Are you, like me, also a binge-watcher? Are you someone who loves logging in to your Netflix or Amazon Prime account and looking for the latest trending show or movie to watch? Does your food also get cold while you keep exploring in the hopes of finding something to watch on an OTT platform?
If the answer to even one of these questions is yes, then you, my friend, are not alone. We are all part of a well-designed and excellently implemented customer engagement strategy.
The pandemic is almost over, but the OTT fever is here to stay. It is almost second nature for us to want to watch something while doing a mundane task like eating or traveling. We consume over 38 hours of content each month and spend nearly a whole workweek watching videos on mobile apps.
Research shows that the media revenue from OTT is expected to surpass $210 billion by 2026. This is nearly double the revenue in 2020, which was $106 billion. But with OTT giants like Amazon Prime and Netflix dominating the market, how can other OTT platforms look to gain popularity and hope to get a slice of the viewers’ 24-hour day?
The answer is Audience engagement!
Customer engagement, or audience engagement as it can be called for OTT platforms, is a vital part of the success of any OTT platform. Once onboarded, the next challenge for OTT platforms is to engage and retain customers. The idea is to nurture the provider-customer relationship.
Customer churn is one of the most pressing concerns for OTT businesses. If one platform doesn’t satisfy the viewer’s needs and doesn’t meet their expectations, it is super easy to jump ship to another. That’s why customer engagement has never been more critical for OTT players.
Over-The-Top brands are striving to innovate and design experiences unmatched by their competitors. These providers must have strategies to entice the audience to continue using their services after the initial viewing experience and transition into loyal customers. Highly engaged users will keep returning to the app for more content and will directly boost profitability.
Now, if you have an OTT brand, don’t panic. OTT marketing won’t keep you up all night. You can now hit the snooze button and become an overnight sensation by following these hacks that will help you maximize viewer engagement on your platform.
Hacks to Maximize Engagement on your OTT Platform
Before I give you these hacks, let us first discuss what customer engagement is.
So customer engagement is a metric that measures users’ interest in the products and services you offer. This ‘interest’ is considered using criteria such as click-through rates, archives, shares, and downloads.
For an OTT provider, customer engagement is also measured by the time a user spends consuming content on the platform because the time that is not spent on your platform is most likely spent with your rival.
Hack #1: Hyper-Personalized Approach
While onboarding, your OTT brand can use in-app surveys as a tool to collect and capture user data that will let you know about the viewers’ preferences. This data, when analyzed, can be leveraged to deliver personalized content recommendations for every user. Users who see content tailored to their needs stay on the platform to consume more content as they get hooked by platforms giving them more of what they like without any effort.
But resonating with the audience by offering personalized content recommendations is easier said than done. OTT service providers require continuous and accurate user data to base these recommendations and provide meaningful content to the audience.
A continuous feedback loop is created with the audience, wherein the data collected on viewing habits is leveraged to provide intelligent recommendations that enhance the audience’s viewing journey.
Personalized experiences that the OTT platform provides can include:
- Creating Watchlists: For favorite shows that are to be rewatched or to bookmark that one show a friend told you to watch
- Continued experiences: To pick up an episode or movie right where you left it or to start the next episode without any hassle after the current one is over.
- Personal recommendations: Noting explicit and implicit viewer preferences and recommending tailored content to them.
Personalization fosters a one-to-one relationship between the viewer and your OTT brand and eventually builds trust, engagement, and loyalty.
Who does it best?
Netflix, of course. No other OTT platform comes even close to where Netflix’s engagement is. The company invests billions of dollars annually to ensure that it serves the right content to the right audience. There’s not much that Netlfix doesn’t track – from how much a user watches a particular show to what genres the viewer delves into at a point and how many shows they watch at any given time.
All this data is tracked, synthesized, and analyzed by the OTT giant at every step of the viewer journey and is turned into an insightful data point.
Hack #2: Omnichannel Communication
- In-App Messaging
In-app messages are what your app users receive while actively using the OTT app. This is an excellent tool to engage with your users in real-time by pitching them new content that matches their viewing history and thus spending more time on the app.
These ‘related content’ messages generate curiosity and can be considered cross-selling. In-app messages also allow viewers to engage with new content without interrupting their user experience.
For example, if a user is watching the highlights of a basketball game, they can be prompted to watch the highlights of other matches of their favorite team.
