Telenor is one of Norway’s largest and oldest telecoms providers, a 164-year-old Viking that suddenly found itself operating in a 21st-century market bustling with young, strong competitors. Luckily, Werner Toniste, Head of Digital Media, felt this circumstance wasn’t a drawback, but an opportunity. He decided he would try and leverage the brand’s reputation in an effort to revitalize the company in a hugely crowded northern European B2B market.

But how? To do this, he needed to obtain more B2B prospects without going through traditional channels, while keeping a lid on costs. No doubt, the situation required a comprehensive digital transformation that would improve business-to-business relations and leverage better consumer insight. But that wasn’t all. Telenor had structural issues to hammer out, low conception of the buying and optimization cycle, no way of benchmarking channels, and limited info on audience behavior with no way of rapidly sharing campaign insights.

Ellinor Axell, Telenor’s Head of Marketing, also wanted her sales team to stop making time-consuming cold calls and instead follow warm leads. The long-term goal was to eliminate cold calling altogether, and use strong brand story and insight to locate clients with strong potential for growth.

So, what to do? Telenor needed to find a way to be more targeted and personalized while also achieving better coordination among internal stakeholders. Making the switch meant far more than merely moving the marketing budget to digital, it meant making a holistic digital transformation that would re-center appealing B2B brand story and cost as little as possible.

That’s when Toniste and Axnell decided to call up Albert, a self-learning marketing solution program. Telenor would never be the same.

Making the A.I. Leap

Tonsite and Axnell’s decision to go with Albert was based partly on the idea that the transformation would be a two-fold process that recast internal marketing operations while also introducing a digital customer acquisition program. They needed a partner that could handle both aspects while maintaining brand messaging conformity and keeping the focus on the customer.

“We’re proving that you don’t always need more people to get more stuff done. We are producing so much more relevant content with less resources than before, and generating a 432% return on our ad spend thanks to AI.” —Werner Toniste, Digital Media & Analytics Manager, Business

The A.I. from Albert began its work straight away. By tying Telenor’s real-time insights to cross-channel digital marketing orchestration, creative teams got quick and regular feedback on the performance of content. Meanwhile, the A.I. program continually offered fresh insights that the team used to tailor strategy and bradning in real time.

This approach led to faster creative production and storytelling than ever before: new brand content was produced within hours of Albert’s assessments. As a result, the company gained a competitive advantage as it could create the best campaigns and buy the right types of ad placements at the right time.

By virtue of the work with Albert, Toniste and Axnell have completely restructured Telenor’s marketing function and resources. Content creation is handled both in-house and partially by agency partners, and the staff continues to run large-scale brand story campaigns on traditional channels using Albert’s insights to inform creative. It now requires just one dedicated in-house person to run the technology and act as a liaison among the larger marketing team, which saves the budget.

The Takeaway

“We’ve achieved 122% in increase in qualified leads from our digital channels, and we’re able to attract and retain better talent because of our use of AI.” —Ellinor Axell, Head of SME Sales and Marketing, Business

Toniste and Axnell have given a legacy company a dramatic digital awakening that has transformed how Telenor functions both in both the local and international B2B marketplace. As a result, Telenor plans to pilot Albert across its brands in the various countries in which it operates.

After just the first year of working with Albert, Toniste saw major gains he wouldn’t have seen otherwise: 122% increase in leads, 30% reduction in marketing spend, and an incredible 432% return on ad spend. The benefits keep flowing in, usually in the form of fresh customer insight and usable market data. Telenor has achieved incredible data optimization and high levels of customer insight. All this has made active cold calls irrelevant and led to a relationship-based sales model that has not only maintained but improved its focus on the customer and on elevating and customizing their strong brand story for unique B2B audiences.

That means that this old Norwegian legacy brand is no longer constrained by old habits and traditional marketing. It stands reborn, a fully transformed modern company and a soaring symbol of what ambitious, digitally transformed big business can do for brands in the contemporary telecoms market. Through the use of AI and smart digital branding and storytelling, Telenor has carved a new niche for itself in an overcrowded 21st-century B2B field.