Yesterday we participated in the How to Leverage a 35% Churn Rate webinar with our partners from Brightcove. It was a great discussion regarding many different aspects of churn for SVoD services; diversity of content, marketing campaigns relation to subscriber lifecycle and churn. Participants were Harry Lang of Hallmark Labs, Jim O’Neill of Brightcove, and our CEO, Marty Roberts.
Between the lively discussion and many questions posed by the audience, we ran out of time to thoroughly address all of the questions asked. So we decided a follow-up post was in order to make sure everyone had a chance to get their question addressed and hopefully help out some of those that also have similar questions regarding churn in their subscription video services.
UNDERSTAND & COMBAT VIDEO SUBSCRIPTION CHURN
- What is a reasonable level of involuntary churn, and what can you do to reduce it?
[MR] In general, we see about 30% of the overall churn related to involuntary churn. This varies by audience, customer type, payment mechanisms, etc. You can get lower involuntary churn through the app stores but since people jump in and out of apps, voluntary churn can be higher.
Involuntary churn is attackable. Some of the subtle ways you can combat this include:
- working with your payment processor on their dunning process
- Setup in-app notifications regarding recurring payments coming up
- Notifications asking subscribers to make sure their payment information is correct
Having really good subscriber management and payment processing systems can keep your involuntary churn rate in the single digits.
- Are there trends that suggest how often you need to add new content?
[HL] People are expecting to see something new on a weekly basis. Hallmark is trying to maintain a weekly release schedule. But this does present opportunities for marketing to your audience, either to prevent churn with engagement or through running win-back campaigns. Win-backs are an important tactic for fighting churn.
- What Marketing data do you combine with your churn data?
[MR] We provide a 360º view of every subscriber that delivers a thorough understanding of actions you can take for maintaining engagement and keeping them subscribed which ultimately drives a higher lifetime value. The data typically comes from a few different sources. By combining marketing, subscriber management, app store, revenue, video metadata, and site and app analytics data, we can see what marketing sources are performing the best throughout the lifecycle versus only seeing which sources are best for acquisition and stopping there.
This chart (Fig. 1) is one example of how we integrate data from multiple sources to draw unique insights in the Wicket Scorecard. It gives a more complete understanding of how your marketing efforts are performing and can also be pivoted to show marketing channel, primary device, and location data.
Additionally, the Wicket Scorecard has a chart called CONVERSION DRILLDOWN BY SOURCE which allows you the granularity of viewing your conversions at the ad/source level.
- For smaller networks, your thoughts on best practices for introducing the library of content and/or guides to navigate it? Email, social media, KB, landing pages, etc?
- Landing pages certainly help
- Have some sort of a sizzle reel of the available content
- Let people browse the service. If everything is behind a paywall, it looks like you’re trying to hide something. Letting them browse allows people to evaluate what they’re signing up for
- Provide sample content
- Just offering previews or trailers can be huge
- Do you find churn rates higher with in-app purchases on a platform versus a sub directly purchasing on the channels’ own website?
[HL] In-app churn is lower than the website. That can be for a variety of reasons. You have less likely involuntary churn because people are more apt to keep their credit cards up to date with Apple, or Google, or Roku. So, right there, you’re cutting off a huge chunk of churn because the credit cards are up-to-date. It’s an easier way to join a service. On the other side, managing your service through in-app can be more difficult than it is on the web. So sometimes you might have less churn because it’s not clear how to cancel versus how we make it easy and apparent on the website. It’s not a huge difference but it is lower in-app.
[MR] The other thing that relates to that is the consumption device itself. In general, what we find is that consumers watching on a big-screen experience, a Roku, an Apple TV, a Fire Stick, they tend to consume about two and a half times as much content and they churn at half the rate as those on mobile. And it’s kind of intuitive. Mobile’s a more transitory environment.
But at the same time, understanding the data is really impactful. What we recommend is, for those users that are only watching on an Android or iOS device, as you do an engagement outreach, segment those users and promote the fact that you have a Roku app or an Apple TV app, all your “big screen” experiences. What we see is multi-device usage leads to a better, longer relationship with consumers. Less churn and higher lifetime value.
That also speaks to some of the churn that comes through the app stores as well. Roku can look pretty good because everyone is watching on a big-screen experience and they’re really engaged with that content. There are some benefits to understanding that. If you don’t have those big-screen apps, find a partner and get them because they definitely lead to a better overall experience.
- How good are streaming services at combining all of that 360-degree data in general? And what are some of their operational challenges in doing so?
[MR] We do a lot of evangelism with our customers for setting up their Google Analytics and Firebase to collect the right analytics on their apps and sites. It feels like a heavy lift but investing in your metadata is something that always pays benefits.
Data harmonization turns out to be 70% of the effort in any data project. Unfortunately, it’s just foundational and doesn’t provide any value back to have your data harmonized, just sitting in the cloud somewhere. You have to actually go to the next step to visualize it so the data tells a story.
But even that isn’t good enough. You have to be able to take that data and have it in a format to plug it back into your marketing activities. Whether it’s for better acquisition, conversion, or engagement to save those customers and prevent them from churning. You have to think holistically how that all works. We’ve proven that investing in that data harmonization produces a better acquisition campaign or a better engagement campaign. Thinking through that full cycle of how that data is set up and it’s going to be better than the last campaign you ran last week.
[HL] It can be hard because it requires a lot of effort, it requires investment in data, in a good BI team, a good analyst. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s not something you can just “wing it.” There’s a big challenge, especially because we have data coming from so many different sources. There are so many different tools and they don’t all tell you the same story. Google Analytics will tell you a different story on a view or what an active user is that’s different from even what we have internal. Our own internal data, things don’t match up.
- How does Wicket Labs make the churn data actionable? Is it just email outreach, or are there other mechanisms for consumer engagement?
[MR] Email is the primary mechanism our customers use for outreach to their subscribers. In-app notifications can be really effective as well. Having both of those communication mechanisms is really important to establish. But it also depends on who your audience is. If you’re running British dramas, then email may be sufficient. If your demographics skew a lot younger, maybe it’s more social outreach which adds the benefit of connecting to your fans but also prospective fans as well.
- How important are paid marketing efforts to keeping your existing subscribers engaged? ie Promoting your content to subscribers on Facebook and Instagram versus email marketing only?
[HL] It’s extremely important for both and we do both.
[MR] The Wicket Scorecard has direct integrations with several marketing platforms like Facebook Ads and HubSpot. You can export this data and in the process filter down by the subscriber status (active, trial, lost (voluntary), lost (involuntary)), Tenure, Last Video View, and CHI Score, allowing you to send messages to highly targeted audiences.
Tags: acquisition • audience lifetime value • bingers • business intelligence • churn • content engagement • distribution channels • subscriptions • SVoD • trials