Marketing to Farmers: Leveraging the Power of Digital
Learn how digital, data and technology makes marketing to farmers more effective and scaleable for your agribusiness.
Table of Contents
- Digital Marketing: The Way to Reach the Modern Farmer
- The Scalable Power of Marketing Technology
- Tactic #1: Email Marketing
- Tactic #2: Targeted Programmatic Advertising
- Tactic #3: Facebook Ads
- Tactic #4: Content Marketing
- Tactic #5: Blogging
- Tactic #6: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- How Data Brings it All Together
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Digital marketing: it’s the key to keeping your agribusiness alive amidst shifting trends.
Ag companies have traditionally relied on audience marketing and direct mail as their primary channels for marketing to farmers. Sometimes, these channels can still generate results for these companies.
However, there are more effective ways to reach your market, thanks to the rise of the internet and the prevalence of digital marketing.
This guide will go over why digital marketing performs best in terms of true audience reach and return on investment, what tactics are the most effective in terms of engagement and conversion and how you can start implementing those tactics today.
Digital Marketing: The Way to Reach the Modern Farmer
The modern farmer surfs the web, checks their email inbox, likes their favorite posts on Facebook, watches YouTube videos and more. So if you’re looking for the best method for marketing to farmers, digital marketing is a fantastic bet.
Direct mail may not be dead, but that doesn’t mean it’s the all-encompassing marketing solution it used to be. Direct mail only works when it’s part of an integrated marketing strategy, sharing the spotlight with display ads, email marketing, social media ads and more.
Using digital ads as part of your marketing mix will help you reach the modern farmer better. Here are a few ways to take full advantage of these channels.
In the agricultural world, over 25 percent of people who receive an email open it, with click through rates in excess of 3.5 percent. Consider the following stats:
- 86 of consumers (including farmers) want to receive monthly updates from their favorite brands via email
- For every $1 you spend on email, you can expect roughly $38 in ROI
- Two-thirds of all emails are read on mobile devices
Today’s agricultural email marketing campaigns are so much more than dry text. You can incorporate imagery, coupon codes, social media calls-to-action, and more. And if you’re worried about rendering issues, there are multiple platforms that’ll let you preview your email in multiple browsers so you know exactly what your farmers are going to see.
You can also spend money on a billboard or kiosk ad, but at the end of the day, how do you know who’s really seeing your ad?
The answer is: you don’t. So instead of spending the majority of your ad dollars on a billboard, spend your money targeting people who you know are going to be interested in your products through display ads.
Digital display advertising offers powerful targeting options. Retargeting ads even let you reach out to those who have shown interest in your offerings previously – a key component when marketing high-value technology, such as farm equipment.
But this goes beyond traditional banner ads. You can also invest in native advertising, social media advertising and other targeted options for marketing to farmers while they’re browsing online.
Instead of old-school television commercials, consider reaching out to your audience with targeted online video ads. These short ads, which play before videos on sites like YouTube, are a great way to connect with your audience visually.
Click through rates can reach over four percent for this powerful medium – and soar over 11 percent on average on mobile devices. Just make sure that, as with any form of advertising, you’re aware of the conventions of this new ad format.
As spend on digital marketing formats increases, it’s important to know how to best take advantage of these platforms. Personalization and increased ability to reach your target audience are key when it comes to marketing to farmers.
The Scalable Power of Marketing Technology
Technology has transformed the way we market, allowing small businesses to scale marketing operations and rival those of large corporations. This means that your agribusiness has unprecedented power to power your efforts in marketing to farmers.
You no longer need a large team to run a scaled marketing operation. You don’t even need a massive budget – you can get most of the tools you need for free or a very low price. And the return on investment you get is going to make every dollar you spend worth it.
Now, it’s easier to use your data to target marketing efforts – whether they’re ads, content offers or emails – to the people who you want to receive them.
Here are some of the tools you should get today for marketing to farmers.
Content Management System (CMS)
The first thing you need is a place to host information about your products, content offers, blog posts and forms that enable you to capture customer data. This is what’s called a Content Management System, or CMS for short.
Whether you know it or not, you interact with a CMS every time you visit a website. A good website is a basic CMS, giving you a place to put all the information you want your farmers to access. If you don’t have one, go get one.
Here are some things to look for when picking out a CMS:
- It should be easy to add new pages and update existing ones. That way, you’re spending your time creating and publishing great content, not wrestling with technology.
