A well-crafted website can take your farm sales to the next level – it’s often the first and last place a potential customer looks before they decide to go ahead and make a purchase (especially if you offer online orders!). Taking time during the off-season to make sure you put your best foot forward online, and ensuring it’s kept up-to-date during the growing season is something that can set your business apart. It’s no longer acceptable to consumers to just have “a” presence online – most expect a professional and well thought out experience.
- 1. Distinctive Branding and Well-Written Content
- 2. A Call to Action
- 3. Outstanding Imagery
- 4. A Good Story
- 5. Lead Collection
- Bonus: Search Engine Optimization
- Double Bonus: Analytics
1. Distinctive Branding and Well-Written Content
Local food is as much about the experience as it is about the food. When a customer buys local food, they feel that they’re purchasing the best available, while also doing a good thing (ethically and environmentally). To make sure you reinforce their feelings, you should make sure that your branding as well as the content on your site reflects those values. We are by no means branding experts, but this is where spending a few bucks will pay off big time. A good start would be to hire a creative agency or designer to create a logo, colour palette, and font selection that reflects your brand. From there, it’s all about how you present yourself in terms of what you write, share, and the images you use.
When writing content for your site, take your time with it. Make sure it’s clear, and free of errors. You’ll want to include both short- and long-form content on your site for those with different reading styles. You’ll want to make sure you incorporate some of the following information:
- What growing method do you use? E.g. conventional, organic, biodynamic
- What products do you offer? Include both a list of what you plan to grow this year, as well as an up-to-date list of what’s available right now.
- What is the story behind your farm (see 4. A Good Story below).
- Write about your team, if you have one.
- Make it clear how your customers can buy your products, including all methods – online store, CSA, farmers’ market, at a local grocer, etc.
2. A Call to Action
A call to action (CTA) is one of the most important parts of any website, but is often overlooked. Great branding and content will take you far, but people want to take action – they want to buy your food! When it comes down to it, a CTA is a button – when your customer clicks that button (which should be put in as many places on your website as you can!), it should complete a mutually beneficial action: something both you and they want to do. These actions might include…
- Take them to your online store
- Take them to a page that outlines where, when, and how to purchase from you
- Take them to a contact form
- Take them to an online newsletter registration form
Keep in mind that the goal of your CTA might differ depending on the time of year. If you’re not selling during the winter, you may be directing people to subscribe to your newsletter to receive updates. During the growing season, you’ll be directing them to buy now!
3. Outstanding Imagery
Really good photos can not only reinforce your brand, but will also make your food look as good as it tastes! When customers are looking for a local farm, they want to see your food, but not just your food – include photos of your farm, photos of you and your team, and photos of your points of sales (e.g. your stall at a farmers’ market).
4. A Good Story
Every small farm has a good story. The who, what, where, when, why, and how of your farm will provide an engaging read for your existing and potential customers, and should give them a better idea of what you grow and how you grow your food. Remember – one of a small farm’s biggest value propositions is in its values, and your story is sure to make them clear as day to the reader. When a customer feels connected to your story and values, they’ll feel confident that the food they purchased is not just top-quality, but also aligns with their code of ethics.
5. Lead Collection
If someone comes and goes from your website, they might remember you down the road, but on the other hand they might not. If they leave without a trace, you’ve left an impression, but that’s often not enough for them to remember when it comes time to buy. Do your best to entice visitors to leave their contact information, be it through a contact form, newsletter sign-up, or a pre-order form. Once you have their email address, you can give them a little nudge in the right direction at the right time. Send your list of contacts a reminder before market day, or before your store opens to bring them right back.
Bonus: Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website and site content to rank highly in search engines for certain search phrases. Google is where your focus should be (What’s a Bing? Just a variety of cherry.), but these principles hold true for all search engines, no matter how obscure.
Farmer’s Harvest websites take care of all the technical stuff for you, so you can just focus on writing content for your site. Here’s what you need to know:
Pick out phrases that customers might be searching for – take your best guess. These might look somethign like…
- Local food near Ottawa
- Pastured beef near Kingston
- Organic farm near Toronto
Try to roll the phrases you identify into your site content wherever you can – extra weight is given to page titles and headings, so do that wherever you can. Google is smart, so you don’t need to match the exact phrase, just make sure the key words are there (don’t worry about matching plurals or joiner words, etc.).
Once you implement that one strategy, you’ll be well ahead of most of the competition, and on your way to ranking #1 on Google!
Search engine optimization is a vast subject, and this section is by no means comprehensive, so we’ll be sure to write a full article on it down the line.
Double Bonus: Analytics
You’ve built an amazing website, but how do you really know how great it is? Your sales will surely increase, but that could take some time. Analytics integrations offer you a sneak peek into how your webiste is performing. How many people are visiting your website? How long do they stick around? Are they reaching the pages you want them to? Are they finding what they need?
These two analytics providers should cover all of your bases:
Google Analytics – This will help you with the raw data: how many people visit your site, where they go, how long they stick around, and much more. Farmer’s Harvest offers the simplest Google Analytics integration around!
Hotjar – This one can be a real hoot! Hotjar allows you to see video recordings of how visitors use your site: what they click on, where they scroll to, how long they stick around. It’s all anonymous, so no privacy concerns here, and it will help shed light on the usability of your website and whether or not your content and CTAs are doing what you intended!