24 Jun

Mobile Operators: Why, Why, WHY Aren’t You Able to Reach Your Audience?

Original Article on B/OSS

Dear mobile operators:

I have an important question for you, and I challenge you to provide me with an intelligent response.

Over the last two decades, you’ve invested time, effort and countless dollars building powerful mobile networks. You’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars on marketing and advertising to secure customers for whom you (at great cost, no doubt) subsidize state-of-the-art devices.

And yet, the moment a consumer walks away from your store, mall kiosk or reseller, you have no strategic platform in place to engage that customer in whom you’ve invested so much. “Wait a minute,” I’m sure many carrier marketers are now thinking, “We have lots of messaging plans…”

  • “We send monthly bills”… Pardon me, but no one reads them.
  • “We have an email marketing plan”… Sorry, but have you ever noticed how your competitors ads often show up as advertisers in these email clients?
  • “We just built a self-service app”… Not that I’m keeping track, but the average consumer may walk by your store more often than they fire up your app.
  • “We use SMS to reach our users.” FAB! IMS BUT TXTs just DNC. LOL!
    Face it… you really have no dialogue with your active customer base.

So here’s my question: In what world does it make sense that you can’t reach the audience you’ve worked so hard to build?

When Yahoo, Google, Facebook and even Siri have better relationships with your customer base than you do, it’s time to rethink your communications strategy. What’s that? You didn’t ask for help? Never you mind, I am going to give you some advice anyway, I am just that kind of guy.

Know thy customer. Answer me honestly: Do you have the information you need to reach your subscribers in the first place? Their names and email addresses? How about their content preferences? Do you even know their gender or where they live? Face it: You should know all these things about your subscribers. Most websites have more information about them than you do. If you’re not able to gain this information on your own, it’s important that you find a partner to help you get it. And no, it isn’t good enough for this information to be stored somewhere but not accessible. It has to be available to the systems that deliver messages to your subscribers. Here’s why: Beyond the fact that you’re not even able to reach your client base, you wouldn’t even know what to say to them if you could. Without learning who your customers are and what they like, you can’t develop any kind of personalized relationship. Facebook and Google are able to leverage data from social interactions and browsing history to serve up relevant messaging that makes consumers feel informed and understood. Right now, you don’t have that kind of advantage. You need to gain it.

Think beyond the invoice. If the only time you’re reaching out to your customers is when it’s time for them to pay, you’re hardly building a relationship. They’ll love you about as much as they love their mortgage company. But if you build a strategy around useful, meaningful messaging that reaches them at convenient times, think of how strong the relationship might be. For example, many carriers will send a text warning to a subscriber that they’re roaming and likely to incur fees. What if that message was accompanied by a targeted display ad, an email or even a call or text offering a discounted package that covered those roaming charges? What if you knew when their battery was nearing the end of its life and offered them a deal on a new one? Those are the kinds of things you should know and the kinds of offers you, as a mobile service provider, should be offering exclusively. Don’t let competitors beat you to the punch with offers for better plans or cooler phones. Keep your tomers by staying a step ahead of their needs and eloquently communicating relevant offers.

Leverage the home screen. Today, there are very few parties who have an invitation to interact with users on their handset home screens. You, mobile carrier, are among the privileged few. Are you taking advantage of the opportunity? You should be. The home screen is the beachfront real estate of the mobile universe. It’s where users spend the most time – it’s their alarm clock, weather service and virtual bulletin board. And you implicitly have permission to message them here. So why aren’t you doing it?

The home screen probably represents the greatest missed opportunity for all carriers. With so many expectant eyeballs here so much of the time, your odds of being seen and heard are unprecedented. Add to that the fact you are communicating one-to-one, with little or no competition for share of voice, and the home screen becomes your home-run opportunity. By messaging your customers in respectful and relevant ways, you could be building deep, lasting relationships.

The time to act is now. As Facebook, HTC and other major players stake a claim on the home screen, your window narrows by the second. There’s no better way to keep in touch with the subscribers you’ve fought so hard to win, and they’ve already invited you to the party. Start delighting them now, or they’ll invite in someone who will.

As founder and CEO of Mobile Posse, Jon Jackson provides the vision and leadership behind his company’s mission to create a revolutionary and trusted mobile channel through the active idle screen.