We need data and it needs us. Every day, businesses are using data to learn more about their customers, better-target their marketing campaigns and increase their ROI. The right data can do a lot for your business, but without the right people to analyse, interpret and utilise it, your business goals can suffer.
A problem users of data face sometimes is that they are guilty of ‘cherry-picking’ the data they need to support ideas and opinions that they already have. As put in this article by Tom Fishburne: “Data doesn’t have biases. It’s people who collect and select the data who bring bias to it.”
It’s imperative to your business goals that you and your business are using your data as effectively and efficiently as possible. Here at Idiro, we not only have the skills to turn your data into actionable insights but we also have the perfect people to help you use your data to it’s highest potential.
AT&T’s Greg Pharo recently joined Ed Keller of the Keller Fay Group for a webinar on the Return-On-Investment of Word-Of-Mouth (WOM) marketing. He shared insightful information on AT&T’s research into WOM and the significant role it plays in driving new customer acquisition.
Keller stated at the beginning of the webinar that in a recent study, approximately 85% of marketers in the US couldn’t show the ROI of WOM marketing, despite plans to increase their budget spend in the category. A McKinsey article also noted WOM as being the most ‘disruptive’ marketing factor, adding that WOM is responsible for 2.1 billion daily brand impressions in the US and 440 million in the UK.
One particularly interesting statistic was that of the 90% of WOM marketing that happens offline (which is interesting in itself), over half of this was driven by one or another form of marketing or media. Of particular importance is the fact that 26% was driven by paid advertising. Targeted advertising is obviously a vital factor in driving sales through WOM and on the back of that, identifying who to target remains an increasingly important challenge. Being specialists in advanced and predictive analytics, Idiro can identify propitious customer segments so that marketers can better target their campaigns, in order to capitalise on these new figures emerging from AT&T’s research.
Although paid media remains the primary driver of sales for AT&T at 30%, WOM is a close second. Pharo elaborated on this by saying that WOM explained over 10% of sales through positive comments, but also over 10% of lost sales through negative comments.
He concluded his thought-provoking presentation by saying that WOM metrics belonged on a CMO dashboard as a KPI and that WOM is ‘an impactful, relevant variable for influencing sales in the Wireless industry’. He believes that conversation should be a marketing objective for all marketers and Ed Keller went on to explain the best ways for those marketers to stimulate WOM:
1. Focus on ‘talk-worthy’ messages, i.e. ‘triggers’
2. Target consumers who can carry messages, i.e. ‘influencers’
3. Favour marketing/media that maximises WOM, i.e. paid advertising
He also added an interesting point at the end that maybe all media should be thought of as ‘social’.
Idiro’s expertise in predictive analytics can provide marketers with a thorough analysis of their target audience, identifying the key influencers amongst communities and even amongst families and households. Using the SNA Plus platform, marketers can really take full advantage of the power of WOM, which, if this webinar is anything to go by, will remain a key sales driver for years to come.
At this stage, everyone in marketing understands the power of word-of-mouth – which Tom Fishburne’s cartoon, below, elegantly illustrates. Organisations with link data – telcos, gaming companies, social networks and the like – can take a scientific approach to word-of-mouth marketing (aka influencer marketing) by deploying Social Network Analysis algorithms to target the influencers – or the influenced. Idiro is a pioneer in this space.
Over the past few weeks we have been talking with two mobile operators who, prior to talking to Idiro, had each run projects to evaluate the benefit of Social Network Analysis (SNA) for improving targeting in marketing. However, in both cases the trials ran into difficulties that could have been avoided. At the end of the projects both mobile operators had invested significant time and money in running a trial, but neither was in a position to make an investment decision.
We’ve been involved in mobile operator trials of Social Network Analysis for over eight years, and we’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly – so we know how to run a successful trial of Social Network Analysis for marketing. Here are eight tips to help you run SNA trials that give you a clear evaluation of SNA for your business – quickly and efficiently.
1. First, be really clear on your objectives
It might sound obvious – but are you proving a technology, evaluating a vendor or trying to find the best way solve a business problem? Be really clear on this, both internally and with your SNA trial vendor(s). Also, how serious is your organisation about adopting a SNA solution if the trial succeeds? We evaluate operators who come to us looking for SNA trials on 2 axes:
To what extent are the key sponsors prepared to accept the concept behind SNA for marketing?
