Increase farm profits by starting a farm e-mail list

Email Marketing $19/Month!

I can attribute the majority of the chickens I have sold this year to one thing, my e-mail list. No bull! Yeah my farm website gets decent traffic, I am active on Facebook, but as the saying goes "The money is in the list". I created this post to honestly share my numbers. Honestly, you'll be surprised.

How I started my farm e-mail list:

I started the e-mail list in a few ways. The first was to put up an opt-in form on my farm website. As I drove traffic to the website visitors had a way to send me their name and e-mail address. I got traffic from people searching for chicken, other farmers referring people to me, and sites like LocalHarvest.org.

The second way I got people to sign up for my e-mail, which proved to be quite effective, was to put out a sign-up sheet at the farmers' market and at agricultural events that I went to. I created a simple sheet in Microsoft Word with spaces for people's names and e-mail addresses that I put out on my table. Then I would verbally encourage people to sign p for "news about chicken". After the event I would go home and put them all in manually. It was a little bit of a pain, but it has paid off.

Other than those two things I collect e-mail addresses at my CSA for people who just stop by. I carry business cards and let people know that they can sign up on my website.

(Click here to learn how to start your own farm website without having to learn any complex code) 

Disclaimer: Some of the links to on this page are Affiliate links. That means I earn a tiny commission from them by recommending you. There is no additional cost to you. Aweber just like to award people for recommending them. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

What are my numbers?

Ready to see the reality?

farm e-mail list stats

That's right, I only currently have 147 subscribers. Not 147,000, just 147. Truth is, that is all I needed this year. I have a 45 member Chicken CSA. So minus those people we're at 102 more people. I usually have between 8-15 extra chickens for sale each week. When I send an e-mail out to my list to pre-sell my chickens I sell out each week.

My average chicken goes for around $25. Multiply that times 15 and the list pays for itself pretty quick. That and it gets people to the CSA pick-up who might not come every week. As I start to grow and sell more farm products I can cross promote.

If I needed to sell more birds I would more actively promote my list and get more names on it. But for now this is working quite well. And yeah, some people unsubscribed, that's fine. You only want people on your list that are going to buy. The larger the list the more you have to pay, so it is better to keep it pretty narrowly targeted.

Does everyone open my farm e-mails?

NOPE! According to a study done by Silverpop.com, the average open rate for e-mails is around 20%. Mine averages 50-60%. So of 147 people that's an average of 74(ish) people who see my e-mail each week. With that, I either sell every single chicken, or I am left with a maximum of 1 or 2 for the freezer or my own consumption.

e-mail list open rate

 

 What do my farm e-mails look like?

There are some farms that I know who do a beautiful job of sending out pretty complex e-mails. In the middle of the season I find that hard to do. In general if you give people too much information they run the chance of getting lost. My only goal was/is to sell chickens. So that is what my e-mails focus on.

I create them so they will look good whether they are viewed as an HTML e-mail or as just plain text. Basically, fancy or non-fancy. The e-mail editor with my e-mail provider, Aweber.com, is super-easy to use and get your e-mails out. There are templates you can use that are already designed for you and it's mostly drag and drop.

Here's what one of my e-mails looks like.

farm e-mail list message

 

That is an actual message I sent to my e-mail list. It scrolls down a little to show some more pictures but you get the point. Really simple, to the point, and with some links to recipes online. I also write out recipes and include other farm news. Mostly my e-mails are about what I have for sale. Now that I am selling vegetables each week I add a list of what was harvested so people can plan recipes of their own.

How do you get started? Free or paid?

When it comes to my business I don't mess around. Well, besides singing to my chickens. There are free options out there that you can use. MailChimp is a decent one. The thing is with various free e-mail list service providers, they don't have a good track record of e-mails getting opened.

What do I mean by that?

When you send out an e-mail from you list provider (free MailChimp) it is more likely to be seen as "spam" by the recipients inbox. That means the e-mail doesn't get opened, and no chickens (or whatever) are sold.

Aweber has a great open rate. They have good customer service, fair prices, and very easy to use software to create your e-mails and manage your lists. I know this because that is who I use to manage my e-mail list.

Seriously, the majority of the money I have made before during and after I signed up all my CSA members was through my e-mail list with Aweber. I cannot say enough good things.

aweber farm e-mail list sign up

farm e-mail newsletter

A little video help:

Aweber has put together some videos to help you get started. I will paste them in here so you don't have to go looking. The first is a video of some testimonials from clients that they have. Keep in mind as you are watching what an e-mail list could mean for you.

