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Google Analytics - More to Your Website Than Meets the Eye

  
  
  

stat chartSo...you have a pretty spiffy website with all the bells and whistles you asked the designer for. As Dr. Phil would say, "How is that working out for you?" Is it living up to your original expectations? Are you getting the results you hoped for? How do you know if you are, or you aren't getting those results?

As a business owner, you had good reasons for spending your hard earned money for a website. Let's say you are a livestock producer with a thriving breeding operation and you thought you should have a website to showcase your animals. Your oriignal goals may have been to use your website to promote the credibility of your "brand", to increase awareness of what you have to offer, i.e. influencing website visitors to purchase your livestock, and to establish and maintain long term relationships with your existing and potential customers. 

How do you measure the effectiveness of the website to achieve these your goals? Are you just hoping or guessing? Conventional performance management wisdom states, "You cannot manage what you do not measure." And, you cannot measure without data.

Therefore, you need raw data, such as the measurement of traffic to your website during a given period. And you need to compare that data against previous periods of time: today versus yesterday, this week versus last week/month/year, to determine if you are making headway, spinning your wheels, or falling behind.

Here are a few data points to consider collecting:

  • What are the sources of your website traffic, meaning how do website visitors find your site? Are they finding you through a search engine? Are they being referred from another website? Are they typing in your domain name from print material? Are they using a QR (Quick Response) code on their mobile phone? Are they being referred by a link in one of your social media networks?

  • Are they brand new or returning visitors?

  • Are my website visitors local, regional, national, or even global? 

  • Which web pages do my visitors land on first, and which webpages do they leave from? Which web pages get the most traffic?

  • How long do vistors spend on my site and hHow many webpages do they look at per visit?

  • What techological devices are they using? Desktop computer, tablet, or cell phone?

I'll bet you'd like to have the answers to these questions so you can accurately measure the return on the investment (ROI) that you made in your website.

Well, the good news is YOU CAN!; and the even better news is, IT's FREE! 

Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics and provides a variety of reports about a website's traffic and traffic sources. What's the catch, you ask? Well, there is a bit of work required:

  1. You'll need to open a Google account, which is easy to sign up for and is also free. (Tip: If you have a GMail account, you already have the Google account you need.) 

  2. Use your Google account to generate a small snippet of computer code (relax it's a simple, automatic process and you don't have to understand it. Just get the code, and then copy and paste it into a blank document for step 3).

  3. If you are your own webmaster and believe you have "the chops" to do so, then just copy and paste this snippet of code from your saved document into the "head" section of all your html webpages (same code for each page). If you're not confident you can do this yourself, then provide the snippet of code to your webmaster and ask him/her to install it on each of your webpages. 

  4. Once the code has been installed, Google will begin to collect the raw data from your website (from the date of installation forward), as visitors access your website. (Note: personal information about visitors is NOT collected, only numerical data for statistical purposes.)

  5. After a period of data collection (i.e. a week/a month) you will be able to access any number of statistical reports of interest.

Having access to these reports will enable you to manage your website more effectively because you will have objective data about what is working well for you, and what is not. No guesswork or crystal ball required. You'll be able to identify, and then tweek, the webpages which are not performing up to your expectations. Then follow up using future reports to ensure that your new tweeked pages are working better for you.

If this makes perfect sense to you, and it should, you'll be miles ahead of your competitiors who are not measuring their traffic and traffic sources; therefore not really managing their websites.

For a great step-by-step set of instructions of how to set up Google Analytics for your website, visit this link: http://blog.hostgator.com/2013/02/28/the-ultimate-resource-for-google-analytics/.

Google Analytics also offers numerous video tutorials about its service, which you can find on YouTube if you want to dig deeper into this topic. 

If you are feeling some apprehension about setting up Google Analytics on your website, remember that YOU don't have to do this yourself. You can hire somebody competent to help you.

Carberry Sandhills Consulting is pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are well-positioned to help you with web design and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. Contact us to talk about your marketing needs.

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Why Livestock Producers Need Social Media Networks

  
  
  

 The Livestock Producer's "Wheel of Fortune" Marketing Plan

photo of a wheel of fortuneYour website is (or should be) the "hub" of your Internet marketing strategies. Social media networks are like the spokes of the wheel radiating out and feeding back into your hub. Links to your website from your social media networks, and vice versa, drive traffic. The spaces between the spokes are your supporting marketing tools: business cards, printed brochures, magazine advertising, breed association directories, and Email blasts, also drive traffic. The rim of the wheel is your overall marketing plan which holds all of your tools and tactics together.

