The telco space, which includes mobile, cable and Internet service providers, has many unique considerations when it comes to optimization and personalization. Despite their brand and product diversity, all companies that fall under this umbrella are trying to accomplish a few of the same things—namely, to drive new subscriptions as well as to encourage upgrades among existing users. These companies are also working hard to evolve their self-service capabilities to, ultimately, reduce call center and in store volume. Because of these broad considerations, telco is fast becoming one of the most complex optimization spaces in the industry, with countless opportunities for brands to interact and deliver relevant, customer-driven experiences.
To dig into the topic I brought together some of Adobe’s telco leaders. Each works closely with some of our clients and partners in the space and has lots of unique insight to share. Here’s what they had to say…
Let’s talk about conversion events—specifically that first one, driving new customers. In your experience what have you seen be successful for telco companies? How are best in class organizations driving new subscribers?
Kendra Jenkins, Principal Consultant, Multi-Solution Architect: One thing that’s interesting about the space is that, typically, there aren’t a lot of options for customers when it comes to Internet and cable. Maybe there are one or two competitors in your area, but it’s not limitless. So for telco companies the focus really needs to be on making the customer experience as smooth as possible, and to get visitors in the buy flow quickly and seamlessly.
The other piece is making sure customers are aware of everything available to them. It’s always a back and forth—should we simplify packages to make the customer experience easier, or should we present a variety of options so the end user is more satisfied with her decision, in the end? We’ve tested it a lot and over and over have found that customers feel more confident when they’ve been presented with all of the options and can customize their packages accordingly. That’s the better experience.
So what strategies have you leveraged to make the offers and packages more user friendly? How have you improved communication and made the offering clearer to customers?
Kendra: With my clients it’s more about “are you interested in X?” with a single-play offer or package—a double- or triple-play, for example. One of the things we’ve done is pre-select options for them versus having them select themselves. The results have varied—there’s been no clear-cut winner so brands should definitely test before rolling out anything large scale.
Shoaib Alam, Optimization Manager: Like Kendra mentioned, the number of companies selling these products and services is fairly limited. So I agree—showing what product packages are available is key. In addition, we’ve also done a lot of competitive analysis on the site experience. For example, in a particular geo or region one cable provider has specific advantages over the others in the space and highlighting the benefits of Cable Provider A over Cable Provider B can have a positive impact on conversion.
But, interestingly, packages are usually very similar, even across competitors. So it’s important to optimize the user experience on the page, make it easy as possible for them, help them find what they need very quickly and, overall, maximize the buy flow. We’ve had lots of success increasing interaction on the page itself—creating a filter-style tool in which users can self-select speeds, if they want a phone or not, budgets, things like that. This enables users to be part of the purchase process, versus a traditional retail interaction where they’re being sold to. It’s really the digital equivalent of browsing a store—and we’ve seen it increase conversion rates.
How have you seen personalization help increase upsells?
Shoaib: I’ve seen clients look at a user’s previous purchase behaviors as well as how long they have been a customer, and deliver personalized experiences from that data. For example, a high value customer with great credit and a long history with the company will get a personalized upsells offer throughout their browsing experience. Again, side-by-side comparisons can be very powerful here. You have Package X, but Package Y is only $5 or $10 more—and look how much more you get. That’s been very helpful when it comes to upsells in the space.
Jason Hickey, Principal Consultant & Solution Team Lead: I would echo that. I had a client that had five different packages and we wanted to determine a way to drive upsells and improve the average cart value. We ran an A/B test that highlighted their “Recommended Package,” which was tied to their second tier package, and moved that recommendation to the third tier package, which was $5 per month more. Adoption of that middle tier package improved immediately and resulted in incremental revenue for the provider.
I’ve also seen the order of packages have an impact. People seem to intuitively implement results in a “low to high” ordering configuration, but transitioning to a “high to low” layout actually helped migrate visitors’ eyes towards the high end of the spectrum first. We were able to increase average order value without impacting conversion rates—in other words, we converted the same number of users, but we just did it with greater value per order, since more people were opting for the higher priced packages.
That’s interesting. So there was a layer of psychology to it all. Were people more likely to go with medium packages after seeing high packages first?
Jason: If you follow some of the eye tracking studies you see that people read up to down, left to right. So that definitely had something to do with it.
