Digital marketing in the telecommunication industry: the right strategy to start growing again

Digital marketing in the telecommunication industry: One way to spur growth in the telecommunications sector is through a digital marketing strategy. The key? Making it relevant to your audience. One way to spur growth in the telecommunications sector is through a digital marketing strategy. The key? Making it relevant to your audience. In this post, we’ll talk about what your strategy should include.

The telecommunications sector is a particularly competitive one. It is no coincidence that the growing level of competition is one of the most pressing concerns for leaders of the major Telco companies worldwide.

There are three factors that are influencing this. First, compared to the past, newer competitors have emerged that are more agile, digitally advanced, and more capable of better-intercepting users’ needs. Second, digital transformation has inevitably changed the needs and expectations of consumers. This is an issue that is even more true in a context like telecommunications, which lives on continuous innovations that have a direct impact on society and individuals. Third, technological innovation has become increasingly rapid in recent years, and it’s where many telco companies lag behind. This is mainly because of their lack of ability to perceive changes and evolve accordingly, but also because of the difficulty in modernizing the infrastructure, both in terms of costs and of available skills.

The reaction to growing competition, to be frank, was not particularly positive. Despite their dominant position in the market, even some of the main telco companies have not been able to create an effective strategy to spur their recovery. It is no coincidence that the “price battle” between companies was essentially the only measure adopted, which further accelerated the crisis.

The contraction in prices is what led to an overall reduction in sector revenues, which remain low despite the investment in new technologies and infrastructure. For this reason, the recent signs of growth have not made industry analysts lower their guard. Instead, they continue to emphasise that players will need to adopt a whole series of measures in order to support and consolidate this expansionary phase. Some have spoken of the need to review the core business, while others have indicated the need to open it up to new competitors (through alliances), and still others have advocated a reconsideration of the principle of net neutrality, a subject, that has been at the center of public debate in the United States. Of course, these are all important aspects. However, it is worth adding one: the creation of a new marketing and communication strategy.

 

A new marketing strategy to get the industry back on track 

It is hard to imagine a recovery in the telecommunication sector without foreseeing that it will also involve putting in place a very precise marketing strategy that can exploit the new technologies made available by the digital transformation.

There are three reasons for this.

For one, telecommunications companies no longer enjoy a completely positive reputation among consumers. In general, users don’t see telcos as able to provide real innovation in the services they offer. Moreover, users are increasingly under the impression that there is a lack of transparency in offers and fees, which, combined with an often disappointing customer care model that does not live up to expectations, has led to a stagnation in the economic value of the brand and customers see players as less competitive overall.

This is confirmed by recent statistics from the 2019 Brand Finance Telecoms 300 ranking survey, which means that, for the third year in a row, the economic value of the telco industry has decreased. While this rate increased by about 7% in 2017, it was down to 3% in 2018 and just 1% in 2019. The extent of this negative trend is all the more evident when compared to the finance sector, which grew by 17% in 2019.

There are two other factors in favor of an advanced digital marketing strategy. Customers expect such a large sector to be at the forefront of technology. Embracing a digital strategy is what telco companies need to regain trust and relevance among its customers, who increasingly consider them a commodity rather than an advanced service. Also because, on closer inspection, a well-designed digital marketing strategy would make it possible to make better use of the opportunities that the digital transformation of users’ habits offers to all companies able to take advantage of them.

 

The advantages of digital marketing in the telecommunication industry

To understand the extent of the benefits that a digital marketing strategy can provide, just look at the latest statistics on internet usage, mobile devices, and social media as reported in the Digital 2019 report, produced by We Are Social in collaboration with Hootsuite.

From this research a very clear picture of Italy emerges. The country is increasingly connected, social, and increasingly uses mobile devices, especially smartphones, to carry out a large number of activities. In fact, nearly 92% of the population—about 54 million people—are internet users, a number that has increased by 27% compared to January 2018. Of these, almost all, or 50.14 million, surf the web using a mobile device.