The degree of organisational backing / commitment to deploying a SNA solution if it is proven (worst case: a solo run, best case: a project with board backing)
Make sure your organisation is prepared to invest in a solution before you start your evaluation of SNA.
2. Work out the evaluation, decision and implementation steps in advance
A common cause of trials not completing successfully is that the assessment of SNA that they deliver is not what the senior team needs in order to make the investment decision. Therefore, before you finalise the trial, work out the evaluation process and success criteria. We offer our customers help with evaluation methodologies for SNA in marketing.
3. Design the trial carefully based on your objectives and your approval process
Many mobile operators make the mistake of specifying too much technical detail (while leaving the business success criteria too loose). Others base their trial design on the offering from a particular vendor. We all know which vendor will perform best in a trial like that!
Different SNA solution vendors have different philosophies, and it is usually best not to specify the vendor’s methodology or business model tightly, at least initially, and focus on the business benefits that are required (see point 1). That way, a wide range of vendor approaches can be tested – and ideas that you did not think of can be incorporated into your project. Use the agreed evaluation method and success criteria to inform the key elements of the scope:
a) Live or historical trial, or both? b) Role and design of control groups c) Technical / operational models to be considered (Saas, managed service, software licence, etc.)
These are important choices, and they will affect the outcome of your trial.
4. The farmer and the cowman should be friends
The most successful SNA implementations tend to have close cooperation between marketing and analytics teams. Whichever side of the organisation you work on, bring your colleagues on board early.
5. Get the trial campaign right
Because they target the influencers or the influenced in your customer base, word-of-mouth campaigns need to be designed carefully. If your evaluation involves a campaign, don’t put all your effort into the technology and test it on a bog standard campaign. Idiro are experts in word-of-mouth campaigns.
Be realistic about how the relationship between spend and quality. Most vendors want to cover their costs at least, during the trial. You could doubtless persuade one or two vendors to work for free, but this might mean that you exclude the best vendors. Remember also to budget for internal costs.
7. Fix a realistic timescale
SNA trials with thorough methodologies take time to do properly. Trials with highly aggressive deadlines nearly always overrun – typically because one or more internal tasks do not receive the priority they need. Set realistic deadlines and make sure your internal project manager has the authority to get the tasks done. Beware of shortcuts, particularly around evaluations.
8. A successful introduction of new technology requires change in the organisation, which isn’t easy
A successful post-trial implementation leading to a strong ongoing ROI depends on getting a number of factors right – operational, analytical, process change, KPIs, etc. When post-trial implementations fail, they do so because they don’t address these difficult issues or don’t have a strong leader keeping the focus on the benefits. Once the SNA trial is completed, the benefits are proven and the contract is signed, make sure you task the team with delivering the benefits within (say) 6 months and not just completing the implementation project.
Idiro would be happy to expand on any of these points. If you are planning a trial of Social Network Analysis solutions for marketing, feel free to run your ideas by us. We might save you some heartache.
Number portability has been important for the development of competition in telecoms. The conference addressed a wide variety of topics around the subject.
Here are some of the points that resonated:
According to one speaker, 75 countries have implemented number portability (NP) on their fixed (FNP) or mobile (MNP) networks.
Many others, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Afghanistan, Armenia, Togo and Tunisia are likely to implement number portability by the end of 2014.
Some countries, e.g. Russia, are struggling against technical and political barriers to implementing number portability
User experiences of MNP vary widely. In Portugal, callers to ported numbers are greeted with a message warning them that the call may cost more. In countries like Ireland, Ghana and Israel, mobile numbers can be ported in under an hour, whereas in some other countries it can take weeks.
In some countries (e.g. UK) the customer approaches her current network and requests porting (this is known as donor-led porting). Best practice, followed by many countries, is that the customer requests porting from the network to which they wish to port (recipient-led porting).
The technical platforms and processes underpinning porting continue to evolve, in response to customer needs (or rather operators’ new product opportunities), technical advances and the pursuit of efficiencies.
My talk to the conference covered three areas:
1. The evolution of in the importance of number porting
Mobile numbers will continue to be an important way to be reached by almost all mobile users, but callers can now find and contact at least some of their targets on social media.