- You should have some level of flexibility in design. Your CMS is the first place your customers interact with your business, so you want to make sure it reflects your brand and personality.
- It should be easy to integrate third-party plugins into the system.
- You should be able to create forms and landing pages so you can capture customer data on the site.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
We’ve talked before about the value of a CRM and some top tips for how to use it in your agribusiness. But here are some tips for picking out a good CRM if you’re evaluating purchasing one for the first time:
- Choose ease of use over power. While having a powerful CRM can be good, it does you no good if it’s so hard to learn that no one on your team is using it. It’s more important to have a less powerful CRM that everyone is using than a more powerful one that no one is using.
- Make sure you can track connections between companies and contacts. Any time there’s a connection between records, you want your CRM to reflect that.
- Be able to monitor a contact’s entire history at a glance. The most valuable benefit you can get from a CRM is being able to know everything there is to know about a customer from one location.
Email Marketing Platform
Fortunately, if you have a small enough list, some platforms will let you start emailing for free, although they’ll charge you for automation and other similar services. Here are some things to look for in an email marketing platform:
- Be able to segment lists and manage them. This will allow for maximum personalization when messaging your customers.
- Make sure you can track all your necessary success metrics, including open and click rate.
- Choose a platform that enables you to automate emails and begin building a nurture campaign for your customers.
- Much like the CMS, you should have enough control over your creative that you can customize your emails to match your brand.
Those Marketing Tools We Didn’t Mention
These four tools we mentioned will provide you with a baseline for your digital marketing strategy. Obviously, there is more you can use, like:
- Social media management
- Programmatic advertising software
- Website analytics
- Design customization tools
- Full-service marketing automation technology
- And much more
There really is no limit on how high you can build your tech stack for marketing to farmers. But by focusing on these three areas, you’re going to give yourself a solid foundation to build on as you experiment and test ways to innovate in marketing technology.
Tactic #1: Email Marketing
Email marketing is a well-known, proven method of communicating with customers, prospects and the market in general.
For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than social media channels.
Despite this effectiveness, few companies in the agriculture industry have a robust strategy around email marketing.
If you want to stand out from your competition and improve your ROI at the same time, it’s time to invest in email marketing. Here are some ways that you can use email when marketing to farmers.
Email Current Customers
If you already have a customer file with email addresses, or you’ve recently acquired email addresses for those customers through data append, then that’s a great place to start.
Before you send, however, it’s important to make sure that the email addresses you have are actually good, so you should invest in email validation. This will maximize deliverability and inboxing by finding the records that don’t have an email. Since around 25 percent of your emails are going to become invalid within a year, this is a step you don’t want to skip.
In other channels, a bad address, phone number, or errant ad delivery will certainly be ineffective, but the impact is isolated.
Not so with email.
With email marketing, the ISPs (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc). evaluate you, the sender, through a number of ways; your IP Address and sending domain, your email message, and most importantly, the response of their recipient users.
Here are some signs you have bad emails in your CRM:
- More than 10 percent of emails are undeliverable
- Your file contains any spam traps
- More 0.1 percent of recipients mark your email as spam
When emailing to your customer file, be sure to validate your emails – either the ones you have or ones you’ve appended to the file – to avoid these traps.
Nurture Inbound Leads
Email’s not the only way that you’ll generate leads for your business. Search engines (paid or organic), social media, display ads – even print and radio – are all going to drive people to your website, where they’ll have the opportunity to learn more about you and, hopefully, get in touch.
Often, people will fill out a web form or “Contact Us” link. When this happens, you’ll likely get the person’s email. From there, you can send them email, providing helpful information and nurturing them until they are ready to make a purchase.
Find New Leads & Customers Through Email
Finding new customers through email – called Acquisition Email Marketing – is the most difficult of all the email marketing types.
Most (nearly all) marketing automation software and email providers simply steer clear of this type of campaign. They prohibit sending unsolicited emails through their platforms because of the issues around deliverability and inboxing.
As a result, navigating these challenges is going to be challenging and require an adept hand. Here are some rules to help you out.
- Don’t use your regular CRM sending domain. Although this may help you reach your prospects’ inbox, any deliverability issues you come across will impede allof your email sends going forward.
- Carefully monitor the ratio of positive to negative engagement. Positive engagement includes opens and clicks, and negative engagements include unopens and spam complains.
- Optimize your emails for positive engagement. Be relevant and specific, ensure that your email meets technical specifications (download this free guide for a checklist), perform A/B tests on campaigns before sending and always learn and improve as you go along.
