Day 2: Why Personalization is the Key to Stopping Churn

Consumers expect experiences today equal to the likes of Amazon, Apple and Netflix. And understandably so. Those companies are pros at using data to craft individual recommendations and offers, delivering personalized experiences that keep customers around.

This data-driven, personalized approach is one that pay TV operators can see helping with churn. Product and marketing leaders from the pay TV industry shared how they’re reducing churn in the “Track 1: Combatting Churn: Bundling, Pricing, and Promo Strategies That Work” session at The Pay TV Show on Wednesday.

Learning to Stop Churn

How can you stop churn before it starts? For many pay TV operators, it starts with shifting your thinking of who exactly is churning.

“We used to talk about customers as internet and TV customers, but we really made a move to talk about what complete household is like,” said Kate Slyker, Chief Marketing Officer at GCI. “For the most part, it’s partial household attrition, and the data started telling us that we have to start looking at certain customers.”

Chad Dunavant, Head of Global Product Management at CSG, agreed.

“What we’ve learned over past few years is that we can’t look at TV as a household service anymore,” said Dunavant. “There are lots of users in that household, and they experience [TV] in a lot of different ways.”

Customer behavior can influence whether a customer is more likely to churn, whether it’s the device they consume content on or how long they watch it for.

“For all the people that are consuming services in a specific location, we’re learning how they interact with the service,” said Dunavant. “Then we feed data into analytical platforms to find out what are the churn predictors.”

And knowing what influences churn makes it easier to predict it and stop it.

“We ask questions about content, activity, loyalty, and experience,” said Marty Roberts, CEO and co-founder of Wicket Labs. “We can then predict which customers are likely to churn out.”

But customer data isn’t just good for reducing churn—it’s also essential to provide a great customer experience that will make customers want to stick around.

The Power of Personalization

 Roberts explained that a good customer experiences comes down to data.

“It really relies on having a good foundational dataset so you can pinpoint your message to each one of them,” he said.

Matt Graham, SVP and GM of Acorn TV, explained how the British OTT provider targets their content based on consumer usage.

“We have a schedule of emails that’s fairly light, but then we go a bit heavier for heavy users of certain types of content,” said Graham. “We send bonus content, previews—anything we think will be relevant to them as users.”

Dunavant suggested sending prepaid gift cards to specific family members. If a student gets a 4.0, for example, the parent can give them access to a 30-dollar-prepaid card. Operators can also offer free electronic-sell-through movies to consumers before their contract runs out—something that can make subscribers 35 percent less likely to churn.

“We can get much more personalized now with how we target households,” said Dunavant. “It’s not just one-size-fits-all for the consumer.”

Ultimately, it’s all about having that personal relationship with the customer—and sometimes that means meeting the customer in person. Slyker’s marketing team at GCI will spend time in the contact center and at GCI storefronts to really get a real feel for what the customer is thinking.

“When you talk about personalization, it’s about the humans,” said Slyker. “Get out there, because you’re not going to think of [better questions] to ask if you’re not engaging in the community.”

Bundling It All Together

 Pay TV operators are realizing consumers want streaming services with their traditional pay TV, and are experimenting with ways to offer that.

At GCI, Slyker talked about how the company ran a promotion that offered Apple TVs to their internet customers for as little as $5 per month—and reduced churn by half. At Acorn TV, Graham explained making full seasons available on Amazon Channels has been a “tremendous success.”

For operators, the time to offer these services to combat churn is now.

“You need to take a proactive stance in how you blend [your services] into the digital world,” said Dunavant.

 And blending into the digital world starts with crafting experiences that consumers feel are tailored just to them.

“What is clear is that the more refined the message is to the specific audience, the better you’re going to do,” said Slyker.