Against that, the cost and difficulty of porting is now very low in most markets, so porting will continue to be popular for the foreseeable future.When truly portable mobile phones arrived (first for businesses, then with the advent of prepaid, for the mass market), the mobile phone number filled a need left unfulfilled: a simple reliable means of reaching someone anywhere, anytime. Porting was introduced to improve the free functioning of telecoms markets. In 2003, the value of porting to the Irish economy was estimated at £IR 129M.
More recently, social media has emerged as a far superior way to find and contact people. Although it has limitations, it removes many of the costs of changing the mobile number. However, in parallel the costs (monetary and service interruption) to users of porting continue to decline, and many operators incentivise port-in. Number porting is here to stay.
2. Insights based on analysing data around porters.
Idiro has analysed data relating to porting customers in a variety of markets. I presented a number of insights (anonymised, of course) on the characteristics of porters based on multiple markets. I also described in detail the phenomenon of porting contagion. The power of word-of-mouth results in many consumers following their friends when they switch networks. This accounts for a high proportion of porting overall. Big thanks to my colleague Lorcan Treanor for the analysis behind these insights. Please contact Idiro to learn more about these insights.
3. How Idiro SNA helps meet the challenges of porting churn
Idiro SNA is a perfect fit for the marketing problems around mobile number porting. Idiro scores can be used:
In Member-get-member acquisition campaigns. Idiro identifies the customers on competitor networks who share communities with phone users on the operator’s own network. The likelihood of these to port in is measured. For the most promising targets, the on-net friends are identified for targeting with a member-get-member campaign. This can provide very strong results.
In retention campaigns to reduce porting churn. This Idiro score is particularly popular with Idiro’s customers. Idiro runs weekly or monthly models to predict porting churn, and Idiro’s customers use these scores in automated weekly or monthly retention campaigns, as well as in other areas such as the call centre.
I was conference chairman on the second day of the conference, which focussed on Service Portability. There is great interest in the topic – where the customer can port not only their fixed and mobile numbers but other elements of their package as well, up to the entire quad-play bundle.
Though the concept is an appealing one, in practice the challenges are large. Imagine being a customer with a home phone, mobile phone, TV and broadband bundle, and moving it to a competitor. Every provider’s service bundle is different, and porting the entire bundle will require the customer (or the recipient operator) to make careful choices. In addition, speakers pointed out that the delay in porting different services will vary, so during a transition period the customer will have some services from the door operator and some from the recipient operator.
There are challenges aplenty there and it is clear that there is no consensus over the best way forward. One might (at the risk of overestimating the similarities) say that the discussion on service portability is where the number portability was 25 years ago.
Overall, the conference was well-organised and the speakers well chosen. However, like with many other telecoms conferences, the voice of the customer was hardly heard at all. Quality was mostly described in narrow telecoms terms, rather than the quality as measured by the user. Almost no primary or secondary research on customer experience was presented by regulators, operators or vendors. At the end of the conference (I missed one talk) I had not learned anything about consumers’ expectations for porting and how well they were being met.
If the voice of the consumer is not heard, how will their needs be met? It was ever thus in the telecoms industry – or at least, it has been for the last 25 years – and it is reason that OTT services like Whatsapp are eating SMS and MMS’s lunch. Despite being excellent in what it did cover, by its omissions this conference reminded me again of why the telecoms industry needs to cop itself on and develop a passion for the customer, or risk its share of customer communications being progressively eroded.
A good friend said to me recently that Big Data and analytics is a bit like teenagers and sex; everybody is talking about it but very few are actually doing it. I think he may need to update his knowledge of teenage behaviour but I got his point nonetheless.
The rush to Big Data has the usual hallmarks of other past industry hot trends i.e. lots of hot air and hype. Additionally, there are a lot of definitions of what Big Data actually is and what differentiates it from, say, your bog standard Oracle BI/data warehouse.
So what’s my definition of Big Data? If pushed I’d say something similar to the following: “Big Data is the discipline of analysing vast volumes of structured and/or unstructured data with a view to generating insights and predictions that improve business performance” (OK, I know that’s not very inclusive of non-business activity but you get the general idea).
My gripe about some soi-disant Big Data companies is that all they have done is moved their dashboard reporting tool to Hadoop (if even that). I can understand the temptation to rebrand an existing BI tool as a Big Data platform but it would be unfortunate if anyone actually fell for that.
