This Time its Personal

Guy Talmi, Senior Marketing Director of targeted marketing company Pontis, considers ways in which mobile operators can benefit from fine-tuning their marketing processes and adopting a more targeted approach by aggressively marketing highly tailored offerings.

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The notoriously competitive and rapidly-evolving market for telecoms
services is bringing marketers within this sector new and
ever-escalating challenges, but also tremendous opportunities.
Managing
a digital product and service portfolio that often spans thousands of
items, with the current shift towards delivering converged offerings of
broadband, mobile and entertainment services, now means that mobile,
cable, VoIP and IPTV operators are facing a very complex environment,
while fighting even harder to drive new revenues from existing
customers and reach new customers.
In the saturated mobile space,
operators struggle with high customer churn and continuous price
erosion as new low-rate operators and MVNOs enter the market. Customer
acquisition costs are high and retention is a top priority in a market
characterised by low levels of product differentiation where customers
will simply shop around for the best deal.
Combine this
competitive landscape with the added complexity of the products on
offer – more products are being introduced to market at an
ever-increasing rate through a variety of different channels to users
with varying subscription types and devices and the scale of the
challenge for marketers within this sector is evident.

One-size-fits-all Marketing
However, the traditional mass-marketing one-size-fits-all approach is
no longer sustainable in this environment. Services and bundles of
products are offered with limited flexibility in terms of customisation
or personalisation and, as such, many of the messages delivered will
fail to convert a user to adopt a new service or purchase a new content
item.
Mobile advertising, for example, has generated huge hype and is now
being touted as a solution for driving revenue from third party
advertisers through personalised messages or access to content such as
the offer of free downloads. Yet, such techniques represent a missed
opportunity and will deliver a lower ROI than is potentially possible
if they are poorly targeted, mass communicated, or delivered at the
wrong time.
The key challenge for all marketers in this sector if they are to
survive and thrive in this environment is to leverage their strengths
and to target the right customer at the right time with exactly the
right proposition.


The personal approach

In this sense, the industry needs to follow the example set by online
service providers who have long maximised the potential of the personal
approach, with interactive suggestions linked exactly to the users
preferences and real-time behaviour (e.g browsing or purchasing).
Amazon-like recommendations based on buying patterns can be used by
operators to promote a  cross-sell of related content items, or to use
up-sell techniques in order to encourage customers to purchase
additional content, such as music bundles, all based on the lifestyle
characteristics of a carefully segmented group of customers.
Operators now need to adopt these more sophisticated techniques through
the use of marketing delivery platforms to address specific,
well-defined customer segments with relevant offers. The arrival of new
solutions, specifically designed for marketers within this sector, is
now providing the capability for them to do this, by monitoring usage
of services or products in real-time to enable behavioural-based
targeting. This is approach that, until now, has simply not been
possible.
A marketing delivery platform provides telco marketers with an
end-to-end design-execute-measure environment to deliver real-time
targeted and personalised marketing offers. This ties together
marketing design, online sales, dynamic communications and product
offer processes, effectively automating the marketing IT. Such systems
allow products to be configured dynamically (including special terms)
and to be communicated in real time to customers, based on their
preferences, history and current usage.
This may seem logical, but in reality, it marks a significant step
forward in an industry hampered by silo-based thinking, lack of
flexibility across the various operators departments, and a
non-systematic, non-automated approach to targeting customers.

Improving ARPU in the real world

This personalised approach to communicating with the customer has been
proven to deliver compelling results. Recently, a cable operator
recognised that its key competitive advantage was the delivery of video
on demand (VoD), yet many subscribers were failing to purchase this
premium content. Through targeted promotions to different consumer
categories, the operator was able to convert users who had never bought
content in the past, and by analysing relationships between content
categories, was able to design cross-sell offers that leveraged
purchases from one category to promote purchases in another relevant
category. This not only drove VOD subscribers to pay for premium
movies, but also introduced customers to new categories; increasing
overall sales in the promoted categories by 42% over a nine-month
period.
Achieving these results means that operators must fine tune their
processes and adopt a more targeted approach by aggressively marketing
highly-tailored offerings. This is the strategy that operators will
need to embrace if they are to out-perform the competition and improve
levels of customer retention and profitability.

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