🔦 The dark content funnel in ag

Hey there, fellow marketers!

I’m back from my (brief) hibernation, and I’m not gonna lie; last year’s content schedule was a bit… sporadic.

This year, I’m doubling down on my commitment to delivering you the best damn content marketing resources out there each month. Think actionable strategies, thought-provoking insights, and a healthy dose of inspiration to fuel your creativity.

Here’s to 2024 – let’s get it started right.

Today’s agenda:

  • Big Idea: The dark content funnel in ag
  • Grammarly is innovating
  • LinkedIn surges
  • A new (Google) perspective

🔦 The dark content funnel in ag

Winter is coming here. Or, at least in Indiana, the cloudy, frigid days are short, and the nights are dark.

So this won’t exactly lighten the mood — but it’s time to talk about your content dark funnel.

“My what…”

A content dark funnel encompasses the pieces of the customer journey that either happen offline or can’t be easily measured via attribution software.

That “dark funnel” can include in-person events (like trade shows or conferences), public relations (awards, news articles mentioning your org), third-party sites (like those that review products or services, for example), and user-generated content (online forums, social media posts).

Exhale. That’s a whole lot of content and effort that you might be throwing at the wall blind.

When it comes to measuring the success (*whispers*… or failure) of your marketing initiatives, attribution is huge. So what goes on inside the content “dark funnel” can be hard to quantify when you head to the boardroom to talk about how much you’ve built the lead pipeline in the last quarter.

How do you even know?

Here’s what that black hole might look like in ag marketing. Someone may have:

  • Saw your digital ad on AgWeb, but didn’t click.
  • Picked up a brochure at Farm Progress, but didn’t talk to the rep.
  • Read your 2023 field plot results, but didn’t convert on your website.

Technically, all 3 of those people either are more aware of or know more about your brand than they did the day before, thanks to your marketing materials. But they don’t “count” in your marketing metrics (beyond a single impression or website visitor).

And, unfortunately, for many organizations, if it can’t be measured, it’s probably ignored. (That’s true in ag and elsewhere.)

But there’s still value in those efforts — even if your software doesn’t pick up on “conversions” from them. In fact, according to this piece, some of the most important touchpoints in a B2B buying journey aren’t actually measured by attribution software.

So how do you fill the gaps to measure those “dark funnel” pieces? You can try:

  • Surveys sent directly to your customers (just consider how you might incentivize people to spend the time filling them out…)
  • Tracking tool, like 6sense (or other third-party data aggregators)

FWIW, I’m not totally sold on the effectiveness of third-party tools to measure dark funnel assets, especially in the ag world (but I’ve been wrong before!).

But most importantly, the lesson here is this:

Just because something isn’t measured by traditional marketing software or processes, doesn’t mean it’s not working. This is especially true in a sector like ag, where there are more person-to-person interactions than in other industries, and where the buying journey can be a little slower than a simple “see an ad, click to buy” funnel.

Take John, a third-generation farmer. He might not click an ad or fill out a form, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t influenced by your dark funnel content. Maybe your blog post on irrigation best practices sparked a conversation at the county fair, leading him to consider your water-saving tech. Or perhaps your farmer-to-farmer video series on YouTube reminded him to ask some other local growers if they had heard of your brand before.

John’s journey might not be tracked by your CRM, but it’s happening. Don’t underestimate the power of these invisible threads that connect you to your audience in agriculture.

Remember, in agriculture, the path to purchase is rarely linear. Be patient, be strategic, and above all, be present in the dark funnel where genuine connections and lasting success grow.

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Digital content links worth sharing:

I say, you say. What if there was a tool to help you personalize content between a young, up-and-coming Gen Z farmer vs a 62-year-old elder statesman? We might be getting closer. A new AI feature within Grammarly could potentially detect a person’s unique voice, then rewrite text in that style. (Woah.)

  • There are still some ethical questions around this, alongside questions about how to actually measure its impact and questions about whether it … ahem, actually works. I’m still waiting for these AI tools to improve a little before I spend time integrating them into workflows — but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Social media dark horse? Be honest: when was the last time you engaged with something on LinkedIn? It might be pretty recent for most of you, apparently.

  • According to data from Microsoft, there are “record levels of engagement” on the platform — a trend that’s apparently been consistent since 2018. How accurate is this? TBD. But the more important question: is your ag audience actually engaging on LinkedIn? Overall numbers might be going up, but if your segment of the market is outside of that data, that’s valuable info too.
  • Oh yeah, and Gen Z’ers apparently love LinkedIn?? (Call me a little skeptical on that one…)

New filter drop. Google seems to be demo’ing a new “perspectives search filter.” Essentially, when you search on desktop using the filter, results pop up with long and short-form videos, images, and written posts that people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites, and social media platforms.

  • What could this mean for ag marketers? Well, imagine typing in “urea prices” or “ag loans” or “farm accounting” into something like this. Google will aggregate info from farmer-heavy corners of the internet like Twitter/X, AgTalk.com, etc.
  • This could be a great way to capture digital word-of-mouth in an industry where that’s been historically pretty tough!