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  |  January 24, 2005   |  Comments

Three ways to mine rural prospects and customers.

I’ve been preaching database segmentation for some time now. I hope many of you have found a slice-and-dice guru to uncover valuable segments in your database that produce above-average returns.

So when I came across some really interesting stats I thought, "Here’s yet another way to find gold in your database." The "Hitwise 2004 Holiday Shopping Series" reveals "online Americans in rural districts were 16 percent more likely than all other social segments to visit a shopping Web site." Although rural Americans accounted for 38 percent of total Internet visits, they accounted for 44 percent of visits to shopping sites. Some sites see over 50 percent of all visitors coming from rural areas:

  • www.cabelas.com: 62 percent

  • www.abcdistributing.com: 60 percent

  • www.dickssportinggoods.com: 56 percent

Though there may be many reasons why folks living in rural areas shop online more often than their city and suburban counterparts, one main reason has to be they don’t have the wide variety of retail stores available in major metro areas. Consumers may have to drive 10, 20, or more miles to reach a mall or larger city. Consequently, they buy more online. It’s the biggest selection of all!

The Web may also offer a bigger selection, better prices, and faster delivery. Today, shipping and handling charges can actually be cheaper than gasoline if you have to drive 50 miles to get to the store. Here are three easy steps to further help you start mining gold from your rural prospects and customers.

Step 1: Tag each record on your database.

First, tag each email address:

  • C = city

  • S = suburb

  • R = rural

  • O = other

You can do this by using the first three ZIP Code digits, commonly referred to as Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs). For example:

  • 100XX = New York City

  • 900XX = Los Angeles

  • 082XX = southern New Jersey

There are 929 three-digit ZIP Codes, which may be sufficient for segmentation. You can check the sources in relatively inexpensive databases:

Simply tag each record with a C, S, R, or O. On to step 2.

Step 2: Brainstorm products and offers and create relevant messaging for rural prospects and customers.

Determine what offers and messages should be sent to rural consumers (apply this strategy to other groups as well). Women in rural areas may not have access to the latest brands of cosmetics. In terms of offers, price may have more relevance the lower the level of disposal income and the farther from big cities. In terms of messaging, talk about fast shipping, gasoline cost savings, and time saved by ordering online instead of driving to a mall.

Step 3: Mail, read results, refine, and rollout.

Start mailing to small segments and analyze how they respond to your choice of products, offers, and messages. Identify winning combinations and retest to a larger portion of your database. Assuming response holds up, roll out!

Why stop at rural? Strive to continually identify valuable pockets of opportunity in your database by configuring relevant messages and special offers that appeal to the target audience. We’re talking slice-and-dice at its best.

Keep reading...

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

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