 (photo by Marnie Somers)

Why bother with Social Media Networks?

Does Social Media Networking belong in the marketing plan of a livestock producer? Absolutely, although it may not the first marketing strategy which comes to mind, more and more producers are beginning to understand the benefits and are wondering how to get some skin in the game. 

At first, some "old school" producers looked upon social media networks as a time waster used only by their kids and/or grandkids to communicate with each other. But even "old dogs" can learn new tricks. And even some of those "older dogs" have adopted social media platforms in order to see and be seen, proving that this trend is not going away any time soon.

Businesses across all industry sectors are reaping rewards from this free form of Internet marketing. Here are a few good reasons why livestock producers should be taking advantage of this continually growing platform:

It's All About Branding

Marketing is not just about making sales. It's about establishing your brand beyond your local and regional area to a global audience. It's also about maintaining long-term relationships with your existing customers, and building new relationships with potential customers. Social media networks provide an economical and relatively easy way to accomplish these marketing goals.

Each social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, has its own style and audiences (followers). Other user-friendly social media networks, such as Instagram for posting photographs and YouTube for posting videos, can also be valuable channels for putting out your marketing messages.

Many social media networks offer both personal and business pages or accounts types. You may have to open a personal account first before you are eligible to create a business page (sometimes called a "fan" page). 

Conventional wisdom dictates that comments (posts) on personal pages should differ from those on business pages, each according to their unique orientation. For example, Faceook's business pages are the right place to chronicle your ranch/farm historical milestones, announce upcoming production or dispersal sales, and purchases of new herdsires. Post fun facts like recent show results or interesting statistics such as post-sale reports. Upload pictures or videos about new facilities, renovations, or other major operational changes. Share complimentary feedback from your customers. Engage your Facebook audience with a contest, such as "name our new  stallion prospect" and give away prizes to the winners. It may sound simplistic, but these ongoing updates keep your operation top-of-the-mind and put a human face on your business.

On the other hand, Facebook's personal pages are the right place for posting comments about  hobbies, family updates/photos, political rants, religious affirmations, worldly issues/opinions, or funny pet videos. Don't mix and match posts between these two distinctly different types of pages or you may put your business credibility at risk.

Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ platforms similarly offer both personal and business pages/accounts. Because they are used less frequently by livestock producers than Facebook is, you could stand out from your competition by being seen there first.

Be a Trusted Resource

The social media platform of blogging, is a little harder for livestock producers to embrace, because they lack confidence in their writing and/or computer skills. But, I've never yet met a livestock producer who couldn't tell a few great stories in a one-on-one setting. Creating a blog (short for "web log") post is not much different - it's basically just telling a story in writing, this time for a one-to-many setting. If your writing style is far from perfect, so much the better - a "folksy" style will come across as real to your readers. Creating a blog on your website does require a little bit more computer know how than opening a Facebook or Twitter account, but it will really "up the ante" on your competitors. Target your blog posts to provide common sense answers to questions frequently asked by your customers, and your website will be regarded as a trusted resource and experience improved traffic.

Social media networks' potential reach is unlimited. The financial costs are relatively low, often completely free (if you don't count the time required to manage them).  You could "outsource" this task to one of your kids, or grandkids, who are undoubtedly more social media savvy than you.  While social networking can seem overwhelming, it's recommended that you start with the one most likely to be used by your current customersand competitors. If you don't know which one that is, just ask them. Once comfortable with your first social network, then add another. At some future point, determine which networks work best for your operation and focus most of your energy there.

My recommendation

If you are going to be successful in this brave new world, you just can't keep on doing what you've always been doing....and expect a different outcome (you know that's the definition of insanity, right?). Get your complete "wheel of fortune" moving towards your business goals.

If you are feeling some apprehension about getting into social media networking, remember that YOU don't have to do this yourself. You can hire somebody competent to help you.

Carberry Sandhills Consulting specializes in providing Internet marketing tips specifically for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are well-positioned to help with Social Media Networking and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. Contact us to talk about your marketing needs.

Please share this post with your family and friends by using any of the Social Networking share buttons at the top of this page.

