You have a talented team of precision farming experts in a department that houses the latest and greatest technology available to farmers. Your dealership website reflects that right?
A review of 25 dealer websites proved that information related to precision is often hard to find, outdated or non-existent. Not to mention there are lots and lots of broken links out there. Interesting considering these are equipment dealers across all major brands in North America ranging from eight locations to more than 50.
- Make your precision business visible on your web homepage and avoid hiding it in dropdown menus or buried at the bottom of the page.
- Create a ‘how-to’ video library on products and problem-solving for customers to access on your site.
- Regularly check and update precision staff photos and contact information to ensure customers are reaching the right people to get technology answers.
One site had a featured product video that was more than 5 years old with very outdated information. Think of the message that indirectly sends to farm customers looking for information on the latest technology.
There was another one where the first line of the page read ‘now offering precision agriculture technology.’ I’m going to guess that page hasn’t been changed since the day the site went live.
While not every equipment dealer has a precision farming business, I was still surprised to find more than one mid- to large-size dealer site that had no mention of precision farming.
You could blame this on the fact that precision products historically account for a small piece of the revenue pie, compared to large ag equipment, and therefore, receive the least amount of time and money promoting those products and services.
Precision farming is also complicated, and it can be a struggle to try to explain all the details online without it being confusing or misinterpreted. Most likely, this area is not often visited or reviewed by staff, so it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Why It Matters
While relationships are important and precision staff should be identifying solutions for farmers, the reality is, prospects are collecting information online long before you are even aware they are in the market for an item.
With today's technology, Google often has a better idea of what your customer is thinking about than you do. More than 47% of buyers view at least 3-5 pieces of content before deciding to speak with a salesperson according to a Demand Gen Report.
A 2018 Pew Research Center study found YouTube to be the most popular online platform among rural America at 59%. With your website serving as your online location, it’s more important than ever for it to showcase what you offer and provide the information farmers are searching for.
Customers seeking precision farming information are likely progressive and tech-savvy, to begin with. While there are many ways to amplify content like social media or email newsletters, your website is still the foundation of all your content and information should be housed there.
“Be sure you’re taking prospects on a journey and connecting all the dots for them by linking everything together on your website…”
Not sure what you should provide on your site? Start with the basic must-haves.
Who to contact and how. Farmers typically have mixed fleets and dealers are not set up alike. Take the guesswork out of who they should contact for precision sales and support. Do they call your service department for service? State that and link to who to contact. Are sales handled by your precision staff? If so, have their contact information listed there.
More dealers are working with remote support options and apps, but of the sites we reviewed almost none showed that or explained how it works. Think of how many acquisitions are happening in the industry and the volume of turnover taking place, particularly in precision farming departments.
Many customers may be unfamiliar with your staff or procedures.
What products you carry. Never assume the customer knows all of the precision lines you carry. First, pick a way to organize them that’s intuitive. By brand, function or product they serve for example. John Deere dealers appears to utilize a corporate template for precision products that formats everything in a clean, easy to understand format.
It includes a product photo on the left along with a short description and bulleted key features to the right, with product features listed underneath. If you want more information on one, you can click on it and a drop-down appears with more information and screenshots.
Taking a page out of the used equipment area, there are the options to email it, print it or request more information. To perfect a product page, include a link to the full brochure at the bottom.
It's surprising how little information can be found on dealer sites about data management, given how much discussion there is surrounding it. There is a real opportunity to do more than place a photo and link to the provider's site.
What you offer. Not what products the manufacturers you carry offer, but what your dealership has to offer. That may be a call center, after-hours support, an agronomist on staff, a special service or introductory package. Go beyond the products to share what makes you unique from the dealer down the road.
Several dealer sites we scouted offer some sort of package related to precision, but few have them explicitly posted online. Some are incorporated inside a service maintenance package, but virtually nobody communicated that inside their precision area to make that clear or direct for visitors to find the information.
Precision farming offers or specials. There is almost always an offer going on, but very few dealers share them on their websites. Include these offers wherever you normally share your offers, but they should also be linked inside your precision farming section of the site.
Calls to Action
Your first objective is to make it easy for a farmer to find what they are looking for. After that, you want them to take action, which could come in several ways.
- Click to more information
- Fill out a form
- Share on social media
- Sign up
Do you have any calls to action in the precision area? All of the above are certainly not needed, but this is kind of like asking for the sale. Are you asking your visitors to engage with you? Buttons with verbiage like ‘let’s talk’, ‘make sense of your data’ or ‘learn how’ strongly encourage engagement and action.
