Major Brands - Using content to drive subscriptions

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Driving Content - Entertainment Media Case Studies

Some major brands in the US entertainment media sector that are using content to drive subscriptions to their services are Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. More information on the topic has been presented below.

HULU

  • According to a case study by Media Kix, Hulu is the world's third-largest streaming service in terms of the number of subscribers. It is right behind Netflix and Amazon.
  • Some of the ways Hulu uses to execute content marketing to drive more subscriptions includes influencer marketing, social media marketing campaigns along with traditional content marketing, and Google Adwords.
1. INFLUENCER MARKETING
  • Although Hulu has a very less number of followers on Instagram when compared to Netflix, Hulu takes the help of mid-tier to high-influence influencers to promote their services on Instagram.
  • Through this campaign, the company wants to attract more subscribers to their live streaming services (mainly sports). The influencers promote Hulu's content on Instagram through multiple sports-related video content with a hashtag (#HuluSellsout).
  • The campaign began with "NBA stars Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo." They were the first influencers for the campaign.
  • Other hashtags used to promote the content on Instagram are '#HuluHasLiveSports' and '#HuluHasLiveSportsChallenge.'
  • Other hashtags used to promote the content other than sports include '#HuluHasAllTheStars' and '#HuluHasTheStars.'
2. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AND TRADITIONAL MARKETING
  • Hulu uses different features of the social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to promote their content and reach a lot of people to drive subscriptions.
  • For example, Hulu launched its largest marketing campaign to promote "its first exclusively acquired film — The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years." Video content was the main element of this content marketing campaign.
  • As a part of this campaign, Sting shared the moment when he first heard The Beatles "during the opening of a tribute concert to The Beatles" through a YouTube video. Thereafter, Hulu collaborated with Movie Pilot to promote the movie through social media campaigns, movie screenings, and concerts.
  • All the content from the campaign was uploaded to social media under the hashtag '#BecauseTheBeatles', along with many live broadcasts from the concerts.
  • Hulu also uses traditional content marketing methods, such as posters, promos, and trailers, to promote its services.
3. GOOGLE ADWORDS AND PRESS RELEASES
  • According to a case study on Content Writers, Hulu relies heavily "on Google AdWords campaigns to ensure that its search results come up first in search rankings for its related keywords like streaming TV."
  • The company uses ad copy in order to promote its current offerings.
  • Hulu also uses press releases to let customers know about the new viewing in the company and to keep themselves in the media spotlight. They also advertise their new features through press releases.
SUCCESS METRICS AND RESULTS FOR HULU
  • The content marketing campaigns had a significant role in increasing the number of subscribers by 8 million in 2018.
  • The influencer marketing campaign targeted 17.1 million people through influencers. The campaign received 1.4 million likes, 10 thousand comments, 5.1 million views, and a 5.71% engagement rate in total.
  • According to Movie Pilot, the '#BecauseTheBeatles' campaign "reached 4.8 million people, and drew around 400,000 views with 14,000 total engagements — all of which was effective in drawing a younger audience."
  • In total, the social highlights of the '#BecauseTheBeatles' campaign "included 112 posts across 12 different Movie Pilot and Hulu channels, which resulted in a reach of 13.7 million people, 2.6 million video views and 106,000 total engagements. "