ISPs are continuously changing their email filter rules, audience preference changes, and the many topical considerations such as time of day/week/year, recent events. Analyze the results/reporting to see how the campaign performed across many different variables, such as time of day, receiving ISP, audience, clicks, etc.
By using this data and feedback, you should be able to fine-tune your efforts and increase your ROI when marketing to farmers.
Tactic #2: Targeted Programmatic Advertising
Marketing to farmers can often feel like a shot in the dark, and without the right agri-marketing data, narrowing down your ideal audience can feel even more frustrating.
Plus, being limited to ag media sites is just that limiting. Farmers are people too and they visit their favorite news, sports, shopping, and interest sites just like the rest of us.
Why limit your audience by focusing on just advertising on ag media sites where you’re likely to have competitor’s offers right next to your ad? What if you could specifically target 250+ acre corn growers in Dekalb County when they are checking their fantasy football team?
Programmatic advertising can help you narrow down your target audience by what, how much, and where they grow; their demographic information; even the time of day that they’re most likely to see your digital advertisements so that you can maximize the reach of your marketing dollars.
What is Programmatic?
In its simplest terms, programmatic is the automated buying and selling of digital ad space. Programmatic advertising to farmers or agri-marketers puts a focus on reaching the right people, not the virtual ad real estate you’ve bought.
Rather than just place an ad on a website that sells various types of farm equipment and hope that the right eyes see it, digital advertising methods give you the ability . When you know your ad is landing on the eyes of corn growers versus cattle ranchers, you can target your messaging to directly speak to the audience whom you want to reach with greater chance of conversion.
Know Your Audience
Programmatic lets you target demographic information, type of crops grown, behaviors, etc. Not only can you target your audience by demographics, you can utilize programmatic advertising to reach everyone from those who have bought particular farming equipment in the past thirty days, or who have accessed a particular website on a mobile device versus a desktop computer. This way, you’ll be able to see why, when, and how your audience is accessing certain types of information.
Go Where the Farmers Are
Previously, it was enough to buy real estate on a website, put up your ad, and hope enough of your target audience saw it. But why pay for impressions of people who may not have any interest in you product? Marketing to farmers specifically with programmatic advertising can cause you to show up on the websites your audience is browsing at a time when they’re most inclined to see it.
Test and Adjust Your Campaigns
Programmatic advertising puts the power of insights into your hands. It’s no longer necessary to stick with a campaign that isn’t working. Whether you want to test out the best call-to-action to reach a target demographic or change your messaging based on the seasons, embrace programmatic advertising’s potential to optimize your advertising strategy and test new opportunities.
Tactic #3: Facebook Ads
Facebook currently has 2 billion monthly active users. 214 million of those are in the United States – that’s over two-thirds of the U.S. population. This means that Facebook presents agri-marketers with a powerful way to reach farmers in direct and powerful ways.
It’s only been thirteen years since Facebook was founded. But since that fateful day, the social media network has become one of the most powerful and important influencers in the world, becoming a platform where people can share their message and their thoughts with people connected with them.
And with a little bit of cash, they (and you) can grow that network to people outside their inner circles.
Do you want proof that Facebook is effective? Here are some examples of how this company has made a difference:
- They facilitated a level of influence in a presidential election that was previously unseen
- They’ve created a fundraising channel where charities and individuals can raise the necessary capital for issues and causes they care about
- They’ve revolutionized how families stay connected with each other, even across great distances
- They give businesses the opportunity to engage with their customers, clients and even new prospects
And you know what’s even better than Facebook’s reach? It’s a highly profitable marketing channel.
Believe it or not, as an agri-marketer, you have a wide-open door to take advantage of the power that Facebook can give you. We’ve talked before about how farmers are growing more and more active on social media channels. They’re ready to engage with brands they care about – hopefully yours – on their personal accounts.
With the right combination of Facebook’s targeting tools and reliable farm and grower data, you can realize ROI for your business and open up a new and cost-effective way to engage your farm customers.
Here are three advantages you’ll get from Facebook ads.
Find New Customers
One of the biggest challenges for agri-marketers is finding new customers. Agriculture is a zero-sum game, simply because there’s a limited amount of farmland available and, thus, a limited number of farmers farming that land.
With a zero-sum market, agri-marketers have to be especially diligent in finding who their best potential customers are, nurturing them into a productive relationship and maintaining that faithful relationship over time.
