The Internet has the power to change horse owners lives. It happened to me, my business and it can happen to you. In today’s world it seems impossible to imagine a world without the Internet. My seven year old son can move a computer mouse as fast or faster than my mother. My father once commented about the size of my cell phone saying, “it may be easier to drag a phone booth around.” In 1997, my wife Andre’ had a horse to sell. We had tried all traditional means of selling the horse, but nothing worked. So, we looked toward the Internet. This was the beginning of when we began to realize we could turn clicks into cash.
In our business of consulting horse professionals, we often encounter passionate horse people with absolutely no idea of where to start online. But, one common thread is that all know they need to be online. That is a good place to start.
There are more than 24,000,200 horse web sites listed on Google when you search for horses for sale. In 1995, 16 million users where online. In just five years that number grew to 451 million users. In 2005, 888 million internet users were reported online or have online access. That’s 13.9% of the world’s population and that translates to 71% of horse owners being online. So, there is a need for horse business owners to fill.
Starting a new web site, or sprucing up one that you own does not have to be as painful as a cow kick from your most hated broad mare. No longer must you face the dreaded computer screen alone. Here are 10 tips we share with horse clients looking to make a change.
Tip #1: Keep It Simple. Keep your web site very simple. Be sure that on your main page you answer the most obvious questions. You may be surprised to learn that the majority of Internet users surf to your web site to find out your phone number. Ask your customers what they need or want from your Web site.
Tip#2: Videos Sell. It is a proven fact that videos of horses and stallions online help sell the product. Mare owners want to see a stallion move. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million words. On top of that, videos give you proof after a sale. Save money on postage and place your videos online.
Tip #3: Get Users to Visit Often. Give people a reason to come back to your web site. Offer weekly updates about foals, mares and horses for sale. Give so me tips and advice on your web site. Offer a photo gallery or web cam of your foaling stall.
Tip #4: Get listed on Google.com. It is very important to get listed on Google. To do so, your pages title tag, that is the title that appears in the upper left hand blue area at the top of your web browser, must be exact and precise. Also, you need to have clear text on your page about your key feature. For example, if you sell barrel horses, make sure that “barrel horses for sale” is in your title and in plain text on your main page. You can also use Ad Words that are provided by Google to pay for placement on Google.com. This allows you to target key words people are searching by, but you have to pay every time someone clicks on the link to your site. It is worth the money. HorseCity.com offers a similar service called Ad Match and it is much more targeted to horse owners. http://www.horsecity.com/admatch
Tip #5: Offer Contests to draw a huge crowd online. Running a contest on your web site is not a gimmick and it works. Offer a free breeding to your stallion. Offer a free hat with your farm logo on it. It does not have to be fancy, just fun. Have people e-mail you an entry or set-up a form online. We once had 3,000 entries for a mouse pad. Plus, you are collection data from people and you can use this for future marketing.
Tip #6: Wear Makeup. Your web site is your face to the world; wear some make up. This is a good and bad thing. The Internet allows small operators to appear big and makes big operators look bad if their site is poor. Hire someone that knows what they are doing to make your web site look good. Almost anyone can build a Web site these days. The way I like to say it is this… your uncles, brothers, nephew is not always the best choice. If your site looks bad, so does your business.
Tip #7: Use Pictures: It is a proven fact that Internet users love pictures, so give them what they want. Give mare owners recognition by placing their foals online. Give buyers recognition when they buy a horse by taking their picture with the horse and putting it online. People love to get recognition, so give them what they want. It is easy and it will pay off.
Tip #8: Online classifieds Work. In previous articles I have written extensively about classifieds. A well written classified works and many horse owners are finding the web to be cheap and effective. In a nut shell, Write a solid ad, include the price, include your name and never forget to add a picture. Free ads do not always work so choose a web site that works for you and be specific. If you are selling a barrel horse use BarrelHorses.com, if you are selling a cutter use cuttinghorses.com. Be specific and you will refine your business and increase your results.
Tip #9: Name Your Brand. Be specific with your business and sell it online. Bigger national companies like McDonalds use image branding for a reason. It works. What is your brand? What do you do best? What are you know for? What message do you want the horse world to associate with you? If you are truly the largest stallion station east of the Mississippi, say it. If you are New England’s biggest training facility say it. Be careful to state only the facts. Promotion is one thing, lying is another.
Tip #10: Sell Stuff. Selling the products you use is very important to your image and pocket book. Are there products you use every day on your farm or ranch? Become a dealer and sell them. Put the products on your web site. Put the products in your trailer and on a shelf in your barn. People look to you for leadership and product endorsements no matter who you are. Selling product can change your money trail big time. Plus, selling online opens your products up to the world.