The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for your Media OTT Brands
Written by
Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar

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The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for your Media OTT Brands

Published : September 5, 2019

The days of Cable TV are over, the time of streaming has begun! Torn between which show to binge watch while you are commuting every day to work or having a lazy weekend on the couch? OTT services are here to stay and are replacing your old way of watching TV.

Quote by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

So, are we living in the Streaming Age?

OTT (Over the top) services provide a wide range of ‘video on demand’ content on their online platform which is either free or paid subscription. Thus, any user with an internet connection can access a rich variety of shows and movies anytime, anywhere and just start streaming!

It offers superior content with good production values, which is in contrast to what we are exposed to, in daily soaps on T.V.

In fiscal 2018, the OTT market stood at ₹21,500 million. Presently the OTT market stands at ₹35,000 million. According to a KPMG report, the average time spent by subscribers on various OTT platforms are 30- 50 minutes. Overall, the top five metros in India accounted for 55% of OTT video platform users, while Tier I cities accounted for another 36% of users.

Globally, nearly 765 million people are tuning in to watch content on platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime, with the global OTT subscription market expected to grow by 24.0% this year.

With competition rising by the day, it is crucial to have a solid cross-channel marketing strategy in place. And email being an evergreen channel of customer reach, it can be the backbone of your marketing plan, if planned and executed right.

Here in this blog, I have outlined a structure for creating a precise email program to target your existing users and also keep on generating new ones for your platform viewership to grow!

Mapping the User Lifecycle

Firstly, knowing your audience’s needs and being creative with your email strategies is a cornerstone of any positive outcome in email marketing.

Assuming that you are working on an email marketing automation software, the life cycle journey for a new user can be mapped out effectively.

Now, the journey for a user will start right from their introduction to the OTT service to getting engaged with its content and then becoming a subscribed paying member. Final step is to keep the user loyal to the platform.

Online Marketing Funnel

  1. Attract:So you have an OTT service with rich, targeted content for your audience? Now you need to make some moves to attract that audience to signing up for your service.
    • First things first, when a new user signs up for your service, send an email ID verification link to the user’s ID to validate the account. This will ensure double opt-in verification and genuine email IDs getting collected by your service.
    • Within10 minutes of the user validating his/her account, send a welcome email with an incentive offer e.g.: a free trial period for watching content like a paid subscriber.
    • This should ensure that your new users will feel welcomed to your service and can avail the offer to watch premium content free of charge for 1 month or so. This will be part of the strategy to get the user to sign up for a paid subscription at the end of the trial period.
    • Another way to grow your user base is to actively promote your service on other channels like social media, TV advertisements, banner ads etc. This will generate interest about your platform and help to get new users to visit your streaming service.

    Social Media could be a game changer for your email strategy and getting new users hooked to your service. Whenever you promote your new content on social media, ensure that you are collecting email IDs of those interested users. These users will essentially be ‘leads’ and you can promote your best content to them sending lead nurturing campaigns to convert them into subscribers.

  2. Convert:Great! So now that you have your subscribers using your service, and you are growing their numbers, it is time to attract them to your original content. Some ways to do it are as covered below:
    • Send your subscribers weekly email newsletter on your most popular content. Entice them with creative subject lines and an engaging content, so that they redirect to your VOD (Video on Demand) service website and start exploring your most promoted content.
    • Any forthcoming big show or launches should also be included in the newsletter with an emphasis on getting a paid subscription and eligibility to watch premium content.


    • You would also require to integrate a solid analytics tool for providing detailed analysis of user activities on your VOD platform. For instance, if some users have been watching a show for a particular genre, target to them a mailer on similar shows of the same category.
    • Besides the millennial users, there will also be audience from all other age groups on the service and thus there should be a relatable content to target them as well.

      E.g.: Zee5 has Indian content of TV shows from 90’s and 2000’s which is a nostalgia trip of old shows which were heavily popular on Cable TV networks back then. Matured audiences will be consuming such content and hence if the user activity on the platform points to old show reruns being watched repeatedly, this audience can be attracted by showcasing a variety of old TV content that can be made available on your service.

    • Your content on offer should not include just the videos of shows/movies etc. There should be some extra content that you can offer along with the main content like backstage scenes, bloopers, cast interviews, previews of the episodes etc. These can be offered to your new subscribers along with the main subscription at a discounted rate. This should help your audience to be attracted to your content and keep them coming for more.
    • Email is evolving with just the static content of Image and Text inside your campaigns no more a norm. Today Email can also contain GIFs, videos, dynamic content with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and as such all these tools need to be utilised in a prudent manner to make your campaign more engaging and interactive.

