The Buyer’s Journey: MoviePass’ User Retention Trouble

The Buyer’s Journey: MoviePass’ User Retention Trouble

Although I canceled my MoviePass subscription before the tidal wave of changes to their user agreement, I continued to keep my eye on the aftermath of its wake. The importance of a strong relationship between consumers and their chosen service providers could not be understated, and the inept marketing retention of the MoviePass service is an excellent case study of this. The key here is that people choose who they’re going to give their business to and do so with the understanding that they know what they’re paying for before they make their purchase decision. When companies like MoviePass repeatedly redraw the line on what their service will and will not provide, it wears at the trust they had with their customers, and the effect of this does more damage to the company than simply losing those customers.

In my three months of experience as a MoviePass subscriber, I had been hit with several restrictions which came from updates to their terms of service. The first of these was the need to photograph all my movie stubs, or else my service would be terminated if I forgot to do this even once. When I first heard this policy, change had taken place weeks in the past, I had already seen two movies without uploading any movie stubs. I reached out to their customer service team and notified them that I couldn’t find anywhere within the app where I could have uploaded these stubs. After a less-than-helpful reply, I was left wondering if I wasn’t going to be able to use the service anymore. About a week later, my app had an update to install and I was now included in the version of the app which requires the stubs. This was a rocky start as a new user, as I was left feeling like I was put in a position where I’d have to forfeit the three months of membership that I had to pay up front, at no fault of my own. The surprise update which rolled out for me at a different time than it seemed to have come out for other users only added to my confusion.

The next draw-back to their service came about a month later when MoviePass announced that they’d now be restricting access to “premium movies,” such as almost any movie worth seeing, for an amount of time that’s whatever they feel like. And it was at this point that I decided that it was time to move on and reconsider where that money should be going instead. It has since become apparent that many share this sentiment, as the stock-buying service Robinhood is now suspending the option to buy shares of Helios & Matheson, the parent company of MoviePass. This is the result of the stocks recent fall of over 99%, and Robinhood has taken this as a measure to product investors from the volatility associated with investing in stocks with extremely low value.

The process of a purchase, or The Buyers Journey as we call it at Commexis, can be defined by five steps, and each step is as important as any other along the way. These steps are Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy.

When a prospective buyer becomes aware of a pain point, need or desire for a service, they’re in the awareness stage. What naturally follows is that they’ll consider multiple avenues of a solution before making a purchase decision. In this stage buyers are comparing costs and the effectiveness of potential service providers. Then, via seller initiatives such as dependable and consistent service, the buyer and seller establish brand loyalty and trust that they will continue to receive what they’ve agreed to purchase. In a subscription-oriented service that trust factor is essential because you’re contractually obligating your buyers to pay for what you’re agreeing to give them over time. The final important step is that marketers depend on the advocacy of their buyers, because by providing sellers with positive feedback and sharing their experiences, more prospective customers enter the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Because of the reciprocal nature of the Buyer’s Journey, if a marketer falls short on any stage of the journey, the steps which would have come after it are lost and the potential for sales, and fresh awareness and exposure through buyers’ advocacy goes along with it. The lessons we can take away from the shortcomings of the MoviePass service tie directly into several stages of the Buyer’s Journey, but most glaringly it’s a case study in what happens when companies overlook the importance of customer retention

Adam Weaver

Developer & Designer

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