March 30, 2016
Case Study

Email Marketing: How integrated an email onboarding process to engage customers

SUMMARY: After launching in the U.S. in 2012, found that it needed to be more strategic about driving customers to a higher level of engagement. Read on to learn how the brand used a five-step email onboarding process to retain more members.
By Shelby Dorsey, Reporter is a U.K.-based company that was founded in 2008. Four years later, the company launched in the U.S.

The company is driven by a desire to cut out the middle-man in wine purchasing. Customers are able to order wine directly from the makers and the markers are able to connect directly with their consumers.

The way the traditional wine market works, "the wine maker and the wine drinker are the two people getting the worst deal," Julia Fox, Marketing Manager,, said.'s goal is to ask, "'How do we design a model that's all about taking care of wine drinkers and actually connecting them with one another?'"

The way they have accomplished this is by establishing a community of customers and "Angel" members who support independent wine makers in return for access to hand-crafted wine at a lower cost.


After launching in the U.S. in 2012, Fox said that the company grew quickly but not necessarily "strategically."

The team discovered that the brand "[had] some really good quality customers and some not so good quality customers," Fox said. The question then became what differentiated these two groups.

When focusing on the brand's acquisition funnel, they discovered that "the impact of engagement" was more telling of a quality customer than "how much they spent on their first order."

Level of engagement is ideal over initial purchase price because has a system where customers continually invest in and support different indie wine makers, or become "Angels" — members who sign up to deposit $40 a month to spend.


The team at began examining the elements they believed impacted this customer quality. The challenge then became engaging customers in such a way that they became more involved, and could be considered high-quality customers. has many ways that customers can engage with the brand. For instance, a social media platform on the site allows for customers to be able to "communicate directly with the wine makers by rating wines or by commenting on their walls and the wine makers will respond, which is really great for both sides of the equation," Fox said. This allows wine makers to receive direct feedback from the people who are consuming their wine. There is also an app for pre-existing customers.

If a customer participated in any of these engagement opportunities, she added, "they would be about five or six times higher quality than someone who hadn't, which is obviously very significant."

Fox and her team needed to find a way to integrate this level of engagement into the email marketing efforts.


Because customers who interacted with the brand are higher quality customers, the company's efforts were around getting more customers engaging .

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The team at developed a five-series email onboarding campaigns, with each email asking the customer to complete an action. For example, one of the emails promoted the app and encouraged customers to download it.

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After all the call-to-actions in the emails were accomplished, the customer would get a free bottle of wine with their next order.

Step #1. Segment your customers has a subscription program where customers can sign up to be "Angels" .As an Angel, customers put forty dollars a month into an account. The company is different from competitors in that it does not auto ship to customers. Rather, that monthly fee gets put into a "piggy bank" of sorts.

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"Whenever you like, you can go on and place an order yourself," Fox said.

The wine makers the company funds are based on customer reviews, making a "very … customer-driven" company, she added.

Fox said that there is a waiting list for customers to become angels. Usually, interested customers will have to wait a month or two before they become a part of the program.

Since these customers are highly motivated, the team decided that once customers become angels, they go through the onboarding process, which includes the five-series of emails.

Step #2. Onboard engaged customers

Before it developed this onboarding process, Fox said, new members would be "on [their] own to navigate the site."

Now, new members are sent content that encourages them to engage with the brand. For instance, now customers are invited to:
  • Rate the service

  • Download the app

  • Rate the wines

  • Set preferences

  • Follow a winemaker

This content is parceled out over the course of a month through a series of email sends.

Step #3. Create an engagement tool

One of the steps in the onboarding process is encouraging customers to download the app. It's included in the email marketing material, since the app is designed to be a later step in the engagement process, not a new customer's first exposure to the brand.

The app is a "great way to be able to rate wines and it's really easy to reorder wines that you've already ordered. It's both transactional- and engagement-based." It is a tool that is designed to make a present customer's experience with the company stronger.

Also available through the app is the ability to engage with the internal social network platform. Again, this encourages an easy way for customers to take advantage of the company facets that separate from its competitors (i.e., the ability to interact directly with the wine makers).

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Fox said that customers who download the app purchase more often than those who don't. This is what makes the onboarding process so important for the company — it is financially advantageous for consumers to be engaging with the app as this makes them more likely to order. Customers who have the app are also less likely to cancel their accounts, Fox said.

Among engaged customers, "the profitability of the orders was not very different, but they were more likely to place more orders and more likely to stay members," Fox said.


In this campaign, found that "people who had read the email about the app download were 125% more likely to download the app than people who hadn't," Fox said.

This statistic went on to verify the team's efforts to drive engagement, because of those customers who downloaded the app, 72% were still members after a year versus the 32% of those who did not download the app.

The team found that customers who "were coming through the onboarding process were much more likely to engage," which "had an impact on overall customer quality," Fox said.

Looking forward, Fox said that the team is looking at optimizing this new onboarding process.

Creative Samples

  1. Landing page offers

  2. Email onboarding process

  3.'s Angel program

  4. Internal social network


Related Resources

Email Marketing: Golf Channel increases database size by 32% by easing sign-up process

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

Get free access to a video replay of Julia’s session from MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 along with more than 30 other sessions from the event.

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