How Email Marketing is Like Craft Beer Branding

eROI is based in Portland, Oregon where 47% of all draft beer consumed is brewed right here in Oregon. Craft beer is a huge business that has seen incredible growth in the past few years. Some quick facts:

  • There are 71 breweries in the Portland Metro area, 18 in Bend, and 10 in Eugene alone
  • Living in Portland, there is one brewery for every 8500 people
  • Oregon’s brewing industry employs 29,000+ people that create $2.83 billion for the state
  • Beer drives nearly 2% of Oregon’s GDP

As a consumer, what does that mean? Lots of choices. Taking a walk down a cold case is looking more and more like my inbox every morning. How do you stand out in a sea of 6 packs, flash sales, 22 oz bottles, facebook updates, eco-friendly craft cans, and spam?

Creating an engaged email fellowship is a lot like creating a loyal beer fan. I’ve boiled this down to 5 C’s:

  1. Consistency
  2. Content
  3. Change
  4. Curation
  5. Cross-Channel

“60% of the time it works every time” is a great conversion rate for marketers but you want your brand to be consistent across every platform 100% of the time. I can pick out my favorite brewers the minute I set foot in the cold case. Their label layout is the same, their packaging format is the same, their taste is always on point. It has to be the same with email. Top to bottom these are the things to keep consistent:

  1. Send Time
  2. From Name and Address
  3. Subject Line Tone
  4. Body Formatting
  5. Link Colors

You don’t want your subscribers hunting for the information they want simply because you decided to change the layout for no reason. They’ve given you the open, do them the favor of providing them with a recognizable email experience so they can give you the click.


This is how your beer tastes. I might buy something to try because I like the label but if it’s skunky, I’m never coming back. You have one chance to hook your audience. If they take a sip and spit it out, chances are you aren’t getting a second one. Your content needs to be enticing. You want to become the beer that your customers always have a sixpack in the fridge. Consistent, quality content builds brand equity. Creating that trust allows you to try new things and miss every once in a while. One skunky beer does not make or break a respected brand. You have to take those chances though or people will get bored and tune out. Which leads us to the next C.


Wait, didn’t I just say that consistency is rule number 1? You have to keep them interested. Breweries put out new styles and seasonals because it entices people to try something new. You’ve got your bread and butter IPA, amber, and lager, but creating something new, something exclusive, builds buzz, and it gets your bottle picked off the shelf. A contest, a promotion, a new product, are all examples of good change. They recognize your branding but natural curiosity about something exciting makes them eager. They’ve given you the open because you got them curious. the previous C’s close the deal because they know you have consistent content.


Curation isn’t just for websites. People want to feel like they are part of the product you are creating for them. The best brewers have surveys for the next beer brewed, they hold contests for recipes, they tell tales about the process, they make their customers part of their story. Let your subscribers choose what they want to receive. A custom preference center for personalized content not only allows them to select only the content they want but it gives you insight into what content you should be creating more of. It gives you actionable material to increase your conversion rate. It allows you to direct your links to landing pages that make sense for each particular segment they have self-identified themselves as! If you aren’t segmenting and curating your content you need to start now.


Buzzword of the year! Everyone is on a million different devices and social channels and logging in from all corners of the world. I know it’s tough to hone in on what is worth your time (Ask me about analytics we can quickly fix that) but you need to have a presence beyond your email and website if you want to maximize your potential. Brewer’s have a captive(and drunk) audience at festivals. They go to where their audience is. They hold tap takeovers where they show face and create a personalized experience. Find where your customers are and then start figuring out what it is they want to hear. We never recommend using social as a direct sales tool, it’s just one more piece of the puzzle.

All of your channels should be playing with each other and your branding should be consistent across them all. Facebook should have a tab for email signups, Twitter should have a link to your site, your site should have visible icons for social, your email should push to relevant Content. All of your channels allow you to Curate content that feels personalized to your customers and can effect Change without seeming off brand.

Creating an ecosystem, across which no matter where someone enters into it they feel integrated into your brand and story will only serve to improve your success metrics across the board.

Standing out in a digital world requires work. Breweries that succeed are recognizable by having a label format that doesn’t deviate and their taste is spot on (Consistency), they create product their customers want (Content), they garner buzz with seasonals (Change), they produce flavors that they know their clientele want (Curation), and they put a face on their product by going to where their fans are (Cross-Channel). You should look to do the same with your email marketing, creating a message that is consistent, relevant, personalized, interesting, and tells a story that can stand alone as well as in conjunction with your overall marketing plan.

Photo via Flickr user jurvetson and used under Creative Commons.

About eROI

eROI crafts compelling digital experiences across email, web, and social channels. Our work has been consistently successful in driving revenue and exceeding goals for our partners.