Technology, data, information – these are the tools that give agribusinesses a competitive edge in a stagnant and consolidating market. Plus, farmers are growing in their use of data and technology to make better planting and farming decisions.
If you want to keep up and out-maneuver your competitors, modern technology is going to be your greatest asset.
Building a tech stack that suits your needs has become easier. A lot of technologies are available for free or at a low cost – and allow you to upgrade as your needs and financial capacity increases.
Marketing operations no longer require massive budgets to scale. Anyone with a computer, Internet access and some good old-fashioned hustle can start right now.
Here are a few examples of modern technology your agribusiness needs.
Customer Record Management (CRM) System
A lot of ag companies we talk to haven’t started using a CRM yet. That means that if you have one, you’re already a step ahead of the pack.
When you have thousands, hundreds or even just dozens of records, organizing and maintaining them becomes time-consuming – especially if you’re trying to spend your time closing deals and producing marketing materials.
And not managing these records just isn’t an option. If two members of your team, through miscommunication, both contact the same customer or, worse, someone falls through the cracks, then that’s hurt relationships and lost dollars.
A CRM helps you avoid all of that:
- All your records are in one location, so you never have to hunt when you’re trying to review a customer’s history.
- Each team member can have access to your CRM (even if it’s “view-only”), so everyone can see the same data and be informed about contacts they’re going after.
- If you want to know a customer or prospect’s history at-a-glance, a CRM puts it in one location where everyone can see it.
If your online activity is limited to a website and the occasional email newsletter, bringing your contacts into a CRM is an excellent first step to modernizing your business practices.
Modern Website or Content Management System (CMS)
Every business needs a website. Period.
So if you’re going to invest in hosting and maintaining a website, why not spend some time turning it into a brand and lead generation tool? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your website is a living, breathing entity. As your business grows and adapts to the shifting market, your website is going to have to grow and change too. Agile web editing – being flexible to make short incremental changes over time – means that you need a modern web system to accommodate this.
- The goal of your website is to help the end user. People go to websites looking for information, products and services that are going to help them. While websites do serve a promotional purpose, the underlying goal is to provide value to the user. So be sure to invest in content pages that are educational and informational in addition to your standard product and company descriptions.
- Always feature calls-to-action to guide the user along. When a user visits your site, you have their attention. Since you’ve already accomplished half the battle – capturing attention – then go ahead and use it as an opportunity to drive engagement, whether that’s to set up a time to talk for get them to subscribe to your email list.
- Make sure you add a blog. A blog is the core tool in modern search engine optimization. It’s also an easy way for you to regularly write on topics that are of interest to your audience. All of this together means that starting and maintaining a blog is a given for your company.
The modern website is more than just an online advertisement. In many cases, it’s more important to your business than your actual brick-and-mortar store.
That’s why you need a functional content management system (CMS) to serve as the tool for building, maintaining and optimizing your website.
Marketing Automation Software
Once you have a website that attracts and converts, you need to focus on nurturing those leads into customers. And while traditional marketing methods go a long way toward doing that, marketing automation software makes it easier and much more scalable.
A good nurture campaign has three main goals:
- Capitalize on the attention that you have already by keeping your brand in front of your prospects’ eyes
- Educate potential buyers so they’re making the best purchasing decisions
- Show them the value that your products and services give them in their day-to-day work
Marketing automation software helps you do these three things. Plus, once you build your automations, it runs in the background so you don’t have to constantly be on top of it.
Here are some ways marketing automation software can help you:
- Automate emails to go out a certain amount of time from a conversion or contact – use this as an opportunity to explain more about what your business does and how you fit into their needs
- Alert salespeople when a lead has engaged in activity with your business – like visiting your website, clicking on an ad or filling out a form on your website – so they are reaching out to people who already have your company on their mind
These are just a couple of the ways you can use marketing automation software. It’ll help you better communicate with your customers and bring more prospects into the fold.
Email Marketing Software
Marketing automation software works in tandem with your email marketing software – and oftentimes the two are combined. However, since email marketing stretches beyond marketing automation, it makes sense to talk about it as its own thing.
Lead nurturing isn’t limited to marketing automation. Sometimes, it makes sense to send out a batch email to your database or a segment of your database, whether you want to promote a piece of contact to engage with or announce a new product or product update.
Here’s what you need to make sure your email marketing software has:
- Full creative control over the design
- List segmentation and suppression features
- Automatic opt-out suppression
- Throttling and delivery scheduling
For more insights into how to get started with email marketing, click here to download The Ag Marketer’s Guide to Email.
The ultimate goal of email marketing software is this – make sure your emails are getting to the people you want when you want to reach them.
Digital Ad Technology
Once you’ve invested in a website that attracts and informs, and marketing automation that nurtures, then the next step is to advertise. Start bringing new potential customers into the fold.
Fortunately, technology makes it easier than ever not only to create and distribute ads, but to ensure they’re being displayed to the right customer.
There are two main forms of advertising that allow you to take your prospect lists – specifically, email addresses – and deliver and distribute ads directly to them.
- Programmatic ads. When you combine accurate, up-to-date ag customer data with programmatic advertising, you’ll make sure that your display ads aren’t being displayed on a specific site, but to a specific farmer. Whether your farmer is on ESPN or Weather.com, your ad will follow them and make sure your message is in front of their eyes.
- Facebook ads. Ag marketers are underestimating social media. But the reality is that farmers are growing more active on social, especially Facebook, and technology lets you target the farmers you’re going after. Upload your list as a Customer File and let Facebook match it to the specific accounts that the farmers are using.
Success in digital advertising comes through targeted marketing, where you’re combining data with digital ads to reach the perfect audience.
Digital ad technology also lets you gauge the performance of your ads in real time, so you know what’s performing well and make adjustments based on that information.
Ag Data Management
The last piece of technology your business needs is something to manage your ag data. If you’re engaging in targeted marketing, you’re going to need to organize all the information you have on your prospects and customers.
A CRM is great for a lot of things, but it’s a generic tool that’s designed for any and all industries. Ag companies have a lot of nuance and specifics that don’t fit within a CRM – and so you need other kinds of tools to manage ag data.
Here are a couple of examples:
- How are you building a data-driven strategy? Do you have the technology to help you analyze market share and wallet share? Are you looking at how your business aligns with the market, both as a whole and focusing on the territories your company is focusing on?
- How are you executing marketing campaigns in accordance with that strategy? Do you blast emails out or are you being strategic in marketing to individual segments? How do you take your customer file and “slice and dice” the lists so you’re segmenting?
- How is your sales team following up on marketing leads and moving you toward your strategic revenue goals? Are salespeople looking at their own prospects and goals in a vacuum, or are they integrating their efforts with the company as a whole?