Showing posts with label MVNO VAS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MVNO VAS. Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

MVNO World Congress Pre Conference Workshop 2015

2015 Pre Conference Workshop - MVNO Marketing

I had the pleasure of running the MVNO world Congress pre-conference workshop in the 2015 #MVNOIS, so as we run up to the 2016 MVNO event in Amsterdam its probably time to upload some of the slides to give you an overview and share some of the experience.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop 
The workshop was in three parts, this is the first part that focussed on MVNO Marketing, which in my now 16 year of doing MVNOs, is the hardest hurdle after the MNO agreement and MVNE plus all the other service provision contracts selection. The second part focusses on MVNO Data.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop topics covered
I Will cover the MVNO Data services, MVNO International Roaming, and MVNO Multi-IMSI points in the next few days / weeks running up to the 2016 Conference, as these areas are key, if not the key way an MVNO can differentiate itself from other MVNOs and moreover its host MNO and grow scalability in a competitive mobile market.
An Activity every MVNO should do almost daily!
The first task was to name 3 Big MVNOs that the audience think market themselves well. This is important on many levels.

  • Firstly, if there are none of them in your market you need to ask some serious questions about why and make sure you are not repeating any of their mistakes! 
  • Secondly, it is where MVNOs most differentiate themselves at conception, but most easily compromise on in launch... and to be honest, from there they often never launch and/or never become successful. 
To be a successful MVNO you need to be able to easily access all the needed data on your customers, process this and send targeted below the line packages at them. The key here is that they are below the line, competitors do not see them, customers love and recommend them, but your competitors do not copy them. I want you to think about this as you go through the slides, and I add my 3 top MVNOs further down.
This is sadly where a lot of marketing time is wasted by MVNOs - above the line copy cat price competition - why?
Most MVNOs develop what I cal a bi-polar frankenstein approach to Marketing.

  • Bi-Polar as they flit between being slightly cheaper that their most expensive competition, to undercutting the cheapest offer from the biggest MNO in an instant. 
  • Frankenstein as the first marketing and even product set, is usually stolen from every MVNO that has ever existed in 5 countries, over 3 MVNO models in 6 different niches... and the result is, well usually awful! 
The way MVNOs market is by sending bespoke offers to their customers that will never be on a slide, as they arrive via SMS and the offer is only available to those customers, or other customers of the MVNO. To do this you need ready and quick access to data:

  • who do they call? 
  • what time do they call?
  • what handsets IMEI/MSISDN database are they using?
  • what locations are calling from frequenting?
  • what locations are they running out of credit?
  • where are they topping up?
  • how much and how often are they topping up?
  • what top-up channels are they using?
  • what type of data are they using, where and how fast?
All this is in the CDRs, GGSN and HLR, and needs to be available to the OCS needs to be fully integrated with this, as well as a tool to bulk SMS, and report who has what SMS, as while you will be marketing daily, its not good to market the same customers more than a few times per month for obvious reasons.
"If you cannot name 3 MVNOs from your territory that do this well, its most likely that they do not have access to this data, and if you do not, then you will not be a leader either" 
MVNOs are a Sales and Marketing organisation. The best ones have great BI and change pricing flexibility 
OK I jumped a few slides here on refining product and marketing, however this slide leads on well from above as well as: When an MVNO examines its subscriber acquisition costs (SAC), ARPU and Churn, it very quickly sees that MVNO led customer to customer and MVNO to customer led marketing obtain customers cheapest and keep them the longest. It is important to have a mix of SAC but these need to be kept down to grow successfully as an MVNO.
Choose and adapt from successful MVNOs, but avoid "Bi-Polar / Frankenstein" campaigns! 
Draw on what has worked and what is (see previous slide) is in budget. EE recently did a huge above the line campaign with Kevin Bacon, which is beyond any MVNO marketing budget, however its OM4G and 4GEE twitter coverage was cheap and genius and well within MVNO budgets.
Back to the three MVNOs from the activity above, go through these points.
In my workshop I then went through the above key points for three MVNOs I think market themselves well. My examples were deliberately different: Lyca Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile; the key being that while they are very different MVNOs in very different segments, theirs USPs focus on points that the MNO and other MVNOS find hard to copy, they deliver what they promise without extensive T&Cs, and typically their most successful packages are no where near as cheap, nor anywhere near as expensive, as the cheapest / most expensive MNO offerings of the "Bi-Polar" approach to pricing.
My most copied slide! The MVNO must evolve its marketing to launch successfully and then grow
Which brings me to the last slide of the Marketing section, and my most copied slide. Every MVNO that has been successful has evolved through these stages, many that have failed have failed to adapt, either because.