Here in Idiro we like to differentiate between BI and predictive analytics – there are many companies offering BI tools of varying levels of sophistication. However, there are far fewer suppliers of predictive analytics platforms (and even fewer still who provide predictive social network analysis like ourselves). In essence, BI tells you what did happen (i.e. after the horse has bolted) and predictive analytics tell you what will happen (while the horse is still happy in the barn). A smart company will use both.
But back to the definition of Big Data…some would argue that Big Data is all about analysing unstructured data such as blog postings, tweets and other such rubbish. Sorry, yes, I know there is useful information in there but there’s a lot of junk too. We prefer not to discriminate against data and believe that any data can form the input for a Big Data platform.
A word of caution lest anyone think that by installing some Big Data platform that all their problems will be solved. The analytics generated by any such platform need to be used to change business behaviour – this is probably the biggest challenge to the successful deployment of analytics within a company. Often there is political resistance within a company to the use of analytics that makes the Israeli-Palestinian problem seem like a walk in the park. Simply put, people and processes need to change if a company is going to capitalise on its investment in analytics.
As for the aforementioned teenagers, I think that when it comes to the adoption of behaviours that they find “beneficial” they exhibit a lot more openness to change than some large companies who desperately need to reinvent themselves. Big Data may or may not be a panacea for all a company’s problems but, once we step away from the buzz and the hype, what we see is that companies small and large, who intelligently leverage analytics for business really do get the edge over their competitors. Call it Big Data, call it analytics, the important thing is to call it right.
Idiro Technologies, a leading provider of advanced data analytics for enterprises, today announced it has signed a deal with Digicel Group to provide data analytics to a number of the company’s operating entities around the globe.
As part of its assignment, Idiro will provide comprehensive subscriber analytics and related consulting to Digicel marketing teams, who will use the service to structure customer-facing acquisition and retention programs.
A recognized innovator in the development of advanced data analytics technology, Idiro’s solutions help mobile operators combat churn and improve customer acquisition rates by predicting which mobile users are most likely to switch carriers. Idiro analytics are also used to improve the results of mobile operator marketing campaigns by predicting which customers are most likely to take up offers for new tariffs, smartphones, and other services. Idiro combines its analytics solutions with consulting services that create a comprehensive, data-driven marketing service.
“We are delighted to reach this agreement with Digicel, which is among the most recognised brands across the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific region,” said Aidan Connolly, chief executive officer for Idiro. “This deal emphasises the strategic significance that Digicel places on properly using subscriber data to achieve positive business outcomes.”
Digicel carried out an intensive trial in a select market in 2012, where the churn reduction capability of Idiro’s analytics service was rigorously evaluated in a highly competitive environment. Following a successful outcome, Idiro Technologies and Digicel Group have agreed to roll out Idiro’s marketing analytics service to operating companies in other Digicel markets. The rollout is expected to continue through 2012 and 2013.
“We are impressed by Idiro’s technology, its responsiveness, and above all, by the proven ROI we witnessed in the trial,” said Stephen O’Leary, Group IT Director for Digicel. “We look forward to working with Idiro in other markets, and expect similar successful outcomes”.
– Ends –
Based in Dublin, Ireland, Idiro Technologies is an award-winning provider of marketing analytics to service providers and businesses around the world. Idiro specialises in advanced predictive analytics for telecoms and online gaming companies, and is a recognized leader in ‘big data’ analytics consulting and the commercial deployment of social network analysis technologies. For an overview of Idiro’s analytics services, watch the short video on our homepage www.idiro.com.
After 11 years of operation, Digicel Group Limited has over 13 million customers across its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network.
Digicel is the lead sponsor of Caribbean, Central American and Pacific sports teams, including the Special Olympics teams throughout these regions. Digicel sponsors the West Indies cricket team and is also the title sponsor of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. In the Pacific, Digicel is the proud sponsor of several national rugby teams and also sponsors the Vanuatu cricket team.
Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.
Digicel is incorporated in Bermuda and its markets comprise: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. Digicel also has coverage in St. Martin and St. Barts in the Caribbean.
Mobile number portability (MNP) is being rolled out by telecoms regulators across the world. Simply put, MNP means that a mobile phone user can switch providers and keep her/his number.
