Sprint is the fourth-largest network operator in the United States and provides wireless services to over 50 million customers. Getting marketing messages to such a large audience across a wide range of locations and devices isn’t easy, so Sprint knew it needed a sophisticated digital strategy to deliver relevant messaging at just the right time.
“We really want to engage with our customers in near real-time, one-to-moment marketing,” explains Rob Roy, chief digital officer at Sprint. “Someone who’s commuting from their home to work may be in a different mindset than someone sitting during lunchtime at their office or sitting on the couch watching primetime TV.”
Boost Mobile, one of Sprint’s subsidiary brands, offers easy and simple plans for a young and middle-income audience. "The Boost Mobile customer is looking for value, simplicity and reliable wireless service,” says Charlie Florio, director of digital marketing for Sprint. "They want simple payment options and no long-term commitments.”
Sprint's marketing goal was not only to build awareness for the Boost Mobile brand, but to drive sales on BoostMobile.com. To drive sales, the team created lower-funnel campaigns in paid search and display, which were shown to people who recently shopped on BoostMobile.com but did not make a purchase. Although these campaigns were efficient, the Sprint team realized they could do more — that the secret to drive exponential growth lay in scaling their campaigns to reach customers who are in-market for a prepaid phone but had not visited Boostmobile.com.
“When we get users onto the site, we try to engage them with similar types of messaging to what they were shown earlier in the funnel, then get them to convert with us,” says Roy. But with Sprint’s last-click attribution model, the campaigns weren’t getting results. It needed a better way to measure results across the entire funnel in order to effectively scale.
Seeing the whole funnel
So Sprint made a major strategic change: The digital team ended their last-click focus, with help from Google Analytics 360, part of Google Marketing Platform.
Sprint wanted to answer complex questions like how a banner seen one day might lead to a search three weeks later, and then a Boostmobile.com transaction another two weeks after that. Using data-driven attribution was the key to understanding those answers.
Using data from their Analytics 360 account, Sprint generated a custom model — one that intelligently assigns conversion credit to marketing touchpoints along the entire customer journey.
Using this data-driven attribution model, the Sprint in-house digital marketing team began to re-evaluate its mid- and upper-funnel digital marketing tactics such as programmatic display, paid search, and shopping. They started by reviewing the effective cost per acquisition (eCPA) for both channel and ad type to determine which partners and tactics were driving qualified traffic that later led to a Boostmobile.com conversion. They then shifted investment to partners with the strongest eCPAs and away from partners who had poor eCPAs in order to maximize digital sales from each media dollar invested.
Informing investment decisions with data-driven attribution has changed the game for Boost Mobile. Since activating data-driven attribution, the in-house digital marketing team has generated 39% more web conversions YoY from the same media investment level as the year prior.
Reaching the right customers
Sprint also used Display & Video 360, the end-to-end advertising campaign management and execution product within Google Marketing Platform, to reach new in-market prepaid customers with their mid-funnel campaigns. Display & Video 360 has a native integration with Analytics 360 so that audiences created in Analytics 360 can be used in Display & Video 360 to improve campaign performance.
“In order to efficiently increase the Boost Mobile customer base, we want to reach prepaid phone shoppers when they are in-market with a highly relevant message tailored to their interest. For example, someone using an older device will be served a compelling offer for a newer phone model on the same operating system," says Florio.
Pushing the right audiences from Analytics 360 to Display & Video 360 for messaging has been very important for us."
, Director of Digital Marketing, Sprint
Similar to the improvement in their mid- and upper-funnel campaigns, Sprint’s ability to focus only on acquiring new customers with Analytics 360 audiences led to a 60% decrease in CPA for its mid-funnel Boost Mobile campaigns.
Keeping the growth going
Today, Sprint is taking what it learned with Boost Mobile and applying these insights across the company. Sprint’s in-house digital marketing team now reviews an investment scorecard every two weeks to evaluate return on investment and results. "Now I sit down with my team and view outputs from the data-driven attribution model," says Florio. "We line that up with media spend and see what's working. We might take dollars out of a mid-funnel partner who isn't performing well and move those dollars to a better performing partner in order to get closer to the optimal investment mix."
Two weeks later, the team does it all again. “We want to be less wrong,” Florio says. “Which acquisition channels have the strongest influence for our particular customer base?
Is it search? Is it display? Which are more or less effective? We couldn't do any of this before. Now the customer drives our digital media investment decisions."