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

  • Amazon Prime Video is the second-largest video streaming service in the world in terms of the number of subscribers. Only Netflix has more subscribers than Amazon Prime Video.
  • The different ways that Amazon Prime Video uses to execute content marketing to drive more subscriptions are creating custom video content for fans, collaborating with Buzzfeed to promote video content, showing the clips of the original shows at movie screenings, using social media like Twitter, and promoting the 'Great Shows Stay With You' campaign.
1. CREATING CUSTOM VIDEO CONTENT FOR FANS AND COLLABORATING WITH BUZZFEED
  • Amazon Prime Video uses custom video content for fans to promote different shows on the streaming service. They tailor the videos as per the preference of their audience and try to drive subscriptions to their services.
  • For example, in 2017, Amazon Prime Video promoted the second season of 'The Grand Tour' by creating custom video content for the fans, targeting older as well as the younger male audience.
  • The Grand Tour developed a custom video content for the fans in the Slo-Mo Guys fan pages that challenged them to "send different cars flying using a wrecking ball." The fan page had 10 million fans.
  • Amazon Prime Video teamed up with Buzzfeed to "develop a three-part video series called 'The Sh*tty Grand Tour,' in which the stars of The Try Guys, a comedy video series from Buzzfeed, took on different challenges from the show and compete for the championship." Each video content in the series included a monologue that promoted Prime Video.
2. SHOWING ORIGINAL CLIPS OF THE SHOWS AT MOVIE SCREENINGS AND LIVE EVENTS
  • Amazon Prime Video also promoted its video content from The Grand Tour by sponsoring a drone racing league and showing the clips from the show during the live streaming of the event. They targeted everyone at the event as potential subscribers.
  • Amazon Prime Video also recreated the "classic American drive-in booth" to host movie screening and car shows.
  • During these events, they marketed their video content by showing the clips from the shows at screenings of classic movies, such as 'The Italian Job.'
3. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
  • Amazon's Twitter campaigns are more focused on promoting Prime Video and Amazon Music. Amazon Prime Video has its own Twitter page focused solely on the US.
  • The Twitter page promotes the content from the current popular shows using the images, clips, and hashtags. For example, the Twitter page is promoting the content from the Thursday Night Football (TNF) show right now.
  • While Amazon drives its 3.1 million Twitter followers towards Prime Video, Amazon Prime Video US drives its 1.3 million followers towards Prime Video.
4. GREAT SHOWS STAY WITH YOU CAMPAIGN
  • Amazon Prime Video's latest content marketing efforts include the 'Great Shows Stay With You' campaign.
  • In this campaign, the stories of real people whose lives were changed after watching an Amazon Prime Video show are shown in a series of videos.
  • The video contents show people at their weakest point and how the shows empowered them.
  • This strategy has been reported to be working by Amazon as they have continued this strategy from 2018-2019.
  • The series is primarily focused on European countries like the UK and Germany. However, it is also available for the US audience to watch online.
SUCCESS METRICS AND RESULTS FOR AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
  • One of the major goals of Amazon Prime Video shows is to attract more subscribers towards the Prime shopping club. Due to proper content marketing, Amazon's top television shows drew more "than 5 million people worldwide to its Prime shopping club by early 2017, according to company documents, revealing for the first time how the retailer’s bet on original video is paying off."
  • The popular drama 'The Man in the High Castle' brought in 1.15 million new subscribers to Amazon as a result of proper content marketing.
  • Amazon Prime Originals was able to bring in roughly one-quarter of the total Prime subscribers from 2014-2017.
  • While there were about 26 million US subscribers of Amazon Prime Video in 2017, they were able to reach a milestone of 40 million US subscribers in 2018 due to proper content marketing.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We started the research by searching for some major brands in the US entertainment media sector. Based on the number of subscribers and the size of the companies, we were able to find the top entertainment media companies in the US, such as Netflix, Disney, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Warner Bros, Fox Studios, and more. We were able to identify the companies from different credible databases, such as Forbes and TomsGuide. We searched for the case studies of the listed brands to see how they are using content to drive subscriptions to their respective services. Thereafter, we filtered out the companies that did not provide subscription services. We were able to find the case studies for Amazon Prime Video and Hulu by using this strategy.

We first tried to find a single case study containing all the required information (three ways they use content marketing and success metrics) for both brands. On researching multiple case studies related to the topic for both brands on databases, such as Market Realist, Content Writers, Hulu, and more, we found that all the required information was not available in a single case study but were available across multiple case studies and reports. Therefore, we looked into multiple case studies and reports related to the topic for each brand, corroborated the available information to check the credibility, and then extracted the information required for this research. In order to provide more examples to show how Hulu has used content marketing, we have used one source from 2016 in this research. In this way, we were able to complete the research and provide all the required findings.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Driving Content - Healthcare Case Studies

Two major brands in the U.S. health and wellness sector that are using content to drive subscriptions to their services are Bulu Box and Ritual.

