Mobile is transforming our lives, and because telecommunications companies are at the epicenter of the mobile evolution, we wanted to get their perspective on the challenges, opportunities, and digital marketing priorities for the future. In collaboration with Econsultancy, we surveyed over 200 executives in the telecom industry based in North America and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Here are our favorite themes and findings from the study.

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Have Budget, Will Invest

Digital marketing is a strategic priority for telecom companies but integrated marketing remains elusive.

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46% of telecom marketing budgets are devoted to digital as compared to 38% for companies across all sectors.

In addition, 84% of telecom executives plan to increase digital marketing technology spend over the next 12 month as compared to 70% across all sectors.

While the telecom industry leads other sectors with respect to integrated marketing, there’s still significant upside. Fifty percent say they have the technology needed to succeed. However, 43% say marketing doesn’t have the technical skills to utilize technology to full extent. (This finding correlates with Adobe’s Digital Distress study.) Also,only 37% take an integrated approach to all marketing (12% across all sectors).

Study Respondents
“Big Data is a revolution and the hype about it is real. It presents the opportunity to make our organization more agile, more efficient and more competitive.”
“Big Data will do three major things for us: 1. Deliver smarter services that generate new sources of revenue.
2. Transform operations to achieve business and service excellence.
3. Build smarter networks to drive consistent, high-quality customer experience. It’s a natural progression since mobile and social.”

Big Data, Bigger Opportunity

Telecoms consider Big Data to be the most exciting opportunity for the near term as it will support their efforts to increase revenues from the core business. Big Data ranked the single most exciting opportunity over the next 12 months.

Disconnected technology platforms were also cited as the greatest barrier to integrated marketing. Connecting these platforms will help unlock the value of Big Data.

In addition to the importance of connecting technology platforms, other barriers to success top the list of issues for US telecoms, including too much data, no single customer view, and privacy.The US appears to be more mature in the area of Big Data and integrated marketing with 64% of respondents saying they are able to attribute contribution of marketing efforts across multiple channels versus 35% in EMEA.

Apps First, Mobile Maturity on the Rise

Mobile has received high levels of investment and mobile maturity continues to evolve.

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Apps topped the listof channels telcos will use to engage with mobile users over next 12 months. Respondents also said 58% of their Web users are multichannel (accessing both mobile and desktop), which is helping drive continued focus on Big Data.

Mobile maturity still evolving, however, compared to EMEA, US respondents indicated the following:

  • mobile is a separate team (40% versus 27%)
  • higher mobile investment (56% versus 30% at > $7.5M currency adjusted)
  • higher percentage of web traffic from mobile (52% versus 39%)
  • higher proportion of visitors using both mobile and desktop (63% versus 53%)
  • higher use of mobile apps to engage with users (79% versus 56%)
  • able to attribute the contribution of marketing efforts across multiple channels (64% versus 35%)

In the short term, driving mobile investments through a separate team may be advantageous. Clearly an integrated team can’t be equated to organizational expertise and maturity in mobile. However, a silo-ed approach to mobile organization will eventually limit full integration of mobile with other marketing activities.

Video Marketing Rises in Importance

Video and personalization are essential to engendering engagement and conversion on small screens.

Video marketing is a top priority for telecoms relative to other industries (28% for telcos versus 9% for all industries). Given the high proportion of users accessing telecoms sites through smaller screens and high audience engagement with video, it is not surprising to see video marketing at the top of the list of digital priorities.

Here are the top digital-related priorities over the next 12 months:

priorities

Support for video is also evident when reviewing budget plans. For example, 57% of companies surveyed are planning to increase budgets for video advertising over the next 12 months.

telco table

In addition to mobile and video, social and personalization are ranked at the top of digital priorities. Conversion rate optimization is notably absent from the list of top priorities, representing a gap within the telecom industry where high mobile traffic but low mobile conversion rates currently make for a leaky funnel.

You can find the full report here: Digital Marketing in the Telecom Sector.

Study Respondents
“Three-quarters of our traffic comes from mobile but 96% of our conversions come from desktop … we should be able to improve on this.”
“There seems to be limited focus on retention. Due to the long purchase cycles (mobile phone contracts have two-year contracts as standard), focus tends to be placed on acquisition rather than retention. There are big opportunities for greater retention through delivery of personalized content. In turn this should reduce overall acquisition [costs] and increase customer lifetime value (through cross-sell opportunities).”
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