Published August 6, 2020
Vodacom's marketing strategy
Let’s take a closer look at Vodacom’s marketing strategy in South Africa. I’ll start by going through Vodacom’s overall marketing strategy and brand positioning strategy and then dive deep into some of their most successful marketing campaigns.
- Overview of Vodacom's marketing strategy
- Vodacom’s brand repositioning
- Vodacom’s winning COVID strategy
- A future-proof vision
- Vodacom’s best marketing campaigns
- Key takeaways from Vodacom’s marketing strategy
Overall, Vodacom’s marketing strategy centers around the vision of becoming a leading digital company with the customer at its heart. Using big data and IoT, Vodacom aims to serve its customers better and lead them into an exciting future as the world evolves with technology.
“Our brand promise to our customers is to be the mobile technology partner that will assist them in making the transition by benefitting from new and exciting technologies” says Nyimpini Mabunda, Vodacom Chief Officer: Consumer Business Unit (2019).
Vodacom places a lot of importance on innovation within the digital space in order to improve its products and services, and by extension, its customer experience. For instance, it uses predictive analytics to manage its 55 million customers. Predictive analytics allows it to know more about the customers who are engaging with its call center. It also saves time that would normally be spent trying to gather details about customers when they call.
Mabunda also highlighted the importance of machine learning and voice recognition in optimizing Vodacom’s customer experience. Recognizing who customers are when they call. Anticipating why they are calling and automatically connecting them with the agent that would best serve them. Identifying the contract that would best fit their data usage needs. These are all customer touchpoints that can be hugely improved by machine learning.
Before the pandemic, Vodacom announced an evolution of its brand positioning (including tagline and visual identity).
If you know anything about successful marketing campaigns, you’ll know it’s always backed by data. Vodacom informed its rebranding by commissioning a study that assessed its consumers’ sentiment towards the future and the company’s prospects. It found out that 41% of South Africans surveyed believed that the standard of living in South Africa will improve in 20 years’ time. This was a more optimistic view than its counterparts in Europe.
This inspired Vodacom’s new brand strategy to focus on optimism with the simple but effective tagline - ‘The future is exciting. Ready?’
The rebrand was so efficient and the new tagline so catchy that South African consumers still use it to this day! Now that’s what I call great marketing!
: Cape Town, South Africa
— Ephraim Hantsi (@EphraimHantsi) January 12, 2021
This theme played right into Vodacom’s overall vision and strategy of becoming a leading digital company.
It was complemented by the refreshed logo that cemented their purpose to connect everybody to live a better today and build a better tomorrow.
2020 sure did teach us all a few lessons about being future-proof and crisis-ready. While no one could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak, it was certainly refreshing to see that some brands managed to adapt quickly thanks to a robust, future-centered marketing approach.
The South African brand’s vision for 2020 was one that it had advertised years in advance and revised time and again to manage the risks of a rapidly changing marketplace. Here are key elements that kept the brand well-positioned to face a challenging couple of years:
Segmented propositions - Vodacoms’s vision was focused on developing a personalized customer experience using big data analytics and machine learning. Across the various customer segments, Vodacom was keen to identify new opportunities to monetize data and grow data usage by delivering relevant digital content services. And, boy, did we all need digital content services throughout covid lockdowns! Right on.
Best customer experience - Vodacom’s marketing strategy keeps the customer at its very center. Its vision specifically aimed to provide customers with a seamless and frictionless one-channel experience with digital being the dominant support channel via the MyVodacom app. Do contactless coronavirus experiences ring a bell? Right on.
Digital organization and culture - The vision was all about transforming the business into a truly digital organization. From investing in big data analytics and machine learning to simplifying existing systems and processes and achieving its brand purpose of creating connections digitally through the Vodacom e-school and health-related mobile applications. Let me say it one more time! Right. On.
Vodacom provides services to over 55 million customers. From its roots in South Africa, it has grown its operations to include networks in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho, and provides business services to customers in over 32 African countries.
Share of consumer conversations about Vodacom across African countries. Source: Quick Search, Talkwalker
One of its major goals is to eventually service 500 million customers on the African continent. But geographic expansion is not its only objective. Vodacom aspires to be the Tech leader in Africa and developed an ambitious three-fold growth strategy to get there.
1. Africa's leading communications company
Vodacom is clear in its ambition to be the market leader in the countries where it operates across Africa. For Vodacom, this reflects the quality and depth of service it can offer in each market, rather than the size of its footprint. In this way, it concentrates its efforts and investment on meaningful innovation that helps to unlock each country’s potential for economic growth by diversifying its offerings into fixed, financial and digital propositions.
As it moves further away from being a TelCo and transforming into a leading African TechCo, Vodacom is focusing on building the best infrastructure on the market. Providing the best-in-class tech for both mobile and fixed networks to ensure affordable smartphone penetration and access to data, and leverage behavioral insights to provide excellent consumer and enterprise propositions. Ultimately, this will support its ambition to reduce the digital divide in the countries where it operates.
2. Diversify and differentiate with a digital ecosystem
Innovation is at the heart of the brand’s diversification, beyond core connectivity as it prepares for an integrated digital future. Its financial services and digital lifestyle platforms are key differentiators for the Group as it builds its fintech capabilities.