    Example of an email campaign done by Netflix to launch a new season for their show: House of Cards. The technology of creating the cinemagraph to showcase a moving image inside a HTML content was refreshing piece of email design to experience and enticing enough to explore.

     House of Cards

    There were some other GIF campaigns done for the same show by Netflix which were cool!

    House of Cards Season 2

  3. Engage:Once you have managed to get that enviable platform traffic and your video views have increased considerably, it’s time to engage that audience with a plan to keep them for the long term!This is the comfort building phase of your email strategy, where every marketer should focus their maximum efforts on. Because, at this stage, the audience might be intrigued by your video content and browsing through the rest of your shows. They, however could switch to some other service, if you don’t keep on providing them with new, excitable content and keep your OTT service fresh in their memory.

    Along those lines, let’s get on with some tips and strategies to drive user engagement on your OTT platform by re-thinking your emails:

    1. Hyper personalized quiz mailers:Know the audience who watch shows that stream a new episode every week?

      An effective way to keep these users engaged by sending them a personalized quiz type mailer that could ask them about their predictions for the next episode or which way they would want the series to pan out. These will drive those opens and get you the required replies to keep the domain hygiene of your email intact.

    2. Time sensitive campaigns:

      If your OTT platform is broadcasting a live sports event or some important news event, then send a mailer to your audience an hour before it starts to keep the interest levels high and increase the traffic on the platform when the event gets under way. You can also send live automated updates to your email users if they have switched off and need to be brought back to follow the sports event again.

    3. Converting freemium to premium subscribers:

      If your platform has an offer of 1 month free trial for paid users, then send it specifically to your segmented list of freemium users mentioning the offer and headlining it with all access to content for paid users. The content mentioned in the mail should be your latest on offer along with any past content that has become popular and has a cult following.

    4. Feedback survey campaigns:

      Every service requires some feedback from its users on how they have been doing and what they need to change to improve to the user’s satisfaction. This is where feedback survey campaigns will play a part.

    5. Genre based targeting:Using analytics, monitor the user activity on your platform and daily watched videos by different sections of the audience. Segment this audience and target them according to the genre they like, e.g. Target a user who is watching Stranger Things with more Sci-Fi shows/movies.This can be done via email automation platform which will see a burst of activity on the promoted shows plus rising engagement in terms of opens and clicks.
    6. Referral campaigns:

      One way to increase engagement is to send referral campaigns to your existing subscribers, providing them with incentives if they refer a select number of people. The added benefit for these campaigns is getting new subscribers to your service.

    7. Promote Social Media contests on Email:

      Every OTT service brand should have an effective social media strategy. Social media is fast becoming a portal for brand growth and promotions. It can be used for marketing for all your content to gain traction and generate a ‘buzz’ in the industry.

    The way to incorporate this in your email strategy is to convert any offer / trivia quiz contest / merchandising promotion that you have published on your social media handle into an email template and send it to all your active subscribers.

Related read: 5 Mobile Marketing Campaigns to Boost User Engagement for your Media OTT App

  1. Retain:This stage is about keeping the users subscribed to your service and get their subscriptions renewed. Also, you need to remind those users who have cancelled or not renewed your subscription, your best content is still available on the service and entice them back!There will be some users who may not return to your service but that is a good way of asking for improvement feedback and pitching them again with a free trial to have a second go.

    Campaigns sent to cancelled users, if do not get them back to your service, at least serve the purpose of getting valuable feedback and a good word of mouth about your brand. It is a win win! For instance, this one done by Netflix.


    • It is important that there should be an automated email program for sending Renewal of subscription mailers periodically right from 30 days left for their subscription to end till the last day if they still have to renew. A triggered life cycle journey is all about persistence and building trust with your users. It is important for your subscribers to feel valuable and form a relationship which will last long.

Parting Thoughts

The above mentioned email marketing strategies have wide ranging benefits in terms of sending relevant content to the users according to their life cycle stages and skyrocketing your brand affinity. In the age of ever changing technology, OTT services will have to design a creative and efficient email program to linger in the minds of their users and reach out to them highlighting their strengths. They will have to innovate in terms of email design and offer continuous, original content to keep their users satisfied and coming back for more!

To know about the email marketing solutions offered by Smartech, get in touch with us today!

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Written By: Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar is a Senior Product Evangelist at Netcore Cloud. He likes analyzing data and diving deep to find valuable insights for marketers. He is credited for writing Industry benchmark reports and marketing leaders’ reports. He also likes to give back to the email industry with his volunteer work at the Only Influencers Diversity Committee. An #emailgeek at heart, he likes writing blogs, sharing email knowledge, and making thought-provoking videos on all things email. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, reading books, and drinking his favorite Chai, in his free time.