This is where Facebook can be a powerful ally. Not only does the platform allow you to use their own analytics and algorithms to find new customers, but if you have access to farm data, you can use that data in concert with Facebook to even further drill down into your audience and find those customers who are going to be most likely to engage with you.
Here are some ways to use Facebook ads to find new customers.
Facebook Targeting. Although it may seem a bit like George Orwell’s infamous “Big Brother” from the novel 1984, Facebook is active in collecting data on the users. You can use this data to your advantage by creating targeted audiences directly within Facebook. Create target demographics to find new potential customers.
Upload Contacts. Facebook has a powerful tool that lets you upload a .csv file into their Ads Manager, and serve your ads directly to those people. So if you’re trying to revitalize your CRM marketing efforts, or get people who’ve signed up on your website to convert to qualified leads or customers, this would be a great option for you.
If you have a list of email addresses from a third-party data provider, you can upload those emails to Facebook to target them in an unobtrusive but direct way.
Lookalike Audiences. This is another way you can use your own farm data in concert with Facebook to create an even more reliable audience. Upload your data to Facebook, and they’ll automatically find audiences similar to those in your customer file.
That way, you can combine the power of your agri-data – whether it’s your own records or from a third-party source like Farm Market iD – and find new people similar to your current file.
Drive Website Traffic & Conversions
Website traffic is the first step in digital inbound lead generation. No matter how high your conversion rates are, you won’t acquire any new customers until you see some traffic at the top of the funnel. So finding ways to drive traffic to your website is an absolute necessity.
This is another benefit that you can get from social media advertising. By promoting your best content, landing pages and webpages, you can drive your Facebook fans, targeted audiences and lookalike audiences to see and engage with your content.
Hopefully, they’ll like what they see and convert into leads.
Here are two specific ways that you can use social media advertising to increase conversions.
Boost Posts. You can be posting great content, but it’s tough to get it in front of a larger audience. Consider using ads to increase the reach – that way it gets in front of more people.
Lead Ads. This is a new feature that lets you collect leads’ information directly from Facebook, making it easier and more convenient for your subscribers to convert.
Reach Your Farmers Where They Are
The saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” The best thing about Facebook ads is that you’re always “in sight.”
When your farmers go to look at pictures of family members or read the latest headlines, your content will be right there, in clear sight of your audience. Thanks to Facebook’s many ad-building tools, your ads make it easy for your audience to convert both within the platform and on your website.
While direct mail, email, programmatic ads and other types of advertising are effective, social media gives you something unique – it lets you directly connect with farmers and cut through all the noise that exists in digital marketing.
Tactic #4: Content Marketing
If you haven’t heard already, content is king. That’s why your success as an agribusiness rests heavily on your ability to create content that gets farmers’ attention.
Whether you’re starting a blog to attract new customers, creating downloadable content offers to convert leads or finding new ways to engage and educate your current customer base, content creation is a vital part of business and marketing in the 21st century.
As an agri-marketer, the challenge you’re probably facing on a regular basis is deciding the best ways to create content that’s engaging and that entices farmers to engage with your brand.
Regardless of the business you’re in or how robust your content marketing strategy is, here are some tips that’ll help you get your farmers’ attention.
Pick a topic you know they’ll be interested in.
The best way to get someone’s attention is to write about something they’re already interested in. That way, you don’t have to fight to convince them to read your content. This is a great advantage if you’re promoting your content through display ads, paid search, social media or in print.
But there’s an added advantage as well. If your content is substantive and helpful enough in solving farmers’ problems, then it’s going to rank on search engines when farmers are looking up a particular topic.
For example, if you want to give farmers some advice on selecting a particular type of irrigation system, then consider writing an article on How to Pick the Best Irrigation System for Your Farm. Then, anytime a farmer is searching for how to pick the best irrigation system for his farm, he’ll come to your article. You’ll have the chance to convert him and, hopefully, nurture him into a lifelong customer.
Write a relevant title – don’t try to be too catchy.
It’s fun to try and find catchy, witty titles. Here are a few examples (warning: they might be a bit cliché):
Seeding Mistakes: You Reap What You Sow
The Merry-Go-Round of Crop Rotation
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s…a Crop Spraying Drone
While those titles are definitely fun, they do absolutely nothing to tell the reader what to expect when reading the article. And most importantly, they do nothing to explain why the reader should move beyond the title to the content itself.
Your title is your gatekeeper: your farmers are going to decide whether they’re actually going to read the content based entirely on that title.
