It’s common knowledge that a website plays a major role in an alpaca farm’s marketing strategy. But the question alpaca ranch owners are now asking is "How do I get more from my website?"
With advances in Internet technology, alpaca website owners can take advantage of more options for building exposure and generating leads online. So if you’ve wondered whether you should start a blog, run a newsletter, distribute press releases, and what other choices are out there, read on… It may be easier than you think to take advantage of these and more ideas.
1. An Alpaca Blog
Why not keep an online journal about life on your farm as an alpaca rancher? A blog, short for “weblog”, lets you post entries online easily.
Blogs are a great way to reach people as they search online for information on alpaca ranching. Because they take on a more personal tone, they can often carry more credibility than other forms of marketing, and they can develop a devoted following.
A blog can help contribute to SEO by providing you with more content and links that support your Alpaca website’s ranking in the search engines. Your alpaca blog entries remain online and accumulate over time, giving you highly relevant content that is of interest to others looking for a ranch like yours.
New customers can get to know you online through your blog. You may find that people researching the alpaca industry as well as fellow ranchers may post comments for you, too. What a great way to network and become known in the alpaca community!
It’s not hard to set up a blog. There are free programs available that let you post your entries online in just a matter of minutes, as easily as writing an email!
2. Alpaca Farm Newsletter
Think of how long it takes you to answer a couple questions in a detailed email to one person.
Now imagine how easy it would be if you could duplicate that effort automatically, so you can send a personalized email to hundreds, even thousands, of your potential customers and friends of your farm.
Writing a newsletter gives you an easy way to stay in touch with people who have expressed an interest in learning more about your farm and alpacas. Your alpaca farm newsletter functions best as a soft-sell, providing information that your audience will find useful.
An alpaca newsletter provides a great benefit in helping you maintain top-of-mind awareness among your target market. You can even upload photos and use a beautiful design for your email that’s consistent with your alpaca website and farm branding.
One easy-to-use program that I recommend is Constant Contact. This link lets you enjoy free use for 60 days and monthly service from $15.
3. Writing and Submitting Articles about Alpacas
Writing articles helps you develop a reputation as an authority or expert in your field. When you write articles on alpacas, you position yourself as an authority. This helps boost your farm’s credibility. And the content also can boost your search engine rankings.
Authors of articles can submit them to article distribution websites that let others use them, providing they keep your author information intact (including link to your site). When someone else publishes your article, it is providing a link to your site as well as added exposure for your name.
4. Automated Follow-Up with Email Autoresponders
One of the easiest ways to follow up with website visitors is through a series of preset emails that deploy automatically when someone signs up to hear from you.
Autoresponders are a little different from email newsletters. They are usually briefer and more frequent, each building on the last one to lead the prospect toward an action. The great part is that you can prepare your emails upfront and set them to go out in a series at predetermined times, so the recipient feels they are actually receiving personal messages following up from you.
You’ll need to offer your prospect something of value, so they’ll want to sign up to receive it by email. Once they indicate their interest by giving you their email address, your preset series will do the rest.
Some ideas you can use for content of an autoresponder includes:
A series of FAQs on alpaca ranching – send one question/answer per week.
Articles in a series – give your series a name, like “An Introduction to Alpacas by Email”.
One article, delivered section by section each day for a week.
A one-time special report, profile of your farm, or other valuable resource – then follow up to ask if they require more information and remind them that you’re there to answer their questions.
Writing and setting up a series of emails saves you time and ensures that each prospect is followed up with properly. Just be sure to write your emails carefully, including your full contact information and a call to action.
A simple, easy-to-use autoresponder system under $20/month is AWeber.
5. Media Exposure with Press Releases
A press release is a specially written and formatted document that is intended to provide information to editors and journalists in the hopes that they will carry your newsworthy information in their publication.
Alpaca farmers can generate coverage by local news media by submitting press releases to local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. And now press release can be submitted online to help with developing links and gaining exposure on news portals.
So, what topics can be used in a press release? The general rule is that it should be newsworthy. A few examples could be announcements of an event or seminar at your farm, participation in an alpaca industry show, or purchase of new livestock.
Don’t forget to also post your press release in the Farm News section of your website. By publishing press releases regularly, you’ll be able to add fresh content to your website to assist in your SEO performance.
6. Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Advertising in paid search results is another way to get your web site high in the search engines, especially while you’re still building your natural search rankings. These are the short text ads you see down the right hand side or top of search engine results on Google, Yahoo! and other search engines.
These ads provide a quick way to show up high in search results. And you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. This discipline can become quite involved and increasingly expensive as the industry becomes more competitive, but you may find that clicks coming from your ads provide access to a quick stream of interested buyers.
7. RSS Straight to the Desktop
RSS is a technology that allows people to receive information in a feed type of format right to their computer desktop, with a summary of content and a link to the full web content. RSS stands for “Real Simple Syndication”.
RSS is great for keeping people up to date on your blog entries or farm announcements (including newsletters and press releases). When people sign up to receive your communications through RSS, they’re indicating a high level of interest in your alpaca farm. It’s an easy way to offer more choices to your audience, as some will prefer RSS to email. Most blogs will also include this feature for your customers to choose.
8. Say it With Podcasting
Different people like to receive their information in different ways. Podcasts have become popular among people who prefer to receive information audibly rather than reading it. Essentially a podcast is a recording that people can either listen to online or download and listen to at their leisure on an MP3 player.
The content of a podcast can be anything that’s communicated verbally. You’re limited only by your imagination. Why not try these ideas?
An interview - Why not make your website’s FAQ section also available as an interview in a podcast? Just get someone to ask you the questions and you can discuss the answers in greater detail.
A lecture – When you give talks at your alpaca farm events, record them for posting on your website in podcasts – and reach even more people!
Your opinion – If you’re not much for writing articles, you can “speak” your ideas in a podcast.
Another thing to keep in mind, you can always have transcripts produced of your podcast for posting on your website, too. That way any people who prefer to read the content can just click to see it. Plus the added bonus of additional written content for your website will assist with your search engine performance.
Here are a few steps to start you on your way to your own alpaca.
9. Search Engine Optimization for Your Alpaca Website
I’ve saved the biggie for last. Search engine optimization, or SEO, makes it possible for your website to show up when someone searches for information about alpacas online. Right there on the first page or two of Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.
Let’s say you are selling Peruvian Huacaya alpacas – you’ll want your website to show up in the first page or two of results when someone types in Google the keyword phrase “Peruvian huacaya for sale”.
Your link on those pages gives you more potential exposure than any of the above methods. In fact, most of the above tactics support your search engine performance.
If your website is not properly optimized for the search engines, there is a great chance that it will not show up in online searches, even after you’ve paid thousands of dollars to design a great-looking website. SEO is a basic requirement, and it’s becoming even more important as the industry becomes more competitive.
Thank you to Lisa Banks, Marketing Director and senior alpaca copywriter at SEO advantage, for much of the information provided in this blog.