Findings

1. Bulu Box

A. Brand Overview

B. Ways That Content Marketing Is Used

  • One way that Bulu Box uses content marketing is to broaden its reach among consumers, which it does through fitness/athlete influencers, For that, Bulu Box has used the marketing service opendorse, as part of its content marketing strategy.
  • In selecting which athletes to seek endorsements from, the company focused on two criteria: "Athletes that had a huge reach and had the target audience [the company] wanted to influence with [its] messaging."
  • The company's Marketing Manager, Kelsey Harris, strongly recommends using opendorse for companies in the health and wellness segment, as she stated: "Anyone that has a brand/company that wants to influence the health and fitness world should use opendorse in their marketing strategy."
  • A second way that Bulu Box uses content marketing is to keep in communication with its customer base and one way it does so is through email marketing.
  • According to data from MailCharts, Bulu Box has sent 259 different marketing emails from December 17, 2015, to date (e.g. Customer A has been a subscriber from 2015 to date and has received 259 marketing emails).
  • According to the data from MailCharts, half of the emails analyzed were sent on Thursday while a quarter were sent on Tuesday and another quarter were sent on Friday.
  • A third way that Bulu Box uses content marketing is to provide consumers with helpful information that's relevant to their daily lives, much of which isn't necessarily even about the company's products. The company carries out this method through its blog, which is packed with 46 pages of articles and there are about 18 articles per page.
  • A fourth way that the company uses content marketing is to promote word-of-mouth reviews and feedback received from its customer base.
  • To achieve this, the company rewards customers for completing surveys, reviewing its products, referring friends, and for subscribing. One way that Bulu Box uses that information is by publishing the product ratings received from customers.

C. Results/Success

  • In addressing the results and success that the company has achieved by using opendorse for brand endorsements, Bulu Box's Marketing Manager, Kelsey Harris stated: "It was pretty thrilling to sign up for an endorsement from one of the bigger athletes and seeing the buzz that comes back to us afterwards."
  • Between 2014 and 2017, Bulu Box's revenue increased by a whopping 300%.

2. Ritual

A. Brand Overview

B. Ways That Content Marketing Is Used

  • One way that Ritual uses content marketing is to deliver facts instead of opinions to consumers, which is a core aspect of its content marketing strategy.
  • A second way that Ritual uses content marketing is "to earn consumer trust." The company recently pivoted its marketing strategy to focus on consumer trust, as was explained in an August 2019 article. The first campaign within this new content marketing approach is titled "Make Your Self."
  • A third way that Ritual uses content marketing is to increase its reach, which it does through influencer marketing. That is made clear in this job post for Ritual's Senior Influencer Marketing Manager position, which states: "We believe influencer marketing is still in the 1st inning. So we’ll look to [this person] to provide thought leadership and to define the playbook of tomorrow."
  • A fourth way that Ritual uses content marketing is to empower and educate its target audience, which is women. The company does so through the content it posts on social media.
  • With regard to empowerment, the brand has published numerous stories from women on social media (such as Facebook) about the concepts of strength and determination. An example of such type of story is titled "Kassia Meador's Surfing Career Taught Her More About Business Than an MBA."
  • The company's CEO explained the reasoning behind the brand's focus on sharing stories from women in stating: "“If we are going to be a company that changes what consumers do, a vitamin is just one part of that. We need to wrap women with that ethos fully, and the best way to do that is sharing stories that represent our values.”
  • With regard to education, the brand has published numerous articles on social media (such as Facebook) about health and wellness-related tips and information. One example of such type of article is titled "Plant-Based vs. Synthesized Nutrients: What's Better?"
  • A fifth way that Ritual uses content marketing is to catch people's attention through the use of unique imagery. The photo of its vitamin in this article is a strong example of the unique imagery that the brand employs, as part of its content marketing.

