South Lake Brewing Company Blooms from Taproom to Omni-Channel Brand
See how one California taproom combined its in-store infrastructure with GoGoGuest’s customer intelligence to grow sales and engage its target audiences.
South Lake Brewing Company opened in 2017 as a passion project between Nicole and Chris Smith.
Setting up in the gorgeous city of South Lake Tahoe, the two set about creating a unique community taproom with strong local ties. Little did the husband and wife team know, they would quickly outgrow their small operations, including their 10-barrel brewhouse, three 2–barrel fermentation tanks, and four 10-barrel fermentation tanks.
The Smiths love data. From pivot tables and numbers to charts and graphs, analytics is in their blood. That’s why it isn’t surprising to see them ask heaps of questions about how new technology fits into their current tech stack to drive added value to their business.
Getting Something Brewing - Building Audiences, Creating Communities, and Growing Sales
It’s tough to sell products when you don’t know your audience.
As South Lake Brewing expanded its operations, the Smiths kept coming across several challenges they couldn’t solve. Who was their audience? Where are they from? Are they local, or are they from out of town? Most importantly, how were they finding South Lake Brewing?
The Smiths needed a way to clearly understand what their best sales channels were and how to reach the right audiences with the right messages at the right time.
That’s when GoGoGuest entered the picture.
Through GoGoGuest, South Lake Brewing learned that none of its advertising had a measurable impact on brand discovery. Some of the brewery’s customers were finding SLB through a simple Google Maps search. Others employed more traditional methods of finding the brewery – either by driving by while cruising through the ‘Y,” or via word-of-mouth.
Multiple Channels Of Engagement, One Platform
As South Lake Brewing grew, so did its need to efficiently meet customers wherever they are. Relying on in-store traffic alone was not enough, so the brewery focused on its digital customer journeys.
Today, SLB customers have the option of buying beer in-store, but they can also use a variety of digital channels. These options include online delivery and pick-up, wholesale via South Lake Brewing’s partnership with Whole Foods, through its online beer subscription, or its Bar Society membership club.
With help from GoGoGuest, South Lake Brewing has been able to connect with their taproom guests beyond the first purchase and extending that relationship throughout their digital channels, specifically subscription beer sales and The Bear Society Beer Club. The result is better brand awareness, higher engagement, and more conversions throughout the customer lifecycle.
Frictionless Audience Engagement
It didn’t take long for South Lake Brewing to start seeing results.
“When we first reached out to GoGoGuest, we knew we needed a way to grow our active subscriber audience faster,” Nicole Smith, co-founder of South Lake Brewing, said. “As a business, we knew we needed to leverage our digital channels beyond Instagram and Facebook to engage with our guests and share stories about what we’re brewing at SLB.”
The brewery was also concerned about lagging email subscription sign-ups and wanted to implement a seamless new channel to encourage better customer acquisition and make email marketing easier.
At the same time, South Lake Brewing was also selling across several platforms, using Square POS and ECWID to track its sales and Squarespace to manage its website. They quickly realized that without one technology solution to unify all of the data coming in, they would be missing out on valuable opportunities to create purposeful and personalized marketing messages.
GoGoGuest’s customer data management and customer engagement technology solutions was a game-changer for South Lake Brewing, integrating perfectly with the brewery’s in-store POS and eCommerce tech stack and immediately providing the Smiths with actionable information. The insight they get helps them see which beers are popular with which audiences, allowing them to create the ultimate beer menu for every season.
Soon after implementing GoGoGuest across its network, South Lake Brewing started seeing a boost in engagement.
Before bringing GoGoGuest in, South Lake Brewing couldn’t pin down its audiences and wasn’t sure how to drive better results. Small steps, like introducing WiFi marketing to its taproom, helped grow the brand’s audience from less than 1,000 active subscribers to more than 3,000 active subscribers.
As more people signed up for SLB’s newsletter, it was easier to stay connected and share how SLB is serving the community with delicious craft beer in any climate – in the taproom or the comfort of their guests’ homes.
Having permission based access to their guests’ inbox empowered the business to create specialized marketing programs for its local guests while driving out-of-town visitors to its digital channels, including online subscription and ordering options, and its members-only Bar Society.
Knowing your audience makes it easier to create grippy, interesting emails that spur action and generate sales.
Their ongoing events, including weekly trivia nights and community functions, help the brand maintain a strong bond with the locals, while its large-scale marketing initiatives continue to perform with open and click-through rates of 42%.
All told, since teaming up with GoGoGuest, South Lake Brewing has generated close to 3X in sales across its memberships and beer sales.
The benefits don’t end there. SLB’s unlimited access to understandable and actionable data has supercharged its marketing engine. Now the Smiths can effortlessly keep in touch with their wholesale and investor communities and eventually expand into SMS marketing when the opportunity arrives.
“GoGoGuest offers ways to create eye-catching and user-friendly marketing messages,” Smith said. “It’s extremely user-friendly – click it, drag it, and add certain elements. If you have nice photos or create visual branding, the templates for their emails are easy to upload your specific business logo and pictures to and customize to your business.”
What Is Next For South Lake Beer?
Things are looking bright for the growing brewery nestled along near Lake Tahoe.
The Smiths are planning to open a second taproom with a full-service restaurant, and want to expand overall production. South Lake Brewing also wants to keep building out its membership program and extending its direct-to-consumer channels throughout Northern California and beyond.
No matter what Nicole and Chris decide to do in the coming months and years, one thing will be true; they will be growing their business with GoGoGuest at their side.
“We’re GoGoGuest lifers,” Nicole Smith said. “We’re so happy to be working with them as they continue to build and design data and insight driven tools that make it easy to gain the insights we need to take action!”