When deciding whether to invest in data for your marketing team, there's a lot to consider. Budget and finances certainly factor in.
You may also be considering the impact on your most valuable resource: time.
As agribusinesses are increasingly pressed for time, they're evaluating each individual activity to see whether it moves the company closer to revenue goals. Because data analysis is new to some, many don't consider it to be a good use of time.
However, data analysis helps in many ways that will end up saving time:
- Helping to make strategic decisions faster
- Saving time in marketing execution
- Eliminate wasted time on ineffective activities
Consider reading this article to see why your agribusiness should make time for data analysis and save time in the long run.
It helps you make strategic decisions faster
You may be used to making decisions based on intuition and “gut feeling.” While this may have worked in the past, there are so many factors that go into strategic decision-making.
The market is evolving so quickly many of us can barely keep up. What’s worked in the past may not work in the future.
Think of all the hours you spend in meetings discussing and theorizing about where the market is going and how farmers are responding to your marketing efforts. What if you could circumvent all those meetings by having the answer - and answer based on cold, hard facts - at your disposal?
Here are some examples where data contradicts the conventional wisdom in the industry:
- The Millennial Farmer. There’s a lot of talk about the Millennial Farmer and how they’re taking over the industry. However, our data shows that the average age of the farmer is going up, not down.
- Social media. Instinct and intuition tells people that ag media sites and direct mail pieces, but the numbers show that at least 46 percent of farmers are active on social media, especially channels like Facebook and YouTube.
- Consolidation. While conventional wisdom talks about the consolidation of the market – and consolidation is certainly happening among agribusinesses – the number of growers increased by 15.1 percent in 2017 versus 2016, while the amount of farmland has remained virtually the same.
With a limited amount of time and money to invest in marketing, think of it as a simple numbers game. Are you willing to risk that your assumptions are wrong? Or is it worth it to spend some time to invest in data analysis and come up with more reliable answers?
Although we talk about decision-making at the top level among executives, everyone in the organization who makes decisions needs to have this information at their disposal.
This is what we call “pushing data to the edge.” Everyone from your top executive to your salespeople in the field and everyone in between has the information available to them to make micro-decisions in the moment.
Because everyone has the same data, they’re playing from the same sheet of music so to speak. This helps to ensure that everyone is moving your agribusiness toward the same goal: increasing revenue.
Another important thing to mention: beware the trap of saying “we know all our customers.” While you certainly know the people you’re doing business with, there’s no way you know all the potential customers out there in the market.
Let’s take a look at the number of active growers there are and the acreages they farm:
Even if you focus only on 1000+ acre farms, that's still a large market that's difficult to address in its entirety. There are more growers out there than you realize, so be open-minded to where you can hunt and find new customers for your agribusiness.
It will save you time in your marketing execution
In addition to general, strategic decisions around who the target market is and where you should be focusing your efforts, data analysis helps the marketer make decisions in executing against those segments.
Here are some of the questions data helps you answer:
- Who is the right audience? This connects to what we discussed in the previous section: that your current audience may not be the right audience. Analyze data to understand who actually is the best fit for your business – whether that’s a grower the farms a particular crop or a specific size of operation – and build your marketing lists from there.
- What are they responding to? Different messages are going to resonate with different segments of your audience. The more specific and contextual you are in your messaging, the more likely your audience is to engage with your content. Use the data at your disposal to see what content is performing among your audience and adjust your messaging accordingly.
- When is the best time to communicate with your audience? Timing is everything, especially in a seasonal industry like ag. The ability to respond to key events in real time and offer a contextual offer that helps the farmer – that’s going to set your marketing efforts apart from the competition.
- Where and on what channels are they more likely to engage with your content? The farmer is going to be active on multiple channels. You have to identify where the best places are to communicate with them.
This is why segmented, multi-channel marketing can help you. Instead of having a different message for each channel, choose a different message for each segment, and then send that message to the same audience across multiple channels like email, social media, programmatic display ads and direct mail.
In essence, market to the audience, not the channel. Click here for our recent article where we go into more detail on how data can help you do this.
It helps you eliminate wasted time on less effective activities
When time and money are tight, nothing should be sacred. Everything you invest in should be under a microscope for you to see what needs to continue and what needs to be cut. Your marketing activities should be no different.
But how do you decide what marketing activities should continue on? That’s another reason why engaging in targeted marketing can be to your benefit. There are many marketing activities that don’t maximize your return on investment. Data analysis can show you where you’re falling short.
There may be benefits to investing in traditional audience marketing like radio and TV ads, but it’s difficult to track the ROI unless you’re highly sophisticated in how you use them: using a dedicated email, phone number and landing page in your call-to-action, for instance. These channels may be more useful for brand visibility and overall viewership.
But if you want to gain leads through your marketing efforts, you have to double down on the channels that work and eliminate the ones that don’t.
Here are some questions you can start asking and metrics you can start measuring today:
- Can I clearly tie revenue to this particular marketing activity? If not, how am I measuring the value/success of this channel? If so, what’s the revenue generated compared to the overall spend (i.e. ROI)?
- Can I clearly see who is viewing the content I’m sharing on this channel? Can I gather detailed demographics on the audience and/or ensure that I’m only targeting the segments that work for my agribusiness?
- Am I able to adapt/adjust the content/creative when circumstances change?
- Can I contextualize the message to the particular segment? Say, I want to say something different to Corn/Soy growers versus specialty crops? Or to larger operations versus smaller?
If the answer to those questions is “no”, then start asking some tougher questions:
- What is the benefit we’re receiving from this channel? Is it “moving the needle” in terms of the business?
- Are we focusing on “vanity metrics” rather than driving actual engagement with customers and potential customers?
- Is there a way we can do what this channel does, but better? For instance, investing in a TV ad may be something you do, but can you broadcast that content as a pre-roll targeting your customers so you know you’re reaching the right audience?
By answering all these questions, you can find the best places, times and content to engage your audience and drive them to do business with you:
- You can identify the channels that are easily measurable
- You can identify the audiences that engage/resonate with your marketing communications
- You can identify the specific ads/messages/content that’s performing well among your audience
- You can identify the products/services that these audiences are more likely to engage with
All three of the above – faster decision making, streamlining execution and eliminating ineffective activities – all drive the ultimate goal: generating a better return on investment.
By reducing costs and increasing spend on activities that generate a better return, you can see faster growth for your agribusiness.