  • They just did not evolve. Some ethnic MVNOs started with a multi-language USP, but as customers learn their host country language the product needs to evolve, or the countries expand.
  • They could not evolve technically as they were tied too much into their host
  • They could not evolve operationally - if the reporting is manual spreadsheets... you are not going to market successfully beyond early adopters.
When launching an MVNO you can get by with the basic tools that an MVNE and the host MNO gives you, as long as this includes: CDRs, IMEI, HLR location of LUs, all transactions, collated top-up info, SMS marketing tools and reports, reconciliation, GGSN logs, etc. These need to be accompanied with the ability to update data settings OTA, edit the SPN OTA, change tariffs real-time, etc, etc. and usually require another 10-20 services to be sourced and integrated to move beyond early adopters.  These are the keys missing from failed MVNOs or underperforming MVNOs.


I hope you find these slides useful and informative. Feel free to paste these slides into your own presentations, as many do, but of course please do the basic common courtesy of quoting where the content is from if you do change the appearance and/or remove any logos, watermarks, etc.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mobile Roaming Regulation 2014 Customer Experience

When speaking to the organisers I thought it would be a good idea to present at the Mobile Roaming Conference 2013 on the impact of the EC Roaming regulations 2014 from, you know, the customers' perspective. It was a good idea and the presentation was received very well... however writing it was a lot more painful than the usual presentation!

It was only right to add the cover after I had made it look so nice...
So the premise of the presentation was to look at the user experience (UX) of customers while roaming in the European Union and how this may change with the wider EC roaming regulations of 2014, which will of course affect MVNOs. Virtuser is pretty well placed to speak about this, as we were there for the first round of regulations, requiring last minute WAP pages and SMS gateway solutions, and we have helped numerous MVNOs comply with regulation with advice of charge, etc.
Apple was not the first App Store, by far, nor the first to do apps, but the won with great UX
So what is the customer experience at present of not just the roaming regulations, but also just roaming... well its not a good one and its very, how shall we say, pre-iPhone, in fact pre WAP: when did you ever have a great text based customer experience?
The present Roaming Regulation experience is pretty dire and text only mostly
Most roaming experiences start with an overly edited text message, with no number to call customer service for free as we are supposed (come on, we know standard customer care calls abroad are not free, right?), the SMS service is most likely completely disconnected from any core systems or customer care tool and is the main reason why there are so many dormant roamers: when did a text based UX last convince you to buy something?
The roaming experience gets worse, what happens when you go over your limit? 
Then what happens when you go over the €50 limit? the €5 per day all inclusive plans are brilliant, but after 10 days what do I do... well you opt out and one operator was good to their word (above) another shall remain nameless and rubbed their hands together and delivered me a huge dose of bill shock. So I had 10 days of roaming regulation induced sanity, the rest of the time I was back in the dark ages.
And the prize for the best Roaming Regulations advice of charge message is.... 
Vodafone UK has, as far as I am concerned, the best roaming track record post the roaming regulations, however what went on in the office the day they decided this message was the way forward? and this is the reduced version as I culd only fit four screenshots in...
Its not just the regulated messages that are a poor customer experience
After upgrading my iPhone on Vodafone 3 or 4 times, once it decided I needed to change my romaining plan of the last 4 or 5 years... you know, just to shake things up a little: So I arrive and get a message saying I will be charged about 120 times my usual national rate for data as I was no longer using its roaming tariff - great, I am in a taxi, trying not to be taken the scenic route and make a meeting and I have to spend 30 minutes on the phone to my Operator (10 of which were on hold). I finally get it sorted and two hours later get a message, but when did the new tariff set in? was my call that I made a note to check on my bill that was free really free (I never got round to it, but suspect I know the answer).

