How to Grow Your Spirits Brand With Email Marketing

  • by Andi Whiskey
How to Grow Your Spirits Brand With Email Marketing

We get a lot of clients who come to us who either 1. have an email marketing list that they gave up on years ago or 2. want to grow their list bigger, but are not even successfully set up with the list they have.

Either way, this is looking at email marketing all wrong. 

It’s not about numbers. 

I know that’s a weird statement, especially considering later I’m going to talk about how important numbers like opens, clicks, and purchases are in email marketing, but all of those are to measure one thing: your relationship with your customers.

The numbers are a leading KPI. The lagging KPI, in this case, is the measure of long term relationships you build using good email marketing (which can be measured in LTV of customers or overall brand growth, if you’d like to tag numbers to it).

Okay, I talk about leading and lagging KPIs in this article, other articles, and to clients a lot, so I think it’s important to define real quick.


Cocktail photography by Twist & Tailor

What Are Leading and Lagging KPIs?

Leading and lagging Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are two types of metrics used in performance measurement. The main difference between the two lies in the timing of their impact and their ability to predict future outcomes. Here's an explanation of each:

Leading KPIs are leading indicators that are forward-looking metrics that provide insights into activities and behaviors that are expected to drive future performance. These KPIs are typically focused on inputs or activities that occur before the desired outcomes. Leading indicators help brands assess progress and predict future outcomes. They are proactive in nature and allow for adjustments to improve performance. So email list grow is a leading KPI, because it helps in assessing overall performance and end goals like sales through email.

Lagging KPIs are retrospective metrics that measure the outcomes or results after a particular period of time. They are often used to assess historical performance and determine the success of past initiatives or actions. Lagging indicators are reactive in nature and provide insights into what has already occurred. Examples of lagging indicators include revenue, profit margin, customer satisfaction scores, or employee turnover rates. These metrics are typically easier to measure and provide a snapshot of past performance.

Sometimes, we find a brand get too wrapped up in measuring leading KPIs and using them like they’re the goal. That would be like trying to scale a mountain by aiming for the trailhead. You’re not there yet.

Both leading and lagging KPIs are important. But in email marketing, we don’t want to get so obsessed with the size of an email list if no one in the current list is engaging with the emails. 

Email Marketing is All About Building Relationships

An important thing to keep in mind about email marketing is the significance of building and maintaining a healthy subscriber list. Not a big list. A healthy one.
And to quickly define what that is, we see a healthy subscriber list as one that is highly engaged (50+% open rate, 2+% click rate) and purchasing (2-3+ orders per email at the minimum for those with ecommerce).

While email marketing can be a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with your audience, the effectiveness of your campaigns heavily relies on the quality of your email list. 

I believe in thinking about the email list differently. It's your most dedicated customer base, because they've given you a piece of their private information in exchange for something. To continue to have a high engaging list, we need to treat it with respect in growing it, in order to ensure it continues to be the most dedicated customer list. That does mean it's a slow grow, typically.

Basics of Good Email Marketing

All of the below are working towards the same end goal: to build long lasting relationships with your customers and make brand ambassadors out of them.

Make Sure You Have Their Permission

Ensure that you have obtained explicit permission from individuals before adding them to your email list. This can be done through opt-in forms on your website, signup forms at events, or other explicit consent mechanisms. 

Avoid purchasing or using email lists without proper consent, as it can harm your reputation and deliverability. We can’t express this enough. This is focusing on the wrong numbers. The number of emails in your list means nothing if they aren’t from people who want your content and will engage. 

Again, you’re building relationships. To do so, they have to first want to hear from you.

Segmentation and Personalization

Tailor your email campaigns to specific segments of your audience based on their interests, demographics, or behavior. By delivering personalized content, you can increase engagement and conversion rates. Segmentation can be based on factors such as past purchase history, geographic location, or engagement with previous emails.

Valuable and Relevant Content

We can’t express enough how important this is.

Provide content that is useful, valuable, and relevant to your subscribers. Consider their needs, preferences, and pain points when creating your email campaigns. Valuable content can include educational articles about your products or how to use them, exclusive offers, industry insights, or helpful tips. Avoid solely promoting your products or services; instead, focus on building a relationship with your subscribers. (Have we said this enough yet?)

