It’s easy to assume rural markets are disconnected and unreachable, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
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.
Texts can reach a rural demographic, even if they don’t have access to the internet, which makes it one of the most effective ways to reach these groups.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
To see what we mean, read about how one dollar store in Frisco Texas used text messages to drive business despite geographic challenges.
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.