Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jens Backes, Duarte Begonha, and Ruben Schaubroeck for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about the firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.
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Online sales and service are key measures of successful digital transformations. But most telecom operators aren’t implementing the fundamentals that drive customers online and keep them there.
Significantly, the research also pinpoints what drives engagement with online sales and service—and therefore accounts for this vast disparity in performance. Irrespective of whether the operator is an incumbent or a challenger or the maturity of the local e-commerce market, what matters is a relentless focus on a relatively few basic measures along the customer life cycle. Here are seven of the most important, many of which have yet to be implemented by the majority of operators (See Exhibit 1).
[Here is the first of seven of the most important measures.]
1. Attraction: Reach customers looking to buy
Telecom operators attract large volumes of traffic to their websites. Most of it comes to them directly—and hence largely free—when consumers type in a company’s web address. The amount that companies spend generating traffic from other sources varies widely. Among a group of 20 operators in Western Europe, top-quartile spenders on digital marketing outspend those in the bottom quartile by roughly 70 percent. But the issue isn’t just how much you spend. Where you spend the digital-marketing budget is just as important.
Although many companies have installed digital-marketing platforms to help them optimize campaigns, many still overspend on display, video, and social-media advertising. Those ads almost never generate as many website visits as paid searches and, to a lesser extent, online affiliate marketing (including multisector price-comparison sites)—the go-to places for people intent on a purchase—do. Among the Western European operators we benchmarked, paid searches and affiliate marketing accounted for about half of the digital budget but generated almost all of the orders (Exhibit 2).
Social-media advertising could well become more effective once prospective customers can buy telecom services directly through social-media apps. At the moment, however, that is by no means commonplace. People using social media tend not to stop whatever they are doing to visit a commercial website or external app. For now, paid searches and affiliate marketing not only generate the most traffic but do so at a lower cost per click than display, video, and social-media advertising—all while drawing in the very visitors most likely to make a purchase, which further improves the cost per order.
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The seven measures summarized in this article are only part of a broader and inevitably complex digital-transformation program that will include substantial organizational and cultural change. Despite that complexity, telecom operators must not lose sight of important tactical measures that can have a transformative impact. A handful of telecom operators have discovered what they are. Others would do well to learn from their example.
Here is a direct link to the complete article.
The authors wish to thank Giannis Kourousias, Harrison Lung, and Joanne Mason for their contributions to this article.