What’s next for Telcos during and post-COVID-19?

Chris Baldwin

Apr 9, 2020

What’s next for Telcos during and post-COVID-19? Featured Image
Chris Baldwin

Apr 9, 2020

With more than 20% of the world population in lockdown, ‘stay at home’ was not something that we either expected or prepared for. Governments, companies, and people have all been caught off guard. Telco companies are no exception. Most telco companies were still relying on store footfall to increase their subscriber base or increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), but that has changed now. Yet, this did not impact one of our most basic needs as a consumer to stay social and stay connected with each other. On the contrary, the urge to stay connected is much higher than ever and people are looking at new ways to connect in the online digital world. We have seen a massive surge in voice calls, messages, teleconferencing, and online video streaming, that has significantly affected the bandwidth. This has led to low reception and lower quality video streaming around the world.  In fact, a few Spanish operators have even issued a plea to their consumers to use their services “responsibly” during the quarantine so everyone can benefit from it. 

Table of Contents
  1. Telcos Keep the Economy Going and Keep Us Connected During Social Isolation

  2. What Should Telco Marketers Focus On Now?

  3. Developing Strategies to Increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

  4. Expanding Your Subscriber Base

  5. Before You Go

Telcos Keep the Economy Going and Keep Us Connected During Social Isolation

It is not surprising to see a sharp increase in online and mobile communication due to canceled domestic and global business travels. Hence we have seen telco companies step up to help us connect. Tools like Zoom, Webex, Hangouts and collaborative working software have kept business running, with some very innovative features (Zoom’s virtual backgrounds) and offerings (removal of certain limitations on free Webex offer) that can entertain yet cater broader audiences. Also just the relief of having your loved one a call or a message away has made the impact of social isolation far easier. And apart from just being connected to each other, constant internet connection has made it possible to also entertain ourselves by online streaming on Netflix, educate ourselves with online classes on platforms like Coursera or keep ourselves in shape by following live training sessions on Facebook, Youtube or Instagram. Telcos are at the forefront to make all this possible.

Telco companies have taken the lead by removing data caps along with generous mobile and landline packages. In some countries, even governments backed these initiatives. But still, we saw a drop in share prices of Telco companies and the hardest-hit companies were in China as they were the first ones to experience the epidemic.

Source: https://www.globaldata.com/telecom-sector-will-shine-in-post-covid-19-era-says-globaldata/

Even though share prices dropped, telco brands in China still observed a revenue increase (1.5%)—highest number recorded in the past 12 months.

Source: https://www.bloombergquint.com/markets/three-sectors-remain-unscathed-so-far-from-covid-19-hit

Telco companies are in a unique place where they have not been hit hard economically and have the opportunity to come out of this epidemic with a much loyal subscriber base. For that, understanding and sympathizing with the needs of your subscriber base is essential.

What Should Telco Marketers Focus On Now?

From an immediate short term perspective, marketers should focus on:

  • Developing strategies to increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
  • Expanding your subscriber base
  • Improving customer experiences to reduce support costs
  • Unifying customer data from all channels

From a long term perspective (think post-corona era) marketers should focus on unifying customer data from all channels to enable building the foundation for customer loyalty and retention strategies.

Developing Strategies to Increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

Speed Up Purchase Decisions With Social Proof

While making purchase decisions your subscribers seek validation from previous users, especially when it’s an expensive product or service. Showing customer reviews, ratings or the number of people looking at a product or a service at that moment plays an important role in reassuring customers of their choices and speeds up purchase decisions significantly. Leveraging the wisdom of crowds you can show social proof messages on your website or app on product pages to trigger purchases.

Gamify User Experiences to Boost Engagement

Designing gamified experiences encourages visitors to interact with your site or app. It can particularly be useful for lead collection campaigns for future targeting of your subscribers. On average, gamified experiences yield a 20% higher lead collection rate.

Messaging That Resonates With Your Users

It is important to connect with your customers by addressing their priorities or concerns. While promoting your internet plans or data connections, you can also promote concepts like stay at home and work from home to resonate with the needs of your subscribers. Below is a great example from Circles.Life that promotes exciting packages to subscribers while showing care.

Leverage InStory to Improve Product Discovery

Stories are a great way to engage your users and convince them about your value proposition. Several brands like Instagram, Netflix, Facebook and more have gotten users very familiar with story UX and have seen some off the charts engagement and conversions. You can leverage products like InStory by Insider that help you build native stories that fully match your design within your desktop and mobile websites. Focus on creating collections or stories that are relatable to your customers in these times. For example you can create a story about Work at Home Essentials that showcases products and services people may need while working from home.

Expanding Your Subscriber Base

Leverage Exit Intent to Capture Visitors

Use personalized overlays by detecting exit intent on your site to ensure you engage visitors who are about to leave. Personalize these overlays with offers or packages that closely relate to what they have checked out before or emphasize a key message that might be on your subscribers’ mind. For example, let them know that you are delivering SIM cards to their door for free as a part of your #stayathome initiative.

Drive Mobile App Installs From Your Site

Mobile apps are traditionally a very strong channel for creating customer lock-in as well as ensuring higher engagement. Having your users download your app ensures that you have the added advantage of personalizing your messages using push notifications, geo targeting, deep links and much more. If you already have a mobile app then it would be a great time to start focusing on promoting it and getting your subscriber base to download it.

Improving Customer Experiences to Reduce Support Costs

Optimize the layout of your website for easier navigation through a personalized experience. This leaves a lasting impression and creates a more engaging experience for anyone browsing to easily find the answers to what they are looking for. Now would be a great time to implement this as support lines are facing a higher demand. A well-designed and personalized website will help your visitors find the help they need online and decrease your customer support costs.

Unifying Customer Data From All Channels

When all of us successfully tide over this wave of pandemic and life starts returning back to normal, you will see that your customers will engage with your brand on every channel possible (including offline). To ensure you provide a very contextual omnichannel experience to your subscribers and engage them in a meaningful way, it is important to invest in a platform that can help you stitch your customer data together. Telcos should start thinking about implementing what the market essentially calls as a CDP or a Customer Data platform. Think of all the use cases that you could do by merging offline and online behaviors of your subscribers. For example, you can detect when a subscriber enters a geofence area that is close to your brick-and-mortar store and remind them of their pending document verification. Or if the subscriber is standing in a payment queue, you can send them a push notification with a link to all payment methods in your app.

Before You Go

Outlook still remains positive for the telco companies and everyone has come to a realization that connectivity is a critical commodity. Justifications for investing in 5g network and improving existing infrastructure will never be as strong. Innovation around the telco industry is bound to speed up. As the subscribers become more and more tech savvy during self isolation they will demand personalized experiences and offers from telco brands. That’s why the case for investing in martech tools will be never as strong for digital marketers. The telecommunication industry is going to adjust to changing subscriber expectations, so there is no choice but to become a part of this wave.

Chris is an award-winning marketing leader with more than 12 years experience in the marketing and customer experience space. As VP of Marketing, Brand and Communications, Chris is responsible for Insider's brand strategy, and overseeing the global marketing team. Fun fact: Chris recently attended a clay-making workshop to make his own coffee cup…let's just say that he shouldn't give up the day job just yet.