really care.

    50% converting squeeze pages, 12% converting WSO's, and more...
    BenPalmerWilson Copywriting
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  • Profile picture of the author Keeslover
    Paint the picture. Make them taste the wine as they read the copy. There's no passion here, no life. It's a simple regurgitation of facts. You're selling high-end wine, not a manual in winemaking.
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