Farms are getting smarter. Technology aimed at increasing yields while maintaining cost is being introduced by companies that support the entire spectrum of agriculture – from tractors and tires to seeds and sensors.

And the agri-marketing sector is running objectively parallel. We are working to meet customers who have increasingly fragmented media consumption habits by adding more channels to our marketing mix while also maintaining budgets.

More output, less input.

So how can we get smarter alongside the farms our businesses support? One way is to take a page from the modern farmer’s playbook by leveraging technology and data available to us to optimize performance.

To help navigate changes in technology and the ever-changing digital world, a group of ag junkies from the Two Rivers Marketing office hit the road to attend the 2018 National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Conference in Kansas City last month, where we exhibited and answered all your burning questions about digital and martech.

Here’s a rundown of some of the questions NAMA ‘18 attendees asked.

Q: Do you have ag-specific metrics I can leverage to gauge success of my digital tactics?
A: Performance benchmarks are a critical piece of any marketing plan, and when historical data isn’t available, industry-benchmarks can help set an initial bar for success. For brands in industries like entertainment and travel, these industry benchmarks are highly accessible. But when it comes to agriculture, the information is much more limited, which is why we worked to develop a comprehensive list of ag-industry specific benchmarks based on an aggregate of data points* for email, search engine marketing, digital media, and social.

Agriculture Industry Email Benchmarks

  • Open: 23.51%
  • CTR: 2.88%
  • Soft Bounce: 0.53%
  • Hard Bounce: 0.41%
  • Unsubscribe: 0.31%

Agriculture Industry Search Engine Marketing Benchmarks

  • CTR: 3%
  • CPC: $1.13
  • Video completion rate (YouTube placement): 40%

Agriculture Industry Digital Display (Media Placement) Benchmarks

  • CTR: 0.08% – 0.13%
  • Video completion rate: 67%

Agriculture Industry Organic and Paid Social Media Benchmarks

  • Organic Engagement Rate: 1.88%
  • Promoted Engagement Rate: 6.35%
  • Paid Link CTR: 0.56%
  • Link CPC: $3.52
  • Conversion Rate: 9.09%

*Data was aggregated from a number of trusted industry sources, including media publications, MailChimp, WordStream and Sprout Social, and ag-specific tactical executions.

Q: What are new tactics I should be incorporating into my marketing mix to reach producers?
A: If you aren’t already on the video train, it is time to jump aboard. Video was wildly popular in 2017, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. With social channel algorithms prioritizing video delivery, live video gaining popularity and mobile video consumption expected to surpass desktop this year, developing a mobile-friendly video strategy is highly recommended.

If you are thinking about incorporating an app to your communications toolbox, another trend to be aware of is the adoption and increased functionality of progressive web applications (PWAs). Historically, the native apps most of us have on our phones were able to offer significant benefits over browser-based apps, such as access to device hardware like the camera, Bluetooth, and GPS, the ability to work offline and visibility within dedicated app stores.

However, support for PWAs has expanded significantly over the last couple years. Today’s PWAs offer many of the same features as native apps, including access to the mentioned device hardware and ability to work offline, while also offering added benefits like:

  • Faster load speeds. For example, Uber’s PWA takes less than three seconds to load on 2G networks.
  • Increased development flexibility and cross-device accessibility from a single code base. Think response web design that offers a good experience on desktop and mobile while only having to maintain one set of information. This can also mean cost savings.
  • Better search engine indexing. Unlike native app, bots will have visibility to more of the content within your app, meaning users can find your PWA when searching on Google if properly optimized.

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about voice search, what do I need to know?
A: With the increase of voice search on mobile and adoption of technology like Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice search is definitely something to have on your radar. As with many other consumer adoption trends, the channels we use in our personal life often bleed into the business world. Our team wrote an extensive investigative report on voice search earlier this year; some key takeaways include:

  • In 2017, about 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice. By 2020, this is expected to hit 50 percent.
  • Consider the questions your target audience may have, and formulate answers in a conversational way. As voice search continues to grow, natural language and long-tail search terms will become a priority.
  • Monitor current keyword rankings and optimize your site using structured data to help rank for featured snippets or “position zero”.
  • Look at your site’s analytics to understand the current technology adoption of your audience.

Q: My social channels are so time consuming to manage and develop content for, do you have any tips to streamline?
A: User-generated content is no new phenomenon but is something we always recommend using to supplement your brand’s owned content. This shared content can be a powerful way to show real-world applications of your product or service, while also building loyalty with your customers. We recommend developing a formal sharing and approval process to drive volume while also ensuring you have the proper rights to shared images.

Q: I have been hearing a lot about the Facebook’s data scandal. How has this impacted our industry?
A: We have been monitoring the number of Facebook Page followers for major, ag-specific brands and have not seen a huge shift, meaning the #DeleteFacebook movement doesn’t seem to have had widespread impact in the ag world.

The biggest change we are monitoring is shift in paid targeting capabilities. As you probably know, algorithm changes on Facebook over the last few years have dramatically decreased brand reach, with organic content now only reaching about one to three percent of your Page followers. This means leveraging paid promotions is critical to really get in front of your target segments; however, the recent data issues on Facebook will likely change some of the criteria you may have leveraged in the past. The social media giant has already announced it will no longer support Partner Categories, which gave advertisers the ability to target using data provided by third-party sources like Experian and Acxiom. We anticipate some additional changes in targeting capabilities and will continue to keep partners informed on any major modifications.

Related Content: What the Facebook data scandal means for marketers

Have more digital-related questions? Our expanded digital team is just an email away. Shoot me a note at hannap@2rm.com.

About Hanna Plants

Hanna is a senior digital strategist who brings experience in SEO, inbound marketing, social media, and more to Two Rivers Marketing. Other than the digital realm, Hanna enjoys restoring old furniture and hiking. For all things digital, email Hanna at hannap@2rm.com.