Harnessing data to reduce churn & retain customers

The telecommunications industry holds an enviable position of being data rich, giving its marketers a distinct advantage. They’re in the perfect position to unlock the power of this data to deliver greater customer engagement and conversion, thus reducing churn and engendering loyalty. Rich user information from a multitude of digital touchpoints and data sources allows marketers to profile and track their consumers more easily.

By harnessing first-party data, such as a customer’s demographic make-up, location, how many calls they make, how much data they use, what value added services they buy, when their bundle expires etc., and combining this with third-party data sources, telcos can use the insights garnered to target, engage, grow, and retain their customer base.

Unlocking the digital treasure map

Telcos operate in a ‘red ocean’ where customers are constantly enticed to jump to the competition. With such an active consumer base, it becomes increasingly difficult to capture and retain not just their loyalty, but their attention too. Having a point of difference and reaching individuals at the moment they’re most likely to engage, with creative that grabs them, is crucial. Understanding data, and more importantly knowing how to use it, is of paramount importance to winning in this environment.

Having such rich first-party customer data enables telcos to really understand what customers want and differentiate communications on that basis.

By deep profiling their customer base, marketers can identify the different behavioural patterns that drive each segment, such as services most used, preferred device, frequency of sim change, websites frequently visited, and other aspects trackable by the MSISDN and IMSI of a particular user. Then, through different data modelling techniques, operators can prioritise the promotion of the specific features that are of greatest importance to that particular audience segment. It’s also important to consider that a customer may have more than one MSISDN, and in some cases several. Developing a single customer view by combining all the data and insights, allows marketers to form a holistic view of the actual person sitting behind the data and so develop their marketing strategies accordingly.

Rethinking data to reduce churn and remain forefront of mind

Where things really get interesting, and indeed where telcos really stand to gain, is by enriching this first-party data with third-party data. Internal first-party data can provide valuable information that’s great for finding the ‘who’ and ‘what’. External data from platforms such as Google and Facebook add real value in answering the ‘why’. For example, one section of heavy data users might use data for mobile gaming, whereas another might prefer to use it to watch live video streams. The best way to reach each of these two audiences will be different, whether it’s through in-app advertising, interstitials or an experiential pop-up next to their favourite hang-out.

Then comes timing, data can provide you the opportunity to connect with consumers through digital channels at specific moments in time that are impossible in the offline world. By combing behavioural insights across platforms, such as when someone subscribes to your English Premiere League streaming service and “Likes” Liverpool on Facebook, this valuable information can be used to determine both timing and relevance of messages and so better engage your audience. Working with the right data partners then becomes essential if, for example, you want to target that particular individual when the last free kick hits the net at 2.31am. If their team wins, it’s congratulations; if they lose, it’s consolation. The relevance of your message is something that will get their attention and something that they will remember. Through the use of our Cricket API, Airtel have used this technique to great effect, achieving an unprecedented post engagement rate of 30%, above the market average of around 10%.

Your brand’s memorability is also key to achieving long-term success. In such a high churn market, remaining forefront of mind can only be achieved by presenting the right creative, with the right message, at the right time. That’s also why, when it comes to digital marketing, to accurately gauge ROI it’s important to look at metrics beyond last click attribution and to consider the whole digital journey, including measures such as dwell time, brand recall and brand uplift.

Combining first and third-party data to give that extra layer of personalisation and timing delivers a compound effect on ad performance; an effect that is proven to work. By targeting the audience and developing creative based their interests, and showing them relevant and compelling messages at the right moment, on the right platform, we helped grow the user base for a telco’s music offering by five times, while also reducing the cost per conversion fivefold.

Making sense of data to gain and retain customer loyalty

Both third-party and real-time data is needed to enable such effective personalised marketing. However, to gain and retain the trust and loyalty of customers, marketers must continually review and supplement their data to facilitate a better understanding of their customers and so be able to adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.

For an industry as dynamic and digitally savvy as telecommunications, data-driven marketing can be the difference between pulling ahead or dropping out. Finding the right partners to help you make sense of, and use, the data that’s available both today and in the future is key to securing success.

Indeed, those who are really set for success in this market are those who: 1. have the right technology solutions in place to gather this empowering customer data; 2. work with the right data partners to make sense of this data and enrich it with appropriate and relevant third-party data; and 3. have creative executions that are digital-first and that really resonate with the audience. With these three elements in place, telcos will find themselves ideally placed to truly harness the power of data and so reduce churn, retain customers, and achieve true customer loyalty.

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