Get Started Today For Only $1! - AWeber Communications

Send Your First Email Newsletter Today - AWeber Communications

Thank You!

I sincerely hope this blog post helps you. I will go into further detail about my e-mails and my list this winter but I wanted to get this up so you could see how much it has helped me.

The important thing to remember is that it is never too late to start, and you don't need a million people on your list.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions about e-mails lists or farm marketing in general I respond quickest on Facebook.

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Some of the links to on this page are Affiliate links. That means I earn a tiny commission from them by recommending you. There is no additional cost to you. Aweber just likes to award people for recommending them. I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't use it personally, I am not trying to sell you anything. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Using Google Analytics To Measure Success With Your Farm Website

Once you have set-up your farm website, you want to keep track of whether or not people are visiting it, and where they are coming from. I mean, wouldn't it be very helpful to know whether your farm marketing efforts are being successful? The best tool that I have found for tracking farm website visitors is Google Analytics. Sure your website hosting company, or your installation of Wordpress will give you some statistics, but I find they are not as accurate, and definitely not as detailed. Just because your hosting company is telling you that you get 12,000 hits a month, that is not necessarily true. One example of how that number is inaccurate is that if it is winter and you are doing a lot of work on your website, your hosting company is counting all the times you click on the pages to check them, skewing your numbers. Google Analytics lets you exclude your IP address so you're not counting your own clicks. (I'll cover excluding your IP address below, it's easy.)

Like all of Google's helpful tools, Analytics is free! I would have a heck of a time trying to run my business without Google. I definitely want to thank them any chance I get for all the free stuff they provide. So if you're listening Google, thank you!

You are going to need a Google account to use this tool. If you do not have one already you can sign up for one here.

I find that the tools I use are best explained with visuals. First I'll cover some the of the recent traffic I have been seeing on my own farm website, and how I am keeping track of the local traffic to my website. Then I'll highlight some of the other things that Google Analytics keeps track of. Then I'll show you how to install it on your Weebly, Wordpress, or other website.

Note: Stats are refreshed every 24 hours. You have to be patient.

My Farm On Analytics

farm website visitors by country

Analytics lets you track your farm website visitors by what country they are visiting your website from. This I always find fun and kind of interesting. My farm website FoodCyclist.com has bee visited from 60 different countries. Not bad for a local farm. The only problem here is that it does not help me with my local sales, that is too big of a map.

All you have to do then is click on the United States, and a more detailed map appears.

farm website visitors in the united states

This next layer of detail breaks down what States have had people who have visited my farm website. Also fun, and if you sell products across the country this is good information for you. Darker States have had more visitors. You can tell at a glance where the majority of your traffic is coming from. When you're on this page you can scroll down and they give you a list of how many people from what States have been to your site. It is organized by the highest number of visitors.

For me, I want still more detail, so I am going to click my mouse on the tiny state of Connecticut and see what I get.

farm website visitors in connecticut

That's more like it. From here I can see that my marketing efforts are reaching my town of New Milford, CT and the towns surrounding me. Sure, I'd love to see more traffic to my website from these areas, but it's a start. You always have to start somewhere. This map shows me that the guerrilla marketing I have been doing on the streets is starting to pay off with website visitors.

Google search results are becoming more localized for certain keywords. Now, if you search "farm" you will get results pages of farms in your area, usually with a map. This is called Google Local. You can make sure you add your farm to Google Local Maps through this link www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/

More Information From Google Analytics For Your Farm Website

farm website analytics sidebar

You can glean a lot more information from Google Analytics than just the location of your website visitors.

Installing the Analytics code on your website will allow you to see what pages people are visiting. This will give you insights into what people are looking for on your website. Perhaps which pages are more visible and easier to get to. If you have a sales page that you wish had more traffic and a non-sales page that is seeing me page visits, you can analyze what makes the  two different and change things up to convert more customers.

Time

Analytics also lets you see how long people are spending on your website. Sometimes this is measured in nano-seconds.

Flow

Analytics tracks the visitor flow. What pages are they clicking and how did they get there? What pages are your dead ends, where people hit and then leave your website? What can you do to keep them on our site longer and perhaps buy something?

Easy Navigation

Right from the sidebar here (which is on every page) you can see all of this. You can even get to traffic sources, which tells you how people are find your website. This breaks down into three categories.

