Telecom digital marketing: Three steps for creating a secure and compliant data-driven strategy

12th June  |  
5 minutes

The total global telecom services market was valued at $1,805.61 billion in 2022, and is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% from 2023 to 2030. But gaining a strong market share is not easy. Telecoms is a highly competitive market, and one that demands large-scale capital investments to succeed. For instance, it’s thought that telcos will spend $1 billion each on network cloud transformation alone. Winning customers is vital to justify these and other major network upgrades. That’s why telecom digital marketing is so important. It is the engine by which telcos fuel subscriber growth and safeguard the future of their businesses.

The personalisation imperative in telecommunications digital marketing

However, when it comes to telecommunications digital marketing approaches, operators come up against an array of challenges. One key issue is that telcos are relatively late to the game when it comes to personalising campaigns and content to engage audiences better. Yet doing so is key to delivering exceptional user experiences.

As McKinsey puts it: “More than ever, satisfying, retaining, and acquiring customers requires telcos to embark on a complex journey away from the business-driven campaigns that they have traditionally embraced and toward customer-centric, data-driven, highly personalized campaigns that are always on and always evolving.” Telcos are evolving into tech-centric experience economy businesses, and that requires a significant evolution of telecom digital marketing practices and mindsets.

Balancing personalisation and privacy in telcom digital marketing

Digital marketing in the telecom sector must also comply with emerging global privacy laws and increasing consumer demand for privacy-conscious digital products and services. By nature, telco businesses generate and process a wealth of sensitive customer data including personally identifiable information (PII) such as names and addresses, call duration records, internet usage data, location information, and more. Ensuring data privacy and security is essential to avoid regulatory fines and maintain the trust of customers. After all, 71% of consumers say they would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.

Today, digital marketing in the telecom sector is therefore increasingly about finding a perfect balance between the rich, engaging, and relevant personalised experiences modern consumers demand online, and the need to protect data and consumers’ right to privacy.

Three steps to effective digital marketing in the telecom sector

The good news is that with the deprecation of third-party tracking cookies and mobile device IDs, the adtech ecosystem is innovating new, privacy-first methods for building rich customer profiles and audience segments for use in personalised engagement at scale.

Telcos in particular stand to benefit given the treasure trove of first-party customer intelligence they have to-hand. If this data is consented for use in marketing, and can be activated safely and at scale, then telco marketers have a powerful tool at their disposal.

Telcos have a range of options for leveraging these advances within their own martech stack to deliver against their marketing imperatives and extract value from their first-party customer intelligence.

There are three basic steps involved to determine the strategic direction:

1 Decide on implementation model. The first step in determining how to deliver personalised advertising while safeguarding customer consent post third-party cookies, is deciding on whether to build or to buy. One question is whether to activate their marketing campaigns against their IDs, rely on a third-party Data Management Platform (DMP) or Customer Data Platform (CDP), or build their in-house solution that integrates with the adtech ecosystem.

Building a system in-house ensures that the telco retains complete control, but also requires complex integrations across the adtech ecosystem and lacks scale. Partnering with a DDMP or CMP provider is faster and easier, but this approach requires that telcos cede control of the service to their partner. Integrated solutions meanwhile, include telco-grade in-network solutions. Here, the telco retains full control of the service, but also benefits from the ease of working with a partner that has taken care of industry integrations.

2 Select an ID platform. With the deprecation of tracking cookies, new ID types have exploded on the market, many of which offer greater privacy protections. However, some IDs are better than others and telcos should weigh up several key considerations including: is the solution dynamic and real time; does it integrate easily with the telco network and the adtech ecosystem; is it easy to deploy; and does it activate at scale safely?

3 Move fast. There is a closing window of opportunity while the adtech ecosystem is still adjusting to the deprecation of cookies. Operators that move fast and adapt quickest will have a period during which their will more easily be able to reach existing and potential subscribers. Given the industry’s competitiveness, that is not an advantage to be turned down. It is easy to take a “sit back and see” approach, learning from the leading edge to see which IDs and adtech ecosystems work out best. But taking this approach will mean losing out to innovators who will find themselves better prepared for the privacy-first marketing model emerging today.

The success of digital marketing in the telecom industry rests on the ability of operators to leverage their first-party customer intelligence effectively, efficiently and safely. Options exist right now that can help them do just that. The only question that remains is: “what are you waiting for?”

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