Case study: Giffgaff dials up Neolane

giffgaff-definitely620thistimeTelefónica-owned Giffgaff, the SIM-only pay-as-you-go mobile virtual network operator, keeps costs low by encouraging customers to help grow and run the business.
Under its business model, the operator engages closely with its many thousands of customers and fans through the ‘giffgaff community’ on everything from sales, customer service and marketing.
It rewards members for their contributions through points that are redeemable for money or free airtime, or which can be donated to charity.
Integral to this philosophy, it doesn’t do big budget mass advertising, instead keeping costs low by using online and mobile channels for transactional, operational and marketing messages.

The challenge

“We launched in 2009 and right from the start needed to present one-to-one messages to our members over email, SMS and via personalised web-based newsfeeds,” said Claire Kavanagh, loyalty and retention manager at giffgaff (pictured below, right). “We recognised that we couldn’t run such an individualised communications model with a large membership base manually and so sought the convenience of a cross-channel marketing automation platform.”
Giffgaff wanted an automation platform that would integrate with its existing data warehouse. It also required that the platform should take data feeds directly from its website and allow it to send realtime transactional messages and automated, personalised marketing messages based on segmentation and previous behaviour. It also defined that the ideal platform would enable cross-channel co-ordinated dialogues, all from a single system.
For example, marketing communications might be campaigns welcoming new members and reactivations, as well as retention, cross-sell and up-sell campaigns. Transactional communications might include confirmation of a SIM order and its shipment, password re-sets, top-up reminders and current balance notifications, while service dialogues might include confirmation of receipt of a member’s query via the web-based help service, subsequent support messages and then case completion confirmation.
Giffgaff quickly discovered that most platforms were designed for single channel use, typically for email or SMS marketing, rather than providing a fully integrated cross-channel solution. Additionally, few tools would link in realtime to the operator’s data warehouse (instead demanding use of a proprietary datamart) nor easily integrate with other feeds.
Tools that would only provide batch updates to the data warehouse, would frustrate giffgaff’s vision of achieving realtime co-ordinated and personalised cross-channel dialogues. Few could cope with the demands of holding service, transactional and marketing conversations, in symphony and cross-channel.

The solution
“After an extensive procurement process, we selected the Neolane Conversational Marketing platform and today I know absolutely that this was the right decision,” said Kavanagh. “We found Neolane to be the only platform offering the functionality we required to keep in one-to-one contact with our members, cross-channels in real time; and it scored highly on scalability, functionality and ease of use for giffgaff.”
A further reason giffgaff chose Neolane, was for what it deemed was the company’s strength in keeping pace with the latest technology.
“Since implementing Neolane, we’ve seen it accommodate Facebook and Twitter within its cross-channel conversational abilities,” said Kavanagh. “Right now we are one of the few firms conducting automated, personalised conversations through social media, in concert with other channels, where social is the customer’s channel preference.”
Designing sometimes complex cross-channel campaigns is eased for giffgaff by Neolane’s visual drag-and-drop workflow interface. Also, the marketing team can be confident that campaign variables will be optimised through A/B scenario testing; choices such as which design works best, subject line, content, timing and other aspects.
Detailed reports on open rates, click-throughs and other key performance indicators help the marketing team ensure communications are meeting members’ needs as well as optimised for ROI. A survey tool within Neolane is used to harvest member satisfaction ratings and in the event that a member appears to be trending backwards, this may trigger recovery campaigns.
Giffgaff started using Neolane on a software as a service (SaaS) basis, being a low-cost, low-risk model on which to launch its business. As the company grew, significantly scaling up its campaign and message volumes, Neolane’s flexible deployment model allowed giffgaff to then migrate to an in-house licence model to maintain cost-effectiveness.

The results 
In giffgaff’s competitive business environment, speed to market can significantly influence success. “Creating a new campaign on Neolane takes us about two hours, meaning we can act really quickly to new opportunities including counter-acting competitor campaigns,” said Kavanagh. “With just three staff, we’re a really lean, cost-effective marcoms team.”
giffgaffGiffgaff is now running some 40 different campaigns a month over email, SMS and via news feeds, all realtime content personalised and aims to see around 90% of these campaigns become fully automated.
“Through Neolane we have end-to-end control of all of our member communications, from defining campaign strategy, creating campaign workflows and launching them, to analysing results and making fine adjustments to optimise performance,” said Kavanagh.
For giffgaff, enabling good communications – ones that are relevant, timely, right channel – is important firstly out of respect for members and their expectations. From there the aim is that long term loyal relationships will follow, optimising customer lifetime value for the brand.
“We know who is transferring their number to us, the products each of our members has purchased, whether they have activated or topped-up their SIM card, how swiftly they are using their credit balance, which campaigns they have responded to and lots more,” said Kavanagh. “We have a wealth of customer intelligence which we use wisely within Neolane to hold timely, relevant and automated conversations with our valued member community.”
Since implementing Neolane, giffgaff has monitored the success of its communications, especially in terms of member satisfaction. Giffgaff has a customer satisfaction index of 81% and a Net Promoter Score of 67% (July 2012). Also, the giffgaff community has a Community Heath Index of 882 (July 2012), when the benchmark of a healthy community is around 550.

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