  • Search Traffic
  • Referral Traffic
  • Direct Traffic

Search Traffic counts people finding your website through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Referral Traffic tells you if there are any other websites that link to your website, and are sending traffic through those links.

Direct Traffic tells you how many people are getting to your website simple by typing your exact website address. This gives you an idea of how many people might be searching for you based on the fact that you put your farm website URL on all of your marketing materials.

Farm Website Keywords in Google

keywords for your farm website

Google Analytics lets you see what people are searching for in Google when they find your website. I have had my site for a couple of years so my keywords vary. People search "FoodCyclist" all the time for me. I also have hits from "chicken for sale", "chicken tractor", and my name "john suscovich". I am starting to see more traffic from my local area for keywords related directly to what I grow on my farm, chicken.

Referral Traffic

referral traffic for your farm website

I can see what pages are linking to me to send people my way. I love that this shows how powerful my Social Media has been. The list of top 9 pages linking to me:

  1. Twitter
  2. Google
  3. Farm Marketing Solutions
  4. Facebook
  5. Facebook
  6. Local Harvest
  7. Pinterest
  8. Go Bicycling Touring
  9. Real Time Farms

Installing Google Analytics on Weebly

I showed you in this tutorial how to create a professional looking farm website with Weebly quickly and inexpensively.

  1. Create website with Weebly editor
  2. Create Google Analytics Account
  3. Add website URL to Analytics Account (it will ask you what website you are creating a code for, super easy)
  4. Copy the code that Analytics give you
  5. Paste the Code into the "Header Info" section of the "Edit Site Settings" dialogue box in Weebly
  6. Sit back and watch the stats come in!

Installing Google Analytics on Wordpress

  1. Install "Google Analytics" plugin
  2. Click Settings->Google Analytics
  3. Copy and paste Analytics code into the only box on the page (UA-xxxxxxxxx-x)
  4. Click on "Save Changes"

Note: You cannot use plugins for the free version of Wordpress. You get what you pay for. When you pay for nothing, you get...

Google Analytics on Blogger

  1. Log in to your Blogger account.
  2. Navigate to your blog's Settings > Other tab.
  3. If you already have a Google Analytics account, simply enter your blog's Google Analytics Web Property ID.
  4. Click Save to finish.

Other Web Properties

No matter what program you are using to edit and/host your website, there is usually a way to install Google Analytics. Just find where to put your Analytics "Web Property ID" and you're good to go. There are tutorials you can find online very easily that will explain what you need to do if I have not answered it here.

Excluding Your IP Address (IMPORTANT!!!)

Your IP address is the address of your computer that your Internet Service Provider gives you automatically when you sing online. You want to make sure your Google Analytics account does not keep track of every time you click on your own website, otherwise you information is not going to be accurate.

To do this:

  1. Go to IP Chicken to get you IP address, looks like 123.12.23.123
  2. Log in to your Analytics account
  3. Click Admin at the top right of the screen
  4. Click on the name of your website (if you have more than one do it for each, one at a time)
  5. Click on "Filters" then click "Add New"
  6. Give the filter a name
  7. With the drop down boxes click, "Exclude, traffic from the IP addresses, that are equal to"
  8. Enter your IP from IP Chicken
  9. Make sure to click on the profile and hit add to make it go from the left box to the right
  10. Click Save

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I hope that this gets you started using Google Analytics. It is a very powerful tool. The longer you have it, the more info you will collect, and the easier it will be to make decisions regarding your website.

Farm Website: Everything you need to know for an inexpensive, easy to set-up website.

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By the end of this tutorial you will know how to set-up your farm website. Getting started online does not have to be hard, expensive, or time consuming. As a fellow farmer I know that we are always hurting for time and money. That is why I put this tutorial together with everything you need to know to set up an inexpensive website, quickly, but still have it look professional.

Do you need a farm website?

If you want to to grow your business in today's market you have to have at least a minimal online presence. For farmers I would say the bare-minimum is to have a website, and to have a Facebook page (Farm on Facebook video tutorial). Let everything else online continue to be just noise until you put those two things into action.

Through the farmers that I have talked to, and through my own experiences, I have been able to narrow down what type of internet presence really gives a good return on investment. Having a farm website is definitely one of those avenues.