“Have your precision team make a list of the top 20 questions they get on a regular basis and film and post short videos with answers. Post them on your website, social media and YouTube…”
Show & Tell
People can grasp information so much more easily and quickly visually. So, visuals are critical in explaining sometimes complicated subjects like precision.
Videos, videos, videos. A handful of dealers created ‘explainer videos' where they demonstrated a product or share how to solve a problem. Interestingly, it doesn't appear anyone is doing them for precision very regularly.
Most were done all at the one time and then never updated or enhanced. New precision products lend themselves to be shown on video. It's one thing to say you offer a new monitor, but it's much more effective to do a 60-second video demonstrating the new features on the screen.
One of the most effective items I came across was a video case study a dealer did with a couple of its customers. It profiled their operation, the precision product they invested in and results the farmer saw from using it.
Have your precision team make a list of the top 20 questions they get on a regular basis and film and post short videos with answers. Post them on your website, social media and YouTube. Not only is it cheap to do, but it also adds value and helps your search engine optimization.
About half of the sites we visited had staff photos. Yes, it is difficult to keep this updated. Staff in precision are often coming and going, but it can be nice for people to see who their contact is and put a face with a name.
Some sites give direct phone numbers and email address underneath staff names or photos, while others don't. Position your precision team as dependable experts you can count on by featuring them, not stock photos from your manufacturers on your site.
Showing them in action and with customers in another tip. Also, have them write a blog post or do tip videos to show your team as skilled thought leaders.
Very few dealer-made graphics seem to exist. However, we came across one that had created a nice chart to highlight the differences between monitors, making it much easier to consume the information and compare.
Pay attention to where you locate your precision information. Some dealers have it in their navigation bar, others under new equipment. In most cases, it should be featured in the navigator bar. If not, it’s difficult to figure out where to find it.
Be sure you’re taking prospects on a journey and connecting all the dots for them by linking everything together. Precision is connected to wholegoods, parts and service.
If they are on a product page, make sure there is a link to current specials. A blog post and videos that feature products should be linked to the product page and vice versa.
Where is your used precision equipment located? It’s likely buried somewhere inside your used equipment, because of how your site is set up. Make it easier to find and accessible by featuring it or listing in your precision area as well.
“It's surprising how little information can be found on dealer sites about data management, given how much discussion there is surrounding it…”
Only a quarter of sites shared their RTK-related options. This is an area where many dealerships have developed recurring revenue, by either building their own network or offering GPS correction services through a third-party. Coverage graphics or maps should already be available and accessible for visitors to reference on your site.
Peak customers’ interest in real-life scenarios and stories. Share a challenge or issue a customer had and how your dealership was able to help them solve it. You can also leverage these anecdotes to bring more attention to your team and content on your site by having your precision team do a Twitter or Instagram takeover.
Search engines can't scan or read your pdf's. While it's great to include a link to your print pieces, it’s important to make sure the most important information is actually on the pages of your site so it can be searched and found. I had to dig hard on several sites to locate support packages.
New Website Trends
The days of depending on a generic ‘contact us’ section are going away. Having the appropriate phone number to call regarding the information on each page is becoming the new standard.
Making it a hot-linked button, so that customers can call by simply tapping the button increases their chances of taking action right then. Dealers are also starting to respond to data privacy concerns.
Internally, dealers are likely holding some sort of training or meeting when they introduce or explaining a new precision product. I found one dealer recording that records those presentations and makes them available on their website.
There are also dealerships doing podcasts. That’s another great way to profile customers using new technology or solving a problem with it. However, it's important to connect those episodes back to your precision team by hosting those in the precision area of the site.
One group has experimented with webinars as another way to reach busy farmers with a refresher on how to use their monitors. Then, if they can’t make it or miss it they can refer to the replay.
Staying in front of your audience is now easier than ever. If you're providing good information and content on precision information you can tag those pages of your site and place retargeting ads.
These digital ads will show just to the visitors who visited one of those pages and are useful for new products and precision offers because they are targeted to those who showed interest in a particular product.
With the rise of voice search, are you optimized to be the one a farmer finds when they’re in the cab of the tractor and ask Siri, “how do I set the A/B line on my monitor?”
Even if you aren’t ready to jump in on next generation website tools, think about how many missed opportunities and sales there are because the information a farmer was looking for couldn’t be found and they weren't asked to take action.
How can customers see your precision team and dealership as experts and leaders if you are not informing and demonstrating the value of the precision farming solutions you have to offer online?
Now, go take a look at your website.