Telco tips for effective digital marketing

Damien Dujacquier and Lyubomir Minkov/Roland Berger

Advertising is experiencing yet another digital transformation. For most Southeast Asia (SEA) telecoms, digital marketing is a significant portion of annual marketing budgets. An Adobe survey indicates that 84% of telecoms in SEA plan to reduce traditional ATL advertising in favor of digital. Some foresee scrapping offline marketing altogether.

Consumers are also spending more time online. SEA countries led the pack last year, with an annual growth of 14% more active social media users and 21% in the mobile segment. However, bigger budgets and higher engagement do not necessarily guarantee more sales.

Chief marketing officers across SEA have jumped on the digital wagon without confidence on what tangible top-line results to expect. Lack of campaign performance visibility, reporting issues and limited tangible results are among the biggest challenges.

To overcome these challenges, marketers should focus their efforts on four key pillars.

1. Getting bang for your buck

Conventional marketing influences customers on a subconscious level while digital marketing reaches the customers at the moment of truth when ready to purchase. Every dollar spent on digital should have a call to action. If not leading to an online purchase directly, digital marketing campaigns should at least generate leads. Collecting emails and phone numbers of perspective customers and following up with an outbound sales pitch should be part of every campaign.

Marketers should realize that in order to secure additional budgets in the future, they need to show results today. This requires expanding focus from engagement, awareness and share-of-voice towards tangible acquisition goals. The shift calls for new comprehensive bidding strategies leveraging machine learning and predictive algorithms to improve returns. For example, optimized cost-per-thousand impressions bidding on Facebook enables automated bidding for a specific action while constraining campaign budget.

2. Building digital enablers

SEA telecoms have the opportunity develop their own web stores, with an emphasis on providing exceptional user experience through quick checkouts, user-friendly interfaces, live chat capabilities and free shipping.

Contrary to popular belief, telecoms web stores do not compete directly with e-commerce platforms. In fact, SEA operators should build close collaborations with e-commerce giants to realize marketing, promotion and sales synergies. Through partnerships, carriers can offer preinstalled apps of ecommerce players, joint marketing and in-store promotion while e-commerce players can offer online marketing and onsite promotion for carriers.

For example, in the Philippines, both Smart and Globe partner with Lazada to sell branded devices, data top-ups and to increase adoption of their mobile payments. Alibaba has long-term ties with China Telecom in selling affordable branded devices, helping both players deepen their presence in less developed parts of China.

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Digital marketing is imposing new challenges for telecom marketers in SEA – here’s how to tackle low returns and limited visibility