Shawn Lim
Oct 4, 2022

CirclesLife's marketing lead on building a sustainable first-party data strategy

The telco has moved past vanity metrics for its campaigns—such as clicks and viewable impressions—in favour of metrics that show a clear path to business outcomes, such as sales.

Ajay Sampath
Ajay Sampath

As a purely digital telco, Singaporean telco company CirclesLife has always adopted a localised approach, bearing cultural nuances, user behaviour and connectivity preferences. Consequently, it refrains from positioning its offerings as the cheapest and instead focuses on its users’ needs which form the basis of its marketing strategies.

Ajay Sampath, head of brand marketing at CirclesLife, says the brand’s touchpoints across performance-based marketing include creative landing pages and A/B testing. This is relflected in its offerings across social media, search engine marketing (SEM), essential opinion leader marketing, and sponsored content.

He explains the "transparent nature" of CirclesLife performance-marketing approach keeps all stakeholders in the loop, is direct and real-time based, and ensures timely feedback and changes. This approach helps the brand extend its reach, opening doors to opportunities.

“Data is at the heart of all we do, and we believe all metrics have a place as they depict a portion of the entire picture and can play a part in leading towards a resultant decision. However, while metrics have merit, we focus on what we believe will directly impact business success: a customer-centric experience,” Sampath tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.

“Our core values are our guiding light. Internally, we communicate simply and collaborate effectively to eliminate uncertainties and work closely with the respective product teams to review every customer dissatisfaction ticket. This communication approach helps us benchmark digital onboarding journeys to ensure we stay relevant to the market and close to our customers.”

For example, when there are issues with more than five customer cases, everyone from CirclesLife’s cross-functional teams and leadership come together via war room initiatives to address and rectify the problems. The brand aims to teach its partners and affiliates this mindset by removing excessively complex layers of approvals.

When measuring the effectiveness, efficiency and scale of its campaigns and activations, CirclesLife avoids the usual suspects like ad delivery or brand. Instead, it uses the number of people who order SIM cards to measure effectiveness, which informs the brand of its baseline in terms of conversion points for customer acquisition.

To achieve this, CirclesLife leverages its order values of its mobile plans as conversion value and utilises the 'maximise conversion value' bid strategy to drive revenue. 'Maximise conversion value' is a bidding strategy that helps in capturing the highest possible conversion value within a specified budget.

For campaign performance measurement, CirclesLife’s focus is on business sustainability, prioritising using lifetime value and customer acquisition cost as crucial metrics.

That said, Sampath believes traditional KPIs still play a crucial role for the brand and its teams across the board to assess effectiveness, efficiency and scale.

“For instance, we use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure customer satisfaction which will be a leading indicator of our brand campaign’s effectiveness. We also keep pulses on our brand and campaign impact through our brand equity tracking programme with Kantar with measuring parameters including the likes of meaning, difference, salience and brand power, to name a few examples,” he explains.

CirclesLife activations featuring brand ambassador Kishan.


For the recent launch of iPhone 14, the brand went to the Apple Store at Orchard Road with its brand ambassador Kishan, offering $500 vouchers to winners who answered simple trivia questions about Singapore. Those who were on-site also scanned their way to coupons and CirclesLife mobile plans.

The campaign is part of CirclesLife’s first-party data strategy, Sampath explains, as with every effective conversation, there is the element of asking and listening. So when the brand asks, it walks the talk by conducting frequent qualitative discussions with its customers to understand the concerns and needs behind what constitutes a compelling mobile offering.

These conversations extend across socials and face-to-face activation mechanics featuring trivia-heavy quizzes as this encourages transparency and honest feedback.

As part of the listening process, the CirclesLife team reviews its response framework constantly to address any problems. The telco also developed its social listening engine to compile all conversations surrounding all things CirclesLife into datasets.

Some of these datasets include insights on age, platform, targeted content and promotional mechanics. For example, CirclesLife’s iPhone 14 offering was designed with three months of unlimited data to connect its customers with their family, friends and loved ones.

“We realised how a mobile plan needs to go beyond that, which led to our partnerships with Atome and Mobilestop while also providing flexible payment options. In addition, the eSIM capability, which focuses on security and safeguarding data, the eSIM ensures device and personal information security for all users,” says Sampath.

The digital telco has operations in Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. Private equity firm Warburg Pincus made an investment in CirclesLife in 2020 and the brand is reportedly considering a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) deal with Bridgetown Holdings worth US$1.5 billion to US$2.5 billion.

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