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Yes, You Can Reach Farmers with Digital Advertising

Show and Tell on Dec 19, 2022

Laptop with ag pop out image

Today’s farmers are tech-savvy. And they occupy more digital space than you might think.  

The traditional view of a farmer listening to the radio from the cab of his tractor and visiting the same few ag-focused websites is no longer accurate. Maybe it never was. In fact, a visit to a modern farm will prove that technology is used — and embraced — throughout the operations. 

And outside of work, producers engage on a variety of digital platforms. Like nearly everyone these days, they carry smartphones. They’re selling items on online marketplaces. They’re inventing technologies of their own. They’re watching (and making) videos on YouTube and Instagram, And they’re being named the Hot Canadian Farmer on TikTok.  

This new reality presents exciting opportunities for ag marketers. Your target audience now exists in places in addition to the tried and true channels you’re already using. But with a purposeful approach to ag digital marketing, you can target farmers in these places and help your agriculture brand stay ahead of your competition.  

FREE DOWNLOAD: How Effective is Your Ag Digital Marketing?

Ag marketers: New to using digital marketing to promote your ag brand and its products? Wondering how  your current digital marketing mix stacks up? Looking for ways to bolster your existing online efforts?

Download our free checklist to get a sense of how effectively your digital campaigns are designed – and where you might be able to strengthen them.

Be strategic about how you advertise on ag websites 

Display ads on industry-owned and operated channels have been a digital marketing staple for the ag industry. Because farmers are a niche audience, these properties are still a viable option. But it makes sense to look at how you use these channels and explore other placement opportunities.

As you scroll through ag websites, you’ll typically see ads for multiple companies in the expected placement on the right side of the page, which can sometimes trigger a phenomenon called “banner blindness”. 

Because of the vast number of ads that appear on one screen — and sometimes the pace at which they appear — site visitors may miss the valuable messages being served to them. For brands like yours, that can mean lost website visits and even lost conversion opportunities.

You might be thinking, is there any way to stand out in this space? The short answer is yes. But it’s not always easy.

To be seen and remembered, your display ad needs one of two things:

  • To be of high interest to the audience
  • To appear at a frequency that makes it stand out

But on an ag website that targets the niche producer audience, all ads are relevant. So, contextually, one ad won't likely stand out from another. And the frequency required to be “noticed” in display ads is higher than (even) some traditional ad formats. That means the spend to reach your audience that many times may not be worth it. 

That doesn’t mean you should abandon these channels altogether. Instead, keep your presence on ag sites and increase the likelihood of being seen by adding guaranteed placements to your mix. 

Leverage guaranteed placements to elevate your ag brand 

Take advantage of eblasts or other sponsored content options that ag websites offer to ag brand marketers. These approaches elevate your brand above the noise of other display ads, allowing  yours to stand out.  

Many sites also offer sponsorships of podcasts or advertorials. With a sponsored podcast segment , your content can be repurposed or downloaded. This gives your marketing efforts — and your brand presence — a longer shelf life.  

If you need more flexibility in your messaging, look to advertorials. With more space available for copy and imagery, you can provide more explanation about your products or services and really get to the heart of what makes your brand stand out. 


Add new digital channel options to your mix 

Your audience isn’t surprised to see you advertising in the spaces you’ve always been. In fact, they likely expect to see you there. The key is to break into platforms you know producers are using but your competition hasn’t widely adopted yet, creating instant recognition for your brand. Reaching farmers with hyper-relevant content on underused digital platforms will also maximize your marketing dollars. 

Let’s consider TikTok. If you see farmers creating communities on TikTok but ads are from brands that aren't agriculture-focused, you will naturally stand out if your brand is an early adopter in this space. Seeing ag messages in an unexpected place will make your brand more memorable. And building that ongoing awareness is the first step in moving a visitor toward a conversion. But how do you know where to start forging your path? It starts with following the person.  

You want to build an audience profile based on research. Take a look at what producers are doing online. What other kinds of content (outside of ag websites) are they consuming? What platforms have established communities?  

You can also leverage insights from sources like the Ag Media Council Report. Their comprehensive biennial review provides a snapshot of media usage by farmers across all channels and provides invaluable insights. Once you know where farmers are in the digital world, you can look at how to target your messages on each channel. 


Embrace testing and some experimentation 

Choosing new platforms is the first step in expanding the mix of your digital marketing. The goal is to find the next best platform for your brand’s presence. Once there, it’s time to look closer at the quality of the audience and ad placements. 

When first starting on a platform, your specific tactics may be based more on hypotheses rather than data. Even armed with the research, it can be difficult to predict what will work best — and whether or not you’re attracting the right leads to your site. That’s why testing and reviewing data results are extremely important. 

Experiment with a variety of creative approaches on different sites as well as placements (display vs. guaranteed) and monitor the results. Looking at metrics like the number of conversions by platform or cost per impression will help you understand what’s working (and what’s not). It may take some trial and error, but eventually, the results will help you refine your strategy. 

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is its flexibility. If data indicates that creative approaches aren’t resonating with your audience or the conversion rate isn’t meeting expectations, you can shift quickly. Budget can be easily reallocated to different channels or in new ways on the existing channel. This flexibility is also beneficial when conditions outside of your control impact the market. A thoughtful and broad-reaching digital channel mix is nimble enough that you can respond to changes. 

And if you’re lacking the resources to conduct these exercises on your own, let's talk.


Let your goals drive your ag digital marketing strategy

Without well-defined goals for your digital efforts, any tactics have the potential to spread your marketing budget too thin. That’s why your goals should always drive your digital strategy. 

Always be thinking about what you want to achieve. Then pair the right messages with the platforms that producers are visiting. This combination will drive both quality impressions and the actions you want farmers to take with your agriculture brand. 

Thinking about stepping up your ag brand's digital marketing outreach? Give us a shout to see if we're a good fit to help you reach your business objectives.