• April 1, 2024
  • By Erik J. Martin, freelance writer and public relations expert

CRM in Media/Entertainment: Vertical Markets Spotlight

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Whether you publish a popular blog, host a YouTube channel, run a streaming service, produce Hollywood films, or print a newspaper, change, churn, and challenges are a constant, and the clutter of competitors for your audience presents a significant hurdle.

Crafting engaging, tailored marketing initiatives that strike a chord with distinct audiences is pivotal yet demanding. And as the industry transitions to predominantly interactive and digital formats, the demand for prompt, efficient customer service on those channels is exceptionally high. The sales journey frequently entails intricate agreements, such as ones governing distribution rights, requiring a nuanced understanding specific to the sector. And effectively monetizing content while maintaining a delicate equilibrium between audience satisfaction and revenue generation is not easy.

“Digital disruption of the marketplace has spawned an abundance of communications, creating a challenge for companies to engage and capture an audience,” explains Mark McShane, managing director of Cupid PR, which represents various media companies. “Digital distribution, streaming, and direct-to-consumer models have also disrupted the landscape. Companies must select and manage across these different channels to maximize revenue and customer relationships. And the 24/7 consumption of media presents a multitude of problems for providing consistent, good-quality customer service across global time zones and a variety of consumption platforms.”

William Barker, manager of strategic customer success at BlueConic, agrees.

“Companies in this industry must navigate several dilemmas, including customer acquisition and retention,” he says. “Consumers tightened their belts in 2023 and stopped spending on products they didn’t need. For some entertainment and media companies with subscription-based models, that meant slower growth rates, and for others, higher churn.”

Seth Hammer, cofounder and chief operating officer of Probability, a promotional marketing and sweepstakes solutions provider for Disney, Warner Bros., and other companies in this vertical, believes the streaming wars have increasingly complicated matters.

“Consumers have more access to media and entertainment than ever before. That makes marketers’ jobs exponentially harder,” he says. “How do you build loyalty with fans and introduce them to new properties when ‘Coming up next!’ has no hold?”

Another significant hitch is that consumers use various devices and identifiers, presenting themselves either as individuals or as members of a household. To effectively promote tailored content and offers, companies must accurately identify individual customers and incorporate their preferences and behaviors across all interaction platforms.

“Adding to the challenge is that data is often siloed by channel or department. An email team, for example, may be tasked with creating an upsell campaign for lapsing subscribers without up-to-date data about each subscriber’s content usage. The result is a static, impersonal campaign that will be less effective than one created with an updated, consolidated view of a customer,” notes John Nash, chief marketing and strategy officer of Redpoint Global.

Fragmented audiences are a sticky wicket, too. Companies need to identify individual consumers irrespective of the channels or devices they use.

“Unlike in other industries, the content consumer often remains anonymous, with media companies struggling to identify their audiences,” Barker says. “Survival for entertainment and media companies hinges on transitioning anonymous users into known individuals.”

Monetization pressures put the squeeze on companies as well.

“Third-party data remains king for most media and entertainment companies for advertising revenue. But the impending deprecation of third-party cookies means these companies need to both replace third-party audiences with first-party audiences and find new ways to diversify their income,” Barker adds.

Joel Kawira, an actor and content creator, attests to how tricky it is for smaller players in this vertical: “It’s a challenging time, with global entertainment and media revenue growth expected to slow down in the coming years due, in part, to reduced consumer spending, influenced by a range of factors, including inflation and geopolitical uncertainties,” he says. “It’s pushing us to find new growth avenues and leverage emerging technologies like generative AI to stay afloat.”

Corey Schwitz, CEO of Skydog Ops, a CRM consultancy, posits that these challenges are unique to this sector due to the subjective value of the product—content—and the rapid pace at which consumer tastes change.

“Unlike tangible products, content’s value is highly individual, making marketing and sales strategies more complex. Customer service demands are also intensified by the real-time engagement expected in digital entertainment platforms,” he says.


Recognizing and addressing these challenges is essential.

“Successfully navigating these issues can lead to increased audience loyalty, higher revenue through better-targeted marketing and sales strategies, and improved brand reputation. Ignoring these challenges can lead to audience attrition, decreased revenue, and a tarnished brand image,” Schwitz cautions.

Also key is the customer expectation for personalized experiences.

