Ag-Bag Forage Solutions, a single-store dealership in Astoria, Ore., has evolved its focus from feed storage solutions to the wider rural lifestyle segment and is now integrating digital marketing solutions targeted at its growing customer base.
The dealership carries Kioti, LS Tractor, Deutz-Fahr, Sitrex, Pottinger, Ag-Bag silage baggers, Hustler Turf, Cub Cadet, Jonsered and RedMax.
Jeremy Linder, marketing manager, helped develop the dealership’s first website using WordPress software and recently launched a new website through Dealer Spike.
Rural Lifestyle Dealer continues its discussion with Linder about the dealership’s email marketing program and the kinds of results they are seeing.
Rural Lifestyle Dealer: Many dealers are turning away from traditional advertising, such as newspapers, and turning to other outlets. What is your strategy?
Jeremy Linder: We pretty much have pulled 100% out of print advertising and have pulled out of radio as well. We did that about 2 ½ years ago and shifted most of that budget into digital marketing.
I'm thinking about getting back into some radio or local TV spots, but I don't think we'll get back into any print at this time. I don't necessarily believe that print is dead, but there’s not really a good outlet for our market. A publication that covers, for example, seven states doesn't really help me.
RLD: What does your dealership do in terms of email marketing?
Ag-Bag Forage Solutions, Astoria. Ore.
Lines Carried: LS Tractor, Kioti, Deutz-Fahr, Sitrex, Pottinger, Ag-Bag silage baggers, Hustler Turf, Cub Cadet, Jonsered and RedMax
Dealership Management System: C-Systems
Website Vendor: Dealer Spike
Linder: Email marketing has been huge for us. That's another thing that isn't super time consuming, but you have to be purposeful about. We haven't been as purposeful about it as we certainly could be. It takes time to get people opted into your list and grow an audience and get them to trust you.
Email marketing is the best return of anything we’re doing as far as re-engaging people that we might have talked to, but they haven’t purchased in the last year. They might be thinking about a purchase and then they receive an email from us with good info and it re-engages them. Before, we may not have been as purposeful about going back to those people from last year or years past or even our past customers.
RLD: How do you implement email marketing?
Linder: I do it myself using an email marketing platform called Infusionsoft. I spend another couple hours a week probably working in Infusionsoft. Right now, really all that my time allows is getting out monthly emails.
We do segment our email list based on product interest, so people on are that list whether they expressed interest in a product line or ended up purchasing the product. What I would like to have in the future is reaching people that are still in that research phase. We would send them a series of emails with information relating to the product that they're interested in that would go out automatically, just to add value and help them in their research process. We're not there yet, but it’s my next priority.
RLD: Have you done any Facebook advertising?
Linder: We’ve done a little bit, but it's been pretty hit or miss for us. I just haven't invested the time into it. My day-to-day activities as far as parts and service go takes up my whole day. Marketing is something that I have to try to fit in somewhere either between the time I get up and the time I come to work, or evenings after the kids are in bed, and until I go to bed. It’s a matter of trying to find the time here and there to make it happen.
RLD: What about Google AdWords?
Linder: That's something we manage that ourselves as well. I'll set up a campaign and every month I'll tweak it and just make sure that the click-throughs are reasonable. I also watch to make sure our costs are where they need to be. I might add a keyword, get rid of keywords that aren't converting or maybe I'll increase the budget on ones that are. Most of the words that we're targeting are based around the manufacturers we carry and the new equipment models.
We geo-fence everything to our market area, so that our budget is spent on people that we can help. I'm not going to say “it's set and forget,” because there's a learning curve to it. However, once it's up and running, it's pretty minimal in terms of daily time dedicated to it.
RLD: What other marketing technologies are you watching?
Linder: It takes a while for new technology to trickle down to our industry and have solutions that fit fairly small dealerships.
Some of the things that are interesting to me involve mobile marketing. For instance, SMS (short message service) marketing has some huge upside to it. That's not something we've implemented yet, but I would like to. I'm just not quite sure how to take advantage of it.
I would like to definitely get into some video marketing. Video marketing is not new, but it’s growing every year. Everybody is carrying a smart phone and looking at YouTube, so there's a huge opportunity for us there.
Long-term, I think message personalization is interesting. HubSpot.com does a great job of this. When you go to the HubSpot website for the first time, you'll get one set of messaging on their site. After you've opted in to download something, you'll see different messaging. Now that they’ve captured your email address, they'll email you to download something else. Over time, they build a profile of who you are and they use that information to tailor their messaging to you.
For us, that is probably 5 years away. Personalization of messages is super important, especially as people are bombarded with advertising everywhere. The more personalized you can make your message, the more it will resonate with your customers.
RLD: How do you learn about new marketing technologies?
Linder: DigitalMarketer.com is one great resource. ConvinceandConvert.com is another good one. These sites are generic to digital marketing for everybody. Regardless of whether you're a Fortune 500 company or a solo business operator, you can glean a lot of good information.