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Why Livestock Producers Use Websites to Improve Income

  
  
  

Harsh weather conditions are a challenge when you make your living with your hands; growing food and crops, or raising livestock. Too much rain or snow, or not enough warm weather to grow crops or pasture can force you to make hard management decisions quickly.

In general, the personal time it takes to feed and breed your livestock, or seed and harvest your crops, leaves you with limited time to deal with the marketing end of your operation. And, when unseasonable weather turns everything upside down in a matter of hours, you have even less free time to think about your short and long term marketing goals.

Just like unexpected changes in the weather conditions, you need to keep an eye on the horizon for new strategies for marketing your products. If you only sell through offline deals to long-term customers, how will you attract a new customer base and keep in touch with existing customers?

A website can be a God-send to livestock producers, because it works for you 24/7, 365 days a year, even when you must turn your attention to more immediate needs and concerns. When it comes to marketing online, you need an effective "virtual store" to showcase your livestock, every bit as much as a "bricks and mortar" retail store does to sell its products.

As you know, the livestock in your herd are "inventory" and you claim them as such on your farm tax returns. However, you may not think of them as inventory in the traditional marketing sense. But the cattle you raise each year are truly physical products for sale to others.

Like any other physical products, your breeding herd and your sale cattle should be featured on your website with good quality photos and/or video. Footnotes about each animal's  genetic qualities, breed pedigrees and Expected Progeny Differences (EPD's) are important information to prospective customers researching online. (By the way, the Canadian Angus Association has an excellent article about understanding and using EPD's. Click here for the link to the article: http://www.cdnangus.ca/breed/using_EPDs.htm. You could even provide a link to this article on your website to assist your website visitors).

If you have a website, updating existing customers about changes to your inventory is a simple and immediate process; such as when you add a new herd bull, or you want to post the results of your most recent production sale. Prospective customers will also appreciate being able to see your "inventory" online, and it may attract them enough to encourage a physical visit to your ranch/farm.

Having a website to promote your livestock operation, doesn't mean abandoning your existing marketing strategies. A website provides an opportunity to become the hub linking all your marketing pieces together and support each other. Your web address should be printed on your business cards, sale catalogues, stall banners, printed brochures, and magazine ads, so that your current inventory can be seen and appreciated. You can also add a Quick Response (QR) code to your other marketing pieces to direct mobile phone users to your website. (Click here for my post explaining QR codes.)

If you are feeling some apprehension about establishing a presence online, it is most important to remember that YOU don't have to do this yourself. Hire somebody competent to help you. Don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet

For effective internet marketing strategies that go beyond listing your inventory, contact us. We are industry experts that can help you make the hard decisions on what markets to target and what business to compete for. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are well- positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

 

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Why Livestock Producers' Websites Need Quality SEO

  
  
  

image of globe with magnifying glass over itIf you are looking into having a website created for your livestock operation, you should be at least a little familiar with "SEO" which stands for Search Engine Optimization. This term refers to building a website with content (i.e. the text and images on the site) that is likely to get the website noticed (i.e. indexed) by search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, which are simply electronic directories or indexes. After all, there is not much point in having a website, if very few visitors can find it.

If you are like the majority of Internet users, the you have probably used one of the big three search engines: Google, Yahoo or Bing. and typed in a word or phrase to find information or a product you were looking for. The results given back to you by the search engines are not arrived at by accident. They are listed there because those results (i.e. websites) have been intentionally optimized to match the word or question you (or any other visitor) originally typed into their search box.

For example, search engines try to match a user inquiry, like "Alberta cattle producer," with websites that contain those terms, because that result is most likely to be of interest to the user. In this example, "Alberta cattle producer" would be a keyword phrase; keywords are those individual words or phrases that search engines look for when they scan content.

In my FREE whitepaper "How To Get Found on the Internet - 12 Hot Tips" Click Here for FREE Download, I delve into the two major components of SEO:

  • on-page SEO equals relevance to your visitors based on target keywords and comprises 25% of the factors which determine your website's ranking

  • off-page SEO equals authority, the other 75% of your website's ranking. Your authority ranking is affected by attracting trustworthy inbound links from other highly ranked websites. 

