What is Equine Marketing?
Technically speaking, marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” by the American Marketing Association. However, a generic marketing firm isn’t going to be able to help you with your marketing.
When you need marketing for your business in the equine industry, you need someone who has a deep understanding of the equestrian world. As an equine professional, your business is built around making a positive impact on the horses that come into your care. Whether that’s providing high-performing supplements, designing cutting-edge equipment, or being the best veterinarian you can be, your business puts the horse first. Your marketing needs to reflect that.
There are several different types of marketing that may be helpful for your equine business. Inbound marketing uses content, social media, SEO, and more to engage customers in your business. Outbound marketing uses advertising and intrusive marketing to get customers to your website. To break it down a little farther, think of inbound marketing is kind of like setting a lobster trap compared to hunting. A lobster trap sits and waits with enticing bait inside for a hungry lobster to come along, looking for food. A hunter seeks out deer in their natural habitat and shoots. Both strategies work, but have very different approaches.
Content Marketing for Equestrians
I use content marketing to help you expand your digital presence and grow your business through equine marketing. I believe that your content marketing should focus on helping current and potential customers. The information you provide should be high-quality and relevant to the problems your clients are dealing with. Most of all– the goal of your marketing should be to help equestrians. If one of these owners becomes a client, that’s great, you’ve earned it. But the primary goal of equine marketing should always be to provide content that makes the world a better, more-educated place.
The importance of great digital content cannot be overestimated. Every piece of content you put on the internet represents your company. Bad content creates a bad reputation. Great content adds to your authenticity and legitimacy as an equine professional. Content that is empathetic, educational, and entertaining not only expands your online presence, but presents you in your best light.
A big part of content marketing for equestrians is your website. It doesn’t matter if your business creates grooming and stable equipment, you’re a world-renowned trainer, or the local tack store. Everyone deserves to have an excellent website that converts clients. Your website should operate as a stand-alone sales funnel for your business. Clients should click onto the site, find some great information, stay for a while clicking around, and end up tapping the “contact” button.
A marketing strategy that relies on a poorly optimized website is like a house without a foundation. You won’t get the new clients you need and you’ll be throwing good money after bad along with the rest of your equine marketing strategy. Every piece of marketing drives traffic to your website to convert clients. A bad website means no conversions.
A search engine optimized blog is crucial for your website. The larger your website, the higher it will rank on Google. A blog full of helpful information for your clients is a great way to increase the size of your website. Each SEO blog should be at least 800 words, contain links to both internal and external sources, and use a keyword at least five times. If each of your blogs is optimized in this way, your equine marketing strategy will have a lot more power behind it to get you ranking on google and pulling in new clients.
Gated offerings is another crucial piece of content marketing for equine professionals. A good example of a gated offering is to deploy an e-book pop-up on your website. When a visitor clicks to your homepage a box will pop-up encouraging them to download a free e-book full of relevant and helpful information in exchange for their email address. They receive three thousand to five thousand words of free advice and you get to add their email address to your email marketing campaign.
You may notice something interesting about my previous paragraph— note that relevant and helpful are in italics. That’s how important it is to offer high-quality content that is actually interesting to your readers. Too much marketing is done selfishly. The point of equine marketing is to increase brand awareness and allow potential clients to decide for themselves if you’re worth working with. It is not to trick the public into giving you their money.
What Every Equine Marketing Strategy Needs
While every equine marketing strategy should be customized to your business and marketing goals, there are several staples that need to remain consistent. Every equine marketing strategy should contain an SEO optimized website, a regularly updated blog, gated content, an email campaign, and a social media presence.
As we previously discussed, your search engine optimized website is the foundation of your strategy. It acts as a standalone sales funnel for every visitor that clicks on it. A great website not only creates a good first impression of your business, but also brings in more customers.
A regularly updated blog allows for flexible keyword planning, based on the latest data. For example, if you were aiming to rank for “equine marketing” but all of a sudden the search volume for that term decreased, you can change your blog strategy to rank for “digital marketing for equestrians” instead. A blog allows you to rank for a wide variety of search terms without changing the content/structure/design of your website every time you want to rank for a new keyword.
Gated content allows you to expand your contact database and create effective email campaigns while also offering potential clients relevant information. The key to gated content that converts is to have a deep understanding of your customer. If you understand what your clients struggle with and what they care about, you can create the necessary content to solve their problems. After you have their email address, use it sparingly and thoughtfully.
While every equine marketing strategy needs an email campaign, it cannot be based on spam. All emails should be client-focused. Consider basing your content off of their activity on your website. What page do they visit the most? What e-books get the most downloads? These statistics will offer clues as to what they care about. Put that information by fulfilling their needs in your email campaign.
Social media is the elephant in the room when it comes to equine marketing strategy. The big question is: Can I get leads off of social media? The real answer is: it depends. I recommend that every equine business has a high-quality social media presence, but I don’t believe that everyone can get leads from Facebook. If you’re an equestrian supply company working with other equine businesses, your social media should focus on brand awareness. But as a local tack store– you can most definitely get leads from social media and should optimize your social media strategy accordingly.
