Crikey, Africa is big. Results from a Mobile Campaign in Africa
By Alex Meisl, Sponge Ltd., Oct 5, 2012
Africa is home to one of the world’s richest men Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, the King of Cement who is worth $10B (US) and ranks #76 in Forbes billionaires list.
According to Standard Bank, by 2015, 100m households will have incomes of over $3,000 and the IMF expects sub-Saharan African growth to be nearly 6% next year. This is reflected in foreign investments across Africa growing at a compound rate of nearly 20% since 2007.
The infrastructure (whilst strained in certain countries) is certainly throwing out world-class solutions. For example, mPesa the mobile payment system in Kenya is now seen as the main mechanic for easing the flow of money between individuals and their families and corporations. For example, nearly 30% of salaries are paid direct into mobile wallets.
Already home to a population of 1 billion, this figure is set to double in the next forty years. It is the size of the potential market which attracts major brands as they seek to win over “the next billion consumers”… indeed. One of Coke’s current campaigns in Africa is “A billion reasons to believe”.
Mobile penetration is growing rapidly and is typically used for the majority of web access across the continent, due to the availability of cheap, internet-enabled handsets.
Sponge, the UK’s leading full-service mobile agency, was approached in 2009 to put together a major mobile campaign for the carrier Etisalat in Nigeria. To our shame, we immediately suffered from the preconceptions which sadly surround the country, notably thanks to the infamous “419” email scams, which some suggest represents the fifth largest industry in Nigeria.
Casting our worries to one side, this became the start of our first successful venture into the African market.
Etisalat was a recent entrant into the Nigeria mobile telecoms market, launching in 2008 with a market share of less than 2%. It needed a larger than life promotion designed to reward current subscribers, encourage new subscribers and increase awareness, customer acquisition and weight of purchase as quickly as possible. Sponge developed a multi-level mobile campaign that included a promotion, viral marketing and a loyalty program.
- TV Game Shows – A top prize of $1m to be won live at a grand final on national TV with a series of qualifying regional events also staged on live TV with cash prizes.
- Main Promotion – Users could win tickets to the regional events as well as a new handset by entering a simple competition, but they could only enter within one hour of registering a new Etisalat SIM or topping up.
- Second Chance to Win – Users who entered multiple times were rewarded with “second chance to win” tickets to the regional events. To win they need to get three friends to register new Etisalat SIMs.
- mTicketing – All tickets were delivered direct to handsets and we used portable scanners for both regional events and the grand final.
The results were stunning, with over 7M entries to the main promotion and over 1,000 contestants at each of the regional game shows. More importantly, the campaigns delivered 800,000 new SIM registrations during the period and saw participant ARPU increase by 400%.
What the above has taught us is that good marketing ideas work across borders, religions, and cultures. Key learnings include:
- Ensure the mobile offer is compelling and easy to understand
- Recognise that mobile handsets (and the way they are used) differ from more mature markets
- Adapt to the more sociable, “viral” nature of the countries
- Use local staff to ensure that the main message is effective
- Recognise that country infrastructures vary (there is a very real reason why all companies in Nigeria have a well-used electricity generator!)
Sponge continues to grow in Africa, (we have recently opened a second office in Nairobi, Kenya), and whilst we would never pretend that it is easy to do business, we have very much enjoyed our “African Adventure” so far.
About Alex Meisl, Chairman – Sponge Ltd.
In 2002, Alex co-founded Sponge, the UK’s most successful and longest established mobile agency working across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Sponge delivers mobile strategy and insight, mCRM, mobile sites and applications for clients including Adidas, Autotrader, Barclays, Coca Cola, Dyson, McDonalds, Orange and Unilever. Sponge has been voted Mobile Agency of the Year for the last two years by members of the Institute of Promotional Marketing. Alex has amassed a wealth of experience in digital services for agencies/brands, media groups and mobile operators. Alex was recently re-elected as UK Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association for the third year. In his spare time, Alex is a potter and jam maker.