What are the Major Trends in Agri-Marketing in 2011?

by Sara Steever
September 1, 2011

We provided the answer to this question in an article published in Agri Marketing magazine, May 2011, What’s New in the Agency Business. It’s always interesting to write this kind of article, knowing the minute you publish it, it is already out-of-date. That said, one stable, overarching trend is fueling several smaller trends in agri-marketing: Producers’ use of technologies is statistically on par with the population as a whole.

Mobile is top of mind

With new devices deploying constantly, new skill sets are required to craft mobile strategies, catalog user behaviors, design interfaces and develop the right products—especially when it comes to apps.

The race to produce native apps has unfortunately had the effect of leaving legacy web properties with poor user experiences. Tactics like QR codes and marketing emails drive users to websites that are not mobile optimized. Fortunately, a debate has begun in the industry that will bring clarity to the native app vs. web app dilemma. Tools such as as CSS3, media queries, jQuery Mobile and HTML5 provide flexible options for developers and designers as they tackle countless screen sizes while building mobile and responsive websites. Facebook is currently at work on Project Spartan, which uses the mobile Safari browser and HTML5—their way of bypassing Apple’s App store red tape. Mozilla will submit WebAPI to the W3C for standardization. These tools will no doubt have a significant impact on how we approach mobile development in the future.

Currently there is no substitute for what native apps do well—offer a focused user interface wrapped around trusted tools and content that build and strengthen customer relationships. But as the sea of apps continues to grow, it will become increasingly difficult for an app to stand out as a long-term tool. Campaign or event apps can be very successful as part of an overall strategy, as long as the investment makes sense. The good news is these new development tools will help bring native apps to the level of ubiquity that landing pages now enjoy, resulting in higher ROIs.

Social media gets big boy pants

It may be a stretch to call social media a mature trend, but it does seem agri-businesses and agencies that have embraced it have settled on the services meaningful to them. Businesses that are still reluctant at least have a fundamental understanding of social media’s importance. The vehicles within social media are still evolving, but structure, processes and methodology are signs that it’s growing up.

Our research has shown social media, with its quick reference to the power of opinion, has drastically changed the way people research and buy. Paulsen has recently released a thought paper on the modern sales funnel. We explore concepts surrounding the impact on brands that micro and macro influencers have using social vehicles like product reviews, blog comments, Google+1 and others. We’ve found, for example, marketing needs to evolve in areas such as digital point-of-purchase in order to drive sales. As long as search engine algorithms skew in favor of social and video, this impact will continue to grow.

Display advertising makes a comeback

Almost every digital tactic has benefited lately from improved technologies, especially on the media front. Digital ads are served based on individual demographics and user behavior across thousands of websites. Post-impression tracking and retargeting reveal the true impact of banner campaigns. The rapid expansion of DSP technologies (eg. Google’s Display Network and acquisition of Invite Media and AdMeld) provides exposure to opportunities for layering data onto ad inventory. Google also continues to expand Search Engine Marketing opportunities from local to international.

Technology drives business intelligence

Continuing advances in Software as a Service (SaaS) for social media monitoring, email marketing, closed-loop marketing and analytics require continued education and specialization of staff. The ideal scenario is to methodically gather together data streams from all marketing tactics to refine brand messaging, media strategies, customer service, reputation, distribution and budgets.

As agri-marketers fully embrace the sophistication of producers, trends will likely multiply and accelerate. To stay relevant, invest in research, center staff and capabilities on client strategy, and market based on customer behaviors. With never a dull moment in the digital world, it’s a great time to be in marketing!

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