C. Results/Success

  • One example of Ritual's results/success is that the impressive nature of its content marketing was so good that it led a marketer, Emily Schmidt, who said she usually avoids marketing campaigns, to become a Ritual customer.
  • Emily shared that as a result of Ritual's impressive content marketing, she became a customer within 10 minutes of being introduced to the brand online.
  • Though not directly a result or success metric, the company's recently enacted content marketing campaign ("Make Your Self") "is featured on 75 bus stops in New York City, in ad spots on Hulu, on the Ritual.com blog and on the company’s social channels."
  • Between the company's launch in 2015 and February 2019, the company has sold more than a million vitamin bottles.
  • The company just secured Series B funding in the amount of $25 million and its net funding totals $40.5 million.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

We identified the two brands included above as major ones that are using content to drive subscriptions to their services by looking for articles about/lists of subscription-based health and/or wellness companies. Upon finding a certain company, we assessed whether it's a major brand by conducting a press search about it to gauge its customer base and media attention. Many of the companies, in our opinion, didn't constitute major brands, so we didn't include them. For those brands that did appear to be major brands and subscription-based, we also checked whether information had been published about its content marketing approach/strategy. We did so because we wanted to include information from reputable sources about brands' content marketing efforts. Such information wasn't written about most of the companies we had found, so we also excluded those.

From those steps, the two brands we found that met all the requisite standards we were looking for were Bulu Box and Ritual. We found information about and analyzed how those brands use content marketing through articles or data published by reputable sources and through our analysis of their content (e.g. checking their Facebook page or blog). While we found information about the brands' results/success directly correlated to their content marketing, that information was very limited. Thus, we included some other results/success about the companies because figures such as revenue or growth can be attributed in part to content marketing efforts.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Driving Content - Finance Case Studies

Two examples of major brands in the US finance sector using content to drive subscriptions are Western Union and Bank of America. Western Union created documentary-style content, quizzes, infographics, and influencer-branded storytelling. Bank of America created video content and used AI to deliver personalized content to its clients.

WESTERN UNION

CURRENCY AT A CROSSROADS MICROSITE
  • Western Union (WU) created the microsite Currency at a Crossroads, which provides visitors with articles, infographics, quizzes, and photographs. WU leveraged multiple content marketing formats in their production of the microsite, which in turn has made WU a compelling resource, thought leader, and advisor concerning the future of finance.
  • The microsite's content provides added value to WU's clients as well as increased positive sentiment and subscriber numbers.
AMERICAN DREAMS SWEEPSTAKES: DIGITAL-FIRST CAMPAIGN CONTENT
  • WU produced a documentary as part of a digital-first campaign. The documentary was filmed in 13 states and involved a Texas cattle farmer, an Alaskan pilot, and a Washington politician. The objective of the campaign was to help facilitate understanding between WU's clients and its employees (at all levels) through a shared vision of the American Dream.
  • Additionally, the campaign involved the profiles of three sweepstakes winners associated with the documentary.
INFLUENCER-BRANDED STORYTELLING
  • WU engaged in a campaign with 13 micro-influencers across the globe that shared the company's vision. The campaign, designated as #LiveMore #ShareMore, lasted for three months and involved multiple storytelling videos created by the influencers. WU and the influencers hosted the videos on their respective social media accounts.
SUCCESS METRICS
  • The American Dream documentary received 2 million views and generated 1.2 million unique clicks to WU's website. According to Quirk, 60% of viewers were likely to take action (driving a record number of app registrations). Additionally, 75% of surveyed viewers indicated they felt differently about WU after viewing the content.
  • And Quirk's analysis of social media traffic indicates that the campaign generated "buzz" from 80,000 users.
  • The #LiveMore #ShareMore campaign generated 10 million views and reached 30 million users through WU's Facebook account. Additionally, the campaign possibly contributed to the increase of WU's client subscriptions and transactions from 276 million in 2017 to 800 million in 2018.

