Odds are pretty good that you got into farming because you love the feeling of dirt under your
fingernails and sun on your face more than the glow of a computer screen. And yet, even the
most technophobic of us know that the digital world offers powerful tools for sustainable farms,
especially when it comes to marketing.
Before diving in, you might want to first check that email marketing is right for you. The
answer to this question really lies partly in whether you are willing to spend the time with email
marketing. As is evident through its high return-on-investment, it’s not a huge time
commitment; certainly nothing like planting a field of tomatoes or thinning an acre of apples.
In a few hours, you can compose a thoughtful, engaging and attractive marketing email.
But, you have to be willing to spend those few hours on it. A rush job can result in
inaccuracies, embarrassing grammatical mistakes or an ineffective email. And, although your
customers aren’t expecting the next great American novel, you need to be comfortable enough with
writing to compose a well-written email.
Once you have decided that email marketing is right for you, the next thing to think about is your
goal. Marketing should always be strategic, with clear goals and communication. What
that goal is will depend on the structure of your farm. For example, if you are a CSA farm,
then the goal behind email marketing might be to inform your customers of what is in their weekly
CSA baskets. Or, if you sell at farmer’s markets, the goal might be to develop name
recognition and a customer base to increase sales at the market.
When undertaking email marketing, you will want to start by gathering email addresses. Add
any email addresses you may have already collected through CSA’s or community events. Also be
sure to include a link to subscribe, or, better yet, multiple links, on your website. And, you
can always gather more email addresses the old fashioned way— with a clipboard, paper and a pen,
while selling at farmers market or other events.
Lastly, you will need to decide how frequently to send an email. Marketing experts hotly
debate what the most effective frequency is. Some are in the camp of “more emails equals more
sales” while others believe less is more. What it really boils down to, especially for
sustainable farms, is considering your audience. This harkens back to the goals of your email
marketing. For a weekly CSA, it makes sense to send a weekly email. Or for an
educational farm that frequently hosts events, you might want to send a few emails a month. If
you are selling mainly at farmers markets and wholesale, then a monthly or quarterly email might fit
Of course, there is more to consider when jumping into email marketing, such as what makes for a
compelling email or what content to include. We will tackle these topics in future blog
articles, but we hope these tips are enough to crack the seal on a potentially profitable marketing
strategy for your farm.
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