Telecoms marketing is facing some big challenges in 2018. Just a few years ago, telecoms brands could successfully differentiate in terms of tariffs, data, texts, and 80% 3G coverage. Not anymore. Consumers may have been impressed by cheaper prices, 100 minutes, and unlimited texts in the late-2000s. But, a decade on, super-fast broadband and blanket 4G coverage have now become base-level expectations – and 5G is just around the corner. Complicating matters even further is the fact that telcos need to be marketing their products and services to at least three distinct customer bases – end consumers, business customers, and other service providers. Naturally, telecoms marketing techniques vary for each of these segments, so separate strategies need to be devised for each. In this post, we’re going to be focussing on both the B2C and B2B telecoms marketing trends that companies need to master in 2018. Let’s dive in at the business-to-consumer end.
In the telecoms industry, it’s a consumer’s market for sure. Practically every provider in the sector is involved in an ongoing price war, of which there is no clear winner. Today is the day of the empowered consumer, where service and price comparisons are made simple by a quick consultation with Google, or by pinging out a quick question to friends on social media as to which provider is offering the best deal at any given point. Consumers are doing their research and shopping around before committing to a contract with a telecoms provider, and many are looking for the triple play – telephone, video, and internet all bundled into one, affordable package. Those companies which are able to meet these demands put themselves in good stead – they can increase revenue per customer, improve customer loyalty, and protect their customer base from the mounting competition from, for instance, low-cost telephone service providers, or other indirect competitors. Not all telecoms providers can offer such a bundle, however, and many focus on the phones. The battle here is fought with complimentary offers, such as unlimited data, calls, and texts. In such a market, it can be hard to differentiate in efforts to attract new customers and retain existing ones. In the race to the bottom, all combatants are constantly trying to offer better deals at lower prices. As such, revenues are dropping. Indeed, recent research from Wayin reveals that average revenue per user in the telecoms industry is falling in virtually every region around the globe.
(Image source: wayin.com)
In order to prevent these sorts of trends becoming the norm at a company level, telecoms brands need to be finding better ways to connect with their consumers. Conversations need to be raised above free texts, data, and price points, and instead focus on true engagement with customers with the distinct aim of creating long-term loyalty and meaningful brand differentiation. Today, telecoms providers need to be focussing on the whole customer experience – and that means building relationships across every touchpoint, deepening audience engagement, and developing compelling brand narratives that chime with the personal values of the customer base. Content marketing and social media marketing are both key in this regard, as many brands are already proving. Let’s take a look at some great examples from some of the trailblazers as we explore the trends to master in B2C telecoms marketing.
The main idea behind user-generated content (UGC) marketing is to make customers a part of the ongoing brand narrative unfolding on social media. Perhaps the best-known example of a UGC campaign is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke”, where the soft drinks brand printed people’s names on Coke bottles, so they could indeed Share a Coke with friends and family by picking out a bottle with their name on it. Coca-Cola encouraged customers to take pictures of themselves drinking from the personalised bottles, and then share the snaps on social media. It was nothing short of a marketing and even cultural phenomenon. In 2014, the year the campaign launched, Coke managed to generate nearly 1 billion impressions on Twitter, 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag, and sold more than 150 million personalised bottles. It was a great success to say the least. But telecoms marketing professionals are proving that such UGC campaigns are not the sole reserve of consumer brands selling consumer products, as Vodafone, Verizon, T-Mobile (now merged with EE) to name just three have all had success with their own efforts. Let’s begin with an old one – T-Mobile. In 2013, the company launched its “Break-up Letter” campaign, offering to pay the cancellation fees for anyone who “broke up” with their current provider in favour of T-Mobile.
(Image source: shortyawards.com)
The campaign resulted in 80,000 break-ups – many of which were helped along via a custom-built Facebook app that guided people through the process. Users were also encouraged to share their letters on social media, which helped boost awareness of the campaign, and achieve such great results. UGC as a trend continues. Last year, Vodafone launched a campaign specifically to target the under 25s – an age bracket not historically associated with the brand. To do so, it launched VOXI – a standalone SIM-only network designed to entice a younger audience by taking the use of selected social and chat apps out of data allowance calculations. Users could access Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Viber without cutting into their 30-day 4G plans. It’s a great deal in and of itself, but Vodafone wanted to cement the brand’s relevance with the younger generation, and so VOXI enlisted a community of 60 young artists, musicians, and designers – known as VOXI Creators – to create “youth-generated content” for its marketing channels.
(Video source: youtube.com)
The goal of the campaign was to create a millennial community that celebrates “endless creativity” and “endless possibilities” – all enabled by endless social data. “We’ve worked with hundreds of people aged 25 and under, and have really listened to them,” said Dan Lambrou, Head of VOXI. “They are a generation that’s tired of being stereotyped and talked at, rather than listened to. We created VOXI, a transparent new mobile network that gives young people a platform to connect to the things that matter to them, whatever they’re in to.” The results were phenomenal. The @VOXI_UK Twitter page grew its audience at a rate 48% higher than forecast. The view rate for the launch of the event streams was 44%, with a completion rate that was higher than Twitter averages of 8% – a success so great that it is now considered a best-in-class example of how to launch a brand using Twitter. Within three weeks, VOXI had delivered an 85% reach of its target audience per week, generated 81 million ad impressions and 17 million video views.