The amount of information on the internet, and the amount of options you have to connect with your customers can be very overwhelming. Different "experts" will tell you the "best ways" to reach your particular demographic. The only problem is a lot of those "experts" are not making a living farming. They are not struggling with the same constraints of time that you and I are. It would be great to be able to check and update many social networks and keep an extensive blog from your office in corporate America, while you avoid the work you are supposed to be doing, but we simply don't have the time for that.

Just How Easy is Setting Up A Website?

In this video I create an entire farm website with four pages, in under four minutes.

Benefits of Having a Farm Website

That being said, some investment of time and mental energy goes a long way toward benefiting your agricultural business. Having a farm website benefits you in a lot of ways. It acts as a digital brochure letting people know what the story of your farm is, what you have to sell, and where they can go to get it. It gives you the opportunity to add value to your products, making consumers more likely to buy. It gives you a way to update all 300 of your CSA members at once without printing 300 fliers which is expensive. It increases your public visibility which will make you more likely to be found by newspapers, magazines, and other local press. The list continues, but you get the point. You are here to learn how.

  • Update hundreds of people at the same time for little to no cost.
  • Saves money in the long term!
  • Drive traffic to your farm through digital marketing.
  • Connect with your customers to build value into your products.
  • Increase media exposure by ensuring tradtional media can find you. (print, TV, radio)
  • Advertise new products. Market testing and cusomter feedback.
  • ETC...
farm website foodcyclist
farm website foodcyclist

Options For Starting a Farm Website

Again with the options. So many options. There are a number of ways to start your farm website. Some of them are free, and some can be quite expensive. Some are quick, and some take a little time and skill. At the end of the day you are going to pick what is best for you, and that's fine with me. I just wanted to provide you with the knowledge and options, and you can take it from there.

Free Website Options

There are a number of free options. You can start a farm blog on Wordpress.com. Wordpress will let you sign up for a farm website for free with one caveat. Your site has to be "www.your-farm-name.wordpress.com". They are advertising their site right in your website URL. Same thing with starting a Blogger.com website. Your website will be "www.your-farm-name.blogspot.com".

With Wordpress you still have to learn how to create and edit posts and pages for your site. It is not a visual editor like the one I outline below. You can do it, and I will create a tutorial on it (it is what I use), but it will take more of your time, and you will have to know a little bit more technical stuff.

With how inexpensive it is to set up your own domain, and how much more professional it looks to have your own name I don't recommend the free route.

Paid Website Options

There are a number of paid website options out there. If you "Google" something like "starting a website" or "buying a domain" you will get a lot of different companies selling hosting and domain registration, and you will see many blogs talking about who is the best, and least expensive companies that do that.

The company that I suggest on this post is the company that I have used for years. Literally years. That is why I am recommending them. It's not a theory, I am a huge geek, and I have a lot of experience with them. That company is FatCow.

affiliate_link

With the links on this page you can ensure that you get a screaming discount on their website hosting services. I am affiliate for them, and I earn a small commission by recommending them. I also get to offer you a discount for going through my website. I would only recommend them if I use them myself and was happy doing so. Also, you get a discount, it's a win-win-win situation.

I explain all about FatCow hosting in the videos below.

How to Quickly and Easily Set-Up Your Farm Website With Weebly

I have recorded almost an hour of video to help you get started on the internet. Not only that, I am giving it all to you FOR FREE!!! Why? Because my goal is to see small farms succeed. You need to be on top of the digital age, and you need to do it inexpensively and quickly. I know that if you watch all these videos you will be able to set up a website of your own.

If you already have a website there are definitely good things to glean from these videos. I discuss some simple Search Engine Optimization tips in the videos, as well as the benefits of having a website, and what should be on it.

If you get through watching everything and have any questions please feel free to leave your questions in the comments section at the end of this post. Chances are if you have a questions someone else does too. By leaving your questions in the comments section it allows me to answer them publicly so we can all benefit. And NO question is too simple or stupid. No such thing as a stupid question.

Video Tutorials:

I could go on writing out step by step directions. However, I think the easiest way to show you how to do all of this is to show you. I have created almost an hour's worth of video to help you on your farm website journey. I hope it helps, and remember, I am open to any and all questions.

Farm Website Business Plan

In the first video I talk about the different types of farm business plans, and how having a website or web-presence works into them. There are three main types that agricultural businesses fit into.

Which do you think you fit into? Which do you want to fit into?