“To ignore this expectation is to take an enormous risk, especially in the entertainment/media world where consumers have many options,” Nash says. “Unlike retail, where consumers regularly buy from multiple brands, entertainment dollars are more fixed. If I pay for Spotify, I’m probably not paying for Pandora. If I stream Hulu and Netflix, maybe I think twice about subscribing to Disney + and Apple TV. Personalization drives loyalty and increases retention by giving customers fewer reasons to explore alternative offerings.”

Correctly executed marketing, sales, and customer support are key to increasing loyalty and generating healthier cash flow, McShane insists.

“As consumers have an abundance of other options available to them, failure to build a bond with a specific targeted consumer could lead to the death of a business,” he says.

Barker agrees. “A proactive approach to these challenges is critical for sustaining business growth and competitive advantage. Doubling down on customer interaction and engagement is a winning strategy and can be the key difference between merely surviving or thriving,” he says.

In this context, CRM arises as a formidable asset, providing a range of solutions customized to the sector.

“By leveraging the latest CRM technologies, companies can gain a deeper understanding of their audiences, personalize marketing efforts, streamline sales processes, and enhance customer service,” says Kayden Roberts, chief marketing officer at CamGo. “These resources can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and feedback, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions that align with their strategic goals.”

When implementing CRM, companies should prioritize platforms that provide comprehensive analytics, marketing automation, and customer engagement tools tailored to the industry’s unique requirements.

Popular CRM solutions today recommended by experts in three key categories include the following:

  • Marketing: HubSpot and Marketo, which can provide robust automation and analytics tools for personalization at scale.
  • Sales: Salesforce and Zoho CRM, which offer customer management, sales forecasting, and sales performance measurement.
  • Customer service: Zendesk, Freshdesk, and ServiceNow, which provide robust ticketing systems and general customer service portals to manage multiple types of inquiries and integrate with other CRM functions.

Barker also advocates for a customer data platform.

“By collecting and unifying consented first-party data across disparate systems, a CDP serves as the linchpin for making the single customer view accessible to growth-focused teams, including product, marketing, ad operations, e-commerce, subscription, customer service, and analytics,” he explains. “These teams can then use this unified, actionable view to power their customer engagement and audience monetization strategies while optimizing efficiency at the same time.”

Common CDP use cases for media and entertainment companies include the following:

  • Driving acquisition by targeting likely-to-subscribe visitors with personalized, omnichannel messaging.
  • Increasing engagement by serving highly personalized content recommendations, progressive profiling, and personalized email recommendations.
  • Targeting likely-to-churn subscribers with renewal messaging in the weeks, days, and hours before their subscriptions end.
  • Packaging and selling interest-based segments to ad partners with overlapping audiences to monetize first-party data.

Regardless of which CRM or CDP resource you pick, it’s important to be realistic about anticipated outcomes and practice patience during this process.

“One of the biggest fallacies of marketing technology is that each new and innovative solution that is added to a company’s tech stack will be the silver bullet that marketers have been looking for to solve all their problems,” Barker states. “These tools can usher in new strategies and tactics, but they require media and entertainment companies to re-examine the structure, resources, and workflows to deliver the desired results. It’s important to devise a strategy and pick tools that will help not only today, but that are as dynamic as the industry and will allow you to quickly respond to those changes.”

Roberts concurs. “Be honest about acknowledging the costs of these solutions, recognizing the potential learning curve for teams, and securing buy-in from key stakeholders. Continuous training and support can mitigate the learning curve, ensuring that teams are equipped to utilize these tools effectively,” he adds.

Over time, the benefits can greatly offset the CRM investment.

“But you must begin with a clear plan. Know what you want to achieve before employing any CRM tool and also how the tool fits into your overall business strategy,” McShane suggests. “Pay attention to data quality, too, as what people capture about the person is only as accurate as the data coming in. Ensure that the processes of capturing data and managing it are good. Lastly, constantly monitor the performance of your CRM efforts and be prepared to iterate along the way based on feedback and changing business needs.” 

Erik J. Martin is a Chicago area-based freelance writer and public relations expert whose articles have been featured in AARP The MagazineReader’s DigestThe Costco Connection, and other publications. He often writes on topics related to real estate, business, technology, healthcare, insurance, and entertainment. He also publishes several blogs, including martinspiration.com and cineversegroup.com.

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