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How to engage and entice users on your video streaming app?

October 5, 2016

You want a sure-shot way to increase the user base of your video streaming app? Sure, here it is.

Invite prospects to an executive breakfast for $49. And then, guilt them into downloading your app.

Here’s the problem: Let’s assume you want to at least have one million engaged users. In that case, you would have to spend $49,00,000. I’m sure you can see what the problem is and how ludicrous this idea is in the first place. But what do I do? Such ideas pop up when you are looking for a magic bullet.


I know you want me to spare you the marketing babble and tell you something more than – “build something useful.”

But, do you know there is no such thing as a leap of genius? “Brilliant people produce brilliant results”, “Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out” – all these statements are just a bunch of baloney, a rant of the defeatist.

Here’s a pro tip (tried and tested): Build a great marketing strategy and stick to it.

That is how Periscope got its 2 million engaged users, Hang w/ hit the million-download mark within 9 months of its release and Hulu surpassed the 9 million user mark. Successful people are successful because they think well. Better thinking comes from specific strategies that anyone can learn and apply.

This blog post offers you a well designed, 5 step success strategy to follow to engage and entice your users. The five step time line goes like this.

  • Amplify the experience of your video app

In order to provide a compelling visual experience for mobile platforms, efficient UI rendering is critical. Do you know what makes the viewing experience of Netflix addictive? React, a Javascript library to build user interfaces. It not only reduces their initial load time and runtime performance but also improves their overall scalability.

You can experiment with different UI layouts and see what your users want. If you don’t know where to get started, you can try out a few popular ones – the ‘Pinterest’ layout or the ‘Facebook news feed’ layout. Then there is something which Telly, the social video discovery app, calls a ‘Carousel’ of videos. This Carousel view increased their engagement by 40% and has helped to add over 1.5 million users on mobile. The idea behind this carousel is that of ‘snackable’ videos. When a user gets bored of watching a particular video, he can just swipe to view the next video.

“A whopping 72% of registered users return to Telly’s Android smartphone app every month. Telly resonates with mobile consumers because of its unique, serendipitous content discovery experience, which blends social and popular video discovery in an easy to watch, lean-back format.”

  • Use analytics to figure out what your users want

Are your short videos more popular or are people tuned into longer videos? Unless you know which content resonates with your users and which devices are preferred to access them, you will not be able to increase user acquisition and retention. If such information is made available to you, then you can personalize the experience of your users.

Personalization is what makes Netflix the undisputed video streaming ninja. It provides a personalized homepage to each of its 60 million viewers. If you cannot provide video content that is relevant to your users’ interests, you stand a negligible chance of converting them. Read their blog post to understand how to best populate a personalized page of content.

As far as analytics are concerned, Ooyala is the one that has made strong investments in building scalable analytics technology to provide publishers with detailed metrics around how their content is being watched.

  • Choose an appropriate video hosting platform

For new users to sign on and for the existing ones to stay engaged, your app needs to deliver a rich and seamless video viewing experience across multiple devices. Whether or not you succeed in providing the optimum speed and reliability will depend on your choice of video hosting platform.

Hosting videos on YouTube is a no brainer for any video aggregating startup but as their video libraries grow, they feel the need for a more sophisticated, scalable and robust video streaming platform.

However, the choice of video hosting platform depends on your marketing goals and the specific requirements for deployment. If you want to make your content available to the widest user base at minimal cost, then YouTube is your best bet. But if you want viewers to interact with your brand, provide limited access to your content and have a long term monetization strategy, then private platforms such as Brightcove and Ooyala would be a better choice. Their servers are fast and so are their live streaming capabilities. They also allow different streaming speeds based on your user’s device type.

“Both these private providers offer similar specs with regard to quality, but it’s important to note that Ooyala is video content centric—all of its systems and procedures are based around the video, not around the player as with Brightcove.”

  • Learn from the mistake of others

Not every user is happy to consume content as it is delivered and Periscope learnt this lesson the hard way. Periscope received a lot of flak from users who were being forced to tilt their heads at an awkward angle to watch video content that was filmed sideways. It was only later that their designers integrated a landscape capture mode. Learn from Periscope’s mistake and avoid making your own because as you know, we are designed to view the world in landscape mode.

By providing both portrait and landscape modes, you not only improve your app’s usability but you can also woo futuristic users. The next generation AR and VR devices are strapped to our eyes and since our eyes are aligned horizontally, you know which mode is likely to fall out of fashion.

  • Respond to user concerns as quickly as you can

Anytime a user leaves a bad review or raises an issue, acknowledge it immediately. Even if you don’t have an immediate solution to offer, let them know that you’ve taken note of their problem. Users tend to stay engaged when they feel heard and valued.

If you have a lot of support tickets coming in, try using a self-help support system to respond promptly. Not all questions are difficult and not all dissatisfied users are hard to appease. Some of them just want to find quick answers to common queries and you can help them do that by building a knowledge base full of help documentation.

Any customer with a question is an interested customer and providing easy answers is a great way to increase conversion rates. In a research conducted by Kissmetrics on how to get more engaged users, 52% answered “make it easy to ask questions and access information before making a purchase.”

Changing small elements can create big results

If you are still looking for that one magical element to get app installs, it is ‘relationship.’ Cultivate a relationship with your users by taking the time to implement the strategies mentioned in this blog post and I’m sure it will pay off fourfold. You may not hit bulls-eye at the very first go, but I can say with certainty that the harder you try to value your users, the more downloads you will get. You may not get an immediate app install but it will definitely help you open up your trust account with your users.

I will reiterate what I said at the very beginning – Build a great marketing strategy and stick to it. Trust me, it will be worth the effort.

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