University of Maryland Extension

Websites and Blogs

Websites

A website – one more thing to manage.  But if you plan to be in business, you better have one.  Not having an Internet presence in business is like not having a telephone.

Even if you’re not planning to sell products over the Internet, a website provides people with a window to your business.  Websites can be used to post directions, give an overview of your operation, announce upcoming events or  to advertise your products or services.

The April 2013 Retail Sales bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 10% of sales during the month happened online. In 2013, eMarketer estimates US retail ecommerce sales will total $259 billion, a 14.8% annual increase over 2012’s $225.5 billion. The longer-term outlook is also bright, with digital sales expected to increase at a 14% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2012 to 2017. Ecommerce sales of Food and Beverages in 2012 was  $5.8 according to the same report.

One great advantage of the Internet  is that  it’s SEARCHABLE.  Can’t find Jones’ Landscaping listed in the yellow pages? Do an Internet search by topic and location and you’re sure to find dozens of landscape services, including Jones’, listed.

85% of Online shoppers used the Internet to research their offline purchases in 2012.

Help your customers find your products or farm. Create your site, keep it current, Utilize free listing services such as those listed here to get in the search path of your target audience.

Reasons for a Website:

  1. Let customers know you exist
  2. You’ll be open for business  24/7/365
  3. You can let customers know about events or product very quickly and at a very low cost.

Blogs

Blogging is an effective and very cost effective marketing tool.  Your farm should blog because it’s an easy and time-effective way for you to get your story out to your customers. The word “blog” comes from the terms “web”and “log” and describes a body of text and other media published on the World Wide Web.Blogs use a narrative format.

They are user-friendly, and allow you to post information easily and immediately. Many, like Word Press, look like websites. So if money is limited and you aren’t an experienced web designer, a blog will do just fine to get started with an online presence and you can look into a website later if you need more functionality.

Successful blogs target a specific interest group, post regularly, and offer  valuable information to the viewers. Here’s an example of a blog that is hosted by the UME Digital Farmer Project team:  www.thedigitalfarmer.blogspot.com/

Reasons to Blog

  1. Educate audience
  2. Serves as a record
  3. Promotes- Think of your Blog as a brochure to potential customers and business associate.

Check the “Resource” section of this module for more information on website and blog designs and use as marketing tool.

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