Email Automation for OTT Platforms: Encourage subscribers to binge-watch to their heart’s content
We’re living in the age of OTT. OTT or Over-the-top services that offer diverse ‘video on demand’ content on their online platform have gained immense popularity in the past decade, comfortably eliminating the need of having a television at home. Interestingly, the OTT market is expected to reach US $167 billion by 2025.
These figures have also been influenced by the recent COVID-19 pandemic that has led to an exponential increase in the viewership and subscriptions to the different OTT streaming channels. The entire television industry and cable companies have experienced disruption with the emergence of the on-demand media industry. It is believed that 34.9 million American households will have canceled their cable services by 2023.
Competition in the industry is on the rise, and owing to the competitive bottleneck, it is important to reach out to the right people and have an effective marketing strategy in place. Emails can form the perfect foundation of this strategy, being the most powerful marketing channel amongst all.
So, how can you implement email marketing in the right way? As cliche as it may sound, the answer lies in sending the right email at the right time to the right person, and that is possible through mapping the user lifecycle and automating your email program.
Before talking about email automation, let’s talk about how to attract the customer base to “sign up”.
Both the platforms, Netflix and Hulu have a sorted way of getting subscribers for their list. Netflix directly asks for the email address to create the account while Hulu has a clear CTA that prompts the visitor to start their free trial.
Once you have an organically built list, you should focus on getting maximum subscribers to purchase the premium subscription from you.
Besides posting on social media channels, you must regularly send out personalized email communications to stay in touch with your audience. You might as well share the latest shows that you have added on the platform.
Let’s start our automation journey with the very first email that your subscribers expect from you – the welcome email.
1. Attract the subscriber by welcoming them and introducing your services
It’s a no brainer that as soon as a subscriber signs up or starts the free trial, you must send out a welcome email that makes the subscriber feel welcomed and lets them know what your platform is all about. It is always recommended to send out a series of welcome emails and of course, the OTT industry is no exception.
See how Hulu greets the new subscribers and shares their subscription details in the first email of the welcome series. The email also includes how they can enjoy Hulu in the living room and informs the user about their mobile app. At the end, they highlight their hit TV shows with a clear CTA.
The focus of their next email is to encourage the users to access Hulu from other devices. While the first email would prompt the subscriber to “start watching”, this email would get them to “find their devices” and enjoy their favorite shows on the screen of their choice.
Often, it so happens that the user signs up but does not complete the subscription. For such subscribers, you can send out a reminder email that asks them if they have any concerns. It would assure the customers and remove any objection that they might be having in their minds about the subscription. The CTA in red, in this Netflix email, instantly draws attention and increases the likelihood of getting clicked.
2. Inform the subscriber about any update in their subscription details or unauthorized login
Whether the subscriber adds a phone number or makes any changes in the billing details, it is of utmost importance to send out a notification email about it. This will keep the subscriber informed and wary about any fraudulent transactions through the platform.
Netflix sets the perfect example by letting the subscriber know of every small change related to their account.
Even if they cancel the subscription, Netflix uses the transactional email as an opportunity to convince them to come back as shown in the example below.
3. Keep the subscribers engaged so that they continue using your premium services
I am sure the welcome email series would get the subscribers to use your service. Subsequently, you should keep them hooked to your platform by sending out weekly newsletters on the viral tv shows or movies that are being watched by maximum people.
While sending these emails, make sure you have segmented your subscribers according to their age, demographics, geographical location, and shows they have watched previously or expressed interest in. This is important because while millennials might be keener to watch the latest movies or series like FRIENDS, Generation X would be more interested in documentaries or the old tv shows or movies. You ought to share personalized recommendations in line with their interests if you want to win over your audience, irrespective of the age group they fall in.
Here’re a few examples of the kind of emails OTT platforms send to keep the audience engaged.
Considering the user’s watch history, Netflix has picked up a few shows that he or she might love to watch.
To make sure that the user does not lose interest or move on to their competitors, they keep adding new shows and original series, while informing them about the same.
They try to pique the subscriber’s curiosity by sending out “Coming soon” emails. These emails will trigger the fear of missing out and keep the users subscribed to the platform or tempt them to resubscribe in case their subscription expires during that time.
Notice the clever use of cinemagraph in this email promoting the launch of the original series Fate/EXTRA Last Encore.
I cannot resist the temptation of traveling down the memory lane and sharing this beautiful email that Netflix sent in 2014.
They have always been creative folks who have loved innovating in their marketing strategy.
Another idea is to embed a trailer video right in the email and tap on the curiosity instinct of the users.
When Hulu launched the series “Castle Rock” back in 2018, they included the trailer video in the email itself. Check out their email.
Back in 2018, Hotstar ran an occasion-based email campaign that promoted romantic shows that matched the Valentine’s Day feels. It not only increased the average watch times per session, but also helped in driving 12% engagement.
You can even send out a quiz email to ask them about the past episodes or prediction about the future plot or climax. It would encourage the user to reply and enhance your sender reputation as well.
Let the subscriber know about the expiry of their trial version well in advance so that they can resubscribe at the right time and turn into a premium user.
4. Retain your customers by asking them their feedback
Of course, sending hyper-personalized emails is important to retain the customers. In addition to that, it is recommended that you ask the users for their feedback so that they can share their opinion with you. It would instil a sense of trust in the customers and compel them to stay subscribed to your brand.
Netflix sends out a simple email that requests the subscribers to take the survey and share their experience.
Hotstar also employs the same tactic to generate user reviews and get an idea of how they are finding the platform. This campaign, sent to 2,50,000 subscribers drove 16% open rate and 5% click-through rate.
5. Win back the subscribers with re-engagement emails
Over the time, your subscribers might lose interest in your platform or switch to your competitor. Your challenge is to bring back these lost customers by sending out a re-engagement email that lets them know that you value their presence on your platform.
Take a look at how Netflix sends out a series of re-engagement emails to tempt the users to come back and continue to binge-watch their favorite shows.
Hulu, on the other hand, incentivizes the subscribers with free streaming for two weeks to bring them back.
Amidst the competitive bottleneck created by OTT platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, etc., email marketers have to buckle up and send email campaigns that resonate the best with the subscribers. Email automation is no longer a protip for email marketing. It has become a best practice that has to be followed as a mandate. If you are in the OTT industry, these examples and tips would surely help you to get the results that you are looking for.