American Marketer


New rules of customer engagement

August 15, 2014

Noam Green is vice president of marketing at Flash Networks Noam Green is vice president of marketing at Flash Networks


By Noam Green

Marketing faster network speeds and offering new devices is no longer enough to keep customers on board. Now wireless carriers are also competing to provide to the best customer experience.

Subscribers are basing their customer loyalty on the quality of their network performance and their personal interactions with their wireless carrier.

The customer experience traditionally includes network performance measured by coverage, dropped calls and download speeds combined with the quality of interactions throughout the entire customer lifecycle from face-to-face meetings at the retail store to customer support calls. Now as technology has advanced, customer experience has also become customer engagement.

According to a recent report by Ovum, customer experience management (CEM) has emerged as the top driver of telecommunications IT investments in 2014, which includes service personalization with relevant services offered at each point of interaction.

Carriers have several different channels to choose from when they interact with their subscribers.

Carrier portals can be used to promote data packages and mobile content, but it is hard to attract subscribers’ attention and bring viewers in.

SMS messages can be sent to notify subscribers of new offers, but often these messages can get lost, or can be perceived as spam.

There are also carrier apps available on the Apple app store or Google Play that can be downloaded. However, it is difficult to convince subscribers to download these carrier-branded apps, and often there are several applications that each do something different so it is difficult for subscribers to choose which one they need.

Proactive customer engagement
Another option for promoting engagement is to inject an extra layer into the subscriber’s native browser, enabling carriers to reach a large number of eyeballs just by enabling the configuration for the relevant audience.

This type of solution enables carriers to reach devices bought on the grey market and does not require applications to be pre-loaded or downloaded.

In addition to real-time subscriber account status and notifications, coupons for products and services and content can be made available based on the subscribers’ interests.

These offers can be revealed at the most relevant time based on the subscriber’s browsing context.

For example, when a traveller is browsing to purchase a plane ticket to Berlin, offers can appear for the relevant roaming package, or even providing a lower flight ticket fare.

Indeed, this type of interactive browser-overlay app has been received positively by subscribers, with an opt-out rate as low as 2 percent.

Generally speaking, by providing highly relevant offers the conversion rate is unusually high, ranging from 5 percent to 37 percent, which is much higher than standard display advertising at .010 percent and SMS at 2 percent.

One Asian carrier achieved a click-through rate of 65 percent and a conversion rate of 27.3 percent by providing relevant merchandise to sports fans.

In Europe a campaign offering cinema tickets resulted in a 41 percent click- through rate and a conversion rate of 5.3 percent, while an offer for pizza resulted in a 22 percent click-through rate and a 5.3 percent conversion rate.

One Eastern European carrier estimates that it will receive $100 million in top-up revenues and services in five years by using this service, where 25 percent of the subscribers interact and 1 percent or them make purchases on a daily basis.

Barriers to success
Of course, there are challenges to implementing this type of service.

Other than the technological complexity of enabling this service to a large group of devices and Web sites, one of the largest obstacles can be building an inventory of compelling mobile content and finding the right match between offers and the target audience.

Some vendors come with pre-arranged content deals taking the burden off the carrier.

In addition, carriers who are already squeezed by investments in LTE and capacity while experiencing declining average revenue per user (ARPU) are less willing to invest in a new service without seeing a quick ROI.

A simple revenue sharing model can solve this problem where carriers can experience profits from day one. Services can include revenue sharing based on payments from publishers where tracking, invoicing, and payments are managed by the monetization vendor.

In addition to being a successful tool for reducing churn, customer engagement that is proactive and highly targeted with relevant content can now become a strategy for differentiation, delivering long-term sustainable profitability.

Noam Green is vice president of marketing at Flash Networks, Edison, NJ. Reach him at