In this mobile-first era, can merchants afford to ignore Carrier Billing?

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
The use of smartphones has skyrocketed in recent years to overtake desktop as our most used digital platform. As a result, our expectations of how the mobile apps and websites we use should perform has also increased, making mobile UX the prime weapon in the battle to attract and retain customers. 

Whereas enabling convenience used to be the primary remit for mobile services, today’s consumers expect these services to be as intuitive and frictionless as possible, often deciding which supermarket, bank, retailer or travel provider to use based on the strength of the mobile experience on offer.

It’s clear from the latest annual review by phone-paid services regulator PhonepayPlus, that customers clearly like using Carrier Billing as revenues from the payment mechanic have surged by 50% in the last year and are expected to continue to grow over the next twelve months. The problem is, many merchants still aren’t convinced.

Apples and pears

For many it simply comes down to the cost per transaction. With Carrier Billing merchants pay between 10-15% per transaction, with credit cards it’s 1-2%, but to understand the full potential of Carrier Billing it’s a bit like comparing apples with pears.

The big advantage of Carrier Billing lies in how frictionless it is, requiring only a couple clicks to complete a transaction. Let’s face it, nobody wants to have to manually enter their credit card details, especially when they’re on the move. As a result, conversion rates from Carrier Billing have always been vastly superior and up to 300% higher than those of credit card, because of this hugely simplified checkout flow.

For the consumer, having to pay by credit card when on the move can be a deal breaker. Carrier Billing on the other hand actually helps merchants earn incremental revenue from customers who may have abandoned their cart if faced with a lengthy payment scenario.

Carrier Billing – the awakening

The success of Carrier Billing has always been built on its unparalleled inclusion; able to reach the widest possible audience including the unbanked. This made it the ideal payment mechanic for digital goods like music downloads, videos and games but while Carrier Billing is still great for that, its appeal is beginning to be felt in new markets.

In particular, the pace is beginning to pick-up around the use of Carrier Billing into areas such as ticketing, financial services and entertainment with operators, brands and payment providers developing innovative new solutions to enable brands to drive new revenue streams.

As revenues from Carrier Billing continue to grow over the next year and the rate of innovation increases, consumers will automatically expect to be able to charge goods and services straight to their mobile phone bills. As a result, it will be those merchants which offer this flexibility that will benefit.

Third Sector: Charities and the quiet revolution in digital

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
Over the last eighteen months, the charity sector has been on the receiving end of a barrage of negative headlines, mainly as a result of its heavy handed fundraising techniques, which in some cases have bordered on harassment. 

As the sector begins to get its house in order once again, behind all the media furore a quiet revolution has been taking place, which has recently seen charity donations become the largest market for phone-paid payments.

These are the findings of the latest annual review from mobile payments regulator PhonepayPlus and analyst house Mobilesquared, but just how has the charity sector managed to become the doyen of the payment market?

As the report highlights, the phone-paid payments market is driven increasingly by mobile, which has become an important channel for fundraising and donor engagement. As a result, it’s not surprising that charity revenues are impressive when you consider that Children in Need alone generated £6.6m via mobile in 2015. However, the fact charity is now the leading phone-paid payments market is down to more than just a volume play.

Charities getting more intelligent 
What we’re seeing more and more of is how charities are becoming more sophisticated in their use of mobile. While text donations have been in operation for many years now, charities are increasingly focusing on what happens beyond the point of donation, using data to intelligently foster deeper engagement and ultimately increase donations. 

Because of the new legislation brought in to curb chuggers, alongside calls to reform how charities approach fundraising, when it comes to mobile, charities have been taking a very careful approach, as they try to restore consumer trust. 

This is being achieved mainly through a better understanding of their audience afforded by the availability of consumer data, which has enabled charities to develop more sophisticated segmentation and communication techniques. This gradual shift to better more intelligent targeting has coincided with a surge in the average mobile donation value, which has increased from £5 to £10 in the last twelve months. 

