This article was originally published at Forbes.com.
Your farmer-owned cooperative has a schedule and annual maintenance budget for grain semis, legs and augers, and fuel tanks. These fleet pieces and assets keep your facilities moving every day for customers.
If your cooperative location is like most, only a small percentage of all of your customers are using one scale, feed truck or auger leg at any given time. Yet, that location or equipment receives regular oil checks, safety inspections or third-party audits.
What about your cooperative’s website? This is the one, single point of access for every customer, every prospective customer, every potential employee and all of your vendors. Are you budgeting the people-time and financial resources necessary to perform regular maintenance?
Your website is foundational for your successful sales strategy. Your site should be working just as hard for you as your top agronomist, grain buyer or feed sales rep. Just like you would take the time to review your employees’ performance, use this list of four steps to evaluate your website performance.
1. Check out your website on your mobile phone.
Can you navigate as expected? According to 2019 data from Farm Journal, only 2% of farmers never carry their smartphone while working in their operation. Is your site at their fingertips regardless of where they are?
If your website is not designed for a “mobile-first” experience, your farmer-members are likely turned off by it. It’s likely they are not taking the time to browse your site on a desktop at night, so if you want to reach them online, it’s time to invest in a mobile-ready revamp.
2. Identify your number one visited page.
It is not unusual for a grain bids page to be the most visited site on a cooperative’s website. But, can you quantify which of your web pages is getting the most traffic? What about reporting on your site’s monthly unique visitors? These basic analytics can help you drive engagement with your content because you know where farmers are entering and leaving your website.
Setting up website analytics is critical for any cooperative placing digital ads or paid social media because you drive traffic back to your website from those mediums. Before you invest in digital advertising, ensure you have a plan for identifying and measuring key performance indicators.
3. Test your performance.
In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated that one-quarter of rural Americans did not have access to broadband (meaning download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second). By contrast, less than 2% of urban Americans lacked that same access.
Farmer-customers already lacking lighting speed access may be further frustrated if your website lags. It is essential to run routine diagnostics to ensure your website is packing a punch. The test is quick and free and measures your site’s performance and back-end efficiency. Visit PageSpeed Insights and enter your website to see how you score.
If it's 90 or above, your site is considered a good performer. 50 to 90 is a score that needs improvement, and below 50 is considered poor. Recently, we worked with a company with an 8. It's definitely time for an update for that site to work smarter, not harder.
4. Generate new business.
More than likely, you are trying to build your contact list of customers and prospects so you can engage with them and build sales opportunities. If you're not using your website to garner leads by collecting information about those using it, you're leaving opportunities on the table.
Your website should be a hub for collecting new email addresses. To earn those emails, you’ll need great gated content (a white paper, seed guide download, plot results, etc.) or subscription access to one-of-a-kind regular updates (like grain market commentary or localized agronomy insights emails) to entice customers and prospects. Ideally, connect your website to a customer-relationship management tool and email marketing program.
It's not too late in the year to add your website to your maintenance calendar. Popping open the hood on your site may be overwhelming, but you don’t know what maintenance you need to do until you see how it's running.