Telecommunications Advertising Model

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Thought Leadership Experts - Telecom Digital Marketing: New Subscriber Acquisition

Unfortunately, no additional insights from experts or thought leaders in the telecom digital marketing space surrounding digital advertising to acquire new subscribers were available in the public domain. Below is an overview of the information that was available.

Insights from Rob Beswick of Virgin Mobile, KSA

  • Being the first mobile virtual network operator to launch in KSA, Virgin Mobile challenged itself to offer "next-generation mobile services" and a "fully re-defined customer experience."
  • The company's market entry strategy was innovative and included digital advertising and social engagement. It promoted a number-booking service through digital advertising and social media whereby new customers could register online to choose the numbers they preferred and pick up their SIM card at a retail outlet, thus using a click-and-collect model.
  • The outcomes were remarkable as 71% of bookings came from digital advertising (Google advertising) at 60% of the digital budget. The cost per lead through Google Search was 80% lower and the return on investment was 35 times higher. Also, 30% of the customers who booked a number online went to a store to collect a SIM.

Insights from Pandora's Enhanced Digital Advertising Strategy

  • Pandora experienced strong growth of its premium subscriber base and ARPU through acquisition in the space of innovative digital advertising.
  • Various digital partnerships along with enhanced digital marketing techniques helped Pandora lower its subscriber acquisition costs and retain old subscribers as well.
  • Considering digital audio advertising technology is one of the fastest-growing formats of digital advertising, Pandora tapped the right note with the planned acquisition of AdsWizz, a digital audio ad tech company. This rendered Pandora with improvised advertising capabilities enabling it to expand its addressable market and acquire new subscribers.

Insights from Altice, USA

  • Altice USA, with a recent spin-off from Altis N.V., adopted a targeted, multi-screen platform, thereby combining TV and digital advertising all into a single purchase.
  • The company thus focused on enhanced audience targeting that was "supported by rich, privacy-compliant household data sets with an automated self-serve model for advertisers." Further campaign management was "supported by robust analytics and attribution."

Other Insights

  • As per McKinsey, all telcos may achieve quick "benefits from structured, digital marketing-and-sales approach regardless of their digital maturity, though companies that advance their digital customer engagement will experience the biggest upside." As an instance, "a global telco in the process of transforming its marketing and sales through the combination of digital, analytics and agile methods," was able to increase its digital sales in under a year with its first pilot in a mature market.
  • The head of Global Marketing and Communications at Datamatics pointed out that digital innovation in sales and marketing is a continuous process ranging from omnichannel marketing to automation tools. He considers digital to be his main pillar of the entire marketing plan since the customer is going digital today.
  • The digital age has further brought in smarter players who spend a fraction of the traditional media spend on online channels to maintain customer-centricity. Many new-age telco retailers have already done away with retail points of presence and enhanced their online entity and digital self-service models to engage new subscribers.
  • Stan Tan, digital marketing manager at Selby’s, advises digital advertising efforts to be focused on how one can solve the target audience’s problem with the product or service apart from providing solutions that are 10 times better and faster rather than the expected 2 times.
  • Ally Gruber, a digital marketing associate at The Powerline Group, emphasizes that advertised content should be relatable, engaging, and shareable to draw in potential customers and keep current customers coming back for more. Camilla, founder of Influence With Content, has similar thoughts on focusing the marketing on the needs of the target audience.

Research Strategy

Our research showed that credible content was scarce and that there was a lack of pertinent sources specific to the topic. The approach was initially focused on assessing the digital marketing landscape within the telecom industry, specifically digital advertising resulting in new customer acquisition or subscriber growth. No readily available information could be found that included all parameters in a single insight. Thus, cases were found where either the insight was a strategic step taken by the organization and did not involve any thought leadership, or did not focus specifically on new customer acquisition though it may have come from an expert in the field. Similarly, some examples of insights were found that fulfilled most parameters, however, either the geographical focus was outside of the U.S. or the examples could not spell out success in a quantitatively or qualitatively. Furthermore, no paid research or surveys were available on the topic.

