Challenge: 

East Mississippi Electric Power Association is bringing high-speed fiber internet to members. Instead of a generic marketing campaign, the electric co-op needed a way to reach members in areas of active construction, where fiber is coming soon or is already available.  

Solution: 

pioneer utility services icon

EMEPA worked with Pioneer to develop a six-month digital advertising plan for the first phase of the project through the co-op’s telecommunications subsidiary, East Mississippi Connect. Pioneer helped the co-op deliver digital ads to a list of members with addresses where fiber was available immediately. Once success was met in Phase 1, two more campaigns in 2022 used the same tactics. 

 

Utility communicators often announce news on billboards, newspaper ads and in member magazines. But when a message is only relevant to a small group of people, a targeted marketing approach drives more engagement and saves money. 

When East Mississippi Electric Power Association won a grant and support from its 37,000 members to deliver broadband access in central eastern Mississippi communities, co-op leadership planned not only project construction, but also an effective marketing blueprint.   

Broadband projects are not built in a day. Construction began on EMEPA’s 5,600-mile fiber network in 2020, with completion expected within five years. While the co-op built more than 2,600 miles of fiber by the end of 2022, many members still lacked access. 

Julie Boles

“One of the biggest challenges would be to effectively market the service to areas where it was available, while managing the expectations for our members that were still a few years away from availability,” EMEPA Director of Marketing and Communication Julie Boles says.  

She worked with Pioneer Digital Media Strategist Tina Potter and Account Manager Jenn Urban to develop a six-month digital advertising plan. The effort leaned on mobile conquesting and cross-platform targeting. 

“By using targeted ads, we are able to reach members within areas where service is available without creating frustration for members that may still be two to three years out,” Julie says. 

How Digital Ads Work

Mobile conquesting with address targeting lets you send advertising messages to a list of home addresses, specific people who might be interested in a program or new service from your utility. Only the people who enter the addresses on your target list will receive display and video ads on their mobile devices.  

By adding cross-platform targeting, the EMEPA campaign retargeted people who received the mobile display ads — whether they clicked on the ad or not — onto any other devices used within the address.  

For example, consider a member who returns home from work and checks his or her smartphone. While looking at the news, the member scrolls past a display ad for East Mississippi Connect. Once the member sees the ad, you can send advertisements to every other device used in the home (laptop, tablet, desktop, etc.).  

 

 

Mobile Conquesting 101 

Mobile conquesting draws hundreds of geofences around a list of addresses (business or residential) to send ads to consumers on their mobile phones and tablets. Address retargeting continues to serve ads to those same people when they leave their houses and use their mobile devices. Advertisers can target a list of current consumers, past consumers or any type of first-party database list. These ads allow you to connect to specific people. By using cross-platform targeting we can send ads to the same people on other devices and platforms within the address. 

 

For EMEPA’s campaign, Pioneer retargeted members with social mirror ads across all of their home devices. First, the utility posted a campaign image on their Facebook page, EastMSConnect. 

Then Pioneer’s team mirrored the post across websites targeted members were viewing. 

“Social mirror ads look like social media posts from Facebook or other social platforms, but they appear on thousands of other websites and apps,” Tina says. “You can interact with the ads just as you would if you were on Facebook, but you’re on a news or shopping website. By serving social mirror ads, we were able to increase social awareness and ad engagement.” 

Social mirror ads offer three different call to action buttons, letting a utility send viewers directly to a website to fill out a form or get more information about a program. The ads can also be seen across all devices — mobile, laptop, tablet, phablet and desktop.   

“On top of that, the social mirror ads include social media icons we’re used to interacting with, such as the like button, share and comment,” Tina adds. “Any actions viewers take on the ads are reflected on the original social media post.”

 

Set Member Targets 

To create a list for the targeted ad campaign, EMEPA staff used the co-op’s current electric member list for the areas within the upcoming phase of construction, removing members who preregistered for fiber service.  

“This allows us to target ads to reach members within areas of availability, avoiding areas in later phases and members who had already received or were preregistered for the service,” Julie says. 

Pioneer targeted a list of over 4,000 EMEPA members’ addresses where service was readily available. Once success was met, Pioneer helped EMEPA create two more campaigns in 2022, one from January to June and another from August to October, using the same tactics. Addresses of 6,000 members with access to the co-op’s broadband service were targeted with messages. 

 

Relevant Messages Drive Results 

By using mobile conquesting technology and adding cross-platform targeting with social mirror ads to send advertisements to people living in specific areas, the co-op did not waste advertising dollars reaching people who could not apply for broadband service yet. Instead of paying to boost a social media post or send a newspaper ad that reaches everyone, ad dollars were focused on members who could receive service immediately.  

During the campaigns, Pioneer helped EMEPA deliver more than 1.8 million ads impressions (views) to targeted co-op members. As a result, 6,848 members clicked ads to go to East Mississippi Connect’s sign-up page, powered by CrowdFiber. The digital ad campaign garnered a click-through rate of .39%, five times higher than the national click-through rate average of .07%. 

Since July 2021, when the digital campaign began, 5,655 members preregistered for broadband service.  

“Targeted digital ads are highly effective in marketing your service to your intended audience,” Julie says. “For a multiyear project like ours, it has been key to keeping the project top of mind for those within the targeted audience while managing expectations of all members, from Phase 1 to Phase 5.”  

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