Email Best Practice Pros: Next Glass Taps Into Predictive Possibilities

Columnist Steve Dille explains how, by combining predictive sciences with drip marketing, Next Glass keeps beer drinkers thirsting for engagement.

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Beer, of course, gave us civilization, according to historians and anthropologists who have explored the misty originals of communities and cultures at the dawn of the human epoch. It was the one sure way of slaking thirst with potable water that wouldn’t give us dysentery (or worse), and by allowing people to socialize and communicate more freely, beer led to advances in commerce, culture and science.

It also helped in the evolution of Buffalo wings and professional football, which may be all the civilizing influence some of us care about.

An Opportunity On Tap

The explosion of craft brewing in the U.S., with over 3,400 craft breweries having been identified in 2014 by the Brewers Association, a segment that grew 22% last year alone, has put beer on a par with wine in terms of variety, segmentation, and sheer complexity of choices. The wine industry, meanwhile, expects 11% year-on-year growth through 2018.

So with an exploding range of beers and wines, with a burgeoning community of beer and wine aficionados obsessed with exploring, tasting, judging and comparing various vintages and brews, it only makes sense that somebody would put state-of-the-art marketing and commerce tools to work in slaking that demand. Thus was born Next Glass: a unique brew, forgive the pun, of predictive analysis, personal profiling and email and mobile marketing.

Democratizing The Connoisseur

Technology, starting with the Web and evolving through mobile, has allowed a lot of the knowledge and technique of the food and drink gourmet or connoisseur to be democratized: We can access reviews, tasting scores and support communities in an instant, and even learn insights about what we should look for in a truly fine vintage, a laudable IPA or Hefeweizen. Fact is, without the Web, many of us who’ve enjoyed beer for a very long time might not even know what a Hefeweizen is.

Yet all that information can lead to just as much confusion as clarity. If there are a thousand, ten thousand varietals available to consumers, how can they wade through those and find the ones that satisfy their craving for exploration but also please their very personal palate?

What sets Next Glass apart is how it’s created a revolutionary predictive infrastructure and app that helps beer and wine lovers sort through that panoply, a very slick hands-on interface, and an effective engagement marketing model that’s the creamy head atop a robust offering. (Next Glass isn’t a client. I’m just a fan.)

The Recipe At Work

Step one for users, after registration and mobile app download, is to take a quick poll that lets you rate beers or wines you’ve already tried. This provides a master taste profile Next Glass used to provide recommendations, but it’s how that recommendation is delivered that makes it entertaining.

Step two? If you’ve got a can or bottle in front of you, whether you dug it out of the back of the pantry or you’re on the beer aisle, scanning the label with the app takes you to a popup interface where you’re shown a score for that bottle calculated based on your own taste profile, along with alcohol, calorie and carb data. Once you’ve tried it, you can provide your own score, or find similar brands.

But how does Next Glass know you’ll like what you taste? That’s where actual hard science enters the fray: Using testing equipment to parse and analyze the various nuances and flavor elements of 200 new beers and wines each day, Next Glass has compiled a tastes database encompassing tens of thousands of offerings.
next glass

Activation Via Drip, Not Pour

But the integration of drip marketing behind Next Glass is another place the brand proves itself as beguiling as a newly poured pint, employing a four-step, 17-day initial email sequence that’s activated when a user downloads the mobile app:

First Email: “Intro to Next Glass”

Users are welcomed to Next Glass and are given a content link to an explainer post that digs into the process behind the ratings system explained to them, and get introduced to the support team.

Second Email: “Pro Tips From Your Friends At Next Glass”

This followup provides “9 advanced tips” on how to get the most from Next Glass, and makes sure to give the users a sense they’re part of a dynamic community that’s “growing at an exponential rate,” reassuring them of how smart they were in their decision.

Third Email: “Fancy a Little Science Today?”

Next Glass reinforces the scientific POD (point of difference) behind their platform here, drilling down into the details behind it and making sure users understand its clear superiority to other beer and wine recommender options.

Share a Drink With Us 

Next Glass caps off the drip sequence with an offer of community, encouraging users to join its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followings to share their experiences with the app with others.

Conversions By The Kegful

After each user completes the welcome email series, they’re integrated with the main Next Glass email list, and then experience different email frequencies and optimal send times, customized around their individual engagement levels.

According to Next Glass’ inbound marketing agency, Huify, “the optimization increased email open rates and click-through-rates significantly, while also minimizing email unsubscriptions,” and led to an 86% contact-to-lead conversion rate.

The Lessons From Next Glass?

No matter what your tastes in beer, wine, or neither, you’ll see there’s a lot to be learned from how Next Glass has integrated its mobile app experience and user d-base with email marketing:

  • Drip deepens engagement, when done right, as with Next Glass, where it carefully uses email to gradually and progressively open its users’ eyes to greater and greater layers of value from the offering.
  • Never pour it on, but personalize: No email blasts here, but the judicious application of seeming levels of personalization and customization that are part and parcel of the platform.
  • Aficionados don’t fly solo, for the most part: Email is used to not just illuminate the qualities of the app, but to drive the social and sharing features, too, so this particular genus of beer/wine fan can be part of a greater community.
  • Respect their smarts: There’s nothing condescending about Next Glass’ tone or content at any point in the process: It’s all on a very eye-to-eye, we-get-you-and-you-get-us level, since they know they’re speaking to a digital/mobile-savvy audience that’s willing to be just as judgmental about the app and its marketing as they are about that next bottle of oatmeal stout.

As innovative and smack-your-head sensible (“Yes! Why didn’t I think of that?”) as the Next Glass platform is, the email marketing that’s extending its success is founded on email marketing fundamentals, Big Data analytics, and a canny understanding of its user base.

It’s the sly integration of all these factors that’s letting it quench user desire while setting up future rounds of consumer engagement and marketing success.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Steve Dille
Steve Dille is the senior vice president of marketing at SparkPost, a provider of digital messaging technology. He leads the company's global product marketing, demand-generation, branding and communications operations.

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