How Usual Wines Turned Two-Way SMS Into 10% Of Its Revenue

Tivan Amour
CEO, Co-Founder

Tone / Usual Wines Case Study

“Excellent wine should be enjoyed more often, and to the last drop.” 

If you read that and thought, “Yes! 🙌”, you’ll love the Usual Wines brand just as much as we do. 

Usual Wines is taking sustainable, delicious wine seriously and bringing it directly to consumers in an exciting new way – artful wines from the best grapes in California in single-serving glass bottles. 

By using two-way SMS marketing, Usual is creating deeper relationships with their customers that increase revenue and LTV over time.

The architect of this strategy is McKenzie Hagan, VP of Growth at Usual Wines.

Prior to taking the helm of growth and marketing for Usual Wines, she led product growth, marketing, and media buying both at agencies and DTC companies, like Quip.

Those experiences helped her understand the importance channel diversification developing direct relationships with customers.

Let’s start with the business problem Usual faced with its marketing.

When McKenzie joined the Usual team in January 2019, she faced a common problem that almost every DTC marketer is dealing with in today’s marketing world:

“How do I continue to grow revenue with acquisition costs only going up?”

As more and more brands pour money into Facebook and Google, getting the right people to your brand’s website is only getting more expensive.

“It’s expensive to get new customers on Facebook, unless you’re updating creative every few days. And there’s a cost for that as well.”

With media costs trending upwards, Usual Wines wanted to cut through the noise and sell more efficiently by making three main improvements:

  1. Empowering the people already on their website to get quick answers via text
  2. Making it incredibly easy for customers to order more wine
  3. Recovering more abandoned checkouts (the lowest-hanging fruit)

Like a lot of brands, Usual started by experimenting with one-way SMS marketing. But when they would blast out a one-way SMS campaign, there wouldn’t be anyone there to respond.

As a consumer, that wasn’t the experience that McKenzie wanted for herself.

And this experience certainly didn’t make sense for Usual’s millennial audience.

That insight is what led Usual to turn to Tone for two-way SMS marketing.

Join 1000+ other e-commerce brands who are capturing more revenue with two-way SMS marketing from Tone.

Two-way SMS was the solution.

For Usual, Tone’s two-way SMS marketing was the answer for:
  1. Improving conversion with text-for-answer solution
  2. Driving revenue with a frictionless experience
  3. Improving abandoned checkout recovery with SMS  Let’s get into how Tone helps Usual accomplish these three goals.

1. With Tone’s LiveText feature, Usual makes it incredibly easy to get an answer to a question.

Text Us

All you do is text your question, and you get an answer in 5 minutes or less.

Usual Text Conversation

Compare that with emailing a brand and waiting 24 hours for a response.

That’s the difference between converting a customer and losing them forever.

McKenzie said it best: “I don’t want to email someone to get an answer. I just want to text someone.”

This strategy has been so successful for Usual that they’ve implemented the LiveText number across every major customer touchpoint, including their packaging.

2. Beyond answering that initial question and driving the sale, LiveText also helps Usual build a list of loyal SMS subscribers that they can tap into time and time again.

Picture this: it’s two weeks after the first time you ordered from Usual, and you’ve got a special occasion coming up. You’re thinking about getting some more delicious wine to celebrate with this weekend.

Usual sends you a text announcing a new Rose Wine combo pack with a link to order. You want the wine, but you just need to know if it will arrive in time.

You respond to the text to ask about shipping timing, and get a response in just a few minutes, which makes you feel comfortable ordering right now.

This is the power of Tone’s two-way SMS marketing, and it has made SMS one of Usual Wines’ top-performing direct marketing channels, with 10% of their revenue attributed to text.

“We ran a test run on sparkling wine without Tone, and they sold out in 24 days. We relaunched the same test with SMS campaigns with Tone and sold out in 24 hours. We texted 16,000 people. 50% converted.” – McKenzie Hagan


3. Finally, Tone’s abandoned checkout recovery is helping Usual tighten the very bottom of its funnel.

Let’s say you decide at the last moment to not complete your Usual order, Tone helps solve that problem as well.

Usual’s checkout is powered by Shopify, and there is a field to enter your phone number in case you want to get support from their team.

If you enter your number and end up abandoning your checkout, you’ll receive a personal text from Tone asking if they can help.

This kicks off a two-way conversation that helps eliminate objections that are stopping you from buying. I’m talking about things like:
  • Shipping times
  • Pricing
  • Sizes  Real conversations drive real revenue.

Join 1000+ other e-commerce brands who are capturing more revenue with two-way SMS marketing from Tone.

The key takeaways for any DTC brand

If you’re solving a customer acquisition cost problem, a two-way approach to SMS is an important component for a few core reasons:
  • People prefer to text a business for an answer vs email.
  • 90% of people open text messages within 3 minutes.
  • Quick responses via text lead to higher conversion
By adding a conversational approach to their SMS marketing strategy, brands can maximize sales and customer experience at the same time. 

That’s what we’re helping 1000+ brands do every day at Tone.

Want to try it for yourself?

Download our Shopify App for free here.

Or for Shopify Plus, Magento, or other platforms, book a call with our team here.