Brittany Chandler, Senior Consultant: Many of my clients are drilling down on shopper personas—the deal shopper, the data shopper—and aligning different groups with different experiences. For them it’s really about how they can drive their most valuable personas down a desired path through targeted messaging and meaningful contextual experiences.
That’s a really great point—people are coming in with all different needs in this experience.
Jessie Doecke, Optimization Consultant: Some of the recent testing we’ve done is with broad-reaching pages that include lots of packages and add-ons, versus pages that are cleaner and more straightforward—fewer packages and smaller bundles, for example. Moving forward we’re going to use lookalike models and see who, coming in, has a greater propensity to buy a single-, double- or triple-play. So rather than targeting everyone we’re looking to deliver more relevant experiences that give them what they need, and not everything.
In terms of upgrades we’re already starting to see that broad, high-level messaging through navigation works. Add-ons and upgrades, interestingly, have seemed to be very seasonal—it depends on the time of year. Showtime might be a powerful add-on during certain times of the year, and sports packages another—so it’s important to be conscious of that.
Shoaib: I’ve also tried leveraging neighborhood information with some of my clients for geo-targeting. Certain neighborhoods have a higher concentration of family homes and are more likely to have users who want Internet, TV and phone service—families have a greater likelihood of having landlines. For those neighborhoods we try targeting triple-play packages versus double-plays. In urban areas, especially in the center of the city, users are more inclined to just buy Internet services and we try to upsell them to higher Internet packages because they may be using streaming TV services. This approach has generated a lot of value to customers and clients.
What about reducing call center use and in-store traffic? Has that been a focus at all?
Shoaib: Call centers are expensive for our clients. We’ve done a lot of testing to figure out what pages on the site are triggering the most calls. To test this, we’ve assigned unique phone numbers to each of the website pages to see which is generating more calls—and from there we can troubleshoot. We’ve also pulled logs from call center reps and sent surveys to see what users are calling them about to see if we can solve those problems directly on the site. Maybe there are common questions about how many channels they could get with a particular package—if so, we’d put that upfront to hopefully curb the number of calls and, with it, the overhead associated.
Kendra: Different from self-service account activities, we had an interesting win in prospect area of a client’s site, where we actually added a second CTA that allowed them to call more easily. We saw a lift in prospect orders from both phone and online.
Jessie: Some customers are just more inclined to call in anyways. Giving those customers another way to place their orders opens up an incremental revenue stream—if you catch the shopper at the right time and the right place of the content consumption path, it won’t impact online orders but will likely increase phone orders.
So if you had to sum it all up, what would you say the biggest optimization and personalization opportunities are for telco brands?
Brittany: Really focus on the mobile experience, whether it’s mobile web or apps. So many consumers are coming in through mobile that it’s essential to focus in on communication, strategy and visitor experiences. It could be reducing content or forms, offering an easy click to call option. That would be my top recommendation—it’s a huge opportunity.
Jessie: I agree, optimizing mobile sites for new customers seems to be the biggest opportunity to broaden the acquisition net at the earliest point of research and discovery, especially since consumers are moving across so many devices, all of the time, everywhere.
Jason: I also think there’s a huge interest in recommendations—automated behavioral targeting with product suggestions comes to mind. I see an expansion from selling only devices to selling devices and accessories. The margins on cases, accessories, and other peripheral pieces presents a massive opportunity. To drive this algorithmically as opposed to manually saves them time and generates incredible revenue potentials.
Kendra: We’ve seen lots of success targeting customers based on existing account products or settings. Driving that knowledge base and role-based targeting has helped us drive more relevant experiences and product upsells.
Shoaib: We’re at such an interesting point. In terms of service providers there’s so much change happening. Look at the increase in TV consumption online, for example. There’s an option to sign up for HBO to Go only—you don’t even have to get the channel through your cable package anymore. Plenty of entertainment companies and TV companies are evolving their services and offerings to meet consumer demand. We see lots of telco companies moving away from just being a cable TV or Internet provider and to being more a technology firm—there are set top boxes that look like Apple TVs with apps, even, and they’re working to collect analytics data so they can better serve existing customers while understanding seasonality trends. It all helps brands optimize their offerings and deliver the best possible customer experiences.