Here is an example of how to make your email signup process more effective. Case study: Chalone Vineyard.


Hello this is Mitch Tarr, President and founder of Today we are going to go through an email review and walk through an email sign-up process, and just take a look and see how well this particular vineyard does and if there are any areas they could improve; and by example demonstrate any areas that you might be able to improve.

I’m sitting at my desk and I do a search in Google for the keywords “Pinot Noir” and “Chalone region” and one of the wineries that comes up close to the top of the search is the Chalone Vineyard. I recognize the name so I pop over to the website to see what I see.

Something you’ll note here if you look at the homepage, there’s only one place to join the mailing list on the homepage. It’s kind of hidden. It’s good that it’s on the navigation bar, but that’s the only place you can find it on the homepage. I put the arrow there to find it, so you can see it if you’re looking for it. It’s a little bit buried. I would make it a lot easier for people to find it.

I might even put a separate box or separate bar somewhere up in there. Maybe use a little design pointers, but it uses a little less space for the images and a little more space for the action. The action is “join the mailing list”, that’s one of the outcomes we want for people who visit the website. We definitely make it easier to find that feature.

When I click on the link, here’s the page that they get to. It’s the dedicated sign-up page, the subscribe page. It’s a fine point, but these things make a difference. If you join the list on the link to get here, don’t call it a subscribe when you get them there. Take them to this page, the join the list page. If you call it subscribe at the top, call it subscribe here.

If you call it join the list at the top, call it join the list here. These little things connect people when they’re traveling through a site and make it less disruptive for them. Therefore, they’re basically calmer and easier, predisposed to fill in the forms. In this case you can see that they are from the school of thought that they want the full address.

Email address, first and last name, street address, city, state, county, country. Those are all mandatory fields. If you wanted to just get email newsletters you don’t have that option there. You have to give up a street address.

The good news is you have a street address if you want to do print mailing. You have a state if you want to do select emails to people that sign up from California, or just people from sign up from the state of Texas.

You definitely have the ability to, with more information, be more targeted and more specific in your mailings. The disadvantage, and this is proven, the more information you ask for the less people will actually make the commitment to sign up.

If you ask for less, you get more. If you ask for more, you get less. In this case, they’re going to get a shorter list, but have a higher quality list as it will have street addresses.

Another fine point, you’ll see this event button down in the bottom right corner there. It’s kind of a little bit off to the side and buried. I always like a stronger call to action that’s a little bit more directive so I would say if this was the join the list page I’d say join the list, sign me up, get me started, start my subscription. Some action based button, which is other than submit.

They’re just more effective and you get better results from them. I do the sign-up and where does it take me next? I come to this page which is another dedicated page on the inside of the site. We call this the thank you page, because we thank you for signing up. You can see here that they’ve called this Subscribe Success but there’s not copy on this page.

It’s just a big blank empty page.

This is a missed opportunity to start building a connection or relationship. I might put a thank you very much type of letter here from the president, owner, CEO, winemaker, tasting room manager. Somebody that connects people here. In fact I’d probably be a little bit more aggressive and put up an offer to join the wine club or give them a coupon on their first order.

I would do something that would motivate them to take another step. I would definitely do something to try to build a stronger relationship. This is called the thank you page; something you can do a lot with when you’re sending your opt-in process.

Then I race over to my inbox and see what I get in the inbox and this is the message I get. It comes from I don’t like that impersonal thing. I like a personal message, more than impersonal. This one is not very personal, other than it uses my name. It’s pulled the name from the field that I submitted; it’s used it in the message. It’s not really formatted very well. It doesn’t show me a good marketing principles and this is definitely not very personal.

They really missed an opportunity on the thank you page and on this welcome message. We call this the welcome message. That’s where you have the opportunity to say something to people. Give them an opportunity, click them someplace else, click them on your blog, introduce them to your winemaker, introduce them to you wine club. Tell a little story about what’s going on, why you’re so thrilled to have the subscriber join the list. Where they say here, “please send any comments to you might have to

You might put some social media links there and say, “Follow us on Facebook. We love to talk with our fans and to hear their stories, and they’re tasting notes, etc.” You might use the opportunity with the welcome message to kind of bolster up your social media. Overall the steps are in place, but everything is executed sub-optimally; not very well. Because of that I’d rate them maybe a C or a C- on sign-up processes. There’s definitely room for improvement.

Some of the things they could do that you could also do that will make it better: make it easy to sign up, make it more prominent on the pages on your website where you ask people to join your list. Tell me why you want me to sign-up. Maybe give me an incentive or motivate me to sign-up. Definitely you want to say something more than just join the list.

Tell me what I’m going to get when I’m on the list, because I don’t know. I don’t know your vineyard from many others. What might you do differently than others? Maybe you’ve got something really cool that you do or can do. I would definitely take the time to customize the thank you page and put a personal note on there. Connect with people, let the wine maker tell a story, let the CEO or owner tell a story and kind of make this more personal.

The one thing you want to do is basically tell people that your goal of joining the list was successful. That part is really good, but get something personal on there as well. Do the same with your welcome message and this is really your first impression of what kind of winery you are. How you connect with people. How you present yourself. This is your chance for your first impression. You can make it really personal and warm at this stage or you can make it really cold and impersonal, kind of why I gave this a C or C-.

Finally at ZinMarketing we do email marketing all day long for people. You can learn more about us at If you want to learn how to do email marketing yourself we’ve got training videos at

Thank you very much and we will see you next time.