Instead of being catchy, just be honest. And help them understand why the article is relevant and will be helpful to them.
Find subtopics that follow a logical progression.
Once your readers make it past the blog title, over 43 percent of them end up just skimming the blog post, rather than reading it in-depth. And for many of these people, “skimming” means reading the headers and maybe glancing at the copy.
Don’t take offense to that. Most people are busy, and have little time on their hands to intently read every single thing that pops up on their RSS or social media feed.
Instead, tailor your content to take advantage of this fact. Focus most of your attention on engaging, helpful headers, and then flesh out your copy to tell the rest of the story, including details, stats and other necessary information.
Ask a simple question: can my readers get the gist of this article by only reading the headers? If not, then you need to rework how your article is structured.
Use data to back up your arguments.
Not only do you want your content to be attention-grabbing, but you also want it to provide substantive information to farmers. An easy way to do that is to cite data that backs up your position.
Data can come from your own internal studies or from a third-party source. And there’s a lot of data out there on a wide variety of issues.
Here are just a couple of data points that are relevant to agribusiness:
- The average age of the farmer has grown from 51 to 58 over the past thirty years, and is continuing to grow. If that trend continues, it’ll reach a tipping point, and we’ll soon see a wave of Millennial farmers taking over.
- It’s projected that farmers will need to feed 9 billion people by 2050, meaning that farmers need to become more sophisticated and scale in ways we’ve never seen before.
- Crop rotation, tillage and other conservation practices are becoming more and more diverse and varied, meaning that each farmer is soon going to have their own unique techniques and, thus, needs.
Do you see how each of those points could impact that way your business markets and sells to farmers? Now go find the data relevant to your audience, and use it to get their attention and engage them with your brand and, hopefully, your products.
Ask the question: has this been done before?
Everyone has a blog. One of the benefits of the Internet age is that we have unprecedented access to information, and everyone has the ability to add to that pool.
That means that, for the most part, most topics have been written about already. Originality is becoming less and less common.
If you’re writing about something that’s been widely covered – like crop rotation, for example – then chances are, someone’s written something better than you.
But here’s where you can jump in – you can write something focused and specific, and target a narrower audience of farmers but providing them something that no one else is providing. In the end, it’s better to have ten highly-engaged customers than 1,000 who couldn’t care less about what you’re writing.
So ask yourself: how can I tackle this particular issue from a unique angle? How can I write something in a way that hasn’t been done before?
The saying goes that good writing is nothing more than good editing. In many ways that’s true. People aren’t going to take you seriously if your posts are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.
However, good editing goes beyond good grammar. It involves looking at the piece with a critical eye, and making sure that the content provides value, that it’s factually accurate and that it accomplishes something for your agribusiness.
Editing is the final step in the writing process, but arguable the most important. So take the time to comb through your content and make sure that it’s perfect and ready to share with the world.
Tactic #5: Blogging
Getting your agricultural business online or reviving your struggling website is an essential step to growing your reach and getting more sales.
But getting started with growing your online presence might be a bit daunting – especially if tech isn’t your strong point.
One easy way to grow your online presence is to launch an agriculture blog where you can share insights and opinions to attract a new audience.
Follow this step-by-step guide to get your agriculture blog off the ground.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
Before you launch into the logistics of setting up and maintaining a blog, you need to decide what your blog will be about. There are plenty of topics to discuss in the field of agriculture, and you’re not likely to cover everything.
Instead of trying to appeal to a large audience, choose a niche within agriculture where your expertise or brand has a particular advantage. For example, if your company offers financial products for farmers, your blog could focus on money management for farmers.
Narrowing your focus to a single niche puts you in a position of authority as an online spokesperson for the topics you cover. If you try to cover too wide a focus, you risk losing sight of your target audience, and you’ll have trouble attracting readers.
Of course, you also don’t want to pick so narrow a niche that there will only be a handful of people who understand and interact with your content. If you’re curious about striking the right balance, do some simple online searches for keywords related to the topic you want to write about and look at what similar blogs are already discussing and how audiences are interacting with the content.
Step 2: Pick a Platform and Domain
Once you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to get your site online. This is one of the most technical aspects of launching your blog, but is approachable even for the tech novice.
First, you’ll want to decide where you want your blog to live online. This is your platform. One popular platform for bloggers is WordPress, since it allows users to have complete control over your blogging site, design and management. However, there are options for drag-and-drop site builders, like Weebly and Wix, that offer a user-friendly experience for those who don’t want to deal with any of the technical aspects of site management.
