Going Digital is Easier than You Think

David Lazarenko

I am still surprised at the number of organizations, especially in the ag industry, who aren’t taking advantage of the benefits digital can provide to their businesses. I suspect the reason for this revolves around fear and uncertainty. To help quell this thinking, here are three simple things ag organizations can do today to start reaping the returns on digital.

1. Use your website as a data hub.

I’m not talking about complicated big data or CRM initiatives, but rather consistently tracking your audiences’ engagement by measuring and analyzing site traffic and usage. Some of the best website analytic tools are free to use and provide a growing abundance of information that just needs to be harvested on a regular basis.

Through Google Analytics you can track where your traffic is coming from, which segments of this traffic are most (or least) engaged and whether they are doing the things on the site you’d like them to be doing (i.e. reviewing product information, requesting more information, looking to make contact, etc.). By running monthly analytic reports on your site, you can get a snapshot of your audiences’ current engagement and compare it month-to-month to determine whether your communications efforts are achieving what you’d hoped. I promise, once you start this process you will never want to go without.

2. Measure your media.

Whether you are using print, radio, online or out of home advertising, you can now track the effectiveness of these media by simply ensuring that you connect them all to your online asset(s).

This isn’t just about getting click-through rates from media vendors for online ads, though that is still important. It’s about using URLs and PURLs (personalized URLs) to determine whether someone who saw, heard or clicked on your ads was engaged enough to take action (i.e. to visit and browse your site). Using these measurement devices allows you to weigh the effectiveness of your media buys and to find out which provide the most bang for the buck.

For example, you may find that the community newspaper ads you ran in the Peace Region generated more traffic than the provincial ag publication (or vice versa). You may also find that, while traffic generated from a certain online media site was lower than others, the time these visitors spent on your site and the actions they took were much more desirable. By building these metrics into your monthly (or even weekly) data reports, you can not only improve your media purchases over time but also adjust on the fly, pulling placements from less effective media and investing more in those that are performing best.

3. Leverage your expertise.

Your website probably reads like a product or service brochure, highlighting the attributes and benefits of your offerings, but your company is about more than your products and services. These offerings are simply the outcome of your collective knowledge and expertise in ag. So why aren’t you sharing the thinking behind the offerings? Whether you relied on agronomic, scientific or economic knowledge (or a mix of all three) to make your decisions, this expertise is of great benefit to both you and your audiences. For example, your audience members want to know about the characteristics of your canola seed as well as why it is the best choice for their farm, their region, their growing conditions, etc.

Time is often the enemy of sharing expertise, because your experts are busy doing what they do and don’t have time to compile, write and actively post their thinking digitally. To overcome this, we have developed an ongoing “knowledge mining” process that greatly mitigates the time constraints on these experts.

This could mean a regular monthly call between one of our writers and your experts. The writer interviews the expert on a topic (i.e. canola seed selection for Saskatchewan black soil zones experiencing difficult moisture conditions), then creates all of the content needed for your website, social feeds, blogs, etc. and works with your communications team to post once approved. The writer also knows which keywords to incorporate and what products and services to link to so that the content can be measured. While this process takes some effort to get started (though not as much as you may think), it runs seamlessly once implemented and can generate significant returns going forward.

After more than 15 years in the agri-marketing industry, I have experienced the growth in agri-digital from a non-existent reality to one in which opportunities abound. The time for waiting is over. For years ag companies waited to see if farmers, retailers and ag influencers would fully adopt digital as a part of their business practices. While it was a slow growth (in comparison to other consumer-based industries) the reality is that agri-digital is no longer a choice, a lifestyle or a trend. Marketers who embrace this truth and put it to use are reaping the benefits.

If you agree, give us a call and maybe we can help ;)

In his Working Wisdom series, David Lazarenko shares insights and inspiration gathered throughout his 15-year agency career. Through real-life examples and an analysis of industry trends, he offers up practical advice and actionable strategies for marketers.


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