Explore your subscribers, do not exploit them


15 February 2016 | Speaker: Sergey Khromov


Let’s take a step back and look at the financial side of business that operators focus on today. One of the main buzzwords today is ARPU – or rather, ARPU maximization. What operators do today to try and boost their ARPUs as much as possible is business-as-usual to them but ethically questionable at best to most subscribers. Many operators exploit their subscribers’ habits, interests and preferences to trick and confuse them with tariffs, services and offers that have very short-term value to subscribers (if even that!), focusing on immediate ARPU growth and often ignoring future engagement with subscribers. It seems that to many operators it’s a dog-eat-dog world and if they don’t suck that money out of their subscribers now then somebody else will do it instead. Such approach is economically meaningless because it creates very little value for subscribers. It ignores their true needs and they feel cheated and abused. Nobody likes that. Operators need to focus on creating sustainable and meaningful value for their subscribers, engage with them, understand their needs, explore their interests and preferences. But they must not exploit this knowledge, as there is a fine line between these two “ex”-words.

The previous several posts focused mostly on the importance for in-browser notification solutions (IBNs) to be very flexible and universal in technological terms, as was demonstrated by several examples from experience of Jet Telco experts, to give operators maximum freedom in engaging with their subscribers. The idea is that IBN must be a universal tool, not a weapon. IBNs must be used for subscriber engagement, not for subscriber exploitation and abuse – this is why intelligence level of IBNs is so critical. Operators have vast amounts of subscriber data (another buzzword today – Big Data!) and it is a challenge for many to extract real value from it. However, real-time analysis of subscriber actions is just as important. IBNs must use it for segmented and personalized approach, enriched by knowledge of subscriber needs, preferences and interests, taken from operator’s big data and derived by IBNs from subscriber behavior.

Consider a simple real life example. Operator wanted to be able to create messages that would use several subscriber behavior attributes. Specifically, they wanted to be able to do subscriber retargeting, setting the rule so that if user clicks on certain message then this user will be shown another message. For FTTH they wanted to advertise dog show tickets to those who had previously clicked on pet store discounts ad. This was tricky because those who clicked on pet store were not only dog owners, so this rule allowed further segmentation of those who had first clicked on pet store ad into dog owners and those who were not. For mobile subscribers the rule was different – those who completed a quick questionnaire would see another message with special coupon for a free welcome drink in a local café. Additional information about subscribers’ location, time of the day they responded, what sites they responded from etc – this was all kept as references for future campaigns.

Operator wanted not only to engage differently with its FTTH and Mobile subscribers, it also wanted to further segment these subscribers according to their preferences, for future targeted and relevant messages. Subscribers were to be allocated to specific groups, based upon sites that they visited. It is important to note that while this was real-time analysis, derived by IBNs from subscriber behavior, and real-time update of subscriber groups also by IBN (adding new subscribers to groups and deleting those who no longer met the criteria), it also required seamless integration with operator’s big data and 3rd party analytical and categorization tools to ensure that subscribers did not feel as if their privacy was being invaded. Here the focus was on creating sustainable and meaningful value for subscribers.

The above example demonstrates three important elements that IBN must have in order to be considered a true engagement tool:

  1. IBN must have its own subscriber statistics and analytical tools,
  2. IBN must be able to perform real-time analysis of subscriber engagement,
  3. IBN must be able to integrate with 3rd party solutions to derive additional subscriber details in real-time, as well as extract required information from operator’s big data.

However, even the most intelligent solution will be of little use if its intelligence is not applied properly or, even worse, exploited for short-sighted benefits. This is why it is great to see that operators are starting to move away from this economic illusion of short-term ARPU growth and focus on long-term relationship with their subscribers. In some networks this is being more successful than in others. The focus of the next post will be on how IBNs can help operators engage with their subscribers equally well in different networks.


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