Greater focus on privacy and security, and more empowered customers will be on telcos’ minds in 2022 and beyond. By Phil Douty, Global Partnerships Director, Intent HQ
As a new year begins, telcos and communications service providers around the world will be formalizing their plans for the coming months and assessing where to prioritize their marketing efforts. And in such a crowded marketplace, being able to stand out from competitors with exciting, personalized offers will be a must.
To do this, it’s vital you have a good idea of what your customers want. Therefore, you need to keep on top of the latest trends and developments – both within the telco sector and wider society. So what will the next few months hold for telco marketers?
1. Bolder, more empowered consumers
The ongoing pandemic has clearly had a profound effect on how many people view their lives, with the result being that many consumers aren’t prepared to put up with substandard services anymore. The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021, for example, is a clear signal that people are prepared to vote with their feet if they aren’t satisfied, and are feeling more emboldened than ever to take action.
This applies throughout their personal lives as well. For instance, research by GWI found the number of people who describe themselves as ‘daring’ has increased by 16 percent since 2020, while consumers are also more ‘ambitious’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘outspoken’ than they were pre-Covid.
But while this could be a red flag for churn if customers aren’t happy with their telco provider, they’re also prepared to spend. The number of consumers describing themselves as ‘thrifty’ is down by 11 percent, and 55 percent feel more optimistic about their personal finances since Q2 2020. Yet forecasted increases in the cost of living for 2022 could change all this. Being able to understand consumers on a human-level using first-party data will be critical to presenting the right offers at the right time.
Therefore, there are great opportunities for telcos if they’re able to tap into customer understanding in their marketing. Campaigns need to identify which customers are displaying changing needs in 2022. Then, they must deliver relevant, highly personalized messaging that resonates with this new outlook on life. Those that achieve this will see the potential for great rewards.
2. A more security-conscious audience
At the same time, however, the proliferation of attacks and other criminal activity over the last 12 months or so has greatly heightened awareness of cyber threats, and both businesses and consumers are counting the cost of incidents.
IBM’s annual Cost of a Data Breach survey, for example, shows the expenses related to data breaches reached a 17-year high in 2021, at an average of €3.8 million, and the signs suggest no slowing down in 2022.
Telcos may be especially tempting targets for hackers. As well as their role in critical infrastructure that could interest nation-states, the huge quantities of sensitive and personally-identifiable information they hold on their customers make them ideal for financially-motivated hackers.
As such, it will be essential that all aspects of security – but especially areas such as data analytics – are hardened to reduce the risk of attack.
However, it’s not enough to do this behind the scenes. Marketers today depend on gaining explicit consent from their customers to use personal data, and if consumers don’t trust them to do this safely and securely, they won’t give it. Therefore, it’s incumbent on these personnel to communicate how it will be used and how customers will be protected.
3. Sustainability grows in importance
Any business that’s serious about its corporate social responsibility should already have plans to reduce its carbon footprint, but as big events such as 2021’s COP26 conference and increasingly severe weather have refocused many consumers’ minds on sustainability issues in the last year, telcos will need to provide solid answers when customers ask what they’re doing about this.
Marketing will play a key role in this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’ll need to communicate to customers what they’re doing, and in the right way. This means they’ll have to identify what issues their user base cares about and demonstrate what they’re doing to address sustainability issues.
However, actions speak louder than words. Marketing campaigns themselves can also make a surprisingly large contribution to a brand’s carbon footprint. Techniques such as direct mailers, which can create as much as 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses each year, are obvious areas to cut, but digital campaigns have an impact too. For instance, figures from ads platform Good-Loop suggest a typical online campaign emits 5.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide, or nearly half the annual carbon footprint of the average UK resident.
Strategies to reduce this by better targeting users and eliminating wasteful digital spend by cutting the amount of mass-marketing materials companies create – both physically and digitally – will therefore be vital. What’s more, these can also help make campaigns much more cost-effective and deliver higher returns on investment.
4. Privacy for today and tomorrow
Not to be confused with security, concerns over data privacy will be top of mind for many consumers in the coming year. With big tech players such as Facebook – or Meta, as it’s now called – facing a major backlash in the last 12 months for how they’ve used customer data, reassuring users about how sensitive information is handled matters more than ever.
For instance, according to Google, almost three-quarters of people (73 percent) say they favor online services that promise high levels of data protection. Yet at the same time, there’s still an expectation for personalized services, which will naturally require some use of their data.
Therefore, it’s vital for telcos to continue working to build trust among their users, demonstrating that user privacy matters to them and being clear on how they go about this. Such openness will be essential in ensuring customers continue to give their consent for the use of their private data, as without this, personalized marketing efforts will be impossible.
5. Relevance matters
Traditionally, telco marketing campaigns have been about getting to as wide an audience as possible, relying on volume as the key measure of success. But while reach may maximize the results of a single campaign, when you focus on this across all campaigns, the result is oversaturation and worse combined results.
Therefore, connecting with customers on a more personal level matters. Speaking to your audience as individuals, with engaging, relevant messaging, will be where telcos can really stand out from their competitors. This should showcase brand values that matter to customers and be delivered at the right time.
What will 2022 have in store for your marketing campaigns?
By delivering deeper human-like behavioural insights from your first-party data, the Intent HQ’s platform can help you achieve true personalization across your marketing efforts and deliver value across a wide range of use cases. Get in touch with the team to find out more.