While this is clearly evident of growing trust in mobile donations, the big win moving forward for charities lies in mobile CRM. Charities and mobile It’s clear from the review that mobile has become a hugely valuable channel for the charity sector in terms of revenue, but it’s the opportunity the channel offers in terms of more intelligent fundraising and donor engagement strategies which is where the charity sector is beginning to score points. 

We know that consumers don’t want to speak directly to charities any more for fear that they might get the hard-sell, so it’s now down to the charities to engage with consumers in way that’s both personal and engaging. 

In fact, with the review reporting the continued decline of revenues from voice based services the take away for charities is clear – talk is cheap.

Fonix: ahead of the revenue curve



It’s great to see from the recently released PhonepayPlus FY 2015 -16 annual review that operator billing revenues have grown by more than 50% in the last year, a trend which is expected to continue over the next twelve months.

At Fonix we’re not bang on trend, we’re ahead of the curve - having increased our Carrier Billing revenues by 111% over the same period. We’ve managed to achieve this by continuing to help our clients use this frictionless payment solution in new and creative ways, increasing payment conversion and revenue streams.

The PPP report also found that when it comes to consumer trust in mobile payments, charities are amongst the most trusted organisations by consumers. This trend certainly reflects the results we’ve been able to deliver for our charity clients such as Comic Relief and Children in Need.

Rob Weisz, CEO of Fonix, comments:

“It’s great to see the industry thriving. As Carrier Billing continues to grow we’re focussing our efforts on innovation, while entering into markets that have not traditionally seen Carrier Billing before such as financial, casual gaming and leisure.”

To read the full PPP report visit here.

If you are interested to see how Fonix to help your organisation benefit from using Carrier Billing please get in touch: email hello@fonix.com or call +44 020 8114 7000.

Making SMS competition CRM more personal

Published by: Martha McCubbin, Client Services Manager.
Text messaging has proved to be an effective channel for generating audience engagement and interaction, which is why some of the largest commercial broadcasters such as Channel 5 and Discovery Channel work with Fonix to deliver SMS competitions.

Our platform makes it really easy to configure predefined campaign start and end times, cost per entry, entry limits and more. In addition to this, we have recently added new functionality to enable broadcasters to provide a more tailored experience when creating marketing communications, to maximise response rates and increase revenue for those campaigns.

There’s no longer the need to export raw data in order to manually segment it to build tailored send lists; you can now create send lists by selecting as much or as little criteria as necessary from a simple dropdown list, for example:

* any user who has entered 'competition x' in the last 3 months; OR
* any user who has entered 'competition x' more than 3 times in the last month but not the most recent 'competition y'; OR
* any user who has entered 'competition y' once in the last 6 months but entered 'competition y' 6 or more times prior

Once built, lists do not need to be exported and re-uploaded into our platform; now, once a list has been created it can be saved in the platform for future use or it can be used immediately in our Bulk Sender tool. The list can also be emailed directly to a user if required. 

Any opt outs are automatically removed so there’s no need to worry about forgetting to remove any numbers. The reporting tool allows users to watch the push go out in real time.

The user can also see how many unique mobile numbers have responded as well as how many successful competition interactions have been generated. The user can also set a threshold for the number of interactions that are needed in order to see a profit. This updates in real time to indicate when a campaign has successfully broken even.

“Over the last 3 years we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with Fonix, with the team always delivering an exceptional technical and operational service.”
Melissa Goodwin, Head of Commercial Partnerships, Channel 5/Viacom


If you would like to know more please drop us an email: hello@fonix.com or call 020 8114 7000.

Fonix wins at The Drum Moma Awards 2016

We entered The Drum Moma Awards 2016 for our partnership with Children in Need, in providing simple, spontaneous text donations. We're proud to announce that we won the Not-For Profit/Charity Mobile Strategy/Campaign award!


Left to right: Martha McCubbin, Client Services Manager, Louisa Harris, Client Services Director and Clare Charles, Commercial Account Manager

Our data-driven CRM and mobile marketing mechanics allowed BBC Children in Need to provide consumers with a tailored experience, resulting in high numbers of donors declaring their eligibility for Gift Aid. 