BANK OF AMERICA

VIDEO CONTENT
  • Bank of America (BoA) sought to improve its reputation and increase client trust through the use of a video campaign. The campaign focused on customers' needs and relationships, with a focus on building closer relationships between the bank and its clients. The video campaign's overall objective was to portray BoA as both supportive and relatable to its clients.
PERSONALIZED CONTENT
  • Erica is an artificial intelligence deployed by BoA. Erica delivers personalized content to BoA's clients through the company's mobile application. Erica has handled millions of client requests and uses predictive analysis and natural language processing to provide content like bill notices, transaction searches, account information, and credit scores.
UNIQUE SOCIAL MEDIA VISUALS
  • BoA focuses on providing unique visuals for each of its social media accounts. BoA's social media team provides content that fits each account's audience.
SUCCESS METRICS
  • BoA's unique visual content on its social media accounts has resulted in sizable follower numbers: Facebook, 2.8 million followers; Instagram, 115,000; Twitter, 528,000; and LinkedIn, 1.2 million. The company's social media content has also possibly resulted in 36 million people subscribing to BoA's online and mobile banking products.
  • When BoA first deployed Erica in June 2018, the company's AI had 3 million users and completed 8 million requested by August 2018. And the company saw thousands of new users of its mobile app every day. BoA recently announced that Erica has since surpassed 6 million users and completed 35 million requests as of 2019.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our investigation with inquiries into business intelligence, marketing, and finance industry sites. We were able to locate the requested information through these methods.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Driving Content - Automotive Case Studies

After an in depth search of company websites, social media, and industry sources, two to three case studies of major brands in the US automotive sector that are using content to drive subscriptions to their services do not appear to be available in the public domain. However, the research team was able to gather some valuable insights into how one company in the auto subscription space uses content marketing, as well as some general insights into content marketing in the auto industry.

FLEXDRIVE

  • FlexDrive offers a subscription service for cars that allows for a single monthly price to cover maintenance, roadside assistance, and insurance.
  • Jackson Spaulding worked with FlexDrive to rebrand the company, including a redesign of the website, new logo, social media and digital strategy, and content production.
  • There is a News page on the FlexDrive website that is actually a combination of news and resources. The news section contains articles and reports that are specific to FlexDrive, while the resources section offers content that was created by FlexDrive to educate and provide value to customers.
  • Some examples of content created by FlexDrive and included in the resources section : The Committment-Free Way to Car Ownership, What’s free shipping between friends?, and Take your dealership from possibility to profitability with subscription.
  • FlexDrive is also posting content on LinkedIn to drive subscriptions. Here is one example: The Different Flavors of Car Subscription Programs and Legislative Risk for Some.
  • The company is active on social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook. They also have an Instagram account but post there less frequently. Hashtags FlexDrive uses to drive the conversation around car subscriptions and get consumers involved include #flexdriveit, #goyourownway, #vehiclesubscription, #freedom, and #carsubscription. The company posts about cultural happenings such as holidays, back to school, summer travel, and special days (emoji day and pet photo day).
  • According to Jackson Spaulding, the results of the rebranding overall, including the content marketing, were 6,500 click-throughs to download the app, 1.1 million Facebook impressions, and 24,000 monthly landing page views.

CONTENT MARKETING IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY

  • Land Rover, Mazda, and Zipcar are the only three brands in the auto industry that made NewsCred's list of top 50 content marketing brands.
  • Information and content are what consumers are most interested in on car brand websites. Fifty-six percent of auto shoppers said they could be convinced to buy a vehicle without test-driving it if there was a 360 degree video of the vehicle available.
  • For the auto industry, content that makes the cars the highlight have proven successful, although this is the opposite of what typically works in content marketing.
  • Video content that shows cars in action are an effective content marketing strategy.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our search for case studies on advertising and auto industry sites such as WARC, CBT Automotive Network, and Econsultancy. This strategy was chosen as advertising sites provide case studies from a variety of industries, and auto industry sites often report on marketing strategies. While this led to examples of content marketing in the auto industry for brands such as Nissan and Sonic Automotive, these examples were not related to subscription services and were therefore not relevant.

