Some of us might remember rushing to the bathroom in ad breaks so you didn’t miss the start of the show returning... 

Or waiting for a whole week to know what happens in the next episode. Or fast-forwarding through recorded shows and breaking the tab off blank VHS after you’ve recorded a movie you want to keep so your brother didn’t tape The Simpsons over it. But, we’re now leaning into a generation that will never know what it’s like to not have their viewing ad free, on demand and completely curated (down to the thumbnail image) to their tastes. Streaming services are the norm for viewing consumption and, looking at how they got here, there’s a lot we can learn from how they work, how they reach people and how they market and use it to our advantage. 

They give a lot to get a lot, and the audience doesn’t mind

In December 2017 Netflix US tweeted ‘To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?’. Cute. Only… was it? For some, it was an alarming reminder that they’re being monitored. And, more than that, the monitoring is archived, measured and, if they wanted to, shared. The controversy behind it wound up in an apology from Netflix about being more stringent on data sharing (or, not sharing). Aside from a few concerned replies, though, it did little to hit their bottom line. In fact, they cultivated around 40 million new subscribers at the time.

What does this tell us?

Firstly, these services keep a very close and careful eye on their data, right down to knowing individual behaviour. Secondly, that what they give to receive that data is enough to make the payoff worth it for consumers, and this is the most important part of the story. Anyone can collect data, or ask for information from their audience or prospective audience (customer base), and maybe it works for a while. You might get a form or two filled out, or a subscription opted into; but really, at some point that customer is going to ask themselves, ‘What am I getting out of this?’ 

Not scaling your want of information from people by giving them genuine quality return puts you at risk of losing them forever. And so, losing your overall growth trajectory as a business and the invaluable access to accurate, specific and willingly-supplied information about your customer that can help you best understand and better cater to your demographic.

Think about not just the service you provide, but how you provide it. Are your social media posts all about self promotion? Or do you offer value content? To what level do you take your customer service? Text reminders for appointments? Easy and broad access to support? It’s not just about your specific offering, but how you offer your service that can make all the difference not just in your customer satisfaction, but, as subsidiary of this, your customer/persona data collection. 

They are creating audience expectations beyond their industry

The personally curated nature of streaming services has upped the bar for all of us in terms of customer expectation. Even if consumers can logically know that all services cannot produce the same hand-picked content to us in the same way streaming can, it nonetheless plants an impatient, unconscious seed into minds. 

So, how can businesses deliver a similar service level without the specific platform? 

Take advantage of the tools at your disposal to create a sense of personal service on a digital level, based on their own behaviours. 

Great examples of reaching customer expectations by spring-boarding off their directly indicated needs, wants and interests are:

Creating the most bespoke experience, with whatever level of resource you have at your disposal, is no longer categorised as going above and beyond for your customers and future customers, it’s stock standard expectation.   

They (seemingly) focus more on target audiences and less on competitor activity

Streaming services undoubtedly conduct robust competitor analysis, and there are likely bidding wars for content. However, they at least appear to be more focused on consumer experience than on looking over their shoulder at the other guy, and it’s all about perception. They are focused on what they provide you, are rarely (if ever) in the media measuring their success as a streaming service by how poorly they believe another is doing, and remain truly customer-centric companies. 

Competitor analysis is a healthy way to benchmark your success in some areas, particularly easily measurable areas like social media. But, it’s important not to get too hung up on beating competitors, when your energy could be better spent on staying so firmly in your lane. By this, we mean if you navigate and pivot your strategies consistently to suit the needs and wants of your customers and future customers, but remain on track to meeting consumer needs, you will always come out winning. Keep a casual eye on your industry, sure. Even track them if you need to. But don’t do it at the expense of missing what is right in front of you: your customer, their needs and the best ways you can deliver.    


Contact us today about how to get your customer-centric digital marketing strategy off the ground

Written By

Rikki Hodge-Smith

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