As an initial approach, we assessed the digital marketing landscape within the telecom space. We searched for relevant data from market research reports generally published by sites like Nielsen, Ipsos, Kantar, and others. However, these sites only provided information related to digital advertising agencies or digital marketing as an umbrella concept with no focus on the other related parameters. The approach was further widened and focused on leading telecom-related thought leadership articles like those provided by Gimmemojo, Phoenix Career or even companies like IBM or Accenture. The idea was to gather insights from pre-published content as provided by these leaders in the market, though nothing relevant could be deduced.

Next, we assessed new paradigms, trends, and strategies on topics like digital marketing that are frequently discussed in industry research reports, white papers, study reports and articles published by globally reputed consultancies such as PWC, Deloitte, McKinsey, and others. These reports often publish direct quotes from industry experts to validate the claims or findings of the report. Although consultancies such as McKinsey published reports on digital marketing, new marketing strategies in the telecom sector, and other related topics, there were hardly any reports providing insights from thought leaders/experts in the telecom digital marketing space surrounding digital advertising to acquire new subscribers. As understood during the research, the non-availability of information was due to the specificity of the query which involved several aspects together. The experts’ comments often covered the broader domain of one of the topics, i.e. either digital marketing or telecom or customer acquisition.

The next approach was focused on identifying the top telecom players in the market and individually looking for thought leadership contributions. For this, we identified the market leaders such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile, Sprint, wherein for each, we searched for specific leadership insights. We looked into the companies' annual reports to deduce success stories based on digital advertising investments, news or press information featuring leader's interviews, company presentations depicting marketing and advertising insights, all of which, however, did not spell any success. We went a step ahead in search of specific marketing strategies adopted by these players to look for success hints but these were not evident.

As the last approach, we searched through some leading forums and Telecom Associations, assuming we could identify issues or challenges that may have been discussed by industry leaders on the topic. For this, we scanned through sites like Telecom World, Telecom Source, U.S. Telecom, Library of Congress, and other sources wherein we observed that most of the marketing-related discussion was focused around customer retention strategies. Thus, no relevant information on the topic could be gathered that would have satisfactorily answered the question keeping all the parameters in view.
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Thought Leadership Experts - Telecom Digital Marketing: Customer Relationship Marketing/Management

Companies operating in the telecommunications sector have had to innovate new customer-centric models to aid existing customer retention. These innovations include incorporating new technologies into customer relationship management and utilizing personalised direct response advertising. As such, there have been insights from thought leadership from experts in telecom digital marketing surrounding customer relationship marketing/management for the purposes of existing customer retention.

Use of Direct Response Advertising in Multiple Channels

  • Customers experience pain points in their customer journey when their expectations, such as instant responses to queries are not met. Improving the customer's journey in organizations increases customer experience, satisfaction and retention.
  • Using multiple platforms to reach consumers, including social media platforms, directly impact customer relationships positively, according to Comcast's EVP of Customer Service, Tom Karinshak. Multiple channels create more opportunities to address pain points in a customers journey.
  • There is a significant increase in focus on direct response advertising on social media platforms such as twitter and even Snapchat.
  • Using personalized direct response advertising shows customers that a business' advertisements are not merely to raise brand awareness and promote its image. Instead, it demonstrates how the products and services directly benefit them, increasing perceptions of customer centricity and, thus retention.
  • As such, a combination of utilizing multiple channels for direct response advertising improves retention.

AI-based Tools

  • There are other strategies to address customer experience, particularly in regard to social media, which, in turn, will result in better retention.
  • "Digital Customer Experience" (Digital CX) integrates automation into existing tools used by companies to manage their relationship with customers. Essentially, this is a blend of the use of AI and human interaction to provide personalized support and experiences to customers based on past interactions.
  • Kelley Kurtzman, the Vice President of Global Consumer Sales & Service Centers at Verizon reckons that AI and conversational interactions such as Alexa, Google Home and Siri have changed the way businesses can interact with customers and improve their customer experience.

Digital Transformation is about Improving Customer Experience Rather Than Cost Cutting

  • Digital Transformation reduces costs in businesses and some business leaders primarily focus on cost-cutting initiatives when transforming their businesses.
  • However, digital transformation impacts several aspects of a business, including optimized use of technologies available, the internal structure of a business, its culture and its processes.
  • Rob Roy, chief digital officer of Sprint, disclosed how digital transformation has meant spending some money to have a longer-term, better customer experience — which improves retention.
  • Digital transformation, specifically engaging mobile-optimized customer experiences combined with direct response campaigns are a successful marketing campaigns according to David Humber, marketing director, digital engagement at The Economist. This combination, therefore, increases retention.