The solutions and expert approach to account management focused on specific objectives that ultimately achieved record-breaking results.

A huge thank you to Children in Need and also to the judges and The Drum for recognising our value in the market.

The MOMA Awards celebrate the campaigns, brands and agencies at the forefront of the mobile industry. For a full list of winners visit here.

A look back at last week’s mobile billing and messaging event

Published by: Hannah Giles, Head of Marketing.


Last Wednesday we came together with Vodafone to co-host our first mobile billing and messaging event. A great afternoon began at Oxford street’s new rooftop bar, Notch. On arrival Negronis, Old Fashioneds and Adonis were served in colourful tins resembling vintage tuna cans, setting the scene for what was to be a fantastic event.

There were insightful presentations from Vodafone, Badoo, Comic Relief and from Rob Weisz, our CEO at Fonix.

Dave Stephens, Head of B2B enablers at Vodafone UK talked about turning visitors into customers via Carrier Billing and how it’s becoming such as integral payment method for merchants. Dave also talked about how Vodafone is fully supporting initiatives in getting Carrier Billing into new markets such as ticketing.

Patrick Bonham, Senior Payments Manager and Dejan Rikic, Director, Billing and Payments at Badoo told us all of the importance of Carrier Billing as part of Badoo’s payments mix. Whilst there’s some inevitable challenges in certain markets in the world, the accessibility of Carrier Billing to consumers and incredible conversion rates compared to other payment methods (in some regions it’s so dominant that other payment mechanics are negligible) makes Carrier Billing the primary payment method in Badoo’s commercial strategy.

Kat Heath, Product Manager at Comic Relief shared how mobile donations have increased year on year and played a vital role in helping to raise money for good causes under the Comic Relief umbrella. Kat discussed how successful bulk SMS has been and how this messaging will continue to be in the initiatives to encourage Gift Aid declarations. Kat also enlightened us to where Comic Relief sees the future of mobile donations with the key focus being around increasing donation price points.

Rob Weisz, CEO at Fonix summarised the presentations and mentioned some key stats that are driving a positive impact in the industry: 

  • 30% conversion increase: Fonix see a minimum of 30% increase in payments taken when Carrier Billing is introduced alongside other payment methods.

  • 0% churn: whether it’s in charity donations, online paywalls, media interactions or gaming credits Fonix has not seen any churn with existing payment methods for merchants when they introduce Carrier Billing.

  • 47% reduction in basket abandonment: Fonix has seen merchants use Carrier Billing as a means to reduce basket abandonment when consumers choose not to purchase at check out with some incredible results.

  • 56% SMS engagement rates: Fonix gave statistics of user engagement to outbound SMS marketing campaigns for some of its merchants where the merchants have worked to optimise and segment their user data bases. These results provide a higher ROI than any other channel that the merchants have used.

After the presentations, the networking was in full swing, quite literally too - yes there were actual swings!



It was great to catch up and provide strategic insight to clients and partners who have all contributed to the continued success of both Fonix and Vodafone.

SMS is key to restoring consumer trust in the charity sector

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
Last year the essential bond between donor and charity was almost stretched to breaking point, when the widespread use of aggressive fundraising techniques coupled with numerous allegations of harassment, left consumer trust within the charity sector in tatters.

After the sector’s annus horribilis, I was keen to read this year's Fundraising Media DNA Report which was published last Friday, to try get a handle on which channels donors are going to prefer using to engage with their chosen charities.

The report benchmarks donor attitudes to the various digital channels used by charities for engagement and fundraising like email, DRTV and social media. Each channel is ranked for criteria such as perceived trustworthiness and how much consumers would welcome communications via that channel.

We know from our own research that donors really don’t want to engage with fundraisers directly, either in-person or over the phone anymore for fear of getting the hard-sell. However, with charities eager to rebuild the relationship with consumers, which channels are donors going to be most receptive to?

