The launch of regional streaming platforms in India has been a key turning point in the Indian OTT landscape. This was further fueled by pandemic-induced growth in viewership and revenue. Along with that, the growth of digital infrastructure in non-metro areas and increasingly affordable pricing have contributed to the popularity of streaming platforms.
Launched in February 2020, the aha app is owned by Arha Media, a joint venture by Geetha Arts and My Home Group. The app caters to Telugu-speaking users across the globe, with an extensive content library that includes movies, original web series, and shows. In the last year, the app has acquired approximately one million subscribers.
As a premium subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD), retaining users is crucial—and the ever-growing costs of user acquisition only make retention all the more essential. The focal point in aha’s communication is to entice users with their latest offerings and create excitement around future releases.
aha media launches new content every Friday, and it’s important that the analytics team see how users react to these diverse content launches. What genres or sub-genres of movies pique the most interest? What is the influence of casting on viewing decisions? How do content preferences differ in rural vs. urban areas? The answers to these questions are not only essential for their engagement strategy, they also help them build out their content pipeline.
From a business and revenue perspective, getting viewers to subscribe is key to growth. With an abundance of other content options available, users will subscribe only if they see definite value. Promotional offers play a great role in influencing purchase decisions, which means that understanding which offers appeal most to each user segment is key to an effective acquisition strategy.
While launching the app, the product team at Arha Media realized that they needed an integrated marketing automation platform to improve user retention and engagement. After identifying their core needs, they chose CleverTap to use data in a holistic way and meaningfully connect with users.
To understand how Arha Media uses our platform for a unified approach to user retention, we spoke to Santhosh Thelukuntla, Business Analyst at Arha Media. He manages the analytics and retention team, which executes data-driven engagement initiatives.
The key communication channels for Arha Media include push and web notifications, in-app messages, SMS, emails, and app inbox.
Those users who’ve subscribed to and are active in the app receive communications via push notifications (PNs). Those users who are about to subscribe receive communication via SMS and PNs. The users who’ve uninstalled the app or have been inactive on the app for the last 30 days are targeted through SMS and email. Trailers of upcoming content releases are promoted through the app inbox.
Based on their quarterly content plan, the analytics and retention team updates customers about new releases using push notifications and in-app messaging. Leveraging the insights generated from their analytics, they segment users based on the type of communications which results in the highest response.
For example, some users will respond better to messaging about a specific actor or the genre they prefer, while other users appreciate messaging that is based on plot lines. An example could be a campaign about a thriller that creates a sense of intrigue and anticipation.
In cases where the user drops off while viewing, they send a notification after 24 hours nudging them to return and finish viewing the content. “With our campaigns, we make sure that the user is nudged to watch the content that they’ve left midway through,” Thelukuntla said.
He highlights that these ‘nudge campaigns’ are particularly useful for web series where users view an episode or two before quitting the series. In this case, the retention team picks an interesting tidbit or trivia from the third episode that doesn’t reveal the overall story and then crafts a campaign around it. By arousing curiosity, the user is inclined to return to find out how the story is progressing.
CleverTap’s sophisticated segmentation engine helps the retention team easily build actionable user segments. By creating segments based on past behavior, the team distinguishes between different user groups based on their actions, inactions, or other characteristics.
RFM helps the team eliminate the guesswork from behavioral segmentation. RFM divides the entire audience into distinct groups that range from champions and loyal users to at-risk and hibernating users that are more likely to churn.
“Using RFM, we understand the recency and frequency of app usage, whether a particular user segment is about to disengage or churn. Then we think of ways to strategically get these users back to the app,” added Thelukuntla.
At Arha, the first thing the marketing team does is devise a quarterly content plan. New releases usually result in an uptick in new subscribers, but the most important question is always: how can they retain these subscribers once they’re acquired?
Hence, the analytics team needs to understand user behavior right from the onboarding phase. What is the user’s movie preference? Their favorite genre or actor? Do they prefer family dramas or science fiction? What device do they use? Do they watch everything on their mobile device or do they prefer their big-screen TV at home? “Our most important goal is always to try to understand the customer,” says Thelukuntla.
Flows and funnels help them to decipher patterns in user behavior. Funnels help them identify how users navigate through the app and why they drop off. These valuable insights then inform the best strategies and tactics for retaining users and building loyalty.
Flows help the analytics and retention teams identify the end-to-end customer journey. This allows the team to devise more optimal paths for engaging users.
The better these teams are able to understand the user, the more effective their efforts to convert them to paid, monthly subscribers. “The more personalized we can be with each customer and the more we can match our content to their interests, the more likely they are to convert to a subscriber,” notes Thelukuntla.
With every campaign sent for a blockbuster film, Arha Media receives at least 1,000 new subscribers within 24 hours. Compared to their early days, they’ve seen a 5x boost in engagement with their omni channel campaigns. They’ve also seen a 2x boost in viewers and subscribers during highly anticipated movie releases.
Arha Media looks forward to evolving as a data-driven organization where the content pipeline and promotional plans are based on insights from data, not intuition. The team is deeply invested in understanding what drives each and every user on their platform in order to create campaigns that will be most effective at retaining them.