Digital strategy for a national mobile network

O2 is the second-largest mobile network operator in the UK with around 6,700 employees and over 450 retail stores. O2 is the principal commercial brand of Telefónica, headquartered in Spain and operating globally. The company is the network of choice for mobile virtual network operators such as Giffgaff, Sky Mobile and Lyca Mobile. It also manages a 50:50 joint venture with Tesco for Tesco Mobile. Sponsorships have been a big part of the O2 brand since it launched in 2002 and continues to reach customers far and wide with England Rugby and its iconic O2 music venues.

Brand activation

O2 has become one of the largest and most loved brands in the UK through immersing itself in sports, music and entertainment; granting customers access to priority events and exclusive experiences. The O2 Star Trader venture was launched to extend its reach to even more customers, since it’s not a requirement to be an O2 customer in order to become a trader. With no limits to joining, O2 Star Trader is completely focused on empowering entrepreneurship. The digital platform makes it easy for anyone to refer and earn.

O2 partnered with DEPT® with the goal of re-energising of its Star Trader programme. The customer engagement venture is facilitated through an O2 branded digital platform used to recruit and retain ‘Star Traders’ by distributing O2 PAYG sims and disbursing commissions per activation, as well as other prizes and rewards. DEPT® comprised and activated a digital marketing strategy to increase awareness and interest in the Star Trader proposition.

Strengthening brand loyalty through customer empowerment

Strategic direction

The Star Trader programme fits perfectly within O2’s pillars, which are set out to use tech to help its customers live and work towards a brighter future. Star Traders is highly valued within the organisation and was identified by O2 as an opportunity to build a community focused around growth, through empowerment. DEPT® came on board to analyse the Star Trader brand proposition, as well as identify its stance in the market and determine pain points and opportunities.

Data was compiled and examined from both O2’s internal channels, as well as external sources such as website analytics, sales reports, social media, Google trends, surveys, censuses and statistics. This information led to a complete UX review and redesign of the website to optimise the user-journey and simplify the process for traders to sign up and make the most of the platform. The data also enabled DEPT® to identify new target markets and strategically activate O2’s digital channels.

Digital marketing

A personalised approach to customer engagement has always underpinned O2’s brand strategy and leveraging data, DEPT® was able to delve even deeper. A multi-channel digital marketing approach was taken to effectively target and engage O2 customers that could best benefit from the Star Trader programme; with a business-like mentality and lifestyle to thrive in the refer-to-earn opportunity. 

Customer acquisition campaigns, executed across the Google Display Network and social media platforms, were fundamental in driving qualified traffic to the newly optimised website. Paid search was used to harvest the interested generated, acting as a signpost to deliver relevant messaging and encourage users to register as a Star Trader. Regular content creation is also part of the plan comprised of topical blogs, social media posts and trader stories. These tactics are to softly communicate the ease of being a Star Trader and perks involved for those interested in learning more about the programme. A monthly email campaign is distributed to further support the lead-generation strategy.

Personalised approach

New primary target markets emerged from the research; GPS sellers, Au Pair companies and Study Abroad companies, which DEPT® is actively targeting through a variety of channels from direct outreach to targeted PPC campaigns and personalised landing pages. For display ads, DEPT® is targeting stay at home parents, another target audience that emerged from research, which has delivered 25k unique users to the Star Trader website, over a 2 month period, since the campaign launched at the end of May (GA last-click data).

As the number of Star Traders increases, nurturing traders becomes a large part of DEPT®’s focus. HubSpot integration is one step that has been taken to increase personalised communications and keep Star Traders engaged. DEPT® is in the process of launching tailored landing pages for GPS Sellers, Study Abroad companies, and Au Pair companies. When traders register through these bespoke landing pages, it will trigger a workflow of personalised emails that are unique to the trader’s industry, offering relevant, helpful advice to excel as a star trader.


DEPT® has taken a highly strategic approach to the Star Trader website audit which has optimised the digital platform, improving performance and user journeys, laying a solid foundation for the endeavour to succeed and scale-up. A multichannel digital marketing strategy fuelled growth through generating awareness and interest in the opportunities within Star Trader. As a result, the number of sim card activations has increased by 112% YoY (June 2019 vs June 2018) and 10.6% more Star Traders have signed up from the time of taking over the account to date (Sept 2018 to July 2019).

This project was a full team effort, demonstrating the strides of DEPT®’s integrated digital specialists involving strategists, copywriting, PPC, SEO, UX, design, back-end and front-end developers, and QA testing. DEPT® is continuing to partner with O2 on the Star Trader programme.


Managing Director, Design & Technology UK

Lizzie Powell

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