The report found that SMS donor engagement had increased from last year, with a significant growth in how trustworthy donors felt the channel is. SMS also ranked extremely highly as a personalised medium, but that’s not main point about SMS that will have caught the eye of the charity sector.

A key insight was that while donors from different age groups favour different digital channels, SMS has proved especially popular amongst the 35-54 year old group, which is also happens to be the highest value demographic is terms of the amount donated each year.

Finding the right balance

In recent years the charity sector has become overly commercialised in some cases, to the point where hitting short-term fundraising targets has come at the expense of long-term relationships with donors.

It’s clear from the report that digital channels are going to play a major part in helping charities connect with donors and rebuild those relationships, but they’ll have to strike the perfect balance between positive engagement and unwelcome intrusion.

This means thinking beyond the first-time donation and actually asking what kind of long-term relationship do charities want with their donors? I’m sure that most charities already have good, respectful relationships with their donors, but when it comes to digital engagement, especially via mobile, its important to respect donor anonymity without the piling on the pressure to donate more.

With mobile messaging you have the ability to include links to websites and social media channels, so once a small donation has been made via SMS, it’s then possible to engage that donor in a number of ways that will feel welcoming, rather than intrusive.

The current use of mobile messaging for fundraising and donor engagement is only the tip of the iceberg. As the Fundraising Media DNA report reveals, the popularity of SMS is set to surge in the next twelve months, especially amongst high value donors. I just hope when it comes to respecting donor anonymity that charity sector has finally got the message.

Creating transparency in mobile payments


Published by: Louisa Harris, Client Services Director.
We've been keeping busy improving our technology platforms to deliver the most reliable mobile payment products in the industry - we can proudly say that we work with a range of high-profile clients such as Channel 5, Powwownow, Daily Mail Group, AIMIA, Three and Tastecard.

We’re so serious about delivering great quality of service that we recently built a dedicated consumer page on our website with a mobile charges look-up feature.

As the payment provider for a number of services, “Fonix” is the charge detail that appears on a consumer’s mobile phone bill. This can cause confusion as this doesn’t reference the service that it is related to.

As we keep pushing to increase transparency and build consumer trust in the mobile payments industry, the new feature means that our clients’ customers can quickly look-up any charges that have appeared on their mobile phone bill. The feature provides the name of the service that the consumer has been charged for and its associated contact details should they wish to make changes to their payments and subscriptions.

The service also uses SMS authentication so that each look-up is securely verified before any services details are displayed. Fonix is currently the only payment gateway to provide a secure way for consumers to look-up charges online.

We’re already seeing a number of consumers using our service, it’s great for consumer confidence - billing details can be accessed immediately.

A new look and feel for Fonix

Published by: Hannah Giles, Head of Marketing.
Fonix has been growing rapidly, with revenues rising from £4.8m in 2013 to £28m in 2015 - driven by blue chip clients such as Channel 5, Powwownow, Daily Mail Group, AIMIA, Three and Jersey Telecom. The business is currently handling in excess of £6m of user payments per month with this set to increase with a number of new merchants coming on board this year.

We're excited to share with you our new website. As a market leader, it's important for us to drive our focussed and clear strategy through our brand as we continue to support our partners in the mobile payments and messaging space.

We decided to not just tweak the logo and create a new website but re-think our entire online strategy, ready for the next phase of growth.


So, what have we been up to?

We’d committed to a strategy of continued growth and with the launch of our Direct Payments API just over a year ago, our new payments solutions were well underway. 

And with continued growth in the A2P messaging market, we decided at the end of last year to call out our messaging solutions, and launched Zensend. 


A few months later, it was a natural transition to redefine our Fonix offering, positioning specifically on mobile payments. 


This latest branding reflects the experience, expertise and ambition of Fonix and provides a clear proposition in the mobile payments space. We hope it demonstrates our bold, focussed and innovative culture. 

We’re now moving forward with Phase 2 of our online ambitions with plans to allow our merchants to take even more control with integration, configuration, support and analytics with a number of key announcements and deployments to be delivered throughout the course of this year - watch this space!

