By Aileen Barron, Green Acre Marketing

We have recently seen many agri-businesses taking the step to become more digitally connected with their customers. This shift seems to have come out of necessity over any other reason.

There is a realisation that farmers are far more digitally connected than previously thought and that digital communications offer an opportunity to reach out and deliver a message to this target audience.

This fact has been further compelled by the results from the recent Herdwatch survey, reported last week, which revealed that farmers are “hungry for news and information” and they are “active across multiple media platforms”.

Over the past number of months I have used this platform to help support agri-businesses by steering them towards the most effective digital marketing communication tools and covered topics including: how to write content for digital; what type of content gets most engagement; how to reach your target audience on social media; and the importance of your website, among others.

Hence, now is a good time to look back at these pieces and consider some of the key information within them.

Social media strategy

With 92% of respondents to the Herdwatch survey stating they use their smartphones for social media and 62% commenting that they are “never off it” or that they are “on it all the time”, it strongly suggests that agri-businesses need to pay more attention to their social media strategy.

As I reported earlier this month; only 7% of your audience will see your organic content on social media, and with some platforms, this is set to decrease when you don’t run paid social campaigns. Within this piece, advice was that it is not as straightforward as hitting the ‘boost’ option on your posts.

There are many considerations to take into account including; using the tools within the social media platforms to define and target a specific audience by incorporating customer personas and keywords.

The Herdwatch report highlighted a large amount of people engage in farmer groups to seek and receive advice; using their smartphone. Writing content that can support this should also be part of your digital communications strategy.

The important point here is that marketing teams need to be very aware that the way in which content is presented for online and for traditional press are very different. Consideration needs to be given to the structure, headings, sub-headings and keywords, while also taking note of the reading pattern in which content is read online.

In a previous piece, we outlined how eye-tracking study results from the Nielsen Norman Group show that content is now read in an F pattern, meaning the first lines of text on a page receive more attention along with the first few words on the left of each line of text.

In many cases readers jump towards the end of the content for summary and/or conclusions.

Whether you place this content on online news platforms or on your own website is something that is often asked. Considering the recent research revealed that 87% of farmers use their smartphone to access farming news and information, it’s a valid question.

The answer being, you should use it for both, as it will greatly help your SEO. Having up-to-date well written content that Google can crawl easily, will help with your online ranking. Placing it on already reputable news platforms will also boost your Google rating for that content.

User experience

A final point worth noting is that this survey was centred around smartphone use, and so, the user experience (UX) on your website needs to be as fluid on mobile as it does on desktop.

A website is a fundamental requirement for any business, regardless of its use to sell online or not. It can be argued that your website actually acts as a selling tool even without an e-commerce facility; as it funnels people to the point where they are informed and present themselves as a sales opportunity.

There is little benefit in writing good content or investing in SEO if the UX of your mobile site is not up to scratch.

I completely concur with the Herdwatch survey in highlighting that farmers’ engagement with online news and social media is very high at the moment and can help to reduce rural isolation, especially during the current Covid-19 crisis.

For any support with your digital marketing communications you can contact Green Acre Marketing on: [email protected].