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How Club Soda Drives Growth and Revenue

They connect with the sober‑curious by providing resources and delicious alcohol alternatives using customer journeys, integrations, groups, and more.

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  • Industry: Commerce/retail
  • Founded: 2014
  • Company size: 8
  • Location: London, England, UK

Published: September 12, 2023

“No thanks, I don’t drink,” some people say, and Club Soda wants to give them options to drink more than, well, club soda.

The company was founded in 2014 by Dru Jaeger and Laura Willoughby when she quit drinking alcohol and couldn’t find the kind of support she needed. As a London, England, based B-Corp, they're on a mission to help people drink alcohol more mindfully and live well.

Club Soda started as a small Mailchimp mailing list and a Facebook group to connect with folks who wanted to find thoughtful ways to drink and to discover new no- or low-alcohol products. “Mailchimp has been part of our story pretty much from the beginning,” says Dru. Now, they’re communicating with tens of thousands of people in an international audience.

Club Soda focuses on 3 core things: change, choice, and connection. First, they offer paid and free courses to guide people interested in changing their alcohol drinking‌ habits—either wanting to reduce or quit completely. 

They also help people discover more beverage choices. They use Mailchimp tools to help sell non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits through e-commerce and their shop and tasting room on London’s historic Drury Lane in Covent Garden. They also hosted the world’s first mindful drinking festival in 2017, which has inspired similar events in the US and South Africa. Co-founder Laura is listed as number 16 in Drinks Retailing's Top 100 Most Influential People in Drinks, and some Club Soda leaders and employees speak on international stages about low- and no-alcohol drinks. “We're very lucky as a global leader in the availability of alcohol-free drinks, and we've been in on that movement since the very beginning,” Dru says. 

Third, they create connection through community. “One of the things we know from behavior change research is that it's so much easier to change if you're not doing it by yourself,” says Dru. In addition to their face-to-face community opportunities, they have an active social media presence. However, not everyone wants to make their decision to stop drinking public. Club Soda uses a Mailchimp email to welcome them into the community without broadcasting their journey to the world.

The challenge: Personalizing content, building their audience, and driving revenue

Club Soda offers different types of content that may not apply to everyone, so personalizing it ensures their audiences get the right messages. Some people are just interested in new no-alcohol products, some want to drink more mindfully, and some are worried about their drinking and want to quit altogether.

Club Soda’s main KPI for marketing success is audience growth. However, they know that a successful program means that people may unsubscribe after they’ve been engaged with the community for a while. If that happens, it means Club Soda was successful in its goals of helping people change their drinking habits, and a somewhat static subscriber list means they’re continuing to gain more members. “We don't want to be in people's lives forever. Ultimately we've done our job and people decide that they don't need us anymore.”

As a B-corp, they make money through small donations, affiliate deals, advertising, sponsorships, and grant funding. But they also concentrate on generating revenue from retail sales from their e-commerce store and tasting room, as well as sales of their online courses.

“In terms of generating sales, we see that across pretty much every campaign that we run, it results in somebody buying something—even if we're not directly going out and selling a product through the campaign.”

- Dru Jaeger, Co-Founder, Club Soda

The tools: Customer journeys, WooCommerce integration, conditional content, tags, groups

Club Soda uses several tactics to increase signups. They have a robust SEO and content marketing strategy that drives people to their site where they can sign up through a pop-up form. Most interactions, like event signups and course enrollments, as well as social channels, feature a signup form. They also use Mailchimp’s WooCommerce integration to sync customer information, automatically tagging contacts and adding them to the right groups.

Enrolling in their free introductory course, “How to Change Your Drinking,” kicks off a Mailchimp customer journey featuring an introduction to Club Soda and content generated by people who have found success reaching their drinking goals, including a story from their co-founder Laura. This ends with a 25% discount on other courses to help drive more sales.

They also use customer journeys as a vital onboarding tool to help customers stay healthy as they curb their drinking, and provide opportunities and resources to help make sure they get the help they may need. When a person signs up for the course, they fill out a survey through a third-party integration to assess their risk for alcohol withdrawal. Then they’re tagged in Mailchimp according to their risk, and sent the appropriate information.

“One of the things which I really love about journeys is the fact that they're visual, and that they can be really super specific in terms of steps,” Dru says. “The journey can have multiple ending points—that's really useful because I don't need to know about where somebody's gonna end up. I just need to know what their starting point is. And then based on information that I've got, they could end up in all sorts of different places. And being able to visualize that, I find really incredibly useful.”

In addition to these onboarding and course-related emails, they send several more types of campaigns: new product or event promotions to drive sales, their monthly digest, a Saturday email with everything their community needs to know for the weekend, and a daily motivational email to people enrolled in one of their paid courses. And each of these emails have different messages for the 3 different groups of their audience.

“Groups are really important because they let us connect with people in the areas they've told us that they're interested in,” Dru says. With this feature, they can drop in a block of text using conditional content, ensuring readers’ preferences—change, choice, or connection—are reflected in the emails.

The results: High engagement and sales from every campaign

Of the 5 emails sent through Club Soda’s Saturday email campaign during‌ April 2023, only 1 had a sales goal, which promoted a course in rethinking wine drinking. The rest of them didn’t specifically promote a particular product or service, but incorporated content like discovering new ways to enjoy long weekends without alcohol, celebrating without bubbles, and thinking about health priorities. These emails did contain links to their store, but also contained links to blogs, event signups, and community building opportunities.

The high number of links in the emails led to an average click-through rate of 3.14%, and drove revenue as well, resulting in 93 product orders. “In terms of generating sales, we see that across pretty much every campaign that we run, it results in somebody buying something—even if we're not directly going out and selling a product through it,” Dru says.

"When someone responds to one of our emails, I read their reply. And being able to have direct one-on-one communication with 30,000 people is really powerful."

- Dru Jaeger, Co-Founder, Club Soda

Goals for the future

Dru aims to create more content so people want to keep coming back for more, and email subscriber growth drives the success of the business. “We’ve set a really quite ambitious target to grow our mailing list this year, to increase it by a third,” he says.

In addition to their current list growing tactics, Dru says, “Later in the year, we'll be focusing more of our social activity around the value of being on our mailing list and incentivizing our staff to get more signups at point of sale in the shop.”

Club Soda gets a boost from Mailchimp to interact with people who want to drink more mindfully. Their email communication strategy helps them connect with the right audience and engage in a way that gets results. “When someone responds to one of our emails, I read their reply. And being able to have direct one-on-one communication with 30,000 people is really powerful,” says Dru.

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