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How to achieve cut through with mobile operators

How to achieve cut through with mobile operators

By Vu Nguyen, Senior Vice-President of Global Sales, Upstream

Mobile network operators are the titans of the wireless telecommunications world, and within one of the world’s five largest marketing sectors as regards spend and sophistication. They’ve got some of the most advanced infrastructure, brand equity worth billions, and masses of customers (close to 5 billion). What’s more, they’ve got the kind of volume and depth of data about those customers that most of the world’s global consumer brands can only dream of.  With this wealth of data the potential for a digital marketer to deliver results is huge.

More and more companies are waking up to the fact that working with operators can be an extremely lucrative business and a way to improve their offering across other verticals as well. That means stiff competition, and lots of it. We’ve deployed our marketing platform and run campaigns with operators worldwide (in over 40 countries, to be precise) and so here are our hop tips on achieving ‘cut-through’ with mobile operators. Here they are:

1.    Craft a business model that demonstrates your commitment to their business. Making the decision to work exclusively on a payment-by-results basis (no fees whatsoever) was a turning point for us, but it is a decision most cannot afford to take lightly. At the end of the day we were confident about the measurable impact our mobile marketing platform would have in driving incremental revenues; you need to have the same confidence in your product/service. By employing a business model that ties your fortunes to theirs you’re showing operators that you’re not going to put their reputations on the line. That matters, because it is the operator’s reputation that suffers when one of their vendors makes a mistake. Operators have always had open models of collaboration with providers because it allows them to grow extremely fast. They always prefer a ‘partner’ willing to share risk, rather than a vendor hunting fees.  

2.    Demonstrate technological innovation that contributes clearly to the bottom line. As the owners of wireless network infrastructure, operators are focused on running their network, safeguarding and building their brands and maintaining the loyalty of their customers. This focus on their core business has made them one of the most open verticals when it comes to outsourcing and working with partners, especially in the field of innovative marketing technology. In the mobile marketing realm we were one of the first vendors to use gaming mechanics in our campaigns (‘gamification’) and were able to demonstrate the value of the technology to our clients via a Telecom Italia campaign in which gamified approaches generated 30% more customer profiling data, 50% higher response rates and 100% more engagement than a regular campaign usually does. Demonstrating to MNOs that you’re at the forefront of technological innovation and prepared to take risks in demonstrating that your technology contributes visibly to the bottom line is the only safe method of achieving cut-through in such a competitive space.  

3.    Invest in research and data analysis. If you’re providing a specialist service to a mobile operator then it’s likely, if not downright essential, that you have in-depth insights into the part of the space in which you work that the operator won’t have. Most companies gain those insights from the concentrated experience of doing what they do, but you can go that extra mile by using consumer or delegate research agencies to dig a little deeper. Earlier this year we commissioned YouGov to poll UK consumers on their reactions to mobile marketing and the result was a report which has helped us grab some time at the top of the media agenda, grab the attention of potential clients, and talk more authoritatively about why we work the way we work.

4.    Behave as if their customers were your own (even though you may be a business to business company). At the end of the day, you’ve got to show MNOs that you care deeply about their customer relationships, provide insights on their client base that they may not have thought of themselves, and ultimately crack the code on what makes their customers tick. For example, our most recent research with YouGov in the UK found that 59% of consumers are amenable to operator-sent marketing messages, but that 38% of consumers don’t want to be contacted with those messages more than once a month. Simply the act of looking into the issue allows us to demonstrate to operators that we care about maintaining their customer relationships as much as they do. But even more crucially, this consumer-orientated philosophy informed the design of marketing solutions and programs that actually work in the long term. To find the right recipe that elicits the greatest response one needs to know client customers inside out, analyse billions of data points, and ultimately treat them as if they were ones own direct customers.

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