Our next strategy was to determine some top players in the car subscription industry so we could then search for marketing examples for each. This search led to an article on CNET which provided details on nine car manufacturers that offer subscription services, and seven companies that offer subscriptions through partnerships or an expansion of their core business. We proceeded to look for details on content marketing related to subscription services for BMW, Volvo, Less, and Hertz My Car, among others. This strategy led us to a case study on a rebrand for FlexDrive that included content marketing. The details are included in the key findings above.

Finally, we changed directions to look for the best content marketing examples for subscription based businesses. Our hope was that there would be at least one automotive company included. This led to sites such as Forbes, OptinMonster, G2, and Inc. Although we found examples of great content marketing for subscription services including Birchbox, Spotify, and Blue Apron, the search did not uncover any content marketing examples for auto subscription services.

We concluded that additional case studies on content marketing campaigns designed to drive subscriptions to auto services were not publicly available. One of the reasons this is likely the case is that the auto subscription market is very new. According to Edmunds, Book by Cadillac was the first car subscription service and it was launched in January 2017.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 03
Quotes
  • "Western Union’s Currency at a Crossroads is so much more than a feature story. Following the theme of the future of money, the microsite uses slick web techniques to guide the reader through a series of articles, quizzes, interactive infographics and photographs. It is a fantastic example of thought leadership, leveraging multiple content types to produce a highly professional web page."
Quotes
  • "2 MILLION Views 1.2 MILLION Unique Clicks To westernunion.com 60% Of Viewers Likely To Take Action, Driving A Record Number Of App Registrations"
  • "75% Of Viewers Surveyed Feel Differently About Western Union After Seeing Campaign 80,000 Buzzing On Social Media About The Campaign"
  • "Knowing that first and second generation immigrants (“dual-belongers”) make up a large portion of Western Union’s dedicated customer base, we developed a digital-first campaign that gave those customers a chance to win the American Dream. Dynamic campaign content included a documentary-style spot shot across 13 states to hear from real, diverse Americans about whether the American Dream was alive. "
Quotes
  • "The result was the #LiveMore #ShareMore campaign. During 3 months, we launched 40 chapters of influencer branded storytelling videos surrounded by more than 120 pieces of content that landed on Western Union's owned social pages as well as on the influencer's social media channels."
Quotes
  • "RESULTS -10 million video views; -Reached 30 million on our Facebook channels; -15.09% Engagement (likes/comments/shares/views) on Sean's content, overall 14.9% engagement on WUPinoy in general in 2017;"
Quotes
  • "In 2018, we completed more than 800 million transactions for our consumer and business clients. We continue to innovate, developing new ways to send money through digital, mobile, and retail channels, with an array of convenient pay-out options to meet business and consumer needs."
Quotes
  • "In 2017, The Western Union Company completed 276 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $82 billion of principal between consumers, and 547 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com."
Quotes
  • "With Bank of America’s reputation as the bank with the “broadest range of vulnerabilities,” it’s no surprise that the corporation has been trying to change its image. In hopes to gain client trust, the bank created an advertising campaign focusing on heartfelt relationships, the needs of the customer, and most prominently, personal connections. Each new ad ends with the message: “Life’s better when we’re connected.”"
Quotes
  • "Bank of America today announced that it surpassed 36 million digital banking clients across its online and mobile banking offerings. This includes more than 25 million clients using the bank’s mobile app, which continues to add thousands of new users every day."
  • "The bank also announced that Erica, the artificial intelligence-driven, virtual financial assistant, now has more than 3 million users. Since its full launch in June 2018, Erica users have nearly doubled every month."
Quotes
  • "Facebook – 2.8M followers Instagram – 115K followers Twitter – 528K followers LinkedIn – 1.2M followers"
  • "As the second-largest bank in the U.S., Bank of America has about 66 million customers. The megabank does a great job with their visuals on social media, and their number of followers proves that."
From Part 04
Quotes
  • "Our overarching goal was to help Flexdrive communicate its benefits to both B2B and B2C audiences in order to acquire more dealer partners and individual consumers."
  • "For a groundbreaking service like Flexdrive, educating potential customers is essential to generating business growth. We needed to provide resources and create a seamless user experience for both individual subscribers and dealer partners, while continuing to bring the brand personality to life."