Regardless of your chosen platform, your website will need a domain name: this is the web address where your readers can access your content. If you’re attaching a blog as part of your existing business website, you can attach the blog as a page or subdomain at your company’s existing domain.
If your blog is an entirely new venture, you’ll need to select a domain that relates to your niche or blog name, like financeschoolforfarmers[dot]com. Then, you need to purchase your domain from your website builder or another domain registration site.
Step 3: Choose a Web Hosting Service
If you’re using a drag-and-drop website builder, your hosting will be bundled into your membership with the builder. If you’re using a self-hosted blog, like one on a WordPress platform, you’ll need to choose a web host to maintain your site information on a stored server.
Your web host provides the tech services you need to keep your website online and present it for your audience to interact with. Your host may also provide additional services, like security and backups or downtime monitoring to ensure that your content is always online.
Web hosting is an expense you’ll need to account for as you set out in your blogging endeavor, and will set you back a few hundred dollars a year. Of course, if you’re using a drag and drop builder that includes web hosting as part of your subscription, your hosting fee is included with your paid subscription.
Step 4: Choose a Theme and Plugins
When you’ve got all the tech details out of the way, you can get to the fun of designing your site. The first step in designing your site is choosing your theme – this is the template that adds color and character to your site.
There are plenty of free themes available online, and may come as part of your web builder package. You can also find free and paid themes online if nothing provided with your site builder subscription suits your needs.
Your theme should ideally coordinate with your brand’s colors and logo for consistency’s sake. This will help to draw readers in and make your content work well with your overall branding and marketing strategies.
If you’re working with a self-hosted WordPress site, you also have the flexibility to choose plugins that make your site display in a certain way and that give you options to customize the user experience on your site. Most websites utilize a variety of plugins to manage blog posts, sidebars, subscription boxes and more.
Step 5: Develop an Editorial Schedule
Once your site is ready to go, it’s time to get your written content strategy put together. Most blog managers create an editorial schedule to manage blog posts by type and frequency.
Start by coming up with blog ideas. The best way to do this is to simply ask, “What questions are my potential customers asking?” Once you have a list of those questions, then convert the questions into statements and write your posts on those topics – being sure to provide substantive answers.
Not only will this help you keep your blog relevant to your audience, it has the added benefit of increasing traffic due to SEO rankings.
An editorial schedule doesn’t need to be complicated – you can simply use a spreadsheet or paper calendar to keep things straight. If you plan to work with multiple writers on your agriculture blog, you may want to use a scheduling program that lets you communicate with your team about post topics and deadlines in a central location.
Consider carefully your post frequency when you’re developing your editorial schedule. Ideally, you want to strike a balance that lets you present frequent, well-curated content with a post frequency that you can manage.
Many bloggers find that one or two posts a week is a manageable load for a single writer. If you’re working with a team, you might be able to post four to five posts a week, which will attract traffic to your blog much more quickly than a couple of posts a week will.
But the most important thing to remember is that you need to stay consistent. No one wants to stick around a blog that isn’t regularly and predictably updated.
Bottom line? Choose a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
Step 6: Start Writing
Now that you’ve got a plan, it’s time to get to writing. After all, your written content is what’s going to bring readers to your blog.
You can start writing with a simple introduction post where you introduce your brand, yourself and the theme of your blog. If you’re not blogging as part of your business or brand activities, you’ll need to spend more time introducing yourself and the scope of your blog – perhaps a few posts, rather than one simple introduction.
Once you’ve got the introductory blog post(s) out of the way, you can get to the meat of your content posting. Use your editorial schedule to fill in the gaps and let your planned content drive your post topics.
Ideally, you’ll want to include different content types, like storytelling posts, product reviews and other informative resources that you think are relevant to your audience. You can use your editorial schedule to manage the frequency at which you post each type of post. For example, you might have a storytelling post each Monday, a list of some sort on Wednesdays and a behind the scenes look at what your company does on Fridays.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider post length – at a minimum your blog posts should be between 300 to 500 words long, because search engine crawlers won’t rank pages that have less than 300 words of copy. However, including a variety of short posts and long (between 800 and 1200 words), or even very long (2000+ words) attracts a broader audience and can boost your search engine rankings.
Step 7: Promote Your Blog
Having great content doesn’t mean much if you don’t have anyone to read it. When you’ve got some content up on your blog – perhaps six posts or so – it’s time to share the content with your audience.