The latter figure is particularly important because it reveals a trend that is now well established in Italy, namely that the smartphone is the device that Italians use the most. In Italy, there are almost 86 million mobile connections, mostly prepaid and broadband. It is also interesting to note what Italians do with their phones. The majority of the population uses them to communicate through messaging services (about 87%), but use of mobile video content is also widespread, used by 4 out of 5 Italians. In addition, mobile is what people use to stay connected to social media. There are more than 35 million Italians on social platforms and 31 million enter from a mobile device, staying online about 2 hours a day (it’s also where they show a propensity to interact with other users). The tendency of Italians to be very social is demonstrated by another fact. Although YouTube and Facebook, understood as the ecosystem that also includes Whatsapp, Messenger, and Instagram, continue to be the most used social platforms, the average user has a profile on more than 7 different platforms.

The We Are Social survey confirms that a digital marketing strategy can play a key role in relaunching the telecommunications sector. In addition, the data also indicates the type of strategy necessary to be effective, namely one that will be able to break through to the hearts of consumers so that they reappraise it in a positive light.

In fact, there are different types of strategies that can be adopted, from the “classic” to the innovative. For example, you can opt for an approach based on email marketing, which is still a popular strategy for companies because it allows them to reach their consumers directly.

To make it even more effective, you can adopt other technologies that can significantly improve the quality of your communication, such as, for example, using artificial intelligence to more effectively segment your audience. You could also produce personalized content based on the type of consumer you are reaching, perhaps even inserting buttons that allow the recipient to take action when he wants, if he is interested. This makes the content more relevant and increases the reputation that the user has of the brand, which is perceived as more interesting and attentive to his needs.

Another equally interesting approach is relationship marketing, the marketing strategy that focuses on the relationship with the customer in order to build a lasting relationship, i.e. loyalty. Relationship marketing can exploit the means and mechanisms used in email marketing, but it requires a different mindset and a precise and detailed ability to collect and analyze consumer information. This approach, among other things, has the advantage of pushing telecommunications companies to improve the quality of the customer experience offered.

A telecommunications company in Hong Kong has invested considerable resources in developing a system capable of predicting and meeting the needs of users, such rapidly resolving network outages. In doing so, the company has reduced problem management time from several hours to 30 minutes and ithas been able to anticipate connectivity problems that might occur shortly thereafter. In this case, speed and the ability to anticipate needs brought two major advantages: the number of negative reviews fell below 50% and the customer retention rate increased considerably.

Another particularly effective strategy is that of content marketing. Like relationship marketing, this is a more time-consuming strategy, but it enables a lasting relationship with users. The creation of interesting content for marketing purposes is particularly useful for telcos because it allows them to advertise their products by bringing consumers closer to a sector, in this case, one that can be both technical and complex. Moreover, providing up-to-date and reliable educational content improves brand positioning, which for telecommunication companies is essential to become a credible and relevant point of reference for their audience.

 

Choose without excluding 

Obviously, the list is not complete; for example, we haven’t mentioned outbound marketing or influencer campaigns. But is it really necessary to choose just one of these strategies?

As often happens, the best solution is a mix of different approaches. This does not detract from the fact that, above all, telecommunications companies must build a marketing strategy that takes into account the next transformations that digital communications will undergo.

The Think Forward Report 2020 by We Are Social provides an indication of the main trends impacting digital marketing this year. Perhaps the most relevant trend is for “Running Commentary,” which is linked to the length and complexity of the messages that a brand launches online.

It is no longer enough to be short, dynamic, and direct. Instead, you have to take a stand on issues. Users are no longer satisfied with things like memes with visually appealing content; they want more from brands. They want them to take a stand on issues that consumers find relevant.

Any digital marketing strategy you choose will have to start with this. Once you have clarified the issues and positions that are relevant for your audience, there will be no lack of tools and channels to communicate it. This is the only way to change one’s perception in order to make it more attractive to your target audience. Obviously, this will not be enough to ensure that the whole sector starts growing again in a more decisive and uniform way, but it will undoubtedly represent an excellent starting point from which all those involved will be able to benefit. While this may not be enough to transform the entire sector, it does represent an excellent starting point from which brands and customers can benefit.