More farmers getting online, but not without challenges

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released its study on computer use and ownership on American farms, and the numbers are steadily increasing.

As reported in the study, 75 percent of farmers have internet access and 73 percent have computer access.  Fifty-two percent of farmers surveyed said they use a smart phone or tablet – a number that has increased more than 15 percent in the past two years. But, while Internet usage is growing, the reliability and speed of those connections remain a struggle for some farmers.

There are many public and private programs working to address that problem and ensure strong broadband connections for all rural America. For example, there are more than 20 federal agencies involved with the American Broadband Initiative to bring broadband to rural areas. In the private sector, Azure FarmBeats is leveraging Microsoft’s efforts in using TV white space for reliable connectivity.

As the access to fast and reliable broadband continues to grow, there’s an opportunity to establish and strengthen relationships online within the ag community. But this work needs to function in the context of limited connectivity while still being user-friendly and information-rich.  While there can be many approaches to a successful digital marketing plan, quality and timely content can make the most of your digital marketing efforts, and, when done effectively, can be a useful, usable tool for farmers.

Search engine optimization

If you want your business to appear in searches, a strong search engine optimization strategy is important. Gone are the days where just having a website meant that it would show up in Google searches. With sophisticated algorithms searching the Internet for what the search engines deem valuable content, one of the simplest ways to improve your search ranking is to have a consistent stream of new, quality content on your website.

Drive traffic

Offering the insights and tools that producers need is a great way to drive traffic to your website. When you become the place to go for interactive resources about futures and cash bids, weather, and ag market news, you give your customers a reason to keep coming back, building loyalty and promoting your business.  If that content is easy to use and mobile friendly, it can become a very reliable tool for many farmers.

Engage customers

Great content draws visitors to your website but offering interactive tools will get them to stay and engage longer with your brand.  Try using easily customized, interactive widgets, which engage producers with must-have information, such as links to futures and cash bids, weather, and more.

Brand building

Adding critical digital content can help you differentiate your business and increase producer loyalty. Products like DTN Content Services can be a valuable resource to build and maintain strong content for your website, while working within the connectivity constraints that many farmers face.