Marketing to farmers through the use of digital campaigns is becoming much more popular and it is easy to see why. Farmers—like most people—are spending more and more time online these days, with much of that time being spent on mobile devices.

Despite the rise in digital marketing efforts, it is still relatively difficult to measure the success of these type of campaigns. After all, no matter how many clicks your campaign receives, those clicks don’t mean much if they fail to generate leads. Further, there is no way to judge which clicks signal interest in your brand and which do not. Did a consumer click on your ad by accident? How did an individual respond to your ad once he or she clicked on it? So if clicks aren’t an effective way to measure the success of an online marketing campaign, how can success be measured?

It all comes down to knowing what happens after a consumer clicks on an ad. How long did they spend on the page? Did they request more information? Did they fill out an order form or join your email list? Did they return to your site at a later date?

When it comes to successfully marketing your Ag business, the goal isn’t to reach the greatest number of people. Rather, you want to reach people who are most likely to buy the products and services that you are selling.

E-newsletters are an important example of why the quality of clicks always trump the quantity of clicks. Many marketers feel that they are wasting their time on these types of newsletters because they don’t get a flood of interest after every issue. However, research has shown that e-newsletters are an extremely effective way to market a business. Why? Because the individuals who actually go to the trouble of subscribing to such newsletters do so because they are seriously considering purchasing from that company when the time is right.

Marketing your Ag-based business online requires a strategic approach and an ability to correctly measure success beyond counting clicks. The key is to be patient and realize that in the online marketing arena, slow and steady really does win the race.

It’s that time of year! When experts give their predictions for what will unfold in the New Year. And experts in the agricultural industry are ready with their predications for 2017.

Many in the agricultural industry are looking with cautious optimism to the New Year and there is hope that it will bring relief to farmers who continue to struggle with low commodity prices. This optimism stems from the fact that many analysts are predicting a recovery in commodity prices as corn and soybean supplies begin to decline and consumption around the world increases.

So what are some other important Ag trends to keep an eye on in 2017?

Trend #1: Slowing Machine Sales

Farmers will be much more likely to buy used equipment or try to get another year out of current equipment instead of making new purchases. Another factor in fewer machinery sales is elevated inventories for equipment sellers and a decrease in value for trade-ins. And while there are definite tax benefits to buying new, the reality is that farmers don’t have a whole lot to write off.

Trend #2: A Continued Interest in Precision Ag

Precision Ag will continue to pique the interest of farmers but price will be an issue. Farmers also are expected to continue to take an interest in free software categories but it is not known what will happen once these software offerings are no longer free.

Trend #3: Crop Protection will be a Hot Button Issue

Crop insurance will continue to be the most popular risk management tool that farmers employ. When it comes to weed-management issues, farmers are expected to face tremendous challenges with herbicide-resistant varieties. The expense of name-brand products to fight these weeds points to the use of generic products, however. Demand is expected to be light for insecticides and fungicides.

Trend #4: Decrease in Fertilizer Costs

Lower energy costs mean fertilizer prices should come down in 2017. Analysts predict that global supply and demand issues for all nutrient categories will continue pressure on prices, benefitting farmers.

Trend #5: Lower Fuel Costs

A decrease in fuel costs will offer relief to farmers and the Ag economy as a whole. Biodiesel and ethanol consumption also is expected to increase slightly.

If you own a farm, chances are there is a shop on that farm. And while crops and livestock may be the lifeblood of a farm, the shop is what keeps everything in working order.

Unfortunately, farm shops can be dangerous places. The tools and machinery contained in shops, when used incorrectly, can lead to injuries and, in rare cases, even death. During the cold, winter months, shops are especially busy as equipment repair and maintenance tasks are undertaken.

Not every shop accident can be foreseen or prevented. However, agricultural safety experts say that shop accidents and injuries can be drastically reduced by keeping the following in mind when working in the shop:

1. Good housekeeping goes a long way. Trips and falls are most often caused by clutter so make sure to keep walkways and work areas swept and free of debris. It also is important to clean up any spills right away.

2. Keep things well lit. Poor lighting makes it difficult to perform work safely and can cause eye strain. Make sure the entire shop is adequately lit and be sure to change burnt out bulbs promptly.

3. Save your back. Hydraulic lifts and hoists help to prevent back strain and injuries. Be sure to use this type of equipment when lifting heavy objects.

4. Protect yourself. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a must in the shop. From eye goggles to heavy-duty work boots, failure to use the appropriate PPE can lead to injuries. Whether it is a mask to protect from filter dust or steel-toed boots to save your feet from falling objects, make sure you are always dressed for the job.

5. Get grounded. When electrical equipment isn’t properly grounded you risk electrical injury. Also be careful never to use frayed cords or cord less than 12-gauge. These type of cords may cost more but are well worth the investment as they are safer and help prevent motor damage.

6. Extinguish fire risks. Flammable and combustible materials should be stored away from heat sources and flammable liquids must be stored in covered containers. Always hang fire extinguishers near shop doors and check them annually. Proper ventilation also is essential.

Shop safety is a vital part of overall farm safety. If you are unsure if your shop is up to code, or need help installing safety features, it may be in your best interest to seek the advice of a safety expert. After all, whether you are working in the field or in the shop, safety must always be your first priority.