The RhinoWhile this here website is a pride and joy of mine it is certainly not my full time job (maybe someday!) For now though I have to hold down a ‘normal’ job like everyone else.

That job just so happens to be in digital marketing. Or as Shawna likes to call it: I “Internet” well. Very well in fact. I have helped a lot of major companies get control of their online marketing as well as all of their web projects in general.

This gives me a unique insight into how people browse the web and what people want from a website amongst other things.

The issue is that when I browse all my favourite craft alcohol websites I get really sad.

Most of them REALLY suck.

One issue I believe is that many of these small businesses:

A) Don’t know what goes into a good and functioning website for marketing and for helping users.

B) Don’t have the money for a really great website.

While I can’t help too much with B (other than buying lots of great craft products!) I can certainly give some insights into A.

Before reading the below I should mention that these are mostly high-level tips. There is a lot more to each one that I can’t go into in one blog post. If you are interested you can email me for more info and advice (if your a brewer/craft alcohol maker I’m happy to give the advice for free).

 

1. Your website MUST be cellphone friendly. 

It’s 2015. Everyone has a smart phone. Kids have smartphones, their parents have smartphones and even grand parents have smart phones and yet a huge number of website by breweries and the like look TERRIBLE on a phone and are impossible to browse.

“Sure,” you say, “but people generally browse my site on a computer when they get home.”

Here’s the thing. A huge portion of the traffic Toronto Booze Hound gets is mobile and coming from Google. Generally it’s people who see a craft beer or craft booze at the LCBO and are curious about it, so they search for it. These are people that should be landing on YOUR page.

Imagine people at a beer festival who see your branding. They want to learn more but don’t want to wait in line to ask questions while you try to serve them a sample. Instead they simply Google you on their phone.

 

2. Include the right info. 

Time and time again I will go to a craft website only to find it has almost no info. A modern craft website should have:

– A page about each of your beers/products that are currently available

– The hours and location of your brewery/distillery/vineyard

– An about section with history and info on key staff such as your head brewer/distiller

– A list of places that serve your product

– Easy contact information (a phone number and email are essential)

– A regularly updated blog with interesting info such as you hiring a new brewmaster and opening a brew pub (Looking at YOU Sweetgrass!)

 

3. Don’t use flash. 

It doesn’t work on iPhones, it doesn’t play well with Google and it generally looks tacky. Stop it. Instead use a combination of HTML and JavaScript. This will help your Google rankings (which I will discuss soon) and with overall user experience.

 

4. Make your website Google friendly. 

Do you know what A LOT of people do these day? Even if they already know your brand they don’t go typing it into their browser, no, they type the name into Google and then hit the top result. Do you really want BeerAdvocate to be the first result?

A few little changes to your site can help a lot:

– Don’t use flash. See above.

– Have a different page for each of your products. That means a new page for each beer. So when people search for that specific beer they get info on the beer itself. That page should have the ABV, tasting notes, places to get it and a history of it. Awards it’s won are also recommended.

– Keep content fresh and always add more. A blog is an easy way to do this.

– Have a Google Plus Places account and keep it updated (yes, this is very important.)

 

5. Use Social Media

For some reason there are still craft places out there that don’t utilize their social media. People want to interact with you, ask you questions and learn more about your product, social media is one of the easiest ways to do this.

My recommendation would be to focus on ONE website such as Twitter.

I see my word count is starting to get a tad high so I’m going to leave it right here. There is a lot more to each one of these tips but a high level understanding can certainly put your website heads and tails above the competition.

 

 

 

Kole McRae

Founder of Toronto Booze Hound. He can be seen drinking almost anything in the wild from beer to rum. Try not to startle him, he may use humour as a self defence method.

Email: kole@torontoboozehound.com