Executive Vice President
Field Operations, Calix
At ConneXions, I shared this quote from Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I am on a coax network and I will tell you how I feel during the COVID-19 crisis:
I desperately need fiber. Please
My options are 1 Gbps/30 Mbps or 10 Mbps VDSL. Before COVID-19, I was content, as I travel frequently. During COVID-19, I am miserable. I no longer care about video offerings or iPad content as I have Netflix and Prime. I care about my broadband experience and it is terrible. I spend my days on video conferences enduring “Michael is frozen again.” The coax network collapses under the weight of my usage, my newly employed work-from-home son, a video game playing son, and neighbors who are doing the same.
Experience over price
Market segmentation would show my service provider that their message—price—is tone-deaf marketing to my household. Data science would show them:
The data-blind CSP will continue to send offers that are right for a price-sensitive segment but wasted on my segment. I may take the one time discount, but for what point? It won’t stop me from leaving the second I have an alternative. It is a waste of money. The data-driven CSP will do the following:
They will make no offer until there is a threat
Data will tell them I have no choice so they will do nothing that will erode profits—like a one time discount which does nothing. Their offers will be experience enhancements:
When fiber is coming, they will change tactics fast
Triangle Communications exemplifies this data-driven marketing approach with their marketing execution and world-class Managed Wi-Fi experiences. Over the last 5 years, they have reduced cost per upgrade by $194, improved marketing efficiency by 53%, and grown ARPU by 70%—in a price sensitive market—leading to 80 percent+ market share. They are proof that data-driven marketing can stop price-based competitors. You can learn about how their marketing team achieved this here.
The COVID-19 crisis has shocked Triangle’s marketing team as the last holdouts in the area, light-use wireless hotspot users, are signing up by the hundreds. The crisis has changed the needs of this previously price-sensitive segment. They are choosing fiber as they move from light users to broadband becoming core to their lives.
The COVID-19 virus will profoundly change our communities, economies, and the future of work. No one knows how this will play out and it will change frequently. A data-centric marketing team has never been more important as they can help you understand this changing market, in real time.
This is the focus of this Beacon—helping your team make data-driven decisions. Our entire team is stepping up to help you make that happen—as anyone who has joined one of our webinars, Circles of Success sessions (login required), or one of our office hours programs has learned.
Wishing you good health and success,
Cable providers have dominated the market over the last decade by capitalizing on two behavioral shifts. The first was the arrival of the HD TV and the demand for high-definition content to put on that fancy TV. The second shift was Internet usage driven by browsing, followed by applications like video streaming (Netflix, YouTube) and gaming. In both cases, cable had the advantage. They launched HDTV quickly as they did not have to implement IPTV. Coax was clearly superior to VDSL as it could scale to gig downloads to keep up with the internet explosion. But not anymore.
For the marketer, it is evident that the next shift is happening now. It is driven by the availability of symmetrical broadband, new behavioral trends such as working from home, millennial preferences, and the COVID-19 impact, which is speeding change and making it harder to make the right decisions for the short term versus the long term.
To navigate the evolution of our market, here are our recommendations:
Every action must leverage data and be targeted
It is critical that during these tumultuous times that you clearly understand your subscriber segments. An economy package offered to a work-from-home super user is wasted marketing. A Gigabit package offered to someone who is sitting at home streaming Netflix as they have been furloughed is insensitive. Offering a one-month discount to your entire base? A waste of profit dollars that could have been invested in expanding the fiber network or upgrading Wi-Fi experiences. Segment your market to understand the right actions for the right segments.
To learn more, watch this webinar to understand how WCTEL segments their market to focus on those who are now working from home.
Focus on earning subscriber gratitude through experiences
In the article, Why Gratitude Trumps Loyalty, the author explains that a points program and gifts can elicit gratitude, but it can easily be outdone by a competitor who offers a nicer gift. We see this in price competition; one CSP offers 30 days free and the competitor offers 90 days. It’s a losing strategy. The better path is to focus on experiences that create a sense of gratitude from your subscribers.
At this critical time, a family that has great Wi-Fi and a quality broadband experience will be grateful and loyal. To maximize that gratitude, you could focus on work-from-home (WFH) users. Segment the WFH subscribers and launch a COVID-19 WFH campaign to those users. The data-driven marketer could offer all WFH users who are not on the maximum plan a free upgrade for 60 days. At the 60-day mark, launch an outbound campaign to upgrade them permanently based on their improved experience or because their company now pays for their Internet as part of the WFH employment package.