And when MNP is implemented in a country, it always results in an increase in churn. This represents a huge challenge for the mobile operators.
Idiro can help. Idiro has helped mobile operators in a number of markets to deal with the challenges of MNP. We help operators to minimise MNP churn and to target the right customers for acquisition, post-MNP. Using Idiro’s Social Network Analysis (SNA) technology we use mobile operator call records (CDRs) to build a social graph of the mobile phone users in the country. Using Idiro’s proprietary technology we then identify those at greatest risk of churning and porting their number, and also those customers of other networks who are most likely to join our customer’s network. We set up an ongoing programme to provide these target lists every week. Finally, our consultants work with the mobile operator to build the best campaigns to profit from MNP.
Idiro’s long experience of mobile number portability projects and our total dedication to customer satisfaction mean that mobile operators can sleep easy at night.
For a detailed description of how Idiro can help mobile operators capitalise on MNP, or for a discussion with Idiro MNP experts, please contacts us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idiro is delighted to announce that Santa will once again use Idiro’s Social Network Analysis technology to help identify which child had been naughty and which nice.
Following the success of last year’s joint project between Idiro and Santa, Idiro Technologies can reveal that its powerful SNA Plus technology will once again be used to help Santa with the massive task of sorting well-behaved children from naughty children, prior to the annual distribution of presents to good children at Christmas. An innovative application of Idiro SNA Plus will be combined with Santa’s traditional datasets in order to increase the accuracy of separating the good children (presents) from the naughty (bag of coal).
Too often we think of social influence in large-scale terms. Here’s an example of a mobile operator doing influencer marketing – starting small and building a community around influencers at local level. Now, it strikes me that that this success won’t be easy to copy – it requires a person like Sharif with strong social media and leadership skills to make the project work – and even then, I’d bet that even U.S. Cellular found it difficult to repeat the success in other locations.
However, I particularly like two points: firstly, the mix of social media activity with real-life face-to-face events – and secondly the fact that the program increased revenue markedly (a measure missing from many social media case studies).
A strong, focussed social media approach fits very well with the use of Idiro’s Social Network Analysis technology to identify the key influencers. This knowledge should be combined with local knowledge by (in this case) the local store manager to identify the high influencers who will ensure the program generates the maximum word-of-mouth.
Big thanks to the folks at wordofmouth.org for their post which alerted me to the story.
Idiro Technologies can reveal that its powerful SNA Plus technology has been used to help Santa with the massive task of sorting well-behaved children from naughty children, prior to the annual distribution of presents to good children at Christmas.
For centuries, Santa has faced the daunting task of deciding which children had been nice (and would receive the present of their choice) and which had been naughty (and would receive a bag of coal or nothing at all). Through the year, Santa’s research elves collect data on good and bad behaviour by children, resulting in a limited good / bad child dataset. This data is supplemented by a large dataset of Santa letters each Christmas. However, a proportion of these letters have been found to contain significant inaccuracies.
This year, Santa has decided to use analytics to improve his accuracy in determining the naughtiness or niceness of his customers. Under an exclusive agreement, Idiro’s telco customers worldwide have given Santa permission to use their call detail records (CDRs) for a unique project to benefit the world’s good children.
Using Idiro’s SNA Plus technology, we have built a customised social model of the world’s children, including all their social links. Santa provided Idiro with access to his partially-complete database of known good and bad children. It is well known that child behaviour is homophilous – i.e. that good children tend to associate together, while bad children usually run with a bad crowd. Idiro uses these principles, along with Santa’s partial good/bad database, to develop a Social Naughtiness/Niceness Score (SNNS) based on the known behaviour of the child’s peers.
In addition, Idiro is working with Santa to improve the text analysis of the millions of Santa letters to identify syntax that shows sincerity or gives rise to suspicion.
Santa and Idiro estimate that the use of this new technology will result in an improvement in Santa’s Good Child Identification Rate (GCIR) from an average 93% to an all-time high of 99%. This project is funded by Idiro’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Idiro wishes all our stakeholders the compliments of the season and a happy new year.
Note: Idiro Technologies is a world leader in the use of Social Network Analysis in marketing. Although Idiro is providing this service pro bono, the Idiro team is looking forward to Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve.