The UK’s mobile operators are annoying many of their customers with “irrelevant” marketing messages, according to a new survey.

The GfK NOP research, commissioned by Pontis, found a lack of segmentation by mobile service providers when marketing their services.

Of the 752 mobile phone users surveyed, 70% did not think the offers they received were relevant to them and 64% said they were annoying.

Only 11% had ever bought or signed up for something after being sent an online promotion or offer by their service provider.

The figures aren’t that surprising – there is plenty of evidence in our Internet Stats Compendium of low use of personalisation and targeting in marketing campaigns, despite a clear business case for doing so.

For email marketing, a recent Jupiter Research report found that untargeted broadcast emails generated average open rates of 20%, compared to 27% for campaigns triggered by user actions and 33% for those integrating website clickstream data.

In an earlier study by the firm, only one third of email marketers said relevance was one of their top three goals.

According to the GfK NOP research, mobile operators seem not even to be targeting that effectively by age – three quarters of 45-54 year olds, 78% of 55-64 year olds and 57% of teenagers and young adults viewed the offers they received as irrelevant.

Guy Talmi, senior marketing director at Pontis, said:

“The findings represent both good and bad news for the service provider community - on one hand it shows that their inability to tailor services and content to the individual user’s interests and situation is not only failing to attract new revenue streams but – even worse – it’s alienating their customer base.

“On the other hand, it clearly points to a major opportunity for those operators who can harness vital information about a user’s interests and behaviour and offer them relevant services at the right time.”

Emma Mohr-McClune, principal analyst for wireless services at Current Analysis, added:

“This report flags up a growing need for better tailored and personalised campaign techniques, and a higher level of commitment to customer micro-segmentation going forward.”

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