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New research reveals the extent of web use in the Agricultural recruitment sector

Whenever agriculture is mentioned, laypeople may picture an industry dominated by a ‘non-digital’ demographic. But is this perception really accurate? And, is this also reflected in the agriculture recruitment sector?

We wanted to find out, so decided to assess the digital footprint of agriculture agencies and compare it with other markets.

But first, let us consider some of the factors which may contribute to agriculture’s reputation as a low-digitalisation sector – and whether that perception could soon start to shift:

How digital are agricultural recruitment agencies?

It is evident that while the industry is slowly making digital gains, agriculture is still largely perceived as a ‘non-digital’ sector.

With this in mind, we wondered how agricultural recruitment agencies engage with this market and whether or not they have to take a different approach to other industries.

Martin Thorley, director of agricultural recruitment agency Merston Peters shared his thoughts on the subject:

“The younger element do respond to online activity, however we rely on dedicated search activity to ensure that we can put the opportunity in front of the right people.”

Martin Throley – Director, Merston Peters

What did we do?

We scored these agencies on the following criteria:

  • Website (design, user experience, mobile-friendliness).
  • Social media (quality and frequency of posts, level of engagement).
  • Content (quality and frequency of written content/ quality of branding).
  • Chatbots (customisation, personalisation of responses).

Agencies were given a score of 0-3 in each category, depending on how well they have utilised the technology and practices available.

0= Don’t use
1= Basic presence
2= Established presence
3= Professional presence

We also awarded an additional point to agencies that utilised email.

Using the above criteria, we awarded each agency an overall digitalisation score, with a maximum possible score of 13 points.

What did we learn about agricultural recruitment?

Let’s take a look at our findings for the sample of agricultural recruitment agencies:

Website –  5/10

All the agricultural agencies we reviewed had websites – the vast majority were mobile-friendly. 11 had a somewhat basic web design, having utilised free building tools such as Wix, or invested in a low-cost web design service.

The remaining nine appeared to have set aside larger budgets for web design, as the sites tended to feature more bespoke design elements, such as custom graphics and animations.

Email – 10/10

As you might expect in 2019, all the agricultural recruitment agencies we studied utilised email. This tells us that these agencies recognise the need to offer email, as opposed to sticking purely to traditional lines of communication such as telephone and face-to-face meetings.

Social – 4/10

12 of the agencies had a basic presence and generated relatively little engagement. Five were judged to have an ‘established presence’ on social media, and tended to publish a mix of industry news, original content, videos and custom graphics. These agencies made strategic efforts to engage with their audience, which had brought them some success.

Content – 2/10

11 of the 20 had created original content. We judged five to have only a basic content marketing presence. We marked the remaining six as ‘established’, given that their articles were more frequently and contained more original insights. Photo and video had been used to greater effect and the content was easier to read across all screen sizes.

Chatbots – 2/10

Eight of the agricultural agencies we studied utilised chatbots, although only to a basic extent. These agencies either had basic chat popups on their websites, or made use of predetermined questions and responses for their Facebook pages.

Is agriculture recruitment less digitalised than other industries?

So, how does the agriculture recruitment industry’s digitalisation score stack up against other sectors? To find out, we used the same methodology on samples of 20 agencies within the sales, accounting, IT, healthcare, construction, driving and education sectors, then compared the scores:


Agricultural recruitment agencies had the joint lowest average digitalisation score of the eight industries we analysed – on a par with the driving industry.

We found that agricultural agencies had a fairly strong presence on social media, with an average score higher than sales and driving recruiters, and equal to accounting agencies in this category. It was also interesting to note that agricultural agencies did not have the lowest average score for web design – this was driving.

The driving and agriculture industries are both known as ‘traditional’ industries, reliant on insider knowledge and face-to-face networking, which may explain why they utilise modern marketing techniques less than other industries. That said, their digitalisation scores were only slightly lower than the sales and accounting industries, and the vast majority of the agricultural and driving agencies we studied had adopted at least some aspects of modern web and social marketing.

Overall, we found that the Agriculture recruitment industry is low on the digitalisation scale compared to the very digitally-focused industries, but we also found that was in a similar range to others.

As such, it probably doesn’t deserve its reputation of being significantly behind the times.

All of the 160 agencies we analysed, across all industries, utilised email – and the vast majority had mobile-friendly websites, together with some presence on social media. This suggests that the majority of recruitment agencies, regardless of industry consider having a strong online presence a priority.

What do you think?

Do you work in the agricultural recruitment industry, or are you a professional within the sector? How has the sector changed over the course of your career? What are your predictions for its future? Please feel free to leave a comment below – we’d be interested to read your views!


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