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10 offers for driving mobile data growth

In my last blog, I talked about overall brand experiences that help engage young consumers. Now I’m going to focus on specific offers that can help mobile operators promote the “mobile data first” experience, using an online charging solution (OCS). These 10 ideas reduce cost barriers and offer incentives, so that young consumers will start building mobile data use into their daily habits — driving overall mobile data growth.

1. Minimize the initial cost barrier

Young people often encounter financial barriers that block their decisions to purchases. That’s also true when they’re buying and consuming mobile data. So offer a short-term promotion to help them get past the barrier — for example, a 100% discount on data for an initial 3 months, or 300MB for the price of 100MB. These kinds of offers can inspire young consumers to choose mobile data, then encourage continued usage.

2. Offer a mobile data reward

Young consumers’ spending is usually focused on the brands they love, which can limit the money they have left over for mobile data. But Mobile Apps like Kickbit, combined with an OCS, can help them get more megabytes of data in exchange for doing things like taking quick surveys, trying free trials, shopping, and watching videos. These incentives offer a great way to overcome financial barriers, deepen the mobile data experience and remove their dependency on Wi-Fi. Expanding on that concept, sponsored data plans and toll-free data can encourage them to surf on the mobile Internet, rather than Wi-Fi, if the offers apply to the content they enjoy most.

3. Leverage My Tribe and multiplayer games

My Tribe is a variation on shared data plans that helps keep young consumers on your network with a variety of offers, such as unlimited voice and text. It can also offer group discounts on mobile data. And as the tribe grows (up to a designated limit), the savings for each tribe member gets bigger. This idea builds on the appeal of youth social groups to provide mobile data discounts and increase retention and acquisition. The leaders of this concept were Solavei’s social media referral offers and Sprint’s Framily, which started with a total bill discount.

Of course, young people also love mobile gaming, especially multiplayer games. And mobile operators can further leverage the games’ appeal by providing instant discounts (or an additional bonus allowance) when a tribe’s total usage reaches specified thresholds.

4. Develop “great deals” for My Tribe apps and services

Today’s youth market constantly looks for the hottest mobile apps and services with freemium and subscription services. After paying for these apps and services, they often don’t have much money left, so they choose to enjoy them on Wi-Fi. For example, they love WhatsApp, except for the annual USD $0.99 subscription fee, after the initial free year. So consider offering group discounts to My Tribe offers with mobile data by subsidizing or discounting the WhatsApp annual fees.

For instance, a tribe with 6 to 10 people could share a $4.99 WhatsApp offer, including a minimum mobile data allowance, instead of each paying $0.99. And these offers could include other subscription-based music apps or gaming apps too. This approach encourages more young people to join your network and bring along their friends. It also helps build loyalty and discourages churn.

5. Present a choice of subsidized apps

When developing offers, remember that some young people may want unlimited WhatsApp on mobile data, and others may want unlimited Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a variety of other apps. To meet these diverse preferences, Etisalat has launched unlimited social bundles for a day or a month. This approach lets young people select the mobile apps they want to use in discounted or free mode, as they fall in and out of love with them.

For example, an enhanced offer could allow up to 3 apps to be included in the social app bundle, which would be selected from a pre-curated pool. The discount could be offered as a bucket of data associated with the selected apps, and it could be either capped or unlimited. (Of course, it’s important for mobile operators to understand the network and usage impacts of mobile apps before curating such a pool of apps.)

6. Add a free monthly 200MB to a tablet purchase

Research shows that the youth market loves using tablets, and the growth of media-rich traffic like video is partly driven by tablet usage. As a result, offering an incentive to use tablets can help push up data consumption. For example, mobile operators could offer tablets that come with a free monthly allowance of 200MB of mobile data. Currently, T-Mobile USA is offering free 2G data for life, with up to 200MB of free 4G LTE data each month. The offer is valid for as long as customers own the tablets purchased from T-Mobile.

7. Develop device-based discounts

Because the youth market is very loyal to particular mobile device brands and models, they can be attracted to networks offering the models they like. One way to draw them to your brand is to combine the leading mobile devices with a discounted data bundle. Or mobile tablets could be bundled with a promotional, discounted data plan per MB, instead of feature phones. This offer could encourage young consumers to surf the Internet freely on mobile tablets wherever Wi-Fi isn’t readily available. And it could also help with the uptake of mobile tablet sales.

8. Provide an IOU option

This IOU (I owe you) idea is often used in prepaid services. But it can be used more widely to promote a better user experience when users reach their data cap. Currently, when this moment arrives, the session simply stops until a top-up is made. And of course, the top-up takes time so young users miss the opportunity to finish their data sessions. To improve this situation, mobile providers can deliver a flash screen message that offers a nominal amount of mobile data, with the cost deducted from the user’s next top-up or next month’s payment.

9. Offer emergency bandwidth

When young people run out of mobile data, they often wait until they’re in Wi-Fi coverage to continue surfing on the Internet. So consider offering existing customers a cheap, emergency week-long pass for mobile data, which can tide them over when their data bundle expires. Users could purchase cheap, unlimited, low-bandwidth data — or discounted, premium, high-speed data — for that week. This option offers an affordable way to keep using data until the next bundle kicks in.

10. Bridge Wi-Fi hotspots

The youth market typically gathers in groups within free Wi-Fi hotspots, consumes data and then stops, until they reach the next free Wi-Fi location. To promote a continuous data experience, offer discounted data in selected mobile coverage areas, such as school campuses, shopping districts, concerts and stadiums. It’s a good way to demonstrate the advantages of mobile data on the go — by using the mobile network between Wi-Fi hotspots.

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Do you like these 10 ideas or have other ideas to share? Want to learn more about the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovations and Mobile Application Ranking Report? Or about how Alcatel-Lucent can help? Send me an email at

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Daisy Su

About Daisy Su

Daisy heads the marketing for all Nokia’s award-winning device management solutions for mobile, home, and IoT, as well as marketing for the software as a service (SaaS) offers. Daisy also happens to be an inventor with 3 US patents and a co-author in the Bell Labs Technical Journal.

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