3 Simple Marketing Upgrades for Local ISP Businesses

We’ve done a lot of business with wired telecom over the years. But don’t for a minute think we’ve overlooked WISPs (wireless internet service providers), satellite providers, and energy co-ops looking to connect underserved rural America with high-speed internet.
We see you over there on the WISP Talk Facebook group posting photos and video of your tower-climbing, equipment installation adventures. We see you doing market research and gauging interest in areas you’re looking to serve.
You guys are taking on a huge challenge and you need the marketing muscle to back it up. Perhaps road signs, door knockers, and word of mouth worked for you initially. But here’s how you can take your shoestring marketing and upgrade it to the next package. Below are some quick strategies to upgrade your game.

Road Sign Warriors

When it comes to road signs, a few businesses swear by them. While we haven’t come across data that suggests they work, we did find an interesting stat about billboards. In the last 30 days, consumers in our geography were 3% less likely that the adult population to notice billboards. If they are not noticing giant billboards, what are the chances they are noticing smaller signage? Perhaps they notice it once or twice before it simply blends in with the landscape. That’s fine for brand awareness but if you’re relying on road signs and not tracking their effectiveness, you could be missing out.
Upgrade – Keep the road signs for brand awareness but also run trackable advertising. Direct mail postcards are a good way to accomplish this. For example, a prospective customer drives by your road sign every day but takes no action. Send them a postcard with a unique trackable phone number or website URL. They are more likely to pick up the phone or visit the link when they are not driving.
In fact, in the last 30 days, potential internet provider switchers are 36.5% likely to respond to ads/coupons in the mailbox. This goes up to 63.9% over a 12-month period. Compare this to outdoor ads/signs/billboards where the same group of people responded 18.2% of the time over 30 days and 41.9% over 12 months.
Bottom line, you’ll get more of response, and trackable response, if you run mail ads. But don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater…keep your road signs for the brand awareness that can make your mail ads even more effective.’
Does personalization of a direct mail piece make you more likely to read it? 29.2% said “yes, much more likely” and 55% said “yes a little more likely”.

Door Hanger Guerillas

Some local ISP startups are going door-to-door letting residents know of their new service. If no one answers, they leave behind a print piece on the door.
While it’s noble to want that personalized experience meeting people face-to-face, it can be a risky move. For one thing, don’t assume people are trusting or welcoming to strangers showing up on their porch. If they see you or your print piece at their doorstep as a negative, this could damage your brand.
Upgrade – Instead, we recommend being present at local gatherings and introducing your business to groups in public spaces. This will save you time as well as present you as a member of the community vs. a door-to-door salesperson.
We also recommend personalizing your direct mail ads using their first name. When consumers were asked of customization or personalization of a direct mail piece made them more likely to read it, 29.2% said “yes, much more likely” and 55% said “yes a little more likely”. This means personalizing your direct mail communications is a smart way to connect with customer and prospects in much more human and genuine way. Our variable postcards can enable you to not only customize names on your direct mail pieces, but also test and measure the results of messaging so that you have a better understanding of what kind of wording works best with your recipients. You can even take personalization one step further by matching the demographics of a household to the image on the postcard. That increases the response rate by as much as 57%!

Word of Mouth Marketers

For local ISPs, word of mouth marketing is a big deal. In fact, 12% of telecom customers surveyed said that word of mouth had an influence on telecom services purchases. 12% might not sound like much but it’s major compared to email advertising, which was 6.2% influential. Or newspaper, which was 3.4% influential.
But when many local businesses say they rely on word of mouth marketing, often this means is that they simply deliver the best service and let their customers do the bragging. Marketers call this “organic word of mouth”, meaning there’s no controlled effort on the part of the business to facilitate this response. It happens solely because the business’s customers became advocates on their own.
Upgrade – Yes, word of mouth can be approached with a better strategy. While you generate organic word of mouth referrals, you can also have what marketers call an “amplified word of mouth” strategy. An amplified word of mouth strategy can incorporate many things including referral programs, where happy customers are asked to refer friends and family in exchange for rewards or discounts. It could involve directing prospects to read your positive reviews on Yelp and see what people are saying. It could be directing them to join your online community on Facebook or Instagram where they can connect with others who are fans of your business. These types of programs can be implemented to accelerate the organic word of mouth referrals you receive so you can grow faster and establish trust within a community at a faster pace.
Your amplified word of mouth strategy can be kicked of with a direct mail campaign targeted to key geographies where your best customers live. And we also want to add that direct mail is considered high-response media. According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), in 2018 direct mail response rates were 9% for a house list and 5% for a prospect list. Email, Paid Search, Online Display, and Social Media were each 1% or less. It’s simple and easy to launch a solid direct mail campaign and we have plenty of ideas to help you get started.

Take Your Marketing to the Next Level with Direct Mail

A great marketing strategy need not be limited to companies with endless marketing resources. If your business is growing, competitors are moving in, and you need expert marketing direction, it’s time to up your marketing game. We’d be delighted to be your go-to marketing consultants. In the meantime, be sure to check out our latest success stories showing how we’ve helped other businesses with their campaigns.

NHCS Adult Study, 2018
AdMall, 2019
Infotrends Study, 2016
Prosper Insights & Analytics, 2019
DMA Response Rate Report, 2018