You can reach your audience in a few ways. If the blog is part of an existing business or brand website, you can use your email lists to disperse content to your existing customers. This may draw in a certain cross section of loyal readers.
If you’re starting an agriculture blog from scratch, you’ll need to build an email list from scratch. You can do this by integrating an email subscription service to manage subscribers through your blog page.
For any blog, you’ll want to expand your audience by promoting your blog on social media sites. Most bloggers choose to start social media pages for their blogs by using the blog as a persona and building fan pages around the blog itself. Social media sites allow you to share your blog posts and updates, as well as interact with your fans to develop a closer connection to your audience.
Starting an agriculture blog is not as challenging as it may seem at the outset. In a few hours, you can get a site off the ground with a domain and host. In a few more hours or days, you can have a robust offering of written content that’ll bring readers flocking to your site.
Tactic #6: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a confusing marketing concept. While there are many technical aspects to SEO, the reality is that for most marketers, in agriculture or otherwise, the implementation is rather simple.
The lynchpin of your SEO efforts is going to be how you write. So here are some tips on how to write for SEO.
Write Focused Articles on Your Specific Topics
Because your keywords are each focused around a very specific topic and answer a very specific question, the key to a high-ranking blog post is going to be its focus. Does the article answer the question in a substantive and concise way?
There are three metrics that indicate a healthy blog post. The first is number of page views. This means that a significant segment of your audience is interested in what you’re writing about. The second is time on the page. If readers are spending more than a few seconds on the page, it means they’re interested in more than your title than the quality of what you’re saying.
On the other hand, if your time spent on the page is just a few seconds, you’re attracting an audience that’s interested in the topic but, for some reason, they don’t think your article answers the question substantively. Maybe you’re ranking for a keyword that’s not relevant to your best customers. Maybe you’re not providing content that’s substantive enough. Maybe your title doesn’t relate back to the body of the article.
The third metric to track is click-through rates. These are the people who, after reading your post, want to hear more from your company, maybe by downloading a content offer or reading another blog post.
Stay focused, and provide a substantive response to the question your audience is asking.
Use Your Long-Tail Keywords Frequently, but Naturally
If you want search engines to recognize that your post is addressing your long-tail keyword, then you need to use that keyword throughout the whole piece.
However, there’s a trap that a lot of marketers fall into here. Don’t over-stuff your article with your keyword, thinking that more equals better. Readers are intelligent people and they can spot bad writing from a mile away. They’ll click away from your article in a heartbeat, driving up your bounce rate.
Additionally, because search engines are smart enough to recognize variations on long-tail keywords, there’s no need to awkwardly word sentences in an effort to increase your ranking. Instead, focus on drafting high-quality content that addresses the issue and naturally reminds readers – and search engines – what you’re talking about.
Here are some places where you’ll want to make sure your keyword shows up:
- Your title
- At least one of your headers (H2 and/or H3)
- The post’s URL
Other than that, make sure your keyword (or a variation) naturally comes up in the article, and search engines will figure out what you’re talking about.
Write for Quality, not Quantity
The ideal length of a high-performing blog post is – however long it needs to be. There’s no magic length that’ll guarantee that your post will rank. Search engines are just too smart for that.
Instead, focus on the question you’re trying to answer, and make sure that you answer it. Whether it’s a 500-word answer or one that’s more than 5,000 words, the length of the post is going to be directly related to the complexity and detail with which you need to answer the question.
Make sure that you’re focused on the quality of the piece, rather than the quantity of words. Just because you’re posting on the Internet doesn’t mean that the regular rules of writing don’t apply – don’t just write to write, write like you mean something.
That said, there are some word counts you’ll want to keep in mind as you blog. 300 words is the minimum length for any online content. Search engines aren’t likely to rank anything that has fewer words. 2,500 words or more is the ideal length if you want your post to make an impact or write something substantive.
Of course, take these word lengths (except the first one) with a grain of salt. A blog post’s success is based on its ability to answer the question the reader is asking. If your content is of a low quality, then your visitors won’t convert or, worse, will bounce from the page.
Write for Readability
It may be tempting to write something highly technical and eloquent to show how much of an expert you are. And you may be able to do so if it’s regarding a core part of your business that you’re working in day after day.
But your customers aren’t looking for a scholarly article – they’re looking for something they can easily digest and that will help them do their jobs better. In fact, something that’s pretentious is going to be a turn-off.
While you certainly don’t want to sacrifice substance, it’s important that your post be readable to a broad audience.