Some people think they can "trick" search engines into higher relevance rankings by stuffing too many duplicate words and phrases into their content. The result is writing that is awkward and difficult to read. Overstuffed SEO may "work" in that it gets search engines to notice a site, but it goes wrong at the next step - once a user gets to a site, he or she is likely to be annoyed by the poor quality of the repetitious content and get turned off. Other people try to "trick" search engines into higher authority rankings by using dubious methods to get other websites to link back to their websites thinking that sheer numbers of backlinks are the answer. They are wrongheaded because the number of backlinks pales in comparison to the nature of the website - is it a trustworthy industry-related site? If so, then one highly regarded site linkback will outperform many non-related links every time. 

Ensure that your website designer makes a concerted effort to build your website using state-of-the-art SEO techniques and does not engage in trickery, which could get your site blacklisted by search engines.

 

download link to SEO whitepaper

We specialize in providing internet marketing tips for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are uniquely positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

 

If you don't think we're a good fit for your operation, then by all means, hire someone else. But don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet and be sure that it is optimized for SEO.

Contact us for more information.

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

QR Codes: The Right Marketing Tool for Livestock Producers?

  
  
  

 

cqha qrcode

WHAT IS A QR CODE?

According to Wikipedia (a digital encyclopedia), a QR or "quick response" code, such as the image above, "is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional bar code) which are optical machine-readable labels attached to items that record information related to the item." Now, if that techno-babble definition didn't scare you off, here are the down-to-earth facts you'll want to know.....

There are two key factors to QR codes:

  • i) they are scannable by a camera phone (smartphone) and
  • ii) they record information digitally.

Originally designed for industrial uses, such as tracking shipments, QR codes are becoming commonplace in consumer advertising. Smartphone users can install a reader application on their mobile phones which scans a displayed code. The scanner converts the displayed code to a web address (URL); then directs the smartphone's built-in Internet browser to connect to the website of a company, store, or product associated with that code to provide useful information. 

WHERE DO I FIND THEM?

Typically, you can find them everywhere once you start noticing them. More and more, QR Codes are being included on traditional marketing assets: as small as a business card -and as large as a billboard. QR codes storing contact information or webpage addresses (URLs) appear in magazines, signs, buses, business cards, or almost any product users might need information about.

WHAT GOOD ARE THEY WHEN I DO FIND THEM?

Let's say you are in a store and can't find a sales clerk to help you with a product you are interested in buying. If the product has a QR code on it, and you have a smart phone, you could scan the QR code with your phone and be taken to a webpage with all the product information. Cool huh?

Another practical example of QR code use is as a scannable digital boarding pass. You can have your airline send a QR code to your smartphone. Just present the image on your phone's screen to airport staff to check in to your flight, get through security, and to board your flight. Seriously cool, not to mention convenient.

SO HOW IS THIS A MARKETING TOOL FOR LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS?

The QR code has become one of the tools of a multi-pronged advertising strategy. It provides quick and effortless access to a brand's website. Beyond mere convenience to the customer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the chance of contact with prospective customers. QR codes bring the viewer and the advertiser's website together immediately, without delay or undue effort.

Suppose you acquire a QR code, or codes, which would take people with smartphones to your website. Let's suppose you embed this QR code on all your printed materials such as business cards, brochures, calendars, sale catalogues, or other "give away" promotional items. Do you  have temporary or permanent signage, like a roadside farm sign or stall signs at a livestock show. And then you put QR code every one of these traditional marketing pieces. Anyone in close proximity with a smart phone could scan your QR code and be sent to the webpage(s) of your choice. It's much more convenient, permanent and more likely to be used by a potential customer than if he/she has to locate pen and paper to write down your website address. Starting to get it yet?

HOW DO I ACQUIRE A QR CODE?

So glad you asked, because it's really easy and you can generate as many QR codes as you want FOR FREE.  Just type "QR Codes" into your favourite Internet search engine and you'll find any number of sites which generate codes. Once there, all you need to do is enter your desired webpage address and the QR code will be automatically generated in a digital format you can save to your computer. Theoretically, you could generate a QR code for every page of your website, but I recommend you just pick a couple of the most relevant web pages for your particular farm/ranch operation. You can also generate QR codes which will take visitors to your social networking pages: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or to a video you have posted on YouTube. Really? (Oh, I just saw that light bulb over your head turn on!)

It is also possible to create FREE artistic QR codes that still scan correctly, but contain intentional errors to make them more readable or attractive to the human eye, as well as to incorporate colors, logos, and other features into the QR code block. For example, below is the QR code for the Wikipedia mobile page. Ask yourself what a QR code with your ranch/farmname or logo would look like?

