Monetizing AgTech Data Through Subscription Billing

The agriculture technology (AgTech) industry is booming. According to AgFunder’s most recent report, AgTech generated $4.6 billion of investment in 526 closed deals in 2015 — nearly double the amount raised in 2014. Most of that investment took place in companies from states like California ($1.2 billion), New York ($483 million) and Massachusetts ($213 million). Globally, the next biggest markets for AgTech investment are Israel ($550 million), China ($506 million) and India ($480 million).

Precision Agriculture

One of the main reasons for these investments is the need to support a growing global population on the same amount of arable land. At the 2016 Agriculture Technology Innovation Summit, Lee Strom said, “We need 35 years of innovation that equals the previous 10,000.” Thankfully, scientists, governments and private businesses all over the world are tinkering with new technologies and products to help us deal with this challenge.

One of the biggest sections of the AgTech industry is precision agriculture technology, which provides farmers digital experiences that support decisions that saves costs and improves yields.

In precision agriculture, sensors monitor data about things important to farmers like soil conditions, weather patterns and vehicle locations. As these sensors communicate with each other, farmers, can detect that the moisture and nitrogen levels in a field are ready for fertilizing. That information is communicated to a fertilizer truck which is guided by GPS to fertilize that plot with a specific type of fertilizer at a specific time. Once the fertilizer truck is done doing its business, the planter vehicle is told that the soil is ready for seeding.

In short, connected devices and access to data ensure that farmers can leverage climate and nutrient conditions to ensure success. A fun and engaging glimpse into what a connected farm of the future might look like has been produced by John Deere.

Customer Experiences and Subscription Billing in Precision Agriculture

Scientists, governments and the private sector are driving the innovation in AgTech, but sustainable business practices are required to create a return on investment. There are a number of compelling and competing offers in the precision ag market. Let’s take a look at two them and examine their different approaches to customer experiences like sign-up processes and subscription billing events.

Agrible

Agrible is a precision agriculture company that provides farmers precise field data that helps increase productivity and yield.

But how do they generate recurring revenue?

AgribleOffer
Subscription pricing information

One of Agrible’s services is called the Morning Farm Report, and Agrible offers it as a subscription to farmers for $1,999 per year (Scheduled/flat rate).

At first glance, the value and the offer are pretty clear. From the data monetization perspective, if Agrible can keep customer acquisition costs and churn rates low, they’re on the right path to higher recurring revenue rates and customer lifetime values.

In order to “Get Started Now,” users create an account. Agrible asks for pretty standard information, with form fields optimized for the U.S. market. To appeal to a more global audience, the site could use GeoIP and browser tracking to localize languages, currencies and pricing to visitors from around the world.

AgribleSignup2
Signup process for U.S. customers

From the image above, notice this requires users to check a box that commits them to submitting payment once they receive an invoice.  Many customers might find it hard to tell what they are agreeing to when they complete this order form. What payment methods can the customer pay with? What are the future billing requirements? Will it be automatic or manualBusiness customers demand the convenience, trust, security and familiarity they’ve come to expect from their everyday online shopping experiences.

FarmLogs provides a good example of a B2B subscription signup process that embraces a digital B2C-type of customer experience.

Farmlogs

FarmLogs offers tiered pricing plans in a way that is familiar to anyone who has shopped online before, so the customer feels confidant that they understand what commitment they are being asked to make. One way that FarmLogs creates a good customer experience is that they make sure to highlight the value of each tier.

FarmLogs Pricing Plans Page
FarmLogs Pricing Plans Page

 

When one clicks on the blue upgrade CTA, they land on a customer account page. This brings the customer to a place where they can access a lot of information, but it adds an unnecessary step in the process of the customer becoming a paying subscriber. The page itself has its fair share of distractions in the form of many buttons to click. A more streamlined approach for moving customers through the sign-up process might improve sign-up rates.

 

FarmLogs intermediate page
FarmLogs intermediate page

Unlike Agrible’s payment checkbox, FarmLogs offers a familiar payment experience. It contains product information, credit card fields and even a terms of service / privacy policy agreement in addition to contact information. Most importantly for setting customer expectations they clearly indicate how and when the next billing event occurs. The security symbol on this page is also an important distinction. If you’re going to accept credit card payments online, you should emphasize the secure nature of your operation.

FarmLogsPaymentPage

For the business side to keep pace with the technology side of AgTech, companies in every sector of this industry need to think about the value they’re delivering to customers, the most effective way to monetize that value, and then build or buy the subscription billing capabilities that will allow them to generate recurring revenue streams and long-term customer relationships for their business.

Keystone

The agriculture industry is harvesting the benefits of cloud technology and connected devices. As AgTech businesses continue innovating and delivering value, monetization strategies and business growth will come sharply into focus. Make sure that you understand your AgTech business’s value and how to properly manage subscription billing and customer experiences.

For more information about overcoming subscription challenges, download our complimentary guide: Navigating the Subscription Solutions Landscape