Then there is the wonderful experience, particular to Voda UK, where on an iPhone, a person in your contacts list calls you and their number appears, you have them saved in your phone, as you do with all your numbers, with the +44 international code... yet you go to call them back, and because voda has delivered the call without the international code you get an error code and a text saying you need to put "00" in front of the number... worse is, I have spoken to a few people in Voda about this and they all go "oh, yes, that..." with a look of "who is going to take the next year of their life to fix that and probably not succeed or be thanked for it anyway" ...and I pay a premium for this type of service?
post 2014 will be different as it will introduce competition and "it will do" will no longer be good enough
So why will 2014 be any different when the second wave of EC roaming Legislation comes in? well, for a start, it will introduce competition. Operators do not typically like this, nobody in business really does, but we accept it as we know it is what get's you out of bed in the morning to drive progress. This progress is also important, as it will mean an app driven, internet based experience with all that that brings: real time knowledge, social interaction and real time reviews and ratings: it will be as close to a proper experience as we can get.and will bring roaming from pre app store to smartphone experience in one swoop... finally!
post 2014 with bring a) competition, but moreover b) an smartfone, interactive web and app based CX
It is this competition, as counterintuitive as it may seem, that will drive the 70% of dormant users to adopt roaming. Just as with national data and widespread mobile usage of all services (voice text and data) it was not just lower rates that drove wide spread adoption: it was competition: people did not message universally until whatsapp and imessage. Yes the operators lost a base a small % of their base who were uber texters, but they gained a complete base of data users who needed text as a fall back and the total volume of texts increased. The same with data, many people needed the comfort of their home wifi and hotspots to make the jump to a data tariff.
So who will win? the counterintuitive answer is everybody, as this will drive out the 70% dormant roamers
TBH many roamers will stay with the even lower price drop of their native operator, but if they go over their €50 limit, or their boss/client suddenly decided they need to rewrite a presentation with videos in it (been there) they have mobile options that do not mean finding a cafe with internet.
But there is still a lot to think about, like data configs when you break out and when you go back, fortunately Virtuser has a Mobile Roaming regulation OTA Data setting solution for this
I spoke to a lot of people about this, in my own mini focus group and took some great phrases you see in the word cloud from industry insiders, regulators and users: like:

  • It will take a while for people to gain faith in roaming regulations, like a whole yearly cycle of travelling. 
  • Value is important. you do not want to pay €5 or even €2 every day, but you will happily pay €10 just for data the day your boss needed that presentation yesterday
  • legacy billing is no longer an excuse, in fact its the excuse we all got bored of and drove this regulation in the first place!
  • Technology challenges need to be overcome, like even UX, how do you go from one app (your native host operator) to the LBO app and configs and back again. It's bound to break at first! 
  • Competition is key, its no longer enough to ignore this, or your revenues will reflect this
  • Roaming is still a huge revenue by EBITDA % but will need a small investment in UX to grow
But these can be overcome, and whether you an an MNO or MVNO I have helped both through this before... so get in touch if you want to discuss apps and OTA settings and SMS gateways!
Thankyou!
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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Converged MVNO

Original Converged MVNO article 2008:

Converged MVNOs

Convergence and the Mobile Virtual Model work well together, in principle
I once set-up a converged MVNO with my own hard-earned cash, that was in 2001... It seems that this model is now about ready for market! However, it is a very different model and a very different market.
In 2001 I set up a converged MVNO based on business use, where the primary focus was voice, as other such as bluephone, then BT fusion were focused on voice. However, the focus has now shifted to data; the reason? One is that regulators have pushed down roaming charges, the other is that users are more savvy and have multiple phones. The real reason is that voice, which is what GSM was invented to do, not data, is very effective over licensed spectrum, with multiple slots giving high(ish!) quality, and within the present price landscape, the ability to "bargain bucket". That is, there is nothing stopping any mobile operator bundling more and more minutes to squeeze out converged competition, at least in the single-country environment in which spectrum is licensed.
Data, however, is a different matter, with the idea that we will all be walking around watching IPTV, downloading MP3s, email attachments, pictures and videos, while having a video call... well the licensed spectrum bandwidth is just not there, at any price.
It is an interesting twist that just 7 years after I first spoke at 3GSM Cannes and caused silence over my intention to push email and voice over Bluetooth in offices, a silence caused by the imminent threat of losing money, that you can download an application called truphone for free to do just that over wi-fi, you can get your email over the mobile network via blackberry, using sms that are not charged for... and nobody is making the money that I was offering the host mobile networks (MNO) back then by operating a converged MVNO.
There are converged MVNOs however, and many MVNOs have invested in broadband in order to facilitate the already undertaken testing and research, some examples:
  • O2 have bought Be, one of the better broadband ADSL2+ providers, the parent Movistar already has Broadband
  • Orange have bought Wanadoo, multinational
  • Vodafone not only have broadband, but also host the BT converged MVNO, one of only a few commercially available
  • Cingular, Bell, Orange, Vodafone, and many others were testing the earliest convergence products by 2002 and 2003, shortly after I began testing them in 2001
However, there have been very few commercially rolled out services:
  • BT Fusion, was Bluphone, to a small UK MVNO audience
  • Tesco in simple VoIP format
  • Bell have rolled out trials, but it has not been the next mobile killer application a la PTT by a long shot
  • ... hopefully coming soon
originally posted by Christian Borrman 18:51pm 07/05/08, last updated 13;11 25/05/08

Monday, 21 May 2012

VAS, Facebook and the MVNO continued...

