Professor Theo Lynn
Herdwatch offer a cloud-based farm management system, which is approved by the Department of Agriculture and compliant with Bord Bia. At present, 6,000 farmers use the Herdwatch application to manage their farm and meet compliance requirements on the go.
Herdwatch aims to increase their user base to 15,000 in the next 18 months. Herdwatch collaborated with IC4 to develop the insights needed to achieve this aim. The company sought to understand the perceptions of non-users towards the application and their views on the effectiveness of current marketing efforts. In addition, retention of current users is imperative to the continued success of Herdwatch. It was therefore necessary to explore the experiences of current users and the factors influencing their likelihood of continuing to use Herdwatch.
The research consisted of two parts; primary research and conducting an assessment of Herdwatch’s current offering and marketing efforts. The primary research aimed to understand the views of non-users and current users. To achieve this aim, the IC4 team first conducted two focus groups with farmers to elicit the needs of users and non-users, their current awareness and understanding of Herdwatch, and barriers to their adoption or sustained use of the application. Following the focus groups, two surveys were developed to quantitatively explore the factors influencing farmers’ decisions to adopt or continue to use Herdwatch. The Herdwatch application and website were assessed by marketing experts in IC4 to understand the current performance and usability of Herdwatch offerings. The usability reports were supplemented by an SEO (search engine optimisation) audit and an expert review of the website based on technical, design, navigation, and content considerations.
The research findings highlighted the importance of social influence or recommendations from a friend or peer in driving individuals’ decision to adopt Herdwatch. Perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of Herdwatch for managing compliance were also important drivers in decisions to adopt or continue use. The research and assessment findings were summarised in a report along with recommendations for leveraging social influence through marketing campaigns, which highlight the intuitive nature of the application and communicate the benefits of Herdwatch.
IC4 empirically investigated the drivers of technology adoption and usage among the farming community in Ireland and provided Herdwatch with valuable insights into the needs and experiences of their current and potential customer base. These insights were coupled with an assessment of the current marketing performance of their website and the usability of their application. In addition, a separate report outlining a recommended content marketing strategy for Herdwatch was created. This included a slide deck of 60 content ideas, a structured content calendar and sample pieces of content. The actionable recommendations provided by the IC4 team will enable Herdwatch to engage in effective marketing campaigns and improve their service offering in ways which will increase both adoption and user retention.
‘’The project with IC4 had a direct positive impact on Herdwatch. To date, many of the recommendations from the research have been implemented with the remaining recommendations being implemented over the next 6-12 months.Herdwatch have designed a new website based on the website usability recommendations from IC4. Leveraging the research carried out with Herdwatch customers and potential customers, we have tailored our marketing strategy to capitalise on the opportunities for Herdwatch.The longer term effect of this research will be seen in the next generation of the Herdwatch app which is currently in development and encompasses several user experience recommendations from the IC4 research.’’