The relationship a telecom service provider shares with a mobile subscriber is unique. Perhaps there are very few other entities that connect and communicate with its customer directly, regularly and also share a monetary relationship with them. In a prepaid majority telecom market this relationship is not to be taken for granted as the consumer is free to choose any service provider with a better service, plan or incentive at any point of time. So, how does a mobile operator ensure that its customer is still its customer? How would the mobile subscriber know what new services are available, what offers he/she is eligible for? Answer to these questions is campaign management.
Mobile operators connect to their subscribers via campaign management across multiple channels to achieve various strategic and tactical business objectives. Since they own the mobile media, they connect and communicate with the subscriber more frequently on mobile. However, with a medium as important as mobile, there are some misconceptions held by marketers in mobile operators about campaign management approach, process and technology. Therefore, it is essential to understand and clear these misconceptions for an impactful and effective campaign management.
1. Key focus of campaign management technology is to send messages: Marketers across the world, irrespective of industry tend to perceive campaign management with just communication of messages, which is why we see many vendors with ad-hoc technologies with a capability to communicate a message on a channel, however simplistic they may be, calls themselves a campaign management provider. But campaign management is not just about sending messages, it involves many other important steps such as 360 degree subscriber profiling, pre-campaign subscriber analytics, segmentation, scheduling communication, tracking responses to communications – both direct multi channel inbound responses and indirect responses to call to action, reward gratification, post campaign result evaluation, detailed reporting, among many other aspects. All these important steps together form campaign management and sending messages in itself should not be mistaken for campaign management. Having a technology which does not have end to end capability will not fulfill the end marketing objectives.
2. Strong analytics always translate to best campaign results: There is little disagreement on the fact that strong subscriber analytics are the key to campaign success, however analytics powered campaigns do not always produce best campaign results. There are two key reasons why this is happening. First, marketers suffer from analysis paralysis and do not give proper attention to timing of the campaign. When lifecycle of the product is too short or when subscriber preferences are dynamically changing, it would not be totally inaccurate to call marketers ‘shortsighted’ to be spending too much time on analytics than on addressing the opportunity at hand. Second, marketers tend to be not so particular about the other aspects of campaign management such as offer design, messaging, measurement, channel preferences etc. While there is nothing wrong in using analytics per se, marketers often tend to ignore other equally important aspects in a campaign design therefore, strong analytics do not always translate to best results.
3. Having DND is enough to ensure subscriber privacy: Some mobile operators tend to use ad-hoc technologies that do not have capabilities to help them keep track of how much they communicate with every subscriber every day. There are cases where some subscribers receive double digit communications every day as there is neither a way to keep track of them, nor a way to control the number of messages a subscriber is communicated per day. In some cases, subscribers are communicated messages at odd times such as middle of the night as there is no means to enforce blackout periods. Therefore, it is necessary to view subscriber privacy not just from DND angle but frequency caps and blackout periods as well that ensure customer experience of marketing communication is top notch. The technology and processes should adequately address these requirements, only then subscriber relationship is nurtured and campaign management is fruitful.
4. Real-time is necessary only for offer communication: The products and services of a mobile operator have an extremely short lifecycle. Therefore, the product has to be marketed to the right subscriber at the right time when the context is still relevant. “Real-time” is a characteristic that is not just limited to offer communication, but campaign management as a whole. Telecom campaign management usually would have a “Call to action” and a “reward/incentive”. Therefore, real-time should apply to offer communication, subscriber response tracking, and also for crediting the reward/incentive before it turns into customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, ‘real-time’ is a characteristic that is applicable to all steps of campaign management and should not be limited to offer communication alone. Having a right perspective about real-time capability is important to understand the impact it can have on customer experience and marketing visibility.
5. Reward management is an offline activity: Many marketers tend to see reward management as an offline activity. If a subscriber is communicated of a campaign with a reward promised, subscriber expects the reward to be credited soon after the call to action is performed, especially if it is a transactional activity. Therefore, if the reward is not credited within a short span of subscriber’s activity, the value of the reward diminishes and it may lead to substantial subscriber dissatisfaction. Managing rewards offline as a file based process may also lead to many errors and revenue leakage. Therefore, reward management should be an integrated campaign management activity, not an offline activity.
6. Conversion is a good enough measure of campaign impact on subscriber behavior: Campaign conversion is seen by majority marketers as a good enough measure of success/impact of the campaign. But how would the marketer ever know if the subscriber has purchased because of the campaign effectiveness or out of regular habit? To identify this, marketer has to employ control groups to see the incremental impact. Good campaign management tools provide integrated control group functionality to measure campaigns. In addition, there will be other means to measure campaign such as pre & post campaign analysis that will add to the accuracy measurement in addition to control group based impact measurement.
7. A technology designed for e-mail can be extended to mobile media: Today we see a deluge of campaign management technology providers who unsuccessfully extend their limited capability of campaign management to cross channel and destroy the value of mobile campaign management. A technology designed for slow architecture such as e-mail cannot be used for mobile as mobile is a real-time channel and therefore, using e-mail campaign technology for mobile is like using cold pill for fever. Slow architecture technologies often tend to involve manual work which leads to revenue leakage because of the inability to contain the campaign benefits to intended subscribers. An extension of such a technology will lead to lot of manual work, increased costs and reduced impact, therefore mobile campaign needs a specialist who is focused on mobile technology alone.
There is a need for marketers to understand the right approach to campaign management and clear these misconceptions to effectively use it as a tool to enhance revenue and manage subscriber challenge today’s competitive telecom markets.