Expand your Managed Wi-Fi offering. The new gratitude table stakes
In addition to the benefit of protecting your technicians through remote troubleshooting, Managed Wi-Fi ensures that your team can guarantee the best possible experience.
In the article "Strain on internet services felt as thousands suddenly working, learning from home," many users on traditional copper networks shared their frustrations with comments such as, “It’s cut out a few times and I’ve had to reboot the Wi-Fi.” While subscribers of ALLO’s fiber network and Revenue EDGE Managed Wi-Fi systems stated, “ALLO has been amazing. My husband and I are on multiple video conference calls daily, so it was important to have a reliable Internet connection that could handle both of our devices simultaneously. We couldn’t be happier with the switch.”
If you do not have a great Managed Wi-Fi service, now is the time to launch one.
Our resources to help your marketing plan
Host of CBC Radio's Under the Influence.
Co-Founder, The Apostrophe Podcast Company.
As a marketer, I never thought I would ever see an ad from Hotels.com that said, “Stay home.” Or a tweet from the New York subway system saying, “Thanks for not riding with us today.” But these are extraordinary times we are living through.
With the pandemic rolling across the globe and the key strategy to containing it is to stay home, we are all locked-down in forced isolation with no hard end point in sight. Many of us are now separated from family members.
In a crisis, tone is everything when it comes to marketing. For companies, it’s a difficult time to have a profit agenda. People are scared, life has been altered drastically, there is a lot of financial uncertainty. When businesses speak in times like this, being tone deaf is the greatest sin. But many companies have found a way to strike the right note.
Like Hotels.com and the NYC subway system, smart marketers are acknowledging the situation and offering help. I see a fast food company in my city who has paid a newspaper to unlock its paywall so readers can get all the latest COVID-19 news. I see a website hosting platform offering to help small businesses pivot to online. I read that a Lyft driver is handing out a roll of toilet paper to all her passengers.
I think communications service providers can play a special role in this crisis. People need entertainment and connection while quarantined. How can you be responsive? How can you use your unique role in their lives to help them feel less isolated? How can you be a thoughtful partner right now?
Data can help you answer these questions. As I always say, the best marketers are the best listeners. By listening to your data, it may inspire some meaningful ways you can assist your subscribers through this uncertain period. Some are promising no disconnections if people are struggling to pay bills. Some are waiving all late fees. Some are offering free installation and Wi-Fi to homes with children to help with online learning. Remember that in difficult times, nobody forgets a small kindness. So how can you be the service provider people value most? Plant those seeds now. Reap when we come out the other side.
We’re all in this together.
Senior Manager, Customer Success, Calix
In 2019 the GlobalWebIndex audience reports had clear views on each demographic. Gen X and baby boomers watched TV on a television. Gen Z consumed everything on a mobile device. Millennial habits were based on whether or not they were a mom (making them more likely to binge on mobile devices vs. TV or a laptop). People went to the gym, commuted to an office because their boss did not believe in working from home, and their children were taught in a classroom.
Everything has changed, and continues to change in real time, as our governments and economies adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, we have seen profound shifts in online behaviors. Below is sampling of what we are seeing on broadband networks in the last 3 weeks:
The New York Times pointed out a profound shift in How the Virus Transformed the Way Americans Spend Their Money based on 6 million credit card records. Gaming, streaming, alcohol, e-commerce, and online groceries are spiking while travel, health and beauty, transportation, in-store shopping, and dining out has declined significantly. The question everyone is asking is which behaviors are short term and which are permanent? The service provider with real-time behavioral analytics will be able to answer that.
Take working from home. Let’s assume that in May an employee is able to return to the office full time, but their manager now acknowledges the astonishing gains in productivity from working from home, thereby validating this Stanford study. That employee is now encouraged to work from home several days a week and is provided with a monthly stipend to fund the highest tier of Internet service. What should the data-driven marketer do? The real-time behavioral data would recommend getting that subscriber on a 1 Gigabit plan with Managed Wi-Fi to ensure that they have the best experience during the crucial 9-to-5 hours. In addition, the Calix EDGE Enablement program will help the marketer build a great campaign to emphasize this value.
Another behavioral shift example: A couple were regulars at their gym pre-COVID-19. They contributed to the Peloton boom by investing in a Peloton bike and building out a home gym. They stream music, Netflix to an iPad, and the Peloton live sessions. Will they go back to the gym? Real-time behavioral data will help the data-driven marketer determine what and how you should position your services in that home. Wi-Fi 6 to get great reception on the iPad while doing yoga in the yard or in the new gym? Yes.