Effective strategies for maximising Gift Aid collection on mobile

Published by: Rob Weisz, CEO.
For many charities, Gift Aid contributions provide an essential upside to consumer donations, providing money that is often used as operational income, enabling charities to pass 100 per cent of the donations on to those that need the money most.
For charities to prosper in today’s digital age it’s vital that they engage with consumers and accept donations from a range of touch points, from online to mobile. However, the channel the donor uses to make a donation can have a major bearing on the amount of Gift Aid the charity is able to collect.
When a donation payment is made using a credit card online, the donor enters their address as part of their donation. As they fill out the donation details, they can also review and agree a Gift Aid declaration in the same step, which is why charities are typically able to collect a much higher Gift Aid percentage from credit card donors.
When collecting Gift Aid from a text message payment made through the telephone bill, the process is split into two steps. In step one, the donor simply sends an SMS to a short code and the donation amount is taken from the phone bill. The Gift Aid declaration is then requested by the charity in a second step after the donation. This is the key reason why Gift Aid conversions rates can be as low as 15-20 per cent for mobile payments.
However, with the right strategy charities can double the amount of Gift Aid they generate through mobile.
Reducing the friction
Mobile is undoubtedly the simplest and most convenient way for anyone to donate money to charity. But we know it doesn’t always work for charities and, if the process is overly complex, consumers just won’t bother.
It’s essential that charities consider text donations as a key ingredient of their donation strategies, and mobile CRM must be catered for within those.
A mistake that a lot of charities make is to ask only once for Gift Aid, at the time of the donation – but donor engagement shouldn’t end there. What we’ve seen from campaigns such as Children In Need is that a donor can still be receptive to giving Gift Aid days after the point at which they made their donation. For example, by sending out a personalised SMS reminder message containing a clickable link inviting them to make a declaration, you can actually convert to Gift Aid a large number of donations that you had previously written off.
In terms of Gift Aid claims, a key area where charities often fall down is in not being able to match repeat donors with existing Gift Aid declarations. Creating a mechanic that recognises repeat donors by their mobile numbers can be hugely effective for increasing Gift Aid conversion because donors don’t need to be asked twice – this might seem obvious, but it’s a common occurrence with a number of existing mobile text donation campaigns.
Clear communication
One of the best ways to increase the amount of Gift Aid you collect is to increase the volume and value of the donations you receive. That might be pretty simple maths, but looking at how your mobile messages are structured can make a big difference.
Clear messaging throughout your campaigns to let your supporters know how specific tariff donations will be used is important, because it creates more of an emotional connection. For example, using triggers such as “£10 will buy …” helps the recipient to visualise how their money will be used, which is likely to help them decide to give money.
Encouraging multiple price points for individual campaigns allows calls to action to be tailored specifically to the audience at that time. Where they normally would have had only £5 price point, for example, adding a £10 price point to the campaign can often deliver unexpected results.
Summary
You’re never going to be able to collect Gift Aid from 100 per cent of your donors, but by focusing on the friction points within your campaign and having the right mechanics to recognise repeat donors it is possible to significantly increase the amount of Gift Aid that comes into your charity.

Fonix powers mobile donations in record breaking campaign for Sport Relief


We’re excited to announce that Fonix has been managing the entire SMS donation process on behalf of Sport Relief 2016. A record breaking campaign for Sport Relief having generated over £56 million so far and counting.
The campaign, promoted across TV, radio, print and online channels as well as at flagship events across the country, came to a head in a celeb-filled night of TV on Friday 18th March.
Following the successful delivery of Red Nose Day 2015, Fonix was chosen to support this year’s Sport Relief campaign using Fonix’s SMS and Mobile Direct Billing and campaign management platforms to power the mobile donation channel.
Furthermore, capitalising on Fonix’s mobile marketing and data analysts experience, Sport Relief sent a Gift Aid reminder messages to all those who had not provided Gift Aid declarations to drive further revenue generation and boost the campaign results.