Extreme QR code to Wikipedia mobile page

HOW DO I ACTUALLY PUT MY NEW QR CODE TO WORK?

Once you have generated the digital image of your QR code(s) and saved it to your computer, you can forward the image, just as you would any other image, to your suppliers to be added to your print materials, magazine ads, signage, etc. You can make paper printouts of the QR code image. You can even apply to T-shirts with iron-on transfers. (Excited yet?)

ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO USING QR CODES?

QR codes are a rapidly emerging technology, but not everyone is aware of them, yet. Therefore, some smartphone users who see a QR code may not know enough to pull out their mobile phone to take a quick photo of the code. Not every mobile phone is a "smartphone" with a built-in camera, and some cell phones do not include a QR reader. Therefore the appropriate reader software, e.g. IPhone, BlackBerry or Android mobile phones) must be downloaded, as well as tested.  Although there are a variety of QR readers, the good news is one QR code suits all readers.  And, finally, a user must also be able to connect to the Internet, either with 3G, or faster,cell telephone service or with access to a wireless local area network, also known as a WiFi hotspot.

SO, SHOULD LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS USE QR CODES OR NOT?

In today's competitive environment, livestock producers, like any other small business, need to take advantage of every marketing tool available to them. Especially the free ones. You can't gather leaves effectively with a one-tined rake. So why would you only use one marketing channel when new opportunities like social networks and mobile marketing with QR codes come along? Yes, it may take you out of your comfort zone at first, but the learning curve is not all that difficult for the do-it-yourself types. Or, if you want or need a little help getting up to speed, all you have to do is ask.

We specialize in providing internet marketing tips for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are uniquely positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

But, if you don't think we're a good fit for your operation, then by all means, hire someone else. But don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet.

Contact us for more information.

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

A Key Internet Marketing Tip for Livestock Producers

  
  
  

Most people who are seriously committed to Internet marketing know the power that videos add to their marketing toolbox. I'm sure you've heard the expression; "A picture is worth a thousand words". If one picture is worth a thousand words, then you could say one video is worth a thousand pictures.

video camcorderMarketing through video is a key Internet marketing tip for livestock producers. And, I'm going to be share not only the "why's" but also the "hows" with you in this article.

The question you're probably asking is: "Can I use video in my Internet marketing?" But that's not really the right question. The question you should be asking is..."How can I use video in my Internet marketing?"

See the difference? The first question calls for a yes or no answer. The second one requires a little bit of thought before you answer. And it's that thought that I want to trigger here by giving you three simple ideas about how you might use video in your internet marketing. Then you can take it from there.

But first, let's look at the video equipment issue. When most people think of shooting video, they imagine fancy cameras with tripods, boom microphones, and who knows what else. But the fact is you may already have all the equipment you'll need. If you have a laptop computer, it probably has a built-in video camera, microphone, and the software to create and edit video. If you have a smartphone or tablet computer, it definitely has all the video capability you'll need. If you need further convincing, watch this video on selecting video cameras on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13MQKzDUUu8

OK, now that we've jumped over that hurdle, let's get into the three ideas I promised to share.

  • Videos of Your Livestock

    When livestock producers have an individual animal, a pair, or a small group for sale, they'll often post a still photograph as part of their ad. But if you could show a short video of the animal in motion that would be so much better. A video allows a potential buyer to focus in on more of the physical features he/she wishes to evaluate when buying a new herdsire or viewing a pen of that herdsire's progeny. What about a video of feature animals to promote your upcoming production sale?

  • Videos Featuring Your Farm or Ranch Operation

    As a permanent part of your website or blog home page, you could feature a video that showcases your operation. Consider creating a video that is a "virtual tour" of your facilities. This is a great way to set yourself apart from other livestock producers. It also helps build customer confidence in you and the livestock you sell.

  • Customer Testimonials

    Customer testimonials are a great way to create and maintain your credibility as a livestock producer. Maybe you already use written testimonials. But a video testimonial is even better because when a visitor to your website actually sees an individual giving voice to their testimonial, it makes that recommendation feel much more personal to them.

Once you have created your videos, what do you do with them? Assuming that you want to add the videos to your website (and why wouldn't you?) the next step is to upload your videos to YouTube, so they can be linked with your website. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this, click here: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-upload-a-video-clip-to-youtube.html.