Simplicity is Vital for Improving Customer-Centricity and Retention

  • Customers' priorities are evolving and time-consuming services are not favorable in this environment.
  • Other services and digital platforms such as Amazon, Netflix and Uber use the technological tools at their disposal to create sophisticated but simple-to-use and personalized platform which have set the benchmark. Customers expect these from telecom companies as well.
  • Bain & Company analysis of more than 150 telcos in 12 markets determined that telecommunications companies which have simpler digital platforms are more profitable and retain customers better when compared to their peers.
  • Frédéric Debruyne, who leads Bain & Company’s Telecommunications practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa recons that several telecommunication companies have accumulated complexity over several years — perhaps decades — and undoing complex processes will result in better Customer Relationship Management and retention.

Telecommunications Companies are Well Positioned to Use Data to Create Personalised Direct Respose Advertising

  • Successful telecommunication companies are expected to go beyond mere connectivity. Dan Bieler, a principal analyst for Forrester Research, they will be expected to offer customers personalized digital services.
  • In order to do so successfully, they will have to successfully use the enormous amounts of data which they will have access to due to 5G, AI and other developing technologies.
  • Bieler recons that telecommunications companies already know significant data about their clients, including age, income level, consumer behavior, and they should become absolutely customer-focused, understand customer pain points and design solutions around them.
  • Additionally, this data can be used to create personalised direct response advertising which improve the customer's experiences and aid retention.

Research Strategy

Telecommunications industry experts at times discuss the changes which have been successfully implemented in their respective organizations or trends they expect to see in the future. Reputable media sites were used to identify such statements and direct quotes from industry business leaders or renown analysts to identify any insights regarding customer retention discussed.

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Thought Leadership Experts - Telecom Digital Marketing: Refer a Friend

Successful innovations in referral programs, typically involving Direct Response marketing, include offering youth-centric rewards, clearly explaining what the rewards are (i.e., $575), asking a question, ensuring that each marketing piece includes a specific call to action (CTA), and features powerful visuals.

Useful Insights

  • Saasquatch, a digital platform that drives customers to a brand, highlights the importance of clearly defined rewards for referring a friend. For example, AT&T and T-Mobile have landing pages with clear explanations of how much (e.g. up to $575 a year), to refer friends.
  • Refer-a-friend programs, according to Saasquatch, use the principles of self-affirmation psychology, which "effectively illuminates how easy it is for customers to help both themselves and newcomers they know and love."
  • Successful youth-centric referral incentives involve rewards, such as "more music and free data" from Virgin Mobile or a $50 prepaid MasterCard from T-Mobile.
  • According to Saasquatch, successful refer-a-friend programs ask a question of the consumer, for example, Virgin Mobile asks "How do I refer a friend?" and "What can I earn?"
  • Each of the examples that Saasquatch highlights include a Call To Action (CTAs) (a button to click) to start getting rewards or to refer a friend. CTAs are a core part of Direct Response marketing.
  • DirecTV launched a referral program in email--a Direct Response marketing campaign--with a powerful visual of 100 dollar bill, explaining what both you and the friend you refer will earn.

Research Strategy

The team focused on searching industry blogs that reported on best practices for refer-a-friend programs in Telecom. We located a recently published blog entry with seven examples of successful referral programs in Telecom, each involving Direct Response (click a button on a website or in an email).
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Thought Leadership Experts - Telecom Digital Marketing: Personalization Strategy on Websites

Implementation of personalization marketing strategies for the Telecom industry will require these companies acquire the tools to analyze (i.e, algorithms based on machine learning) potential customer behavior online (browsing, purchases, or social media posts) for analysis. Developing the infrastructure for acquiring and analyzing this type of data is crucial to developing personalized marketing content, which is reported to increase revenues.