“We chose to work with Fonix for their experience and expertise in the charity sector. With a proven track record, they are clearly the provider of choice when it comes charity and high profile broadcast campaigns”

Jules Thorne, Campaign Manager, Comic Relief
“It has been yet another absolutely brilliant campaign by the Sport Relief team, one which we’re immensely proud to be a part of. We challenge ourselves to continue to provide operational efficiencies and innovative concepts to support the growth of this amazing cause – we’re really pleased to have done our bit!”
Rob Weisz, CEO, Fonix

Our Direct Payment API – One Year On


Has it been a year already? It’s actually been over twelve months since we first introduced our Direct Payment API, which is now used by numerous brands and organisations to process millions of transactions each year.
The product allows brands to easily integrate Direct Carrier Billing alongside their existing billing systems, with the transaction being executed securely, within their own branded checkout.
The beauty of Direct Carrier Billing is its ease of use that enables consumers to charge purchases to their mobile phone bill. The simple payment mechanic makes completing a transaction as easy as two clicks of a button.  This makes it highly effective for converting new customers as is perfectly suited for lower value payments like travel and gadget insurance, media paywalls and charitable donations.
For security, we created a two factor authentication mechanic which ensures our product is extremely robust. It’s also highly scalable and proven to deliver hundreds of transactions per second during numerous high traffic events. We also offer highly competitive rates.
However, one of the main reasons our Direct Payment product has been so effective for our clients is because we always work in a collaborative and consultative manner to ensure they are using Direct Carrier Billing intelligently as part of their paywall strategy. For many clients, this has led to three times the amount of new customer conversions and has increased overall revenue by a third.
It’s about finding the right mix of payments that work for each client, so that acquisition is maximised while existing customers have the opportunity to move across to credit card based payments if beneficial.
If you want to talk to Fonix about our Direct Payment API or any of our products please contact hello@fonix.com.

Introducing Winner Picker – the easy way to pick competition winners

When a competition is over there’s still some work to be done, you’ll need to pick a winner! The traditional way of putting names in a hat to pick a winner can prove time consuming, particularly when you have hundreds, thousands or millions of entries.
Our Winner Picker product automates this whole process, allowing the user to import entries via postal, online, SMS and IVR routes. The simple tools also allow the user to select single or multiple winners for any given competition.
Winner Picker also ensures that the whole picking process is fair by picking a winner entirely at random. By design it’s also impossible for the result of the draw to be manipulated or changed as the only way to draw again is to conduct another draw. With a comprehensive audit trail in place, the whole process is fully transparent during the competition and after the winner has been picked.
If you choose a winner but then realise that their entry is invalid for any reason you can invalidate and re-pick another winner. This is really useful if you asked users to complete a certain task and they didn’t complete it, if their details are incorrect, or if the user subscribed to a mailing list but has unsubscribed by the time of the draw.
Three’s use of Winner Picker…

We recently worked with Three who used Winner Picker for its Feel At Home SMS competition. The competition asked entrants to Text ‘FAH’ to shortcode 64333 at a 
cost of £1.50 plus standard message – alternatively it was possible to enter by sending a postcard.
Three offered three prizes, for one lucky winner. £18,000 cash, £5,000 Flight Centre vouchers and an LG entertainment package. Winner Picker enabled Three to easily select the winner at random.
If you would like to know more or to arrange a demo please get in touch today – 0208 114 7000 or email hello@fonix.com.

Heart Radio embraces its mobile listeners for ‘Who’s On Heart’ with voice shortcodes

Global Radio’s Heart Radio network is re-running its hugely popular Who’s On Heart competition giving listeners the chance to win up to £100K.
The competition, which runs across the entire Heart Radio network, comprising 21 local radio stations and 9.2 million weekly listeners, asks the public to dial in to guess the correct identity of three celebrity voices. Guessing one celebrity correctly wins £10K, two celebrities wins £20K and guess all three for £100K.

