Funneling Farmers from the Field to the Phone

August 17, 2020

01/​04 Project Background


How do you capture high-quality leads when your target audience isn’t active on all digital platforms? That was the problem Premier Crop Systems (PCS) faced when marketing directly to their customer base of farmers.

By testing and optimizing a custom advertising funnel, we were able to help PCS find new prospects, while dramat­ically lowering lead costs. Read on to learn more…

PCS is an Iowa-based ag data company. They give farmers around the country access to insights from their fields, so they can make more informed decisions about their operations.

Instead of going to market through a broker, PCS made the decision to go direct to consumers (D2C) — an approach that presented new challenges and opportunities. 

The PCS marketing team came to Applied Art looking for a strategic marketing video to kick off this D2C approach. Their hope was to capture the attention of potential customers and ignite a conversation.

With a small marketing team and minimal time, they needed a partner who could not only create a video ad but also test and optimize the entire campaign. So, we went to work to produce the video, as well as create a marketing strategy to help PCS accomplish their primary goal: obtain more leads.

Over the next 16 months, we tested and optimized our way to success.

02/​04 Our Solution

We set out to create, automate and optimize a digital marketing funnel that captured qualified farmers for PCS’s sales team. This required crossover collab­o­ration from many of our teams, including web, video, animation and marketing. 

Step 1: Research

First, we conducted preliminary research to discover the biggest obstacles for farmers using ag data. Our goal was to understand farmers’ pain points when choosing a software solution.

Our team interviewed PCS employees, current customers and farmers to learn about the factors that sway purchasing decisions. Responses ranged from ag data being a waste of time” to it doesn’t work” to it seems too complicated.”

Through our research, we found that many farmers use YouTube to search how-to” videos related to issues around the farm.

Step 2: Strategy Development & Scripting

Using our research, we developed concepts for YouTube pre-roll videos, directing viewers to download a free PDF guide.

The pre-roll videos were designed to grab viewers’ attention within the first five seconds (before they are given the option to click the skip” button). After that, the ads proposed a solution to a relatable problem, leading to an opt-in link to download the guide.

Because the first five seconds are so vital to pre-roll success, we scripted multiple hooks to test engagement and click rates, eventually determining a winner.

Step 3: Produce Multiple Ad Variations

We produced three variations of the same YouTube pre-roll ad, swapping out the first five seconds of each video with a themat­ically distinct hook.

Premier Crop | YouTube Ad 01 from Applied Art & Technology on Vimeo.

Once all three ad variations were produced, we tested the ads to find the winning hook. As it turned out, the video using humor as a hook got the most attention. That variation offered a No Bull Guide to Precision Ag” as a downloadable opt-in. See above to watch the full ad.

Step 4: Test & Optimize Video

With the winning hook in place, we ran the ad on YouTube for a few months. We also tested Facebook video ads to compare results with YouTube, creating lookalike” audiences to mirror the target audience persona.

After A/​B testing for a few weeks, the Facebook ads converted 4x better than YouTube pre-roll. This increase was due to improved viewer targeting, based on geography and similarity to our lookalike audience.”

We then shifted all focus and ad budget to Facebook, doubling down on the tactic that produced the best result.

Step 5: Scale Ads & Optimize Funnel

Once the ads started generating enough traffic, we optimized our landing pages to generate more opt-in submissions. We tested several landing page variations, optimizing each one to increase conversions. This included changes to copy, colors, images, form fields and other variables.

The leads were then handed off to the PCS sales team to engage in follow-up messaging. Most of our submissions were highly-qualified leads, with high probability of purchasing PCS software.

03/​04 Our Results

After optimizing our marketing funnel, we now see high-quality leads coming in each day. Our landing page opt-in conversion rate increased from a 1 percent to 3.89 percent average between the two pages.

To put that in perspective, the average landing page conver­sation rate across industries is 2.35 percent, according to a 2020 study. This means that we were able to push our conver­sation rate over 1.5 percentage points higher than the prevailing average.

Collective Video Ad Results Over 3 Months:

  • Views: 84,000+
  • Impressions: 247,000+

04/​04 Our Client’s Reaction

YouTube Pre-Roll vs. Facebook Ads w/​ Premier Crop Systems from Applied Art & Technology on Vimeo.

We have been so pleased with the help and guidance from the AAT team. We have seen a tremendous uplift in our marketing analytics, brand recognition, SEO and lead generation since we have partnered with them. Their creativity, implemen­tation and attention to detail make them easy to work with.”

— Renee Hansen, Marketing Lead, Premier Crop Systems

For 50 creative ways to leverage a corporate video in your marketing efforts, download our free Video Idea Book here.