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Two Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of SMS and Voice Campaigns

Automatic checking for ported mobile numbers and roamers can help reduce wasted budget and improve effectiveness.

March 27 2017

SMS and voice have for years been well established among enterprises as highly effective communication and authentication tools, while being both simple to adopt and cost efficient to run. Not only does SMS have reported open rates of over 99% and a response rate of over 36%, SMS also has a reach that beats the combined figures of the world's top four messaging apps combined.

However, in these days of lean budgets, it is important to ensure that every dollar spent delivers maximum value. What many enterprises, especially large ones, dealing with vast mobile number databases, might not know is that there are some factors that might be affecting the efficiency of their mobile engagement, mobile user authentication and other projects: reducing customer engagement and satisfaction and ultimately costing money.

The inefficiencies are associated with incomplete or inaccurate information about numbers that might have changed from one mobile network operator (MNO) to another, and consumers who are outside their home countries. Communicating with users who have ported their numbers or are roaming can result in much higher costs. Identifying roaming numbers and being able to act on it automatically can lead to considerable savings.

How to avoid complexities from mobile number portability

Mobile number portability (MNP) allows subscribers to move from one MNO to another while retaining the original number. Since its launch in Singapore in 1997, over a hundred markets today allow MNP. Most MNOs offer this service for free or for a nominal price, enabling users to change numbers or switch operators with ease.

While MNP is extremely popular among consumers for its convenience it makes outreach more complex for marketers.

Usually when MNP is first introduced, there is a rise in churn, i.e. the loss of customers to other networks. Historically, churn has varied from country to country. For example, Ireland which has a population of around 4.5 million saw over 3 million mobile numbers ported between 2004 and 2013, according to the Irish regulator Comreg, while Portugal, which has a population of over 10 million saw one million ported numbers. GSMA figures over the last 10 years show that churn is trending upwards, increasing from 2.49% in 2006 to 3.08% in 2015.

Given these trends, the chances are that a significant proportion of the numbers in any enterprise’s mobile number database will be ported. Calling or texting ported numbers can sometimes result in the use of costly routes and over time can significantly affect marketing costs.

To help businesses use the most efficient routes, Infobip has developed a specific Number Lookup package designed to ensure that an enterprise’s database is validated in real time. By conducting automated number portability checks the service optimises routing and charging for a range of companies and industry verticals. From call centres seeking to automatically optimise routing and costs by checking number type before establishing a phone call, to a mobile app developer needing to verify the number before sending an authentication SMS, number lookup can improve efficiency and boost conversion rates.

Avoid expensive international delivery charges

More consumers are travelling now than ever before. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 2016 saw 3.7 billion passengers overall with strong international traffic growth across the world, an increase of 6.7% compared to 2015. IATA forecasts over the next 20 years expect a near doubling of passenger numbers.

With an impending cap on roaming charges levied by mobile networks, the number of international passengers who use their mobile phones while overseas, instead of switching them off or changing to a local SIM, is expected to increase. According to research by Juniper, caps on roaming charges will result in users using roaming more often and more freely.

Apart from international roaming there is also national roaming which needs to be taken into account when working with large countries such as India, where there are 12 mobile operators and a large number of inroamers (people roaming inside a country). The United States also has national roaming, with only a few carriers eliminating national roaming charges.

Reaching out to a roaming user is an expensive proposition for any marketer. A local call or text message suddenly becomes a long-distance call, with the cost going up exponentially. The problem is magnified with the widespread increase in roaming and travelling, leading to more resources and time unnecessarily being wasted contacting mobile phones while they are in a different country. Roaming users are also tend to react very negatively when contacted by marketers from the home country, leading to a significant loss of goodwill.

Infobip’s proprietary Number Lookup service gives marketers the ability to avoid the unnecessary spend associated with reaching roaming mobile numbers by verifying in real time whether the number is on the home network or another network.

By using a custom-developed solution that performs real-time checks on the status and validity of mobile numbers, the country/mobile network they are associated with, their porting history and roaming status, global companies with large databases can save costs and optimise processes in real time.

Prevent unnecessary costs and charges today

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