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President at Paulsen, a marketing agency that moves rural America.
Your farmer-owned cooperative has a schedule and annual maintenance budget for grain semis, legs and augers, and fuel tanks. These fleet pieces and assets keep your facilities moving every day for customers.
If your cooperative location is like most, only a small percentage of all of your customers are using one scale, feed truck or auger leg at any given time. Yet, that location or equipment receives regular oil checks, safety inspections or third-party audits.
What about your cooperative’s website? This is the one, single point of access for every customer, every prospective customer, every potential employee and all of your vendors. Are you budgeting the people-time and financial resources necessary to perform regular maintenance?
Your website is foundational for your successful sales strategy. Your site should be working just as hard for you as your top agronomist, grain buyer or feed sales rep. Just like you would take the time to review your employees’ performance, use this list of four steps to evaluate your website performance.
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1. Check out your website on your mobile phone.
Can you navigate your website as expected on mobile? According to a 2020 Ag Media Council survey of farmers and ranchers, more than 85% of them carry a smartphone as part of their business operation. Is your site at their fingertips regardless of where they are?
If your website is not designed for a “mobile-first” experience, your farmer-members are likely turned off by it. It’s likely they are not taking the time to browse your site on a desktop at night, so if you want to reach them online, it’s time to invest in a mobile-ready revamp.
2. Identify your No. 1 visited page.
It is not unusual for a grain bids page to be the most visited site on a cooperative’s website. But can you quantify which of your web pages is getting the most traffic? What about reporting on your site’s monthly unique visitors? These basic analytics can help you drive engagement with your content because you know where farmers are entering and leaving your website.
Setting up website analytics is critical for any cooperative placing digital ads or paid social media because you drive traffic back to your website from those mediums. Before you invest in digital advertising, ensure you have a plan for identifying and measuring key performance indicators.
3. Test your performance.
In 2018, the FCC estimated that about 25% of Americans living in rural parts of the country didn’t have access to broadband (compared to 2% of Americans in urban areas).
Farmer-customers already lacking lightning-speed access may be further frustrated if your website lags. It is essential to run routine diagnostics to ensure your website is packing a punch. Visit PageSpeed Insights and enter your website to see how you score. The test is quick and free and measures your site’s performance and back-end efficiency.
If it’s 90 or above, your site is considered a good performer, 50 to 90 is a score that needs improvement, and below 50 is considered poor. Recently, we worked with a company with an 8. It’s definitely time for an update for that site to work smarter, not harder.
4. Generate new business.
More than likely, you are trying to build your contact list of customers and prospects so you can engage with them and build sales opportunities. If you’re not using your website to garner leads by collecting information about those using it, you’re leaving opportunities on the table.
Your website should be a hub for collecting new email addresses. To earn those emails, you’ll need great gated content (a white paper, seed guide download, plot results, etc.) or subscription access to one-of-a-kind regular updates (like grain market commentary or localized agronomy insights emails) to entice customers and prospects. Ideally, connect your website to a customer-relationship management tool and email marketing program.
It’s not too late in the year to add your website to your maintenance calendar. Popping open the hood on your site may be overwhelming, but you don’t know what maintenance you need to do until you see how it’s running.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Sara Steever, Forbes Councils Member