Vodacom has massively invested in Big Data in recent years. As a result, advanced analytics and data on behavioral loyalty have allowed the brand to create diverse and innovative products that are adapted and personalized, and solutions that drive financial and digital inclusion for all types of customers.
Key to this ambition is its digital ecosystem, which builds on its connectivity leadership to diversify and differentiate its offerings. In doing so, it creates a deeper customer engagement with a 360-degree view where it competes on value rather than price.
3. Optimized, future-ready TechCo
In a connected world, customer-centricity is top of mind. Vodacom’s purpose relies on maintaining and growing its customer base, ensuring all customers have positive interactions with Vodacom across its multi-product ecosystem, whether it is fixed, mobile or digital services.
Vodacom refines and evolves its customer experience strategy based on the current and future needs of its customers. Today, a lot of them need quick and efficient financial services that you can track and trust. Tomorrow, even the most remote parts of the world will need to be connected, which requires striving to deliver a personalized omni-channel digital experience, and to promote inclusion and generate loyalty to its brand.
Vodacom's advertising campaigns are not developed overnight. They are data-driven and the result of extensive research and testing. Nearly 32,000 people across 17 countries (with South Africa being the key region) were surveyed extensively by YouGov to inform Vodacom’s marketing strategy and advertising campaigns. Below are some of the most successful ones.
Play Every Day (2016)
Vodacom’s ‘Play Every Day’ campaign is regarded as one of the company’s most successful campaigns ever.
The campaign is reported to have generated 16 million unique visitors in just 10 months using a gamification model. Vodacom delivered an innovative and interactive experience by engaging its customers in this campaign where they were eligible to win a vast array of prizes by spinning a wheel of fortune on the MyVodacom app.
The campaign was such a success that it still bears fruits to this day. Considering the continued interest in the wheel of fortune, Vodacom did not let the gaming page die after the end of the campaign. Instead, it cleverly kept it live and used it to keep customers engaged and intrigued about its future campaigns.
Shake Every Day (2017)
A sequel to 2016’s ‘Play Every Day’, the ‘Shake Every Day’ campaign was all about bringing “South African-ness” back into the company’s marketing.
The campaign aimed to lighten the country’s mood and get consumers summer ready. A concept that holds huge metaphorical value - after a cold, harsh winter, comes a warm and beautiful summer.
By shaking their phones, Vodacom consumers were able to unlock daily prizes as part of the ‘Shake Every Day’ campaign. With this clever use of gamification, Vodacom was able to enhance the customer experience while emphasizing its key brand message of using technology to connect people.
Just 4 You (2019)
When Vodacom talks about keeping technology at the forefront of its business, it really means it. Right down to integrating technology in its marketing capabilities, Vodacom can teach us all a lesson or two about digital integration.
Vodacom used machine learning capabilities to offer personalized pricing offers in its ‘Just 4 You’ campaign. This campaign was powered by its app and allowed customers to unlock personalized data offers based on its consumption habits.
We all know the saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it applies to a cake recipe, why wouldn’t it apply when it comes to Vodacom’s marketing strategy?
The brand knew that South African consumers continued to engage with a promotional reward-based campaign that they already understood and previously loved.
The only thing Vodacom had to do was to redefine a campaign mechanic that its customers knew and loved. Shake and win!
They amplified the ‘shake’ mechanism on their app, where people interact with different games and a new reward system, cash prizes, and a multitude of innovative digital media. Shake!Up rapidly became the hit summer game, giving Vodacom the edge in a crowded market.
Unlock Summer (2022)
After a tough year in 2021, Vodacom comes back banging with the ‘Unlock Summer’. As the weather started to heat up again, Vodacom launched a countdown to summer with a campaign aiming at giving back to its loyal customers.
Take a screenshot of Rajesh in his #UnlockYourSummer shorts for a chance to win your share of 30GB.
— Vodacom (@Vodacom) December 12, 2022
As part of Vodacom's marketing strategy, customers were invited to collect keys on a virtual portal. Each key unlocked different levels of treasure chests to win prizes, as well as instant rewards and exclusive offers.
“UnlockSummer is a chance for us at Vodacom to give back to our loyal customers over the festive period. This year, our customers can look forward to a summer campaign designed to reward them with cash, amazing prizes, gifts, and benefits,” said Jorge Mendes, Vodacom Chief Officer - Consumer Business Unit (2022).
Who wouldn’t want the chance to win a Kia Rio, a Honda Ace Scooters, a Huawei laptop, grocery vouchers, home appliances, and much more?
Once more, the campaign was a hit! Brand sentiment towards the brand increased massively when associated with the Unlock Summer campaign!
Brand sentiment toward Vodacom in comparison to the Unlock Summer campaign. Source: Quick Search, Talkwalker
Now that you know about Vodacom’s marketing strategy, here are some takeaways for you to reflect on:
- Future-proof your brand to ensure you remain relevant as technology evolves
- Ensure your brand’s visual identity matches your evolving marketing strategy
- Maintain a consistent brand voice, message, and image
- Infuse a positive message in your brand’s marketing strategy - consumers are attracted to positive sentiments!
- Consumer closeness - keep customers at the heart of everything you do - when you prioritize customer service, your overall brand experience and image will be massively improved
- Conduct deep market research of your target audience ahead of any marketing actions
- Momentum and interest don’t die on the campaign’s end date - keep your old campaign pages refreshed and direct that traffic to your current campaigns
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