In ag, digital marketing means different things to different people.
For some, it's taking out an ad on an ag publisher site. For others, it's about delivering specific messages and products to specific farmers. For others, it's a catch-all phrase for email, social media, SEO, PPC, etc. And then there are those who are just now figuring out how to get started.
Regardless of your specific priorities, here are our tips to help you improve how you market to farmers through digital channels.
1. Match products or services to specific growers.
When you take out a print ad, you have no control over the audience. You pay for the placement and hope that the right farmer sees it at the right time.
In digital marketing, and more specifically with data-targeted digital, the opposite is true. With this method, you pay for the audience, not the placement.
This enables you to match specific products to specific growers. For example, you may be taking a new corn hybrid to market. Would you rather deliver your ad to every farmer who reads a publication? Or would you rather deliver it specifically to Corn or Corn/Soy growers?
The answer depends entirely on your objectives. But for most agribusinesses, they see the best ROI when matching a specific message or product to a specific grower.
2. Invest in targeted ad campaigns.
In the previous section, we mentioned programmatic advertising and touched on its ROI benefits.
If you're unfamiliar with what it is, here's a brief definition: Programmatic advertising the automated buying and selling of online ads.
Here's an example. When you see ads on websites like CNN or ESPN, you aren't seeing ad placements that have been negotiated and manually placed. These ad placements are filled automatically through an online auction that takes place in milliseconds.
With a large number of advertisers competing for those spots, how do you improve your chances of winning the auction without breaking the bank? The key is to go small. Target a specific audience of growers -- using custom data like crops, acres, personas, and more -- to achieve that result.
The more targeted your audience, you eliminate wasteful spending and reach the right farmers. This, in turn, improves return on investment.
3. Integrate traditional marketing with digital channels.
In the agricultural industry, many marketers like to use traditional marketing channels like print ads and direct mail. Many of these channels have track records of success, and are familiar to these marketers.
Our solution isn't to abandon these channels. This is especially the case if they're bringing in leads and customers.
Digital marketing presents opportunities that go above and beyond traditional marketing. But more than that, digital marketing can compound the impact of your traditional channels.
Marketing to farmers requires two things to be successful: trust and familiarity.
Digital and traditional marketing combined give you the opportunity to build both trust and familiarity. But in order to work this way, your messages must be integrated. If a farmer receives a certain message in a direct mail piece, your digital ads should have the same message.
The more touches you have with a particular grower, the more familiar they'll be with your brand. And if your messages are relevant and helpful (as we discussed earlier) then you'll build trust.
4. Balance your online presence through content marketing.
Paid ads are great, but they're only one piece of the whole digital marketing puzzle.
The major benefit they give you is a short-term lead gen channel. But the minute you stop paying for those ads, you aren't going to bring in any more leads.
That's why it's important to balance both paid and organic marketing.
When you post content on your website, it's there until you take it down. That means that it will continue generating leads as long as people keep doing Google searches for that topic or as long as you promote it on social. As a long-term solution, it doesn't get any better than that.
As a digital marketer, you should never solely rely on one channel. So just as you would mix digital and traditional marketing, consider mixing paid and organic marketing.
5. Keep experimenting & testing new channels.
You may think you know which channels and tactics work best for your agribusiness. But the digital marketing world is ever-changing. Certain channels will become more (or less) cost effective than others.
As you approach your own digital marketing strategy, always experiment and test. You may find that for a few months, Facebook may be an optimal channel for your social media marketing. But sometimes algorithms change, and digital display or Connected TV ads may be a better bet.
Don't take anything for granted when it comes to marketing -- or sales for that matter. Keep listening to what your farmers are doing. Respond to their needs with what they want, when they want, and where they want it.