Entry to the competition, which is run via the Fonix messaging and payments platform, is conducted using mobile voice shortcodes. Whilst also more memorable the use of voice shortcodes brings price clarity to the competition because its 50p entry fee is the total amount deducted from the users phone bill.
Prior to Ofcom’s Non-Geographic Number Review it was common practice to use longer numbers that bundled the access and service charge together, resulting in differing charges depending on the network operator and confusion for consumers.
Whilst the operator out-payment structure (to the mobile operator, the technical service provider and Global Radio) is weighted differently to long-number alternatives, consumers evidently prefer the simplicity and bill clarity of mobile voice shortcodes. Moving away from the 09 long-number alternative has seen the Who’s On Heart call volumes increase dramatically in its early stages and that figure is expected to grow exponentially as the competition plays out over the coming months.
Equally importantly each interaction gives Heart Radio the opportunity to re-connect with competition entrants for CRM purposes and further mobile marketing messages such as new competition launches or other radio promotions.

Ad-blocking – does the mobile ad industry need a new idea?

Author: Rob Weisz, CEO
Last week’s Mobile World Congress saw a familiar parade of new mobile devices, connected cars and virtual reality headsets. In amongst the noise one particular panel debate struck at the heart of an issue that has been playing out for some months – ad-blocking.
To give the issue some context, according to the latest quarterly review of ad blocking behaviour by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and YouGov (released on the 1st of March), 22 per cent of British adults are now using ad blocking software, up from 18 per cent in October. And elsewhere, a report by PageFair and Adobe estimates that ad-blocking cost advertisers $22 billion in 2015.
It’s an indication of a growing consumer fatigue on how ads interrupt the user experience and mistrust on how their user data is shared. Yet somehow content needs to be paid for. Perhaps it’s time for publishers to reprise the idea of the paywall?


There is clearly an appetite for an uninterrupted (by ads) user experience. The games market for example has experienced a rise of in-app gaming payments, You can conclude that consumers understand this value-exchange and will pay for good content that is free from marketing messages.
More mainstream publishers have also experimented with the ‘paid for’ model in an attempt to redress the balance. The New York Times for example installed a paywall back in 2013. And asking people to take out a paid subscription to view content has paid off, with 727,000 subscribers reported in the first quarter – earning the publisher more than its online advertising. While digital ads brought in $32.9 million, the paywall raised a $37.7 million in 2013 – a ratio that has more-or-less stayed the same up to today.
Whilst paywalls clearly have a place, there is a further consideration. Consumers also like to snack on content, browsing and consuming spontaneously to meet a need that is felt in the moment.
Adding in a layer of friction (payment) at the paywall needs to be achieved as a simple process – a no brainer. Filling in credit card details and entering personal information isn’t going to cut it: the time-poor consumer wants the content instantly not after a lot of thumb work, especially on a small device.
Direct operator billing, provides both an alternative revenue stream to advertising and effortlessly adds small transactions – micropayments – to the user’s phone bill.   This chimes directly with business models that media companies are trying to exploit – to get consumers to pay small amounts of money for small bites of content.
“Whilst paywalls clearly have a place, there is a further consideration. Consumers also like to snack on content, browsing and consuming spontaneously to meet a need that is felt in the moment.”
Television companies face similar challenges: how to make money from a more pay as you go kind of content consumption. Ad revenues on all but the main channels are being hit hard, yet online advertising can’t make up the shortfall. Charging for content, as in the newspaper world, seems the obvious answer, but is there a thirst among consumers for a pay-as-you-go model for TV content?
Sky’s launch of its streaming service, NowTV back in 2012 has successfully tapped into this trend demonstrating how there is a shift it consumer taste and demands.
For TV companies, voice short-codes and operator billing have long been the default way to serve a more snacking model, like voting on X-Factor or participating in a TV quiz. That logic is easily transferred to paying for the main event – the TV content itself – renting a film, watching a specific sporting event or paying for access for a defined period of time.
And why stop there with ‘traditional’ media? Netflix and Spotify have already launched a ‘pay by mobile bill play’ to offer access to content. Both of these are examples of ad-free services – paywalls – and both work extremely well.
If anything, the advent of ad-blockers has shown us that online and on mobile, large sections of consumers dislike the ads that interrupt their user experience and eat up their data allowance. Yet somehow content needs to be paid for. What’s important is taking consumers on a journey, by giving them a choice as to how they want to access that content.
You could now go on to read this excellent FT article on paywalls and The Independent going digital. But you’ll have to pay.

