How to minimize churn among idle and inactive users

No streaming service is safe from churn. Every subscriber type, even those who have been active for a long time, can swing from ‘safe’ to ‘at risk’ if engagement levels drop. But two particular groups pose a greater risk than others: users who are either idle or inactive.

It goes without saying that these users are already disengaged from your offering. This could be for a number of reasons, and truly understanding subscriber engagement is half the battle when it comes to mitigating the risk of losing them. But knowing what action to take also means knowing what makes these user groups different from the rest.

Identifying your idle and inactive users

Before we look at how to best re-engage these users, let’s first define them.

Idle and inactive are subscriber categories you can find in the Wicket Scorecard. They’re two of six categories we’ve created to give a deeper understanding of engagement status taking into account audience lifecycle. This approach makes it far easier to identify at-risk subscribers based on their account activity rather than relying on metrics such as total number of streaming hours or total views which don’t tell the full story.

If you’re aren’t yet using Wicket Scorecard but are looking to apply this approach to your own service, consider the following definitions:

  • Idle users: Those with no views in the last four weeks but at least one in the prior eight weeks.
  • Inactive users: Subscribers with no views in the last 12 weeks but at least one in the last year.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the answer is to immediately re-engage both user types to remind them of the value your service brings. But that would be a mistake. Idle users need to be approached very differently to inactive users. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of unintended consequences – i.e. triggering the churn event you’re trying to avoid.

Instead, let’s look at more targeted ways to bring these users back into the fold, and where you can use data-driven insights to personalize the re-engagement experience and increase the likelihood of winning them over.

Moving subscribers from idle to engaged

Although there can be a number of reasons why a user falls idle, one of the most common is that they’re not seeing enough value from your service. In other words, they may have finished watching the blockbuster content that lured them in but haven’t explored the rest of your content library after that. Or, they’ve watched the vast majority of your lead assets and now mistakenly feel they’ve seen everything your service has to offer.

This puts idle users at the greatest risk of voluntary churn. You’ll want to take action fast, so knowing what content will have the desired effect is key. This means polling your content consumption data to understand what other users like them, who have watched the same blockbuster content they have, gravitated to next and what assets held their attention most.

This is easy to do with the Wicket Scorecard. Using insights from Attention Index and Content Explorer, you can accurately identify assets that would help lure idle users back into the fold based on what they’ve watched from your service so far. Also, consider identifying the hidden gems that idle users haven’t seen but would be interested in. This is a powerful way to demonstrate the broader value of your platform.

This data-driven analysis should inform your targeted outbound marketing efforts. From there, approach idle users just like any other marketing campaign. Curate a tailored re-engagement funnel spanning push notifications and email outreach and guide them to content personalized to their interests, pulling them back to the re-engaged category.

It’s also worth considering how frequently you reach out to these users. In our experience, the lifetime value for idle subscribers is 30-50% lower than engaged users. So, if your standard outreach cadence is every three or four weeks, try increasing your messaging to idle viewers to once a week until they’ve re-engaged fully.

Re-engaging inactive users the right way

Inactive users are different. Often, they will have been drawn to your service for something specific. This may have been an exclusive show or the sports season you had rights to. Either way, the outcome is the same: these users have become inactive but have seemingly forgotten to cancel their subscription.

Inactive users tend to have a higher lifetime value than idles, reflecting their longer tenure with the service. But putting them into a high frequency re-engagement funnel could just as easily remind them about a subscription they didn’t know they still had.

A better way is to treat inactive users as if they’ve already unsubscribed. Don’t just add them to your existing marketing efforts. Instead, run a win-back campaign when new content they’re interested in becomes available – i.e., during the run-up to new episodes of the TV show they binged on or the start of the next sports season.

Just like with inactive subscribers, you’ll need to have a firm grasp on what drew these users to your service in the first place. You’ll also need to consider the myriad other factors that go into a successful win-back campaign. If you’re looking for advice on this, check out our expert guide on winning back lost subscribers and how deep data analytics can help pre-empt subscriber behavior.

The added value of data-driven analysis

By taking a deeper dive into the engagement status of your user base, and identifying what content would be best suited to their individual likes and interests, you can not only bring idle and inactive subscribers back from the brink but also avoid situations like this in the future.

Knowing when a subscriber is at risk of falling idle means you can take proactive steps to boost their engagement ahead of time. In turn, you’ll be able to minimize the risk of churn as soon as usage starts to drop, rather than waiting until they fall into a high risk user category.

Of course, this just scratches the surface of what’s possible when making more informed business decisions with actionable, data-driven intelligence. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how Wicket Scorecard can help turn the vast amounts of subscriber data at your disposal into a competitive advantage.

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