As a farmer you likely use time saving tools in the field or while preparing your end product. A tractor may help you turn beds. Harvesting tools can help to speedily cut greens. And then there are digital tool that track and report field health. These tool may not only save precious time, but can lead to a higher quality end product.
The same can be true for your marketing activities. A few key online marketing tools can save time while creating a polished experience for your target audience. Ultimately these time saving tools may help you reach more people while increasing sales. Automating repetitive tasks, collecting data and organizing your efforts are benefits of online marketing tools.
What is the right size of farm to utilize online marketing tools?
If your farm or business targets more than a handful of people, you are likely a candidate to employ marketing tools. Most of the online marketing platforms have a basic free plan. As your business grows, you may find you want to upgrade to access more robust features and functions. But free is always a welcome place to start for any budget.
What are the categories of online tools?
In general there are two categories where online marketing tools can be helpful: email marketing and social media scheduling. Below we’ll outline leaders in each category.
Email marketing is a great place to start experimenting with online tools. In fact email marketing is the number one way to grow a small farm or business. Professionalizing your e-mail marketing activity will pay future dividends.
Online email marketing tools have three benefits. First your email is more likely to make it to the recipient’s inbox versus spam folder. Conventional e-mail platforms such as gmail, yahoo, and hotmail, utilize spam detectors that will flag an e-mail as spam if there is a long list of email addresses in the recipient list. When you sign up for an online email marketing account, you will be asked to verify that you have permission to send emails to those on your contact list. These tools make it easy to manage your list and allows recipients to easily unsubscribe, keeping you in compliance with anti-spam regulations.
Second, email marketing tools offer templates that can polish your communication. These templates are easy to update with your own images and content. As you become more comfortable with the tool, you’ll be able to further customize your e-newsletter.
Lastly, you will have information that can help hone your messaging. For example, you will be able to see the percent of recipients who opened your e-mail. You can also see specifically which recipients opened the e-mail. Knowing this information can help you understand the type of content that resonates with your audience.
MailChimp was one of the first movers in online email marketing, and still remains a popular choice for both large and small businesses. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. Additional services start @$10 per month.
Constant Contact is also a popular email marketing choice. Constant Contact offers a free 60 day trial, then plans start at $20 per month for e-mail lists up to 500.
Vertical Response is a third option offering a 60 day free trial, then plans starting at $11 per month for email lists up to 500.
Second to email marketing, social media is the next most effective marketing tool for small businesses. While setting up a social media account is free, it does take time to post. Thankfully, there are some tools that can help schedule and manage your posts. This way you can plan in advance your content while scheduling the release over a period of time.
While some of the email marketing tools mentioned above will post email campaign content to your Facebook page, lining up and scheduling content requires a specific tool set. A growing number of social media content and scheduling tools have entered the market. Below we list those most relevant to small businesses.
Buffer is an easy to use and popular social media scheduling tool. And it doesn’t hurt that they offer a free plan for managing a single profile on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.
Hootsuite is a step up from Buffer as it relates to features and functions. The added complexity is appropriate if you are managing multiple social media profiles. Their feature set might be overkill for the small family farm, but an option if you want great analytics. Plans start at $29 per month.
Everypost offers a free account for personal postings – which might be a good place to start. Additional features can be accessed starting at $9.99 per month.
Good luck with your marketing efforts. Time spent planning and utilizing any of these time saving tools can help boost your future sales.