(Image source: campaignlive.co.uk)
This is a great example of telecoms marketing, where an established brand managed to take the concept of UGC and enhance it with its own unique twist to target a very particular audience segment.
Social media has become one of the most important marketing channels for brands in any industry, and for telecoms companies looking to attract and retain an engaged audience of loyal customers, they need to be focussing their attentions on the most popular platforms, too. Social networks are the enablers of user-generated content marketing campaigns, and yet, according to figures from Wayin, far too many telecoms brands are failing to harness the power of social media and UGC.
(Image source: wayin.com)
The beauty of user-generated content is that it is created not by brands themselves, but by their loyal customers. This effectively acts as word-of-mouth advertising for the brand in question – if customers are taking the time to create, publish and share content about their favourite brands, then those brands must be worthy of such attention and affection. A recent infographic published in Adweek reveals that customers trust UGC more than they do a brand’s own marketing output. Earned media platform Olapic conducted the research for the infographic, surveying consumers to find out how they view user-generated content marketing. Here’s what Pau Sabria, co-founder of the company, had to say about the findings. “76 percent of consumers believe the content that average people share is more honest than advertising from brands. That should serve as a wake-up call for brands to start exploring the use of authentic content in ads and marketing to build trust and create a more meaningful dialogue with their customers.”
(Image source: adweek.com)
Wayin’s own findings back up this research – 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth over any other forms of advertising. It also found that UGC-powered websites achieve fantastic results, including a 10% decrease in bounce rates, a 22% increase in the click-throughs, a 300% increase in dwell time, and an 11% increase in web traffic.
(Image source: wayin.com)
There is a snowball effect with UGC, too, which plays nicely into the hands of telecoms marketing objectives. The more customers that jump on your UGC campaign and hashtag, the more it encourages others to follow suit, effectively doing your telecoms marketing for you. And this is a much better use of social media than simply allowing it to become a channel for customers to air their complaints and grievances. Telecoms marketers need to be searching social media for the best content created by their followers that is related to their latest telecoms marketing campaign, and then choose the best of the bunch to promote. In addition, telecoms brands should look to service and product reviews from third-party sites to provide further social proof that theirs is a company worth doing business with.
(Image source: wayin.com)
When it comes to the B2B side of telecoms marketing, telcos need a different set of techniques to get their brands in front of the right decision-makers and B2B buyers. The challenges are different, too. A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that over the next three years, growth in business services will surpass the consumer market and become one of the key growth engines for telecoms companies. However, less than 10% of telecoms marketers believe they are highly advanced and rapidly evolving when it comes to being more data-driven, digitally adaptive, and customer-responsive. As such, a new approach to B2B telecoms marketing is required if they are to successfully connect with B2B customers and gain a competitive edge in this side of the business. Let’s take a look at what trends are emerging in the B2B telecoms marketing space.
Content is of extreme importance for telecoms marketing initiatives – but it must be done right. The long and the short of it is that there is an awful lot of “noise” out there on the internet, with reams and reams of content being produced by all manner of companies. Ultimately, B2B customers are seeking telecoms companies that they can trust, and when telcos are bombarding the web waves with varied and often spammy messages, trust can often seem as if it is in short supply. The solution is to be producing higher quality content that connects with customers in an honest, meaningful and engaging way right along the path to purchase. For telecoms marketing, this means creating true thought leadership pieces that are relevant and truly useful, and that underscore their marketplace expertise. Thought leadership content of this nature is what will remove the risk from the buying process. It will instil a sense of trust and confidence in your prospects, and prove to them that you really do know what you’re talking about and what you’re doing. In addition, thought leadership content demonstrates that you have a true understanding of industry regulations, customer challenges, and modern business pain points. In LinkedIn’s survey of B2B business decision makers (BDMs) and C-suite executives (CXOs), thought leadership (TL) rose to the top in terms of trusted marketing content.
(Image source: business.linkedin.com)
It’s not enough to just be producing any old thought leadership content for telecoms marketing purposes, however. Quality, indeed, is more important than quality when it comes to TL. In fact, according to the LinkedIn study, 50% of B2B buyers stated that they were disappointed with the quality of thought leadership content that came from vendors. The solution is to go for the “blockbuster” – as opposed to the lacklustre – approach to the thought leadership content you produce. Essentially, this means investing more in fewer pieces of content to make your blockbuster pieces stand out from the crowd. The trick is not to design your thought leadership content to sell products per se, but rather to sell your expertise, your know-how, and your solutions to specific problems. It’s also important to create content that can be repurposed into different formats so you are able to sweat the content asset for all it’s worth. For example, if you produce a “blockbuster” eBook about the impact of 5G, from this you can then create a series of blog posts, a SlideShare, an infographic, and an animated video using your findings. This will help you with your cross-channel promotion campaigns, improve your visibility on social media, enhance your social selling opportunities, and much more besides.
(Image source: business.linkedin.com)
Telecoms companies need a comprehensive marketing strategy that straddles both B2C and B2B customer segments if they are to remain competitive in the digital age. At markITwrite we have years of experience designing and executing bespoke telecoms marketing campaigns for commercial clients that put content, thought leadership and social media at the fore. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you succeed in 2018 and beyond.
18-03-2019 - Gary Smith