Why Every Equine Business Needs a Website Audit
Is your website bringing in leads? If your website has less than a 2 percent conversion rate, I’m sorry to say that you’re below average. Aim to convert between 2.5 to 5.5 percent of your website visitors. There are a few rare websites out there who can convert over 10 percent of their visitors– but those are unicorns. Set your expectations accordingly. If you want to learn more about website conversion rates, check out this study on Wordstream.
A conversion audit can help you shape your next round of website edits, as well as improve your website’s ranking on Google search. At Golden Fleece Farm, my conversion audit looks at:
- Button placement
- Button content
- Gated Offerings
- Website Design
- User Experience
- Loading Speed
- And lots more….
A conversion audit is a one-stop shop for you to build a great website optimization strategy. It allows you to take stock of how well your website is currently working and how it could work in the future.
An SEO audit follows the same process as a conversion audit, for almost the same price, but focuses on different aspects. What keywords are you currently ranking for? Is your site structured to rank for the most competitive keyword? Do all of your images have keyword-specific alt text and meta descriptions?
At the end of an SEO audit, you should have a thorough understanding of where your website is currently ranking and have a plan to improve.
SEO is crucial to the success of a business. If your website is number one on Google, you’re getting 40 percent of those clicks. That’s a big number of potential new customers coming to your website each month! Very few people visit the second page. If your website isn’t ranking for the first result, let alone the first page, you’re missing out on visitors.
Sure, if you pay Google you’re almost guaranteed a spot on the first page. But you aren’t guaranteed new customers. According to Impact, leads from organic search results have a 14.6 percent close rate, compared to 1.7 percent for outbound marketing leads. That’s a big gap!
When it comes to organic SEO, you’re spending a lot less for longer lasting results. This marketer suggests spending between $1,000 to $10,000 on Google advertisements. Not only is that a lot of money, but what happens when you stop putting money into the “Google machine?” Your results go away. With search engine optimization, your results take longer to manifest, but they stick around for a lot longer too.
Special Considerations for Equine Marketing
Every industry is unique in its audience, messaging, and values. The equine industry is no exception. When marketing for equestrians I like to keep a few things front and center in all of my content.
All content and messaging for equestrians should focus on their niched expertise. The equestrian world is a varied and ever-changing landscape with new players emerging every day. It’s important to understand where you are in that landscape and market accordingly. For example, can you talk shop with a hardcore eventer or are you more comfortable discussing the ins and outs of Totilas’s dressage career? Learn more about finding your target audience and analyzing your current position in the market here.
Another consideration when it comes to equine marketing is showcasing the authentic reality of your business. When an owner trusts your company enough to buy your supplements, visit your barn, or take lessons from you, they’re taking a leap of faith. To most owners, horses are part of the family. Trusting someone with the health and safety of your family is not a decision made lightly.
Make that decision easier for potential clients by showcasing photos of current clients and their horses on your website and social media pages. Post a mission statement on your website that discusses your commitment to equine welfare. By making your website as original and personable as possible, you’re laying the groundwork for a strong relationship with your clients. That means using stock photos as little as possible!
All too often I see websites that are entirely company focused. It is such a turn off for me as a consumer. When I click onto an equine website, I want to see evidence that you understand my struggles and have the solution. Save the when you were founded, mission statement, family business spiel for your “about” page. The homepage should be about your clients. What are they struggling with? What do they care about? Show them that you care and understand them.
One thing that I always recommend for every new website that I work with is a problem-solution point of view. Start by identifying the main struggles your clients deal with. What are their biggest frustrations? Then move forward to look at how your services/products/expertise solves those frustrations. Are clients tired of working with callous horse trainers? Lucky for them, you pride yourself on your compassion and lifelong love for the equine.
This perspective transforms your website from a me-focused billboard to one that interacts with your clients and solves their problems before they’ve even contacted you.
What Equine Marketing Services Do You Need?
All of my initial phone calls with a potential client focus on a few key questions:
- Where do you see your business in five years?
- What are your marketing goals?
- Who are your clients?
- What makes your business unique?
These questions are designed to help me get to know your dreams, values, and audience. After all, if I don’t understand your company, I won’t be able to craft a marketing strategy that helps you reach your overall goals. I believe that equine marketing should support your business as a whole, not just operate in a silo.
Once we go through these questions, I’ll come back with a customized proposal and recommendations for your business. All suggestions are tailored to problems you’re currently facing, your goals, and, most importantly, your audience.
Initial phone calls last about a half an hour and are designed to start building a relationship. After all, that’s what marketing is all about. Creating rewarding relationships between you and me, you and your clients, and, of course, between ourselves and the horses we love.
If you’re interested in setting up an initial phone call, reach out to me here. As always, I’m here to help.