VAS MVNO, Facebook MVNO

As many of you will know, I feel quite passionately about VAS and the MVNO. This is not just an obsession, its just a realisation that any good business needs a tie-in, a value-add, a "something" that means it does not sell on price alone, and so when a newer, shinier competitor comes along, in order of preference the customer goes:
  1. ah, but, does shiny new things do, this? no, thought not - high value - major competitive advantage
  2. I would have to change the way I do all my...(insert VAS here) to work with the new service, medium value - useful advantage
  3. I would have to update all my details, low value - would just be a pain to move, like moving bank account or electricity provider
The problem is, most MVNOs, and even some MNOs are not even on point 3 level of VAS.

So why not? well there is a list of reasons why from a legacy perspective this was the case, however things are changing

The usual ways to leverage data was content, content, content. were an expensive portal, streaming video, etc, etc. These days are gone, and the proof is the above. Indeed the days were never there, the amount of conferences I have chaired, attended and spoken at where "content" was the supposed issue, and all I could say was, customers have content: its emails (blackberry proved this to be the case!) and the web in general, but on the mobile. 

Facebook is driving MVNO

The proof is hand is this article: showing that facebook access from mobile has now surpassed computer access. I am honestly not surprised. In fact, in app development focus groups even 3 years back, we saw that a good mobile app, like only apple had at the time (an app that did not look like a mobile web browser, allowed upload of images and push notifications, chat) managed to completely shift usage of Facebook from computer to mobile, while more basic ones and now the very good mobile web experience manage to take a good deal of it.

The reasons for this are multiple, 
  • many people do not have access to unrestricted internet access or facebook at work
  • most of those who do would rather not be seen using facebook at work
  • using Facebook on a PC raises probably more privacy issues as computers tend to be shared more and have more browsing history that people may not want plundering so facebook can make more advertising revenue
  • the key one however is convenience, Facebook, and indeed our digital lives, are now round the clock, constant streams of info, updates, feeds, chats and more: mobile just suits this better, whether its from a web browser or an app

VAS is driving MVNO data

In fact, everything that is driving MNO data, is driving MVNO data, unless as an MVNO you make data difficult, like by not having the world's most advanced OTA data APN settings :).

The key is, with it being so simple to get this working, why are so many MVNOs still rendering themselves as a low value, sim-swapping bitpipe when all they need to do is get APN settings set-up, and some simple data tariffs. As we have seen, most users are using less than 100mb per month anyway as per my previous article on this blog, and as per my blog on Apps and App stores showing that even the most basic MVNO type handsets that many MVNOs perceive their user base is using, which means MVNOs can still be very competitive with the average data prices I am seeing while negotiating MVNO agreements (at least the prices I have seen in the last 3-5 years) and/or ones that could be easily and quickly agreed with an MVNO if approached with a plan around social networking, rather than the usual "I need cheaper prices" routine :)


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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Marketing and MVNOs

MVNO marketing budgets, strategies & process

"We don't have a marketing budget" - yes you do, it's called lack of gross margin!

Often MVNOs have said to me "we don't have a marketing budget". My reply is almost inevitably always the same: "yes, you do, its that 10% - 20% of gross margin you are missing by selling on price due to a lack of a marketing plan, and the budget required to fund it!"

Marketing MVNOs in their infancy

MVNOs are still largely in their infancy as a result; they are still at the "white label" end of wholesale, where they are largely marketing on reselling a product and promoting simplicity or price. the opposite end is when you have a huge marketing budget, a great brand, and you can add hundreds or thousands of percent margin. I am not suggesting MVNOs will get their, yet, but there is still a long way to go.

There are emerging, promising behaviours. MVNOs with just a Facebook page, that I have referred to elsewhere on these blogs, however the fact that a client of mine, who has been in the MVNO business for many years and is very successful,  recently asked for help on their marketing strategy 3 days before launch shows the position we are in at the thick end of MVNOs

So why do we not have MVNO marketing strategies in MVNOs?