OK, now that your video is posted on YouTube, the next step is to embed each video on the  appropriate page of your website. For example, wouldn't your virtual farm tour video work very well on your "About Us" webpage? For a step-by-step tuturial on how to do this, click here: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/tutorials/web_graphics/article.php/3480061/How-To-Add-a-YouTube-Video-to-Your-Web-Site.htm

For an example of an embedded video on a livestock producer's webpage, click here: http://www.simmentalbreeders.ca/redpath_sale.html. (Full disclosure here, this is one of our website clients.)

Hopefully, these tips have helped you to see the advantages of using video in your Internet marketing strategies. Even if you just try one of these three video suggestions, you should experience an improvement in your Internet marketing results.

Let's suppose for some strange reason, that you don't have your own website. Does that mean you can't take advantage of videos as a marketing tool? Not really, you can still post your videos to YouTube and send a prospective customer a link to your videos via email. You could also post your videos to your FaceBook business page, assuming you have one. But seriously folks, every purebred livestock producer needs a website, so get on that ASAP, please!

We specialize in providing internet marketing strategies for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are uniquely positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

But, if you don't think we're a good fit for your business, then by all means, hire someone else. But don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet.

If you'd like to know more about how you can improve your online marketing, contact us by email, or call 204-834-2479 for more information.

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

Website Content CheckList for Livestock Producers

  
  
  

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Download Content CheckList

If you're reading this blog post, chances are you're at least interested in having a website for your livestock operation. Perhaps you have been hesitating about actually having one made because you are not sure where what part you will have to play in creating your Internet presence.

It helps to work with a professional website designer who has the skills and knowledge to ensure your site is user-friendly and fully functioning. Whichever web designer you choose should sit down with you and discuss your goals and objectives for the site, to get a feel for your vision.

The web designer is responsible for executing the design elements of your website, such as the colour scheme, the layout grid, the navigation tools, etc. When it comes to the content of your website, such as the history of your farm/ranch, and the photos you chose to illustrate your site, you are very much in the driver's seat. You, the website owner, are responsible for providing the actual content which goes into the individual webpages. 

The following are are detailed descriptions of the top 10 most-requested content pieces used in a livestock producer's website, which you may be asked to supply:

  • Your logo for the "Home" page, as it is customary to display your logo in the upper left hand corner or across the top of the page. (Often the colours in your logo will inspire the colour scheme to be used throughout the website). 

  • Landscape-oriented photos of your ranch operation, or of your livestock in a natural setting, to be used to create a top-of-the-page banner, This photo banner will certainly be used on the "Home" page and possibly at the top of each page throughout your site

  • A statement (in writing) of your operation's mission statment, or the goals and objectives of your breeding program

  • Family photos and the generational history of your operation for the "About Us" page. You can supply this in "point" form or written out in story format. Note that really old family photos may not scan well as digital images, so use sparingly or not at all

  • Individual and group photographs of the livestock you want to promote on your site. Photographs should be crisp (i.e. not grainy). There is no need to get fancy or artistic, the photos should just give your viewers an accurate representation of what you're offering. (Digital editing of photos should be limited to cosmetic changes, such as removing dirt, straw or manure, not manipulation of the physical specimen)

  • If you have purebred livestock, then copies of breed pedigrees for highlighted animals, such as herdsires or embryo donors, may be needed by the designer, along wth written footnotes to describe the physical conformation and genetic traits of each of the animals highlighted on your site

  • A hand-drawn map, written road directions, to your farm/ranch so your poential customers can find your operation, once they decide to visit. An live interactive "Google Map" can be used, but your designer may also need the legal land description to locate the accurate Google co-ordinates to create the map

  • A written list of links connecting to other industry websites, if you wish to include them on your site

  • Previous or current news releases or published articles of farm/ranch accomplishments with your livestock, where appropriate. If you have annual production sales you may want to provide the sales results figures for past years

  • Digital images or hard copies of previous print ads or posters

  • Video files of individual animals being offered for sale, or of your livestock out on pasture

Wanting your website to display as much information as possible is a natural inclination. After all, the reason you want it, is to keep your customers informed. A successful website is the result of a good working partnership between you, as the website owner (supplying all the great content), and your web designer (planning, creating, implementing and testing the execution of your vision).