We’ve been awarded Vodafone Platinum Status


We’re excited to announce that Fonix is now one of only a handful of providers to be awarded Vodafone Platinum Partner status – the highest level within Vodafone’s partner accreditation scheme.
Awarded by a range of criteria which includes revenue, customer service levels, innovation and technical expertise, this strengthens our relationship with Vodafone, giving our customers full confidence with the messaging and payments services that we offer.
“Right at the heart of our approach is a commitment to providing the best quality service to our customers, supported by the best possible technology. Achieving Vodafone’s Platinum Partner status underlines that commitment and strengthens our ongoing strategic relationship with the firm.”

Charities are failing to deliver on the potential of text donations

Author: Rob Weisz, CEO
When it comes to generating donations, mobile is without a doubt the most ubiquitous, frictionless and convenient way for consumers to give money.
Thanks to the proactive work of the UK mobile network operators, registered charities now receive 100 per cent of every text donation they receive. So why aren’t more people giving via mobile?
For charities which do offer a text mechanic it is only likely to make-up between 10-15 per cent of their donation revenue. Compare this to the broadcast sector where up to 80 per cent of competition entries or votes come via mobile and it becomes clear that charities are failing to unlock the full potential of mobile.
The reason for this is two-fold.  Firstly, many charities believe that text donations will cannibalise their regular credit-card donations, but this just isn’t true. Mobile actually opens up new revenue streams, allowing charities to tap the casual donors who wouldn’t have donated if it meant lifting the phone or logging-on.

Then there’s the damage to consumer confidence, caused by subjecting text donors to too many unwelcome, pushy calls, trying to squeeze more money out of them through other payment methods such as credit card subscriptions. As a result, donors increasingly want to be as distant as possible from the charities they support, which can only impact future revenue potential.
Maximising donations through mobile
Because the mobile phone is such a personal device, charities need to approach mobile CRM with extreme caution, as irrelevant or unwelcome messages can have a seriously negative impact.
With any mobile CRM campaign, you have to have an understanding that your database isn’t just a list of mobile numbers but a list of people, each at a different stage in their giving cycle. Therefore, any messaging must be tailored and personal to generate the best response.
When someone decides to give via mobile, it is usually because they don’t want to speak to anyone directly, so it’s good practice to continue to engage with them using the medium which they’re comfortable with.
Mobile CRM starts the moment a consumer donates, so always make sure you send a thank you message, also containing an invitation to give Gift Aid.  Subsequent messages should always aim to deliver good news about the charity and how donations are being used, but always with a call to action.  Typically, this would be a request to sign-up for regular credit-card based donations or to give another one-off amount.
Because every donor is different you have to create data sub-subsets. A good start is to tag people based on their donation amount and frequency. It’s really important that you think long and hard about what kind of communication each donor type would want and develop a messaging strategy accordingly.
Someone who donated once probably won’t appreciate lots of messages asking them to make regular donations, but a message about the charity’s good work may encourage them to make another one off donation.  Too often charities focus on trying to get frequent donors to give more, but its important to look at your entire span of donors as each will respond to a different approach.
Despite the misguided fears over text donations, mobile is becoming more and more important for charities using it. In addition, for the last two years running Children in Need has broken its mobile donation volumes on the previous year, so isn’t it time your charity got the message about mobile?
Come and  visit Fonix at the the forthcoming Charities and Associations Event – CHASE 2016 on  the 16/17 February  at the Business Design Centre, London, N1.  Fonix will be at stand 20.
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This article first appeared on Third Sector.