For some years now, the number of SIM cards in circulation has exceeded the total human population. According to the most recently published estimates for 2021[1], there are over 8 billion phone subscriptions worldwide. And with a global population of 7.9 billion people[2], any enterprising cell phone company should find its place in the market. But competition from traditional telecom operators is particularly fierce. The increasing popularity of IP telephony has also transformed the landscape of terrestrial cell phone networks. Meanwhile, groundbreaking projects, such as the Starlink constellation led by SpaceX[3], have opened up new horizons for the satellite phone market. This boom has created countless opportunities for Internet specialists offering cutting-edge communication services.

 

Savvy subscribers are attuned to today’s hyper-competitive environment. More opportunistic than ever, they change operators at the first signs of dissatisfaction or when seduced by the latest deals. How, under these conditions, can you build customer loyalty and counteract the dreaded churn so prevalent in today’s telecommunications sector?

Operators have the resources and insights to build relevant consumer knowledge KPIs such as voice or SMS usage data. At the same time, most operators still aren’t exploiting this goldmine of information to the fullest.  

 

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The key to solid commitment: in-depth knowledge of each customer

Despite regulatory frameworks for data collection and data sharing and its use in sales prospecting, consumers remain overwhelmed by a heavy-handed messaging approach that has obviously reached its limit. Can a single marketing action have any impact at all when competing with so many others, especially when based on impersonal statistics such as age, profession, income and geographical location?  The effectiveness of this approach is questionable. Individuals in the same segment don’t always share the same expectations, especially when it comes to timing, journey and communication channels. What’s more, this logic remains the driving force behind most traditional marketing actions and their “one size fits all” approach. But with access to a vast range of service offerings, consumers today opt for the ones most aligned with their individual needs. And based on collective segmentation, traditional business strategies are in no position to deliver.

Marketing individuation® offers a completely new approach. It uses artificial intelligence, which is able to process data on an immense scale and whose ever-finer granularity allows brands to refocus on each customer, gain in-depth knowledge of their preferences and thus hyper-personalize their experience.

In the telecom sector, the performance of relationship marketing tools is augmented by different types of data—incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, mobile app usage and customer service touchpoints. Tracking browsing history, although regulated in many countries, can nonetheless help identify the areas of interest specific to individual customers. This information, combined with purchase history analysis, enables telecom operators to build proposals that are aligned with consumer expectations. Offers are thereby communicated at the time deemed most opportune by the algorithms and on the most relevant channel— email, call center, SMS or notification—for each individual.

This detailed knowledge of subscriber habits and behaviors, to which marketing individuation solutions give access, allows operators to maintain a lasting relationship with customer profiles otherwise considered challenging.

 

 

Individuation marketing® addresses issues specific to the telecom sector

An understanding of individual subscriber behavior that is comprehensive—rather than based on segmentation—makes it possible to predict the indicators of churn or deliver the expected product, service or message.

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1. Prevent churn

There are many reasons why subscribers choose to switch operators. Subscription length is a major reason—the shorter the cycle, the higher the risk of churn—as is cost. Individual usage preferences also play a key role in churn. For example, subscribers who purchase a package with voice, data and text messaging when they only use one of these services will likely go to a competitor offering that one service at a lower price.

Predicting churn is difficult because it involves picking up disparate, often subtle signs. That is where predictive marketing tools come in. They are extremely effective because they can analyze large quantities of data and are equipped with real-time warning systems for potential churners. Risk is detected well in advance, giving operators the time to adopt relevant and timely strategies to prevent churn.

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2. Identify communities and their leaders

With enhanced customer knowledge, marketing individuation offers telecom operators unique growth levers. Using call data, it can pinpoint groups of people or specific communities of subscribers—among friends, families or colleagues—who mutually engage and determine the degree of influence each individual has within their community. In this way, influential leaders within these communities can be identified. While their churn can have a snowball effect, their loyalty to the operator can have a positive impact. The challenge is to distinguish between them and determine their propensity to subscribe. Operators can then communicate personalized offers, grant them certain benefits and transform them into ambassadors of a new product or service. Another effective strategy would be to target the community through Friends & Family packages.

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3. Identify—and retain—multi-SIM customers

Consumers today have the option of using multiple SIM cards, which means subscribing to more than one telecom operator. The multi-SIM trend is especially prevalent in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

What’s more, multi- or dual-SIM users tend to navigate their way between several operators searching for the best deal.  They typically use up the free service provided by one operator before switching to the next operator offering a better deal. Multi-SIM users will also adapt their habits to get the best offers for a specific function; for example, they might make calls with one operator while relying on another for data usage.

Predictive marketing tools respond to these behaviors, which lead to a considerable loss in revenue for telecom operators. They help identify dual- or multi-SIM subscribers and determine the percentage of use shared with a competitor. As a result, they work in tandem to implement a marketing plan that gradually boosts wallet share. High-performance tools help brands engage subscribers, many of which offer challenges and benefits via gamified applications to generate user habits and build loyalty.

At the same time, subscribers may choose to become multi-SIM users with the same telecom operator. This is common when operators offer better deals for customers purchasing new SIM cards than for customers topping up already purchased cards. A subscriber may then buy a card only to use it up and throw it away before getting a new one. But the cost of recycling cards in this way is extremely high for operators. It includes both purchasing and processing costs, along with the cost of recycling the number, which must remain out of service for a fixed period. For this reason, telecom companies should identify potential multi-SIM users as soon as they buy a new card and offer them free access for a bit longer to extend the service life of the card.

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4. Foster long-term commitment among mobile money customers

Mobile money is the principle of using a smartphone as a mobile wallet, through which users can receive, save and spend money without holding a bank account. It can be topped up by telecom operators, merchants or by receiving a money transfer from another mobile money or bank account.

In this context, operators need to foster regular use of their services as a first choice—mobile money customers must instinctively top up through the operator, using their electronic wallet, instead of turning to a local retailer. Targeted customer engagement programs can be used to convert top-up purchases into products, such as minutes, data or SMS packages. Customers can also be given added benefits when using their electronic money with partner brands and merchants.

Once again, operators can use enhanced knowledge of consumer habits and preferences to adjust their generosity; relevant marketing communications will make an impact because they are hyper-personalized.

While there are many reasons why users don’t commit in the long term, augmented customer knowledge boosted by predictive tools is the foundation of a relevant and hyper-personalized approach to relationship marketing. Ultimately, this new approach will mean a higher ROI for telecom operators. But getting there requires an exponential amount of data that AI alone can handle. That’s why players in the telecom sector need solutions enhanced with the most advanced technology out there today.

 

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[1]Over 8.3 billion in 2019 according to Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/262950/global-mobile-subscriptions-since-1993/.

[2]https://www.ined.fr/fr/tout-savoir-population/chiffres/tous-les-pays-du-monde/

[3]https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/04/02/internet-par-satellite-la-nouvelle-bataille-de-l-espace_6075300_3234.html