More Blog Posts

Tips For Advertising In Rural Markets

Learn more about how to advertise to a rural audience by leveraging the accessibility of SMS.

Featured image for the article

It’s easy to assume rural markets are disconnected and unreachable with most forms of advertising, but that couldn’t be further from the truth these days with modern marketing techniques.

Roughly two-thirds of rural Americans (63%) say they have a broadband internet connection at home, up from about a third (35%) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year.

Digital advertising strategies that may have failed with this demographic a few years ago are nearly 2/3 more likely to succeed in 2020!

Just as internet connection has spread across rural America, the accessibility of cellphones has risen even more. When it comes to rural advertising, SMS is the mac to the advertising cheese.

Text message marketing can reach a rural demographic, even if they don’t have access to the internet, which makes it one of the most effective marketing techniques to reach these potential customers.

6 Tips For SMS Advertising In Rural Markets

In order to help make your rural text marketing strategy as strong as possible, follow these tips and case studies for a better idea of how it all works!

1. Know Your Audience’s Mobile Habits

With rural demographics more than urban, it’s crucial to know what your audience uses their phones for (due to their slightly more limited capacities). Nokia has done some research into this relatively unchartered territory and noted that, “Brands have to be conscious that rural consumers are quite new to mobile, and they must ensure that the services they provide are useful or entertaining.

“Once a brand creates something popular and accessible, they can achieve more reach and more interaction with billions of rural consumers. Given the cost of devices and access availability, mobile may be a great way to reach and keep rural customers engaged.”

So, how does this translate to mobile advertising? It all impacts your content.

  • If your demographic uses their phones to shop online, you may have more success in texting coupons.
  • If they mostly text friends and family, you’ll want to ensure your texts are conversational and not too sales-like. You may also opt to text one-on-one with customers offering support via text.
  • If they use their phones to take photos, sharing MMS messages might resonate more strongly than SMS.

2. Leverage Local Media

To know your audience is key. Getting them to trust you as an outsider is a whole different story. Text marketing relies on users sharing their consent to receive texts from your business. And customers can’t join if they don’t know how. A great tip for rural advertisers it to place spots in local papers or magazines sharing your keywords and benefits with the community. For them to see your brand in a space/medium they already trust, you’re more likely to get them to sign up.

In this example below, a simple QR code can make it easy for readers to pick up their phones and join your list while they’re flipping through their morning paper.

Example of a QR code used for mobile advertising.
Photo Credit: Dignited

3. Offer Incentives and Free Samples

When asking people to join your list, another great way to earn trust is to reward them. Research on rural advertising has shown that distributing free samples across a rural community works to popularize a product and gain acceptance among the community.

When compared to urban consumers, rural consumers were less likely to spend money trying something new but more likely to make a trial purchase after a free sample was offered.

An easy way to work this into your mobile strategy is to advertise a text or graphic offering a free sample upon joining your list. You can use autoresponders to automatically follow up with new subscribers to collect any necessary shipping or product information to deliver on your promise.

Thanks for joining Stow Dollar Store’s text club! Please reply with your mailing address so we can send you a free mystery product.
123 Main St. Stow, MA 01775

4. Experiment With Send Times

A common thread across many rural communities is a lack of traditional 9-5 office jobs. With agriculture dominating a great deal of these areas, your audience is most likely on a different time schedule than a “traditional” consumer.

Once you know a little more about the work habits of the demographic, you may start to see success when you send texts early/late afternoon or when they’re finishing up in the morning. The more your business displays knowledge of how you fit into their life, the better you’ll be perceived.

5. Utilize Social Media

Whether you live in Manhattan or Jordan Valley, Oregon, your Facebook profile gives you the same access to the world. As the great distance equalizer, social media is a great space to introduce your text marketing platform to a rural community.

When posting on Facebook, be sure to share your keyword and text-enabled phone number alongside the post to encourage viewers to join your  subscriber list.  With paid advertisements or posts, you can collect phone numbers and follow up with leads through SMS.

[Read: How to Generate and Nurture Leads with Facebook and SMS]

Example of a Facebook advertising campaign.

6. Local Stakeholder Ambassadors

Harvard Business Review conducted a longitudinal study on emerging trends in rural marketing. One of their biggest takeaways was this:

“To a large degree, rural residents base their purchase decisions on personal bonds and mutual trust. In this respect, rural markets are different from more transactional urban ones, and they demand strategies that integrate companies and their offerings into the social fabric. Smart companies determine which stakeholders are likely to be the most influential and then find ways to earn their loyalty.”

To a rural mobile advertiser, this could look like a few things:

  • Partnering with local businesses and advertising your mobile programs at their locations
  • Attending events in the community and establishing a presence there
  • Investing in local philanthropy (each new subscriber = X donation to a local cause)
  • Bringing on local figures as ambassadors who can share, educate, and advocate for you and your channels

To see what we mean, read about how one dollar store in Frisco Texas used text messages to drive business despite geographic challenges.

Example of a text message campaign to promote a retail sale.

Reaching rural markets isn’t for the faint of heart. However, with thoughtful investment can come great rewards in the shape of brand loyalty, substantial word of mouth, and rave reviews.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

More Posts from Meghan Tocci

Send Your First Message in Minutes

Start a text marketing campaign or have a 1-on-1 conversation today. It's risk free. Sign up for a free 14-day trial today to see SimpleTexting in action.

Try Us Free

No credit card required