How to Sell Video

How to Cut Subscription Friction on Your Video Network

by Chris Kurdziel · September 23, 2016 · Comments

Growth! It’s what we all want. So how do you keep adding new subscribers? Once you start getting eyeballs on your video network, you’ll quickly realize that the work for attracting subscribers is not just about marketing and PR. Friction is what prevents potential customers from becoming actual customers.

OK fine, what’s “friction”?

Friction is anything that slows down (or stops) conversion. It could be a design element, a piece of information, or just a broken link. Anytime a customer uses extra cognitive energy to figure out your product, that’s friction. Every second a potential customer spends evaluating your product is a potential second they could abandon you. It can happen from the moment someone hears about your product, all the way until their purchase has been finalized.

The phases of customer signup

Let’s think about what friction means for your subscription video network, from discovery to purchase.

Awareness: “What is this thing? Do I need it?”

A potential customer needs to understand your SVOD offering, plain and simple. Whether they’re hearing about it on social media and arriving to your landing page on the web, or finding your app in an app store, they should be able to quickly figure out what it’s about. If they don’t, it’s very easy to click away.

Another point of friction here can be understanding just what a digital subscription is. Luckily, the vast majority of Americans have a computer, tablet, or mobile device that can already connect to the internet. (No more cable boxes to install. Whew.) And the awareness about digital over-the-top (OTT) options is growing. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially if your target audience includes less-active computer users.

Consideration: “Seems like this is interesting. Should I buy it?”

Once they’ve got the basics, an interested customer needs to be convinced they should purchase. Points of friction here appear around understanding exactly what your video network will get them. Is this a unique offering? Can they get the same videos elsewhere?

Another element of friction that comes up is trust — trusting that the subscription is something real and professional. Is your network high quality, and worth a customer’s hard-earned cash? Will you deliver what you promise?

Decision: “I’m gonna buy it!”

Once a customer has decided to subscribe, they need a checkout experience that lets them go ahead and do that. Friction happens in the process of finding out how and where to subscribe, and entering purchase information.

What are the elements on a marketing or landing page that help reduce friction?

  • Persuasive descriptions 
  • Compelling imagery (see these tips on smart images for SVOD)
  • Consistent branding. If they got here from social media or an ad, a customer should know they’re in the right place. 
  • An accessible and engaging trailer — your network is all about video! Show customers a video! 
  • Visible subscribe buttons 
  • A fool-proof purchase experience 
    • Options for free trials 
    • Visible privacy and security messaging

What you should do next

Reduce the cognitive effort required for someone who knows nothing to become a subscriber.

  1. Spend time thinking about how you represent your service, with images, video, and text. Clarity is key for a potential customer. 
  2. Write a clear, short, articulate tag line that embodies your network. People don’t read lots of text, so they need an at-a-glance gist of what your channel is all about. 
  3. Make it easy for potential customers to learn more after finding you. Include more information about your selection of content and ways to watch below the fold on your website or apps. Make it extra easy for them to watch a trailer about your channel. 
  4. If you’re having trouble converting visitors, try capturing their email address instead and have an onboarding email campaign. Send out a survey to figure out what they’re interested in and what would make them subscribe.

How does VHX reduce friction?

Since we’re powering many thriving video networks, we think about the customer experience a lot. 

  • We spend time designing UX flows that work well for our branded apps and site templates — which helps for the customer’s “awareness” and “consideration” phases. 
  • We continually optimize the VHX checkout page, which is how any customer will subscribe to your network. That takes a lot of friction out of the picture for the “decision” phase. 
  • We support Apple and Android in-app payments, so people who download apps can very easily subscribe. Since users trust popular marketplaces like the Apple App Store and Google Play, people usually trust that apps offered there are professional. We’ve also built tools to track app downloads, so you can send push notifications to customers who haven’t subscribed yet. 
  • We support free trials, a great way to reduce friction while a customer is considering buying. The chance to try before you buy is super powerful, so they can see what content is available before taking the plunge.

While we’re constantly thinking about how we can reduce friction for customers, we always love to hear from our sellers about what you’re doing. Share your friction-less thoughts here in the comments!