Targeting different groups of pre-pay customers - Business Logic wants to help African mobile operators get smarter

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Africa’s mobile operators have been used to splashing about money on blanket advertising and using headline grabbing tactical price offers. But as an increasing number of African mobile markets move towards saturation whilst also experiencing greater competition, this is simply a recipe for lower ARPUs. Operators have to move from thinking about “mass” pre-pay markets to finding the different groups of “niche” pre-pay users. Richard Lewis, Chief Sales Officer - Europe, Middle East and Africa at Business Logic has a marketing software InTelestage that helps operators do this. Isabelle Gross spoke to him about how operators can use it to market more effectively to pre-pay customers.

Does having a smart marketing software tool make you a smart mobile operator? Well, yes, according to Richard Lewis it can help African mobile operators to get a better understanding of their prepaid customer base and equips them with clever tools to keep them and generate more revenue out of them.

Last summer’s price war between mobile operators in Kenya underlined the challenging role of the marketing director in an environment that is getting more and more competitive. The battles between mobile operators to gain and retain subscribers are getting more vicious (successive rate cuts) as the potential to acquire large chunks of new subscribers has vanished in many African countries. Marketing managers have to get smarter and faster and according to Richard Lewis, this is what Business Logic’s software suite “InTelestage” enables them to do. It extracts data available in the different parts of the mobile network (e.g. data at the RSS and BSS levels, IN data, location base data, data warehouse) and aggregates them to enable a segmentation and profiling of the prepaid customer base. Marketing managers are thus able to set up and deliver targeted promotions through multi-channel delivery means to their subscribers. Today, in well too many mobile operations, the marketing people still have to make a request to the IT team when they want to get detailed or specific information regarding their customers calling and top-ups patterns because the information required as to be retrieved and aggregated from different data sources on the mobile network. Business Logic’s software enables to cut-down the time to market for a promotion but also the time to get feedback on a promotion as it allows real-time monitoring. According to Richard Lewis, it helps to tackle churn rates, a plague for African mobile operator. Churn rate’s causes can be summarised as the consequences of a lack of retention activities or as the reaction to the promotions of a competitor.  Business Logic’s software offers to marketers to set up loyalty campaigns that aim at retaining customers but also because it is fast and flexible it will help them to set up quickly a campaign to counter competitors’ promotions.

The software solution is scalable and works for small and big mobile operators. It can start as low as 100,000 subscribers and can be implemented in eight weeks. Customisation of the software can also be done according to the mobile operator’s requirements. The product is always in evolution and current new developments are around social circles analysis tools. Although Richard Lewis didn’t provide an exact amount of the cost of the software suite, he said that it represents a tiny fraction of every top-up. Business Logic is already working with several mobile operators in African but due to clients’ confidentiality requirements, the names can’t be disclosed.

African mobile operators work in a multi-SIM card market whereby nearly every mobile subscriber uses more than one network to make its phone calls and therefore all the tools in particular promotional campaigns are used by mobile operators to try to get the greatest share of the mobile user’s wallet. For Richard Lewis, mobile operators spend too much money on running blanket reward promotions that reward every customer without distinguishing between them. Business Logic’s software suite enables marketers to segment their customer base according to any patterns that is relevant for their marketing campaigns. For example it can identify when a customer removes its SIM card from the phone and when the SIM card is in the phone but not in use. Once these patterns are flagged, marketers can then set up targeted promotions towards this set of customers. Telstra, an Australian mobile operator has for example set up over two hundred micro-segmented customers’ categories to deliver more effective campaigns. Richard Lewis explains further that the profiling of the customer base enables to get more out of promotions but it also enables mobile operator to get more value out of advertising campaigns. When you know our customers and for example you know who your high spenders are or your regular top-ups subscribers are, your subscribers are worth much when it comes to talking to advertising companies about targeted campaigns.