How Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ Increase User Retention & Content Consumption with Email Personalization

July 21, 2020

We all love binge-watching our favourite shows on various video streaming platforms, and it's not by accident.

In March 2020, email send volume for top streaming brands went on a slight upward trend. By June 2020, however, email volume had started decreasing, at -23% month-over-month, returning to numbers similar to January and February.

The same trend is seen in email web traffic, with a large uptick in web traffic from starting in March 2020. In June, email web traffic numbers have gone back down, by -8% MoM.

Breaking down emails by campaign type, here are the four most prominent categories of emails sent:

Personalized “recommendation” emails generally perform the best out of any email type.

These categories also map out the basic customer journey framework favoured by these OTT giants.

Of the main streaming platforms, Hulu and YouTube spend the most effort on the acquisition phase of the customer journey.

Hulu has several different campaigns that are centred around getting customers to sign up to their service, including:

On the other hand, Netflix and Disney+ spend the majority of their efforts on customer engagement with personalized email content.

Netflix’s recommendation journey begins as soon as viewers begin watching content on their platform.

As viewers continue their viewing journey, Netflix follows up with additional recommendations based on what the viewer has watched.

To keep viewers engaged and returning to its platform, Netflix also heavily promotes its new arrivals, with a personalized twist.

While Disney+ also sends out a sizeable amount of recommendation emails, they lack the personalization that Netflix has.

Lastly, with retention, most brands have dedicated a sizeable amount to retaining customers and keeping them on the platform.

To retain customers, Disney+ sends out a reminder of their ongoing bundling offer to encourage re-subscription.

For some customers, Hulu sends out an exclusive promotion that gives them $3 off per month off their subscription plan if they come back to the platform.

One of the more unique tactics Hulu uses is their “birthday” email. For subscribers who have cancelled, they send out an offer for a free month of access.

Netflix chooses to re-engage customers by letting their extensive list of titles as a major selling point, rather than offering free trials or pricing promotions.

Key Findings

Leading streaming platforms invest a significant effort into email marketing: Smaller streaming services such as Hulu and YouTube TV focus their email marketing on user acquisition, while larger streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix focus their emails on encouraging re-engagement with the platforms.

Personalization is key: Almost all email marketing campaigns from streaming leaders include some element of segmentation or personalization. One winning tactic is that the most effective way to re-engage current users is personalized content recommendation emails.

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