- Email Messaging
Even though the target audience for most OTT platforms is of the “on-the-go” type, it is essential not to lose sight of traditional methods of communication like email marketing.
Emails can replicate the look and feel of the platform interface and have communications regarding trending content, personalized recommendations, new releases, etc.
While sending emails to your viewers, include a CTA (Call to action) button to make the process of what you want them to do super easy. For instance, if you want them to watch a new TV show season, add a “Play” button or a “Add to Watchlist” button. Users will engage with the CTA as it is easy to navigate and piques their interest.
- Push Notifications
Push notifications can boost user engagement by over 88% and are essential to any user engagement strategy. They are helpful in reaching out and grabbing the users’ attention when it matters the most and increasing the DAUs, WAUs, and MAUs of your OTT platform.
These push notifications can highlight the beginning of a live-streaming event, like the start of a football match, the latest episode of the show the viewer was watching, or new suggestions after the completion of a show or a movie. When sending out a push notification, the key is to strike the right balance between timing, personalization, information, and entertainment.
Who does it best?
Amazon Prime Video, the OTT giant, uses an omnichannel approach when communicating with its subscribers. The platform uses in-app messages, push notifications, and email marketing to retarget its customers and loop them back to the app, thus boosting viewer engagement.
Hack #3: Gamification! Gamification! Gamification!
At the risk of sounding like a robot, we’ll repeat it. Leverage the superpower of gamification to skyrocket user engagement on your OTT platform.
We’ve said enough about how OTT platforms use gamification as an engagement strategy. Read the article to gain in-depth insight into how your OTT brand can incorporate gamification to supercharge its engagement.
Who does it best?
Disney+ Hotstar added the Watch ‘N Play game on its mobile app for the Indian Premier League (IPL). The platform aimed to deliver its users an intense and engaging cricket viewing experience.
Users could watch the match with friends and family and play along with them. A scoreboard was maintained, which fueled the competitive spirit of the viewers, especially in a cricket-loving nation like India.
Hack #4: Segment the Experience and Carve your Niche
Due to the wave of personalization, the OTT industry has seen an influx of direct-to-consumer OTT services that cater to a specific niche. For instance, it could be for people who just want to watch sports and don’t want sports content to be tied in with movies.
From content selection to the language and payment methods, everything is modeled after the target customer and fine-tuned according to their expectations.
Even with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ Hotstar being in the game, niche OTT services have seen their subscription base grow more than twice that of the seven most popular subscriptions in the last couple of years. It shows the power of capitalizing on a specific viewer market.
Who does it best?
Aha is an Indian OTT platform that caters specifically to the Telegu and Tamil-speaking audience. Backed by the Indian superstar Allu Arjun, Aha has carved a niche in the Indian viewer base. People get new launches and TV shows in their desired language without paying hefty subscription fees to other multi-language platforms.
Hack #5: Show the Customers that you Care
We all know that good customer service builds trust, reduces churn, grows brand awareness, and fosters a long-term relationship between the customer and the OTT platform. Ensuring that the viewers’ journey is as seamless as possible is essential.
Everything from onboarding, easy navigation, and refer-a-friend options to sending out thank-you emails, birthday offers, and intuitive unsubscribe buttons shows the user that you, as a brand, care for them.
Who does it best?
Hulu is an American OTT channel that Walt Disney owns. It is renowned for its user-sensitive interactions. The brand is mindful of its image with its audience and always goes the extra mile to show them how much the brand treasures them.
Bonus Hack: Bring your Social Media A-game
With users spending more than 147 minutes daily on social media, it is an integral part of OTT marketing strategies because of its widespread popularity and low barrier to entry.
OTT brands connect with users worldwide and engage them by asking questions to encourage sharing of opinions, live steaming, conversation-starting polls and quizzes, and requesting recommendations. Meme and moment marketing are excellent ways to gain social media traction for your OTT brand.
Social media helps lure back customers who haven’t opened the OTT app or website in a while. When these customers see bloopers or behind-the-scenes of their favorite actors while scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, they get incited to return to the OTT platform.
OTT platforms transition the TV primetime content to bring it to its users anytime. With the ferocious competition in the OTT arena, brands need to develop a strong viewer engagement strategy to differentiate themselves from their rivals.
Make sure you leverage the six tips we’ve laid out to boost customer engagement on your OTT platform.
Here’s to OTT and beyond!
The Upshot.ai Advantage
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