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We specialize in providing internet marketing tips for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are uniquely positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

But, if you don't think we're a good fit for your operation, then by all means, hire someone else. But don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet.

Contact us for more information.

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

Why Livestock Producers Need A Website

  
  
  

a pile of cash

Think about the last time you bought something expensive. Did you just shill out your hard-earned money sight unseen, and hope for the best?

Or, did you do some research, including an Internet search, skim through reviews, and consult with trusted sources?

Likely, it was the latter.

That's a big part of the rationale for livestock producers to have an Internet presence. We know our industry is not what you'd call tech-savvy, but we aren't talking about anything too complicated here. What you need is an attractive, well-organized, and user-friendly website that your potential customers can quickly find and use to gather information they need to become your actual customers.

For example, one of our website customers, and his investment partners, purchased a herdbull at auction for $82,000. We have little doubt they purchased him spontaneously; they probably did some investigating beforehand. Quite likely, they researched herdsire prospects on leading livestock producers' websites, checking out pedigrees, expected genetic traits, and of course, photos. Not only would they be comparing herdsire prospects within each operation, but also comparing prospects offered among the top operations in that sector of the livestock industry. 

In addition to visiting the webpages of potential herdsire prospects, you can be sure these the investment partners were sizing up target breeding operations by viewing their "Home", "About Us" and/or "Client Testimonials" webpages to reassure themselves they would be dealing with reputable operations.

Livestock producers are not unique, they do their "window shopping" in the comfort of their own home, before they invest time and money to drive many miles down the road to look at the physical product. If you, as a livestock producer, don't have a website where your potential customers can do their "window shopping", your operation may not make the short list of farms/ranches to be considered for that all important in-person visit.

Now, that these investment partners have made this sizeable investment in a new herdsire, they have added a feature page on their website to expose him to as broad a swath of potential customers as possible. A whole new group of "window shoppers" will be visiting their website looking for photos, pedigree information, and comparing genetic traits. And so, it goes on.

It's a brave new world, this model of "on-line" shopping. It's progressed beyond buying books on Amazon.com or selling something on EBay. Every agri-business needs it's own "virtual storefront" where prospective customers can do their research, access contact information, and reassure themselves they are looking at a reputable operation.

Is your livestock operation represented on the world wide web? If not, don't you think it's time?

We invite you to check out the Resources page of our website for FREE website information. To begin your new journey into cyberspace, click either of these buttons for:

New Website? Get Facts/Tips Sheet                Website Questionnaire

We specialize in providing internet marketing tips for livestock producers. We're pretty unique because we understand marketing on the Internet, the cattle/horse breeding industries, and other related agri-businesses. We are uniquely positioned to help create websites and other Internet marketing strategies which our competitors are not familiar with and wouldn't know how to discuss. 

But, if you don't think we're a good fit for your operation, then by all means, hire someone else. But don't wait any longer to get your livestock operation out there on the Internet.

Contact us for more information.

We welcome your comments (agree or disagree) on this blog post and/or to share using any of the Social Networking buttons at the top of this post.

Three "Pillars" of Internet Marketing Strategies for Agri-Businesses

  
  
  

We're more than a decade into the 21st Century and surprisingly, or not, the actual volume of business that is completed over the Internet is staggering. Even small businesses, which can't afford huge Information Technolgy (IT) centres, manage to maintain a presence on the web. I guess what I'm trying to say is everyone is connected through the Internet and as a business owner, it's vital that you be there too.

If you're looking for website marketing tips for agricultural producers it means you're on the right track for bringing your agri-business into the 21st Century. Whether you specialize in production of livestock, dairy farming, growing crops, organic/market gardening, or horticulture, the need is the same; to expand your customer-base.

 pillars under a bridge

Photo by: Wilf Davis - "pillars" in the Panama Canal

Below are three sturdy "pillars" for supporting a successful Internet marketing strategy:

  • Have a compelling website. This is key. Once you have a website you can market your products/services and even conduct business online. This can save both you and your clients time and money as they can see what you have to offer without having to physically visit your farm. Also, your website should be the major component of your overall advertising plan, the hub to which your other marketing pieces (ads, business cards, brochures, etc.) direct traffic. A website is also the easiest of your marketing pieces to change and update. The key is having someone who understands the inner workings of the Internet to help you set things up so your site receives the greatest amount of visitor interest possible.

