Growth hacking at iflix & data

Matthew J Barnes
Team Lead

Growth hacking is a term that is thrown around on blogs, podcasts and in conversation. Growth hacking can mean different things to different companies, this is what it means at iflix.

Who we are

iflix is the world’s leading entertainment service for emerging markets with the widest and most compelling selection of TV shows, movies, hyper local originals, premium live sports and up-to-the-minute news from around the world, to stream or download, on any internet-connected device… wherever, whenever.

An depiction of stars linked in a constellation

Find your north star

To have something to aim for and to measure success you need a direction. A north star growth metric helps to unify your team and measure how quickly they are moving towards it. At iflix our current north star metric is Monthly Viewing Users (MVUs).

A monthly viewing user

An MVU is a user that not only hits any iflix product but also goes on to view content. More specifically, goes on to view (x)minutes of content. At iflix, we believe the act of engaging with content for a significant period of time is a key indicator that we have achieved our mission and a user has found value in our service.

Measuring a monthly viewing user

An MVU can come from a number of sources or more specifically “channels”. We measure users coming into iflix and group them by these channels. This allows us to measure the impact of each channel and how much it is driving our north star metric. Measuring inbound user traffic by channel allows the business to make informed decisions and provides more targeted sub metrics to our team.

The iflix app running on an Android device

Here are some of the channels we measure:

Organic Search: A user might find iflix by doing a google search, clicking on a knowledge panel or through something like the google discovery feed. A more advanced user may simply say “Hey Google, Watch The Flash Season Five” and Google launches iflix while they put their feet up and relax

Direct: A user could type in iflix.com to the browser or have iflix bookmarked. They could hear about iflix via a friend or see an offline advert leading them to engage directly

Notifications: A user may receive an email or a notification and click a link.

Paid: A user may click on an ad in google or facebook

Social: A user may click on one of the many fantastic social posts from the iflix marketing team shared on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter

Referral: A user can bring other users in by sharing a link to a movie or incentivizing them through an offer they can’t refuse (free premium movies and TV shows!)

At iflix, we use a number of tools but rely heavily on Amplitude. For a smaller product, something such as Google Analytics(GA) also allows you to segment users by channel for free (remember GA will sample data).

Look for patterns in data

Current and historical data provide a way to view trends. We can see how many users visit iflix over a typical day, week and month and how they interact with our products. Enough data allows us to view it over a longer period of time and look for spikes. Once a spike is identified we are able to dig into why it happened. Data spikes can happen for a number of reasons, here are some examples.

  • It could be related to a movie or TV show that users binge-watched in a short period of time
  • It could be an anomaly in the data. You should always make sure the data is clean and not leading you in the wrong direction. Always ask the question “is this data accurate?”
  • Maybe we stumbled across a part of our product that engaged users and resulted in growth. Maybe given the right set of control variables we will be able to recreate that!

Below is a view of data we saw in Google Analytics for past traction related to Instagram Stories.

A screenshot of the Google Analytics graph

Traction of inbound traffic of Instagram Stories. Source Google Analytics

Prior to this “bump” in traffic, iflix was not focussed on using Instagram Stories as a social channel. The team further investigated this increase in traffic and determined a series of events including a popular TV Show and one of the interactions of the cast. By using a number of additional data sources we were able to mimic this series of events on a smaller scale during subsequent weeks. The slow increase in traffic to the right of the chart shows the start of our re-focus on using Instagram Stories as a social platform. Today Instagram Stories generate valuable and growing traffic for iflix. This example shows the power that data can have when it used by a team to achieve its goals.

Summary

In summary part one of growth hacking at iflix covered

  • Have a clear north star metric that success can be measured against
  • Record data about how your users enter your product
  • Segment your users by channel
  • Understand how your users get value from your product
  • Analyse data and look for patterns

So I challenge you when you are next thinking about implementing a feature to ask yourself, what benefit will this add to the user? why is this? and how will we determine that this feature was a success through meaningful data insights?

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