One scoring system, the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test, is a good measure to use for your post’s readability. Not only will a score of 70 or more mean that your audience is basically guaranteed to be able to understand whatever you’re saying, it also will help improve your search engine ranking.
Here are some tips to increase your readability score:
- Use short words – three syllables or less. If you must use long words, use them sparingly.
- Shorten your paragraphs. This can be easily fixed by using the enter key every couple of sentences.
- Break up your posts with bullet point lists.
Remember: your goal is to communicate your idea to your audience, not sound impressive.
How Data Brings it All Together
If you’re having trouble understanding your farmers’ patterns, behaviors or decision-making process, it’s time to start using data. It’ll help you understand farmers better in like nothing else can.
The old tricks of the trade don’t work as well as they used to. Email engagement has dropped ever since it was first launched 40 years ago. People are bidding for room on ag media sites, leaving fewer opportunities for new or expanding agribusinesses to invest in ad spend.
And while search engines and content marketing are powerful channels to invest in, they require first and foremost that you understand your farmers and what they’re searching for online. That’s easier said than done.
Sure, intuition and experience are powerful allies to have. But markets shift and times do change – for better or worse. That intuition is only going to work for so long, and you don’t want to be relying on it for support.
That’s why it’s time to invest in a new strategy: one upheld by data and analytics. With access to the most up-to-date farm and grower data, you can understand your farmers better than ever before, and drive conversations with them.
Here are just a few ways that you can use data to better understand your farmers:
- Stay up-to-date as farmers’ personal information changes
- Tailor your messaging, ads and content to each farmer
- Master the four Ws
- Strengthen relationships by understanding farmers as human beings
Stay Up-to-Date as Information Changes
Whether you’ve been cold calling prospects or trying to get in touch with an old friend whose number you thought you had, you’ve heard this message before:4
[upbeat music] “We’re sorry, the number you’re trying to reach has been disconnected.”
Consider the following stats about contact info in the U.S.:
- Roughly 12% of the entire U.S. moves each year
- 44% of the U.S. is cell phone only
- Many companies have less than 20% coverage of emails in the customer database
- An average person has almost 2 personal email accounts
- 49% of people have changed their email in the past 10 years
People’s information changes over time. And if you think farmers are exempted because they’re so closely tied to the land, think again.
Farmers sell their farms. Sometimes, the owner no longer manages the farm but contracts with a farm management service. And their email addresses, cell phone numbers and more could also be changing.
If you want to get in touch with the person who’s actually managing the day-to-day operations of the farm, you need to have up-to-date data. Then, you’ll always have a clear picture of what’s going on.
Tailor Your Messaging and Content to Each Farmer
In many industries, smaller companies and startups overtook dominant players:
- How did Amazon beat Borders and Barnes and Noble and later Walmart?
- How did Google top the mighty search firms of the time like Alta Vista, Yahoo and Excite?
- How is your next customer going to choose your firm versus your competitor?
The answer: these companies all knew their customers. And knowing your customer begins and ends with data.
If you’re messaging isn’t tailored to your customer, then you won’t be providing them with anything of relevance. And if you don’t provide relevant information, you may lose their business or, worse, see them turn to one of your competitors.
Master the 4 Ws
A complete and accurate data picture will help you objectively understand your prospects, customers, demand and market(s), helping you make profit maximizing decisions.
- Know “who” to communicate (e.g. customers where you are getting less than 10% of their business)
- Know “what” to sell (e.g. a drought resistant corn hybrid seed)
- know “when” to offer (e.g. customers or prospects who just acquired new farm land in an area of the corn belt that is experiencing drought conditions)
- Know “where” to market (e.g. an email or targeted ad)
The nirvana of target marketing would be to combine the “who”, “when”, “what” and “where” as part of an integrated marketing/communication message where various communications channels are used an integrated way.
Applying these best practices in target marketing can increase your marketing ROI, thus improving your brand, customer retention and satisfaction along the way.
Reach Out to Your Farmers as Human Beings
As you work with data and use it to better understand your farmers, remember that at the other end of every piece of communication you send is a human being, not just a data point.
Your messaging should invite your farmers into a relationship with your company, encouraging them to ask questions and offering them real resources and solutions that help them solve their problems. And yes, some of those solutions will be priced and you’ll get some revenue in the end.
Data powered sales and marketing, as well as decision support, will change the way agribusiness operates and competes. You need to prepare your company and your marketing database so that you can survive and thrive.