  • Engage in Social Networking. Never underestimate the power of Social Networks which allow you to be in touch with people on a more intimate level. Arguably, the four most popular Social Networks are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Facebook is the "humanizer", it is the most personal of the networks, allowing a business to put forward its human face. LinkedIn is the just the opposite. It is the most "professional" and business-focussed of the networks. Advice I have heard is to treat LinkedIn like a business cocktail party and Facebook like a backyard family BBQ. Meaning? Don't be too friendly and comfortable on LinkedIn and don't be too "businessy" on your Facebook page. Twitter is the "Buzz Generator", where you have only 140 characters to express yourself. You can be controversial on Twitter, about a current trend or topic, and generate "buzz".  Google+ is  the "search optimizer". Sharing things on Google+ and encouraging others to +1 your content works essentially the same way as Facebook “likes”. But the impact is more pronounced because Google Search favors websites that have received more social credibility from others. Use social media to network, build relationships and stay in contact with your contacts, including staying in touch with how the general public views your business. Always link your Social Network posts back to your website to increase traffic.

  • Build your online community with a blog (weblog). People often overlook the power of a blog, but it works in more ways than one. Through blogging helpful information to your target market you can  draw traffic to your site that would otherwise never have known you  exist. Also, it allows your current clients to stay in touch with your business. Mix up the blog. Nothing bores readers more than 75 posts about the same thing. Talk about the technical side of business, but also keep it light. Tell your audience about your success at a regional agricultural fair. Announce the birth of a foal or the purchase of a new herdsire. The choice is yours, but don't let your readers get bored with your content. Don't forget to keep the posts of a decent length. Too short and they don't take you seriously; too long and they fall asleep reading. Shoot for at least 400-600 words and put an image in each post to capture visual interest.

Bottom line, creating and maintaining a successful online presence is good for every agri-business. There are numerous factors which affect whether or not your marketing program will be successful, and one of the more important factors is having the advice of a web design and marketing consultant familiar with the agricultural sector.

So contact us for a FREE one hour consultation and see what our custom-built websites and other on-line marketing strategies can do to increase your return on investment (ROI).

P.S. Please feel free to comment on this post (and any previous posts) to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, to improve this information for our visitors.

Internet Marketing Strategies for Websites: 5 Credibility Tips

  
  
  
under construction signThe truth is we live in an era when anyone can set up a website. This awareness makes consumers cautious. Having a professionally designed site doesn't prove that you are credible, but it does make a good first impression and makes customers more likely to trust you. In fact, a research report by Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab found that 46.1 percent of consumers rate the credibility of a website based on the overall visual design. What specific design qualities add credibility? Consider these five. 
  1. Think about branding. Does your livestock company have a logo? If not, you should, and it should be part of your website. A recognizable brand creates trust. Imagine going to eat at a restaurant that has no signage, only an address over the door. That's essentially what you are doing if your website header does not contain your logo.  
  2. Provide areas of engagement. People feel safer in crowds. You'll add to your credibility by having areas that include people other than you. Examples include reviews from authorities, partners and other customers. Get involved in social media. Create a blog that offers free advice about subjects your customers would ask about. Doing so establishes you as a reputable resource and lets visitors know other people recognize you as credible. The most important area of engagement is a "contact us" link. Make it easy for your users to contact you. Give them a choice of methods, including phone, e-mail, links to social media sites and your physical address. 
  3. Add a footer. A footer should include navigation to key sections of your site, providing another opportunity for lost visitors to find their way. Let your visitors know you care about them being able to find the information they need by offering multiple ways to do so. Considering linking your blog, home page, about page and especially a contact link in your footer.  
  4. Talk about yourself. Having an "About" page is your chance to showcase what you're about. Why are you in the livestock business? How long have you been in this business? How many employees do you have? Who do you partner with? What awards or other recognition have you received? Think of this page as your resume to the world. 
  5. Be strategic with your layout. If your website is poorly organized, it gives the impression that your business probably is too. Having content that flows intuitively is critical. Don't forget to monitor your image use and placement as well. Only use high quality images and size them correctly. 

Web design is not always easy, especially when business owners have many other priorities. Carberry Sandhills Consulting specializes in Website design services for livestock producersContact us to learn more about how the design of your website can add to the credibility of your operation.

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