Top Mobile Marketing Challenges for Mobile Operators

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By Thomas Schuster

Flytxt, for over a decade, has run several mobile marketing campaigns, and has been providing a technology platform solution for the Operators. Through these years, we have closely understood and solved some of the challenges faced by mobile marketers.

From conducting large scale campaigns, measuring the impact, to maximising returns on investment… the challenges are many. We have compiled below, what we think are the top ten Mobile Marketing Challenges and need of a third generation technology that will enable operators maximise their ROI on mobile marketing.

1. Current Marketing Technology is too slow

Today most products and services promoted by mobile operators have extremely short lifecycles. The success of such products relies purely on instant selling. Conventional marketing processes and generic multipurpose technology tools are designed for long-cycle campaigns, and hence are not effective in the new scenario. The marketer can be successful only if he can test offers and product variants, and come up with the most profitable recipe within hours. This requires a specialised, real-time mobile marketing technology platform with end to end workflow and usable tools. 

2. Subscriber Value Maximization not possible with Push and Forget Tactics

“We have to make the transition from playing the customer acquisition game to the value game … The industry has to now move towards managing customers,” comments Sunil Mittal, the CEO of Airtel (as quoted in Forbes magazine).  The key to creating value is engaging subscribers in a direct conversation and creating a lasting relationship based on it. This necessarily means a shift from the open loop “push and forget” tactics to a real-time customer lifecycle management. It involves sending right messages at the right time, listening to their feedback and using it to make future communications more relevant.

3. True ROI Measurement is impractical and too slow

Most marketers measure the campaign effectiveness based on response rate. Though response rate is reasonably good metric, what matters to mobile operators is the return on investment, i.e., the actual money made. A part of the total revenue from a product could be a direct result of marketing campaigns. However, a part of it is also generated without any trigger from the marketers. In other words, some customers buy products on their own. Therefore the net impact of a campaign can be calculated only if we distinguish between the above two. Currently this is impractical and too slow with tens of campaigns per day and manual Excel techniques. Only a marketing technology that allows for automated, real-time monetary impact analysis based on control groups will help marketers to make quick and educated decisions.

4. Unscalable Marketing approach for VAS Revenues

With stagnating Voice and Data revenues, the percentage of Value Added Services products increases steadily. As a result, the number of partners also increases and the question arises “Who should do the marketing for those joint revenues?” Partners don’t have access to the entire subscriber profile, and mobile operators cannot directly support the marketing of partners’ products. To leverage these new revenue opportunities, mobile operators need a marketing technology that allows the Partners to do effective marketing, while they exercise control over subscriber data and marketing policies.

5. Lack of Real-Time data for Personalisation and dynamic Offers

Marketers understand the value of real-time data for maximising the relevance of campaigns and offers to subscribers. But currently marketers do not have access to real-time data sources. Operator’s BI and CRM systems have a latency of minimum 24-48 hours and by the time the data is transferred and analysed it would have lost its real-time value. Relevant offers for the mobile channel require an operational real-time mobile marketing database that provides fresh subscriber data to marketers all the time.

6. Marketers are consumed with Manual Data Processing

Currently mobile marketers depend on manual processes to execute campaigns. Data files are being manually transferred, analysed, exported, transferred again, and uploaded for sending… the story goes on. This process is error-prone, slow, hardly scalable and above all hinders marketers from being innovative and creative. To get the brightest and most creative thinkers to exercise their potential, it requires a mobile marketing technology that automates all steps of the campaign workflow, including real-time campaign reports.

7. Personalised Offers cannot be tracked and reward

Offers like “Top up minimum Rs.100 and get Rs.50 extra talk time” staggered for example by subscribers’ ARPU are proven to have high ROI. But the challenge is to identify conversions for an offer based on the eligibility criteria and fulfilling the reward to the customer. With tens of campaigns per day, it is impossible to keep track of it manually. It requires a flexible integrated marketing technology to enable sending dynamic personalised offers and fully automating their fulfilment.

8. Limited Reach to Rural Populations

Rural areas have a rapidly growing subscriber base and mobile is the only channel to reach them. However barriers like multiple languages and low literacy rate make it difficult for the marketers to address the rural population.  To maximise the returns from the rural population it requires a marketing technology that allows for automatic language personalisation and the use of the voice channel for those who cannot read.

9. Enforcing Subscriber Privacy and Spam Control

Increased competition, subscriber fatigue and government regulations make subscriber Privacy, Do Not Contact (DNC) list and frequency management an important part of mobile marketing. Most operators have some policies in place, but they have no adequate tools to enforce them, and hence run a high risk of violation of regulations. An automatically enforced solution to control frequency of messages and manage privacy policies is required. This is extremely important as the Operators could be fined for non-compliance.

10. Marketing Inventory cannot be fully exploited

Mobile Operators have successfully exploited the push channels using generic multi-purpose tools. However, the interactive and real-time potentials of mobile are yet to be unlocked. Though Operators realise the opportunity, they are hesitant, as real-time marketing involves a lot of practical difficulties.  To monetise valuable subscriber touch-points, it requires an integrated technology that will help in rolling out real-time offers based on subscriber actions.

About the Author

Thomas Schuster is the Co-founder and Sr. Vice President – Product and Technology of Flytxt. He is responsible for the design and technology behind Neon, the company’s third generation mobile marketing platform. He has a decade long experience in mobile marketing technology. The Offshore Developement Centre of London based Flytxt is in Technopark, Trivandrum.

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