The Ag, Western, and Outdoor industry is the greatest industry on earth, but it feels like we are falling behind consumer expectations and service when compared to mainstream companies.
The reality of it is that mainstream companies like Amazon are already interacting with the Ag, Western, and Outdoor customer.
Most business owners know they need to implement new strategies but they don’t know where to start.
A good web strategy isn’t that different from current brick and mortar strategies.
I absolutely love the Ag, Western, and Outdoor industry! It is by far my greatest passion. From the rural lifestyle, getting to spend time outdoors, and relationships where everyone is treated like family – what could be better? But, we have a major problem. The same old-school charm that has made our industry famous, is one of our biggest weaknesses. Failure to update our current marketing and business methods has made some consumer experiences a blast from the past (unfortunately, sometimes in a bad way).
Although new marketing tools and methods are emerging all the time, A lot of the same marketing methods we have been using for years still hold true. The reality of it is that mainstream companies like Amazon are already interacting with the Ag, Western, and Outdoor customer. They are enjoying the new user experience of faster and more convenient and are expecting the same level of convenience and simplicity from all businesses that they interact with.
Most business owners we visit with know they need to try new marketing methods, but don’t know where to start. Let’s face it – digital marketing is intimidating. I mean, it practically comes with its own set of vocabulary. And these are odd words, like “Pay-per-click” and ”search engine advertising” words we don’t commonly use in our rural industry.
Let’s talk Digital Marketing, but we are going to keep it simple, like in a way that makes sense. Don’t worry if you are already a marketing pro, you might find some of the following a fresh perspective on how marketing trends are changing, but at the same time, it’s the same way we have done business for years, just digital! Let’s dive in –
What makes a good website?
Websites can be so overly complicated. A quick Google search on what makes a good website will show millions of opinions from what platform to build your site on to which design options are the best for your industry. While most of these opinions hold some merit, we are missing the most important variable – the user experience.
Websites aren’t that different from a brick-and-mortar business. Here are a few examples:
What is the first thing a customer sees when they walk in through the door of your business? The same can be said for your website. Most customers will make a purchase decision within 7-seconds of walking through your front door. The same is true for clicking on your website link for the first time. We have all been in those businesses that have the stained furniture and the visible dirt on the floor. I’ve got to be honest, the word Trustworthy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when visiting these businesses. Your website is the same way – It’s so important to have a website that has the look and feel that is trustworthy. Especially if you are expecting the customer to give you money!
How is your product merchandised? Are there clear and visible signs that have a consistent layout throughout your store? The same is true for a website. A good web layout is just like merchandising a store. You wouldn’t dump all of your products on a pallet in the middle of your business and expect customers to rummage through it. The same is true for your website. Taxonomy matters. Make your site easy to navigate.
What is SEO?
Search-engine-optimization also known as SEO is a complex topic, but it doesn’t need to be. There are some parts of SEO that require some action steps as the web admin and some parts that depend on the User Experience (Yes the old User-experience idea again, it turns out it’s pretty important). (Please note: SEO is typically broken up between on-site SEO and off-site SEO, we are intentionally describing it differently here to simplify the explanation)
Again, SEO is actually a lot like having a Brick and mortar location. Here are a few examples –
These are all things that you, as the site owner can, actually act on. Think of it like the curb-appeal of your business. Your business needs to look good from the parking lot so that search engines like Google and Bing will want to send their users your direction.
Your exterior business signage is a lot like your website Meta-descriptions (the description that you read on search engines before clicking on the web link). If a sign is vague or confusing your customer won’t enter your business. The same is true for your website.
There are a variety of things that search engines look at before determining your websites rank, things like – metatags, image quality, site speed, etc. We like to think of all of these things like display windows. The search engines look over how your store is “presented” on the internet and your search ranking is affected as a result. A great example of how a good website is good for business!
These are all of the things that you can’t necessary control directly. Things like – how long your users stay on the site, if they complete their transaction on the site or if they leave, and how many people are coming to your site.
We like to think of your Indirect SEO working the same way as word of mouth for your brick and mortar business. It is the type of customer traffic that takes forever to earn, but once you have it – it is one of the most valuable and low-cost customer acquisition tools in your arsenal. The best way to grow your Indirect SEO is simple – provide value. Like real value, not the shiny stuff that customers see through in 3 seconds. Actually provide a solution to your customers problems and over months and even years you will see your rankings on Google and Bing grow. Something your competitors can’t go outbid you on.
What are Digital Ads?
You may have heard of Google Ad Words and display ads before and wondered what exactly is that? In the theme of keeping things simple, let’s compare Google Ad Words, also called search engine marketing, and Display Ads to a brick and mortar scenario.
Just like you purchase advertising for your brick-and-mortar location, search engine marketing is the same concept, just digital, and better. The reason it is better, is because you only have to pay for the amount of people who actually visit your site. The transaction is called a Pay-per-click (PPC). You literally pay Google or Bing for each time your ad is clicked.
Display Ads have some similarities. Instead of showing up on search engines, display ads show up on other high-traffic websites. Think weather and news websites. Display Ads are a lot like the billboards of the internet. Just like you purchase a billboard for your store, they won’t necessarily create a transaction when someone sees them, but over time your brand presence in that area will increase business and sales.
We hope that the above scenarios help better explain digital marketing. For any questions or more information feel free to reach out to Sterling Brands at email@example.com or learn more about all of our marketing services at brandcowboy.com.
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