My parents have just upgraded their Internet service to Gigabit fiber so that we can all FaceTime. Our Easter dinner was virtual, with all of us sharing via Zoom. Will my parents downgrade? Not likely. They were forced to embrace video calls or remain isolated from their grandchildren. Now that they have become comfortable with the technology, they are changed permanently. The 2019 baby boomer demographic profile is changing due to COVID-19, and real-time data will arm the data-driven marketer to upsell my parents on Managed Wi-Fi and network security to protect them as they engage with their grandkids.
Our resources to help your marketing plan
The future is unknown, and it will change from state to state and town to town. To get prepared, join us on our next Circle of Success for Marketers where we will dive into data-driven insights for marketing in the new normal.
Revenue EDGE Enablement market activation materials continue to grow with hundreds of new assets added since our last edition in January. The content currently getting the most interest is all related to ensuring subscribers continue to have amazing online experiences while everyone is at home. Revenue EDGE customers can now access great new campaigns, like “Providing more ways to stay in touch” or “Providing new ways to learn.”
An amazing online experience all starts with a great install, which is challenging right now. With this in mind, we’re seeing a surge in interest for content that helps you implement a self- or assisted-install process to keep your technicians out of subscribers’ homes. Technicians pre-provision a system, take care of any work required on the outside of a home, and then leave the rest to the subscriber. We’ve seen a lot of great examples but want to make sure you know we have a toolkit of subscriber facing materials available for you to customize to your brand.
Our resources to help your marketing plan
First, WCTEL extended free 60-day upgrades to Gigabit service for its members who are working from home. In addition, to support the number of students who found themselves in new distance learning situations, WCTEL established 23 free Wi-Fi hotspots to keep school programs on track. Both of these efforts have been well-received by the community, with WCTEL seeing members utilize the Gigabit extension three times more than what was originally anticipated.
Get the latest about WCTEL’s community offers, including how they used Calix Marketing Cloud and the EDGE Enablement program and worked with Go-To-Market partner Pivot to effectively identify and reach their work-from-home members in our webinar replay.
Our resources to help your marketing plan
Join us in May for a webinar to learn how to create your own internship program through the lessons learned from ours. We will share our approach, guidance from mentors and past interns, and the top tips to ensure your program develops strong performers for the benefit of both your business and their careers.
Product Marketing Director
New Markets/Premises, Calix
As Pam shared in her article on "Featured Campaign Material", we have been busy creating marketing campaign assets to help you continue to connect subscribers during this challenging time. Our COVID-19 resource page also has dedicated resources for marketers to leverage. In addition, our ecosystem provides another option for help as our experienced Go-To-Market Partners have also made resources readily available for you. These comprehensive kits provide easy messaging and tools for you to keep your subscribers and communities informed. We are pleased to be able to share these additional resources with you.
Pivot’s COVID-19 Resources Center features free content for communicating with subscribers and material to help employees too.
"This is a challenging time for everyone. We know you’re busy. We can’t help you with installs and tech support, but we can give you tools to make your work easier. If these resources provide some help and relief to you, we’ve done our job," said Jeremy Graves, President of Pivot.
WordSouth published the first documents on its free COVID-19 Resource Kit March 18, and has continued to add resources as your needs have evolved. The kit includes sample social media posts and press releases, as well as service call screening questions and an FAQ for CSRs.
This resource has been popular with utility communicators needing to respond quickly to an evolving set of guidelines from government and health care officials. “People are depending on their broadband service more than ever, and providers need to be clearly communicating with their customers,” said Andy Johns, director of marketing and business development at WordSouth. “Our kit gives them several tools to do that.”
CEO Stephen V. Smith said the kit is WordSouth’s way of providing much-needed support to the industry. “WordSouth can’t retool to help make masks or ventilators, but we can develop strong content,” Smith said. “Rural broadband providers are on the frontlines in their own way, and we’re there to support them. By sharing this at no cost, we are operating even closer to the heart of our mission — helping broadband providers serve rural America.”
In the author’s analysis, family businesses fared much better than public companies by maintaining new product innovation, advertising, and community involvement. This article reinforces that the winners will be those in speed fiber and Wi-Fi investments through the coming periods.
Will the experiences that you deliver help people feel more secure, such as services to stop the onslaught of COVID-19 malware and attacks, or succeed in life through a connection to e-learning or working at home? That is what they will remember and reward.
We hear “My competitor is lowering prices” and “My subscribers are low-income” all the time. As the author points out, data will inform your marketing, retention, and support teams about how to deal with the subscriber they are targeting.
Learn how Marketing Cloud can assist in identifying who the right subscribers are to target based on their changed behavior and the most effective campaigns that you should be working on now to be ready to hit "send" once this is all over.
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