Part of that relationship building is making sure you’re meeting expectations. What were they told when they signed up for your list? That they’d get cocktail recipes? Discounts? Make sure you’re delivering on that, at least occasionally. 

Consistency and Frequency

Determine a consistent schedule for sending emails, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, and stick to it. Consistency helps build anticipation and trust among your subscribers. Additionally, be mindful of the frequency of your emails. Too many emails can lead to fatigue and unsubscribes, while too few may cause subscribers to forget about your brand.

Mobile Optimization

With the increasing use of mobile devices, it is crucial to ensure that your emails are optimized for mobile viewing. Design responsive email templates that adapt to different screen sizes and make sure the text, images, and call-to-action buttons are easily readable and clickable on mobile devices.

Monitoring the Numbers That Matter

Regularly track and analyze the performance of your email campaigns. Pay attention to metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates. These are the leading KPIs you can use to determine how effective your emails are, to predict sales growth and better relationships with your email list. 

Compliance with Regulations

We just have to mention this because it’s important. Stay informed and comply with email marketing regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the CAN-SPAM Act. Ensure that you provide clear options for subscribers to opt out or unsubscribe from your emails and respect their preferences.
Also make sure you have any necessary TTB mandatory statements in there, as email marketing is something they consider as advertising your products. Please refer to your legal team for guidance on this. 

Remember, email marketing is an ongoing process that requires continuous refinement and adaptation. By focusing on building a quality subscriber list, delivering relevant content, and monitoring your results, you can see the success you want in your email marketing.

Good Ways to Grow Your Email List

Everyone wants to grow their email list quicker. I’ll give the above spiel to clients, and they’ll still come back to us like, “That’s great, but how can we get more emails in the list?”

It’s a valid question, but just to reiterate because it’s important: the best way to think of the email list is, "How can we provide value in order to grow more relationships?"

Provide Value with Digital Downloads

One of the first things I’ll tell spirits brands is: offer a digital cocktail recipe book in exchange for the sign up. Providing a big piece of value like that will increase sign up conversions in your site pop ups, embed forms, everywhere.

Make sure that you set up your automated email flows to send this out automatically in the welcome series. They need to get the value you promised immediately upon sign up.

The beauty of the cocktail recipe book is it encourages consumption of your product, so they know how to use it, and will hopefully be back for more after making all those wonderful cocktails.

(Shameless plug: we design these regularly for our clients, so if you need custom cocktail recipes and/or a cocktail book for download or print, we can help. Just get in touch!)

Increase Traffic to an Optimized Web Site

Increasing traffic to the site, in general, is another way to grow your email list, as long as you have good pop up forms, embed forms, etc. on your site, and have made sure that customers are also subscribed when they place orders.

Make Sure You’re Collecting Emails at In-Person and Digital Events

At events, having a QR code that goes to a newsletter sign up page is good. We have clients that tell customers they can get a free tasting if they sign up.

Colabs and Giveaways

Collaboration giveaways are another way to collect emails from potential customers, but they take a lot of work to coordinate and they can be tricky, legally. Does your brand have any collateral it can give away that's not alcohol? Great, then partner up with a brand like a non-alcoholic cocktail mixer or a bar tools company for a giveaway. Then you can each share your markets and cross promote. (If you’d like connections to brands that might be interested, get in touch with me! We’re well connected with a lot of brands that always love to do these types of collabs).

You Can Run Lead Ads… But We Don’t Recommend It

I'll tell you right now that if you ask, other agencies might encourage running lead ads on Meta to collect emails. From our experience, we don't think the ROI justifies that move. I'll try to explain this as best I can:

I would rather increase ad spend for campaigns optimized for conversions because it has the secondary effect of driving traffic to the site and collecting emails that way. I'd rather spend money on ads to potentially gain sales + emails rather than just emails, especially because in our experience, we've seen no increase in emails that turn into sales from lead ads.

Build Strong Relationships With Your Email Marketing

Moral of the story is you need to be regularly using your email marketing to provide value to your customers and potential customers, in order to build strong relationships that will continue to grow your brand.

If you need help with this, at Twist & Tailor, we are Klaviyo partners that help create engaging email campaigns and grow email lists for spirits brands, so we can help. Just schedule a consultation call with us and we’ll help you grow your brand with email!

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