Segment Your Growers for Targeted, Personalized Communications

Posted by Timothy Wier On March 13, 2019

Segment Your Growers for Targeted, Personalized Communications

Farmers may make up less than two percent of the U.S. population. That’s still nearly 2.4 million active owners and operators who represent $311 billion in spend potential. No matter the size of your company, there are simply too many farmers to reach all of them unless you use a “spray and pray” approach.

That’s why data-powered market research and segmentation of your markets should be a crucial part of your marketing and sales strategy. It will allow you to focus your spend and resources to farmers who will be responsive and valuable to your business growth.

This isn’t some abstract concept that involves guesswork. Here are some of the tangible benefits you get from this kind of data-targeted marketing:

  • When you segment growers based on objective criteria for who is the best fit for your business, your audience size goes down but the percentage of likely customers goes up.
  • By using data to understand the context around the grower’s operation, you can communicate directly to their needs and offer the solution that helps them improve their day-to-day.
  • Using reliable, up-to-date information, you can segment growers into groups where you can deliver targeted communications – email, direct mail, digital ads and social media – directly to them.

Here are five key points for targeted segmentation of marketing strategies:

  • Don’t define segments first, analyze your customers and market data first to develop your segmentation
  • Make sure the segments are big enough to be impactful and small enough to be actionable
  • Consider your addressable market; make sure your products, sales, distribution allow you to serve these growers
  • Focus on the segments that provide the best combination of size, impact and likelihood to buy from you
  • Make sure your organization is organized around these segments and the data to execute

Take a look at this example – using real data – of how you could build these segments for targeted, personalized and contextual communications.

Fine tune your segments to get as detailed as possible

If you want to communicate with your audience with as personalized a message as possible, then you need to develop your communications specific to key market segments. Developing the right segments is only possible through accurate data and information that can identify which growers are a fit for your products and services.

Let’s use an example using real-life ag data. In this example, you work for an hypothetical agribusiness that does business primarily in Midwest states with Corn/Soy growers.

Right off the bat, you can start to narrow in on that audience by limiting it to your addressable market. There are nearly 950,000 Corn/Soy growers in the Midwest and while these make up the largest segment of growers in the country, it eliminates a significant chunk of the market.

Here’s a breakdown of the Midwest Corn/Soy growers by state so you can see where they’re located:

Midwest Corn/Soy Growers

State Growers
Illinois 120,390
Indiana 82,819
Michigan 107,015
Ohio 79,726
Wisconsin 77,922
Iowa 113,209
Kansas 73,628
Minnesota 93,359
Missouri 62,455
Nebraska 68,003
North Dakota 28,828
South Dakota 40,583

With the right data, you could go on a more detailed county-by-county analysis to find which counties have the largest amount of growers and planted Corn/Soy acres to further narrow and target your efforts:

Midwest Corn/Soy Growers by County

County Growers Acres
Monroe, MI 3,921 123,744
Saginaw, MI 3,806 201,905
Sedgwick, KS 3,488 598,135
Lancaster, NE 3,467 778,947
Otter Tail, MN 3,131 432,382
Allegan, MI 3,039 119,905
Steans, MN 3,008 433,235
Dane, WI 3,004 523,966
Macomb, MI 2,986 74,541
Lenawee, MI 2,968 184,173
Cook, IL 2,934 435,804
Saint Clair, MI 2,822 99,641
Johnson, KS 2,820 534,138
Polk, IA 2,766 553,450
Eaton, MI 2,748 130,397
Kent, MI 2,725 113,887
Minnehaha, SD 2,656 720,523
Hennepin, MN 2,637 514,346
Hillsdale, MI 2,512 125,919
Clinton, MI 2,485 142,720

But you can segment the market even further. You don’t just want to target areas with large numbers of growers but large numbers of growers with large farms. Using the data at your disposal, you can segment and select the operations with the largest number of operations farming 500+ acres of Corn/Soy:

 Midwest 500+ Acre Corn/Soy Growers by County

County 500+ 1000+
Cass, ND 634 405
Mc Lean, IL 518 220
Champaign, IL 495 204
Brown, SD 484 284
Livingston, IL 437 169
Renville, MN 436 241
Minnehaha, SD 397 144
La Salle, IL 390 162
Iroquois, IL 389 171
Richland, ND 387 247
Lancaster, NE 377 130
Kossuth, IA 364 144
Plymouth, IA 348 129
Grand Forks, ND 347 187
Spink, SD 347 241
Sangamon, IL 343 163
Redwood, MN 341 112
Stutsman, ND 329 203
Platte, NE 326 122
Sioux, IA 325 97


You can continue drilling down into these segments which, while small, ensure that you can target the farmers who are most likely to do business with you. By targeting an audience of likely customers, your marketing and sales efforts will go farther.

But this kind of segmentation isn’t just for prospects. Examine customers and prospects to better align your resources to available market opportunity.

It may be more effective to focus on sub-markets where you have low market share then say markets where your share is above 80%. Customer marketing should develop into wallet share, lifetime value, frequency, engagement, etc. to maximize your efforts there but for now we will focus on the prospects.

Identify the marketing and sales channels that allow you to communicate with your audience

One of the benefits of modern technology is that was have access to so many marketing channels, you don’t have to stick to traditional marketing rules. Instead, you can focus on where your farmers are and double down on those channels.