There are three main reasons MVNOs are not marketing well yet
  1. to market a product successfully, you need to understand the end to end product, where it comes from, how much it costs, what element cost a lot, which ones cost a little (freebies do not pay for themselves) and of those things that cost a lot and a little, which add value and which don't and when. Virgin mobile were very good here, putting marketing people on the board, where they could see management accounts, understand the issues and as such end up with 2 million customers when they expected to have 200,000! As MVNOs are still in their infancy, most of my work in MVNOs is helping clients bridge that gap across the board, let alone finding a single marketing person who will understand this.
  2. The market is still in its infancy and dynamic: I have trouble keeping abreast of the end to end dynamics of MVNOs and I work full time, have done since the beginning and allocate a huge amount of my time and effort to R&D and helping new entrants pro bono, as well as having a blog where every man and his dog who wants to be an MVNO invariably contacts me at one point or another. If you are not prepared to get your hands dirty or get off the clock every so often you stand no chance!

So what are the classic three MVNO marketing mistakes:

  1. The MVNO is a brand and already has a marketing department. All well and good, but selling mobile wholesale is a specialist product and does not relate well to other services, except maybe wholesale food, where supermarkets have been moderately successful. however, to be a successful food marketeer, which supermarket marketeers generally are, as per point one above, you need to have your head in commodities you are selling, and wholesale minutes, mbs and messages will only be a distraction / part time job at best: it needs dedicated resource
  2. The MVNO hires and ex MNO marketeer: this is ironically often the worst mistake, as they are either junior and never had the foresight to understand the end to end process of the MNO, and therefore will struggle to grasp the process in the MVNO, or they are senior enough to have been exposed to the whole marketing budget and reporting process and will inevitably be bored of the lack of MVNO budget sooner or later. That is assuming they can make the jump from MNO (essentially an manufacturer of mobile, high cost production, high margin, depreciating asset) to an MVNO which is at the other end of the industry (low cost production, low margin, no depreciating assets) - the whole paradigm is just very different. hence, you will not see supermarkets poaching marketing staff from their suppliers!
  3. The MVNO has no marketing budget, understanding of market or desire to. I have seen this at the highest levels, where a CEO, 2 years in will ask the marketing person: what's the difference between above and below the line again? My reply, which you will be glad to know I invariably keep to myself, is "your results and your bonus". This lack of understanding usually results in one of two things: too much budget, and it is squandered on above the line, or two little budget and nothing can be done.

How to Market MVNOs more effectively...

My advice for MVNOs, based on having helped many MVNOs to market over the last 10 years, and thankfully they are all still in business, is to start small, measure success and grow the budget in line with results. The reason for this is that I have seen people in mobile spend money to acquire 100,000 25 year olds and achieved 500,000 43 year olds... on evaluation, the result was no where near as "cool" but the fact is that 43 years-olds have more money to spend on mobile than 25 year-olds and are more loyal: keep spending!

Leverage social, leverage on-line! 6 to 7 out of 10 sales in fully fledged and marketed MNO sales are online, this is up from less than 1% in just 2007. Companies such as Telmore in Denmark have grown to 800,000 subscribers in a country with a total population of just 4 people (or so!) mostly online, however:
  1. to do this you need to be "web 2.0 aware" a terrible phrase, but true. Social is cheap as you basically outsource your marketing to the public. the stronger your brand and the better your product, the better you will fair, but as you grow you need to be able to manage this.
  2. To sell MVNO online, you need to be online, that is, you need data and Value Added Services (VAS), another bug bear of MVNOs and a key subject of upcoming MVNO conferences, and one I cover here.

MVNO sales and marketing process:

  1. get an initial budget: to do this you need to be honest about your Subscriber Acquisition Cost (SAC) and attribute an appropriate proportion of that to marketing, I have used different amounts to different success over the years based on the growth plans, size of MVNO, stage of its development, brand, product and market position
  2. hire someone young, enthusiastic, with the capacity and desire for very, very steep learning curves, but for god's sake keep them on track with:
  3. Report on results, this can be growth figures, but also tenure, spend, what customers it attracted. being online and social can help here as the metrics are freely available and easy to process, fixed channels take longer and require full time data crunchers to analyse. Make sure you are keeping churn in check!
  4. re-invest accordingly. A key here is how the MVNO has structured their agreement with suppliers, as if done wrongly, certain types of growth need to be monitored and marketed very carefully as they can cause cash flow issues! I have been asked to assist with MVNOs that have become a victim of their own success, unfortunately it has often been too late...
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