View this video on YouTube (Click Here)

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Registering Your Domain and Purchasing Hosting For Your Farm Website From FatCow

This video walks you through what exactly a domain and hosting is, and how you can register for both of them really easily. I use my own farm website to illustrate points,and then walk through the sign-up process on FatCow.

Have you thought about starting a website but you don't know what a domain is, or what hosting is? Confused by all the options out there? This video clears things up.

(Click Here to watch this video on YouTube)

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Accessing your Farm Website Through Your FatCow Control Panel

This video explains the FatCow Control Panel. There is a lot of information on that one page. I break down the elements of the page so you know where to focus your attentions, and what areas are pertinent to you. Trust me, it is easy. After a few times visiting this page you will be very comfortable with it and you'll know exactly where you need to go and what you have to do.

Scared of not being computer savvy? This website or "control panel" is very easy to use. I highlight the areas you need so you don't have to spend time searching.

(Click Here to view this video on YouTube)

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The Easiest Way to Build Your Own Farm Website That I Know Of (and I am a huge geek!)

In this video we get your farm website started with the Weebly Website Builder. It is a visual "drag-and-drop" editor that has your site up and running in no time. As you watch me piece together a quick website you will see just how easy it is to do.

You don't have to write HTML or Javascript to build a website. You can see what it will look like as you edit so you know what you are getting. If you get stuck, you have the power of the "MooCrew" technical support to back you up on FatCow.

(Click Here to view this video on YouTube)

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Four Pages You MUST Include on Your Farm Website

In this final video I explain what information is "must have" on your website. I illustrate my points using my own farm website FoodCyclist.com. I know this works because I am using it right now to sell CSA shares. You are certainly encouraged to create more than four pages, but this will give you a good place to start.

I also outline what those pages are right below this video so you don't have to take notes.

Is your farm website presenting the proper information? Have you made the mistake of having pages that say "coming soon"? Here's what you need to know.

(Click Here to view this video on YouTube)

Necessary Farm Website Pages:

Home Page

This page should be a summary of your and your farm. It should be very apparent to the visitor where to find more information about you, about your farm, and how to contact you. Think if this as an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper where you have to sell your farm to a customer. Make it brief, to the point, visually appealing, and leave them wanting more.

You can see an example of my home page on my farm website: FoodCyclist.com

Contact Page

This page should have all of your contact information. Be sure to include your address, phone number, e-mail address, embed a Google Map so people can get directions to find you easier, and even put a contact form on this page for people to write to you right on your website. All of these elements are easily added with Weebly.

You can see my contact page for my farm website at: http://foodcyclist.com/contact/

About Us Page

This page should tell your story. The USDA is pumping a lot of money into the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" movement for farm marketing. Benefit from that marketing push. Your customers are buying into you as much as they are buying into your farm. This is your chance to share that story. Everyone has a good story. You may or may not think so because you know it so well, it is boring to you by now. Someone who has never met you is going to want to hear it. Take some time to write it down, and you will be surprised how many people are interested.

You can see my About Us page at: http://foodcyclist.com/your-farm/

Products Page

This is your sales page. Let people know what you have, and when you have it. Be sure to describe your products. Get people interested, get their mouths watering.

You can see how detailed my products page is here: http://foodcyclist.com/pastured-chicken-csa/

Blog (optional depending on your goals and dedication)

I have seen a huge return on investment from keeping a blog through the years. It is a way for me to update many people at once. It makes the search engines happy. It is a good way for me to continually share information with cluttering up my website.

However, keeping a blog current is a lot of work. It is an investment on my part, or your part, but I know that it has paid off for me. Having a farm blog is up to you. I find it best when you have a farm intern or apprentice that is willing to upkeep the blog for the season.

What do you do now?

I hope that by now, if you do not already have a farm website, you have a more clear understanding on what it is going to take to create one. It doesn't have to take that long, and it can make a difference in your farm marketing efforts.

Once you have a website you can add it to your social media accounts, pos it on LocalHarvest.org, add it to your printed marketing materials, tell people at the farmers' markets, etc... Once it is up, you have to let people know it exists.

Here's the link again to make sure you get the discount on hosting through FatCow. It is my affiliate link, but I assure you, there is no extra cost to you, and I only add the link because I use it myself and I can recommend it.

affiliate_link

Thank you for taking the time to read through the tutorial and for watching all of the videos. I hope it helps. If there is anything else you would like me to create a tutorial on, let me know, I am open to suggestions.

Remember if you have an questions, leave them in the comments section below. That way everyone can benefit from my answers.