One you’ve built your segments, see where they are able to receive your communications – both from the marketing and sales teams:

  • Email. A valid email address lets you put your message in their inbox at timely/regular intervals.
  • Facebook Ads. If you have an email address, you can match that to the farmer’s Facebook account, creating custom audiences you can target directly.
  • Programmatic Display Ads. Instead of paying for ad space on an ag media site, see how many farmers you could reach on ESPN.com, CNN.com, Recipes.com, or wherever your farmers spend their time online. Deliver both engaging banner ads and pre-roll video.
  • Direct Mail. Even though digital marketing is on the rise, traditional tactics like direct mail still work in many ways. Get farmers’ attention by tailoring the mail pieces to the segment, allowing you to improve your ROI on this generally more expensive channel.
  • Landline and Mobile Phone. When marketing to farmers, you want to ensure that salespeople are able to follow up. You should look to see how many growers in your segments have a workable phone so sales can follow up on marketing’s activities.

 Audience Counts for Midwest Corn/Soy Growers

State Email Mobile Landline Address Digital
Illinois 53,616 44,208 59,057 93,655 72,234
Indiana 38,570 29,606 40,099 68,233 49,691
Michigan 43,385 34,858 52,178 97,617 64,209
Ohio 39,021 27,062 40,259 68,339 47,836
Wisconsin 34,047 27,166 41,728 67,876 46,753
Iowa 50,639 39,354 58,642 88,114 67,925
Kansas 32,145 20,796 37,487 57,000 44,177
Minnesota 41,969 31,087 57,331 79,221 56,015
Missouri  28,922 19,365  31,259  51,169 37,473
Nebraska 27,477 11,885 31,903 50,056 40,802
North Dakota 12,627 8,648 18,582 23,197 17,297
South Dakota 17,207 14,003 18,646 29,868 24,350

 When considering multichannel marketing choose the last option: All of the Above.

Integrate your messaging around the audience, not the channel. Then use a mix of channels with consistent messaging to reach the audience.

The result is a grower who sees some of your banner ads, a Facebook message or two and then your email is more likely to engage. When you know exactly the size of the audience your marketing and sales teams have to work with, you can set realistic expectations for contacts, conversions and, ultimately, revenue.

Create custom messages and creative for each segment

Once you’ve taken the time to create these segments, take advantage of the fact that they are highly targeted and customize your creative and messaging around them. It could be as simple as using the name of the county/state in the copy, or drilling down into specific messaging points that farmers in each individual county would relate to.

One way to help make this process easier is to start with baseline content and tweak it for each segment.

A lot of email marketing technology will also allow you to use personalization tags in the body of the email. While these kinds of tools can be helpful, what’s even more powerful is to deliver that customized message, so that each farmer hears the points that are going to be most relevant to them to improve the efficiency of their operation.

Deploy your messaging and analyze each segment’s performance

After you deploy the content to each channel and segment, keep an eye on how each segment is performing. You want to make sure that the growers in these segments are actually responding to your message and interested in your product, otherwise your effort is all for nothing.

Here’s an example of how you could organize this data in a spreadsheet:

Name Channel Segment Impressions Clicks Conversions Customers Revenue
CornSoy_Cass_1 Email Cass, ND 500+ 0 0 0 0 $0.00
CornSoy_Cass_2 Email Cass, ND 1000+ 0 0 0 0 $0.00
CornSoy_Cass_3 Programmatic Cass, ND 500+ 0 0 0 0 $0.00
CornSoy_Cass_4 Facebook Cass, ND 500+ 0 0 0 0 $0.00
CornSoy_Cass_5 Facebook Cass, ND 1000+ 0 0 0 0 $0.00

Take a look at how each segment is performing by looking at the following metrics that indicate the actual performance of the campaign:

  • Impressions (Opens for email)
  • Clicks
  • Conversions
  • Customers (count)
  • Revenue

Understanding these metrics can help you figure out how each segment is responding to the overall campaign, giving you a clear idea of how the segment responds:

  • If you have high impressions but low clicks, it means that your message isn’t enticing your audience to learn more. You’re either targeting the wrong audience or you have the wrong message/product.
  • If you have high clicks but low conversions – meaning people click your email, ad, etc. but aren’t taking action on the landing page – you probably have a disconnect between what the ad promises and the offer you’re delivering.
  • If you have high conversions but low customers, you’re bringing in too many people who aren’t the best fit for your business, which means you’ve miscalculated the relevance of your product to the audience when building your segment.

Ultimately, if you’re bringing in less revenue than you’re spending, you need to rethink the campaign because you’re barking up the wrong tree, as it were.

Using data to build these highly targeted segments can help you find which audiences are the right fit, and which ones are the wrong fit. Instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, know exactly who you’re marketing to so you can see who is a good fit, and who isn’t.

Marketing to the wrong audience doesn’t help them and certainly doesn’t help you.

Double-down on the segments that are performing well

One great thing about having a segmented audience is that if one segment isn’t performing well, it doesn’t have to drag down the whole campaign. You should be able to see which ads and emails are resonating and among which audiences.

For the segments that are performing well, you have a pretty good indicator that those are your ideal customer. So double down with more marketing communications and sales follow-up to build relationships and drive business to your company.

This is where follow-through from marketing to sales is critical. Since you’ve invested in these targeted audiences and spent time analyzing and determining who is the best fit, you want to make sure your salespeople have that same information when they go into the field.

This is an example of “pushing data to the edge,” making sure that everyone in the company involved in talking to the growers has the information they need to build the relationship and make decisions in real time.

Take a look at the video below to see an example of how you can build these targeted audiences based on real agriculture data and put that to use in both marketing and sales.

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