  • Telecom companies who use online video advertisements can personalize the video targeted to a customer based on that customer's browsing habits and knowledge about his or her current plan. The SundaySky Blog explains: "Personalized video ads are unique to each individual viewer and support customer acquisition by leveraging consumers’ online activity, history and behavior. Because the messages and promotions within an ad are highly relevant to each viewer at the moment the ad is viewed, brands can more effectively drive conversions, revenue and brand awareness."
  • Telecom companies employing personalized video advertisements should also use analytics to measure their effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).
  • Mojo Marketing explains that if Telecom companies adopt hyper-personalized email campaigns--drawing on "qualities such as interest, demographics, and more" of potential customers--it will increase open rates and thereby be a successful campaign.
  • McKinsey & Co claims that personalized advertising will increase revenues between 5-15% in Telecom.
  • Part of a successful personalization strategy in industries, such as Telecom, involves developing "trigger messages" that are relevant to the potential customer, based on his or her "purchases, online browsing, and social media posts." Developing such "trigger messages" requires advanced analytics, such as "a next-product-to-buy algorithm based on machine learning could send a message suggesting a set of related products triggered when mothers have clicked on a different product but not bought it."

Research Strategy

The research team searched marketing reports and blogs from companies such as McKinsey & Co and Mojo Marketing to locate sources discussing implementation of personalization marketing as well as its advantages. We located sources related to personalized video and personalized email marketing.

From Part 01
  • "As the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator to launch in KSA, Virgin Mobile set out to offer a next generation mobile service with a fully re-defined customer experience created"
  • "Adopted an innovative market entry strategy with digital advertising and social engagement contributing significantly to the overall marketing mix. Promoted a number-booking service using digital advertising and social, whereby customers would register online for preferred numbers and pick up SIMs from retail outlets, using a click-and-collect model"
  • "*Google advertising contributed 71% of bookings from all digital advertising, at only 60% of overall digital budget *Google Search produced 80% lower cost per lead than any other digital platform and 35X return on investment *25% lower average subscriber acquisition cost than the Saudi benchmark *30% of customers who booked a number online completed their journey with a store visit to purchase a SIM"
  • "“We knew that to reach a hyper-connected youth market segment, we had to build an innovative digital and mobile-first model and then amplify our efforts using digital campaigns and engagement,” says Vice President of Brand Rob Beswick."
  • "For the second half of 2018, Pandora remains optimistic about further expanding its subscriber base, driven by podcast services, more device partnerships, multiple digital partnerships with AT&T, Snap, Cheddar, and T-Mobile, and increased music consumption"
  • "The company's recently concluded acquisition of AdsWizz - a digital audio ad tech company - which should likely improve its advertising capabilities and expand its addressable market."
  • "This should help draw more advertisers to the digital audio space. Given the fact that audio is the fastest growing format in digital advertising, this acquisition makes sense for Pandora."
  • "Altice USA now has a targeted, multi-screen platform, integrating TV and digital advertising into a single buy. This includes audience targeting supported by rich, privacy-compliant household data sets with an automated self-serve model for advertisers. Campaign management is supported by robust analytics and attribution."
  • "Digital innovation in sales and marketing is continuous – from omnichannel marketing to automation tools. This has enabled us to reach out to the customers easily and deliver the right message to the right target audience at the right time."
  • "Digital is the main pillar of my entire marketing plan because the customer is going digital today. Every marketer is a digital marketer irrespective of whether they are doing events, promotions, PR, content, marketing, designing, etc. They should understand digital and design their campaigns keeping in mind the nuances of digital engagement."
From Part 02
  • "Bain & Company analysis of more than 150 telcos in 12 markets shows that telcos that have embraced an approach to products and processes that is simple and digital outperform their peers in customer loyalty and both top- and bottom-line growth."
  • "Your company wants to improve its revenues while reducing its costs, right? Focusing on the customer journey will do just that. It’s one of the best ways to improve your conversion and customer retention rates, which has a significant impact on your customer’s bottom line. For instance, some research indicates a mere 5% in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%."
  • "Twitter historically has emphasized brand advertising, and now is doing more work on ads that feature a clear call to action. "We do have some direct response advertising on Twitter but not as much as we should "
  • "Most publishers and platforms are seeing more direct-response advertising business in the first quarter of 2019. This is no surprise, as the world is becoming more focused on attribution and outcome."
  • " 80 percent of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a brand that offers personalized interactions."
  • "Mobile-optimised content immersive experiences paired with direct response campaigns make for a successful marketing strategy, according to David Humber, marketing director, digital engagement at The Economist."