When your content features Serena Williams, Martin Scorsese, Dr. Jane Goodall, Natalie Portman, or Gordon Ramsey, it sells itself—or at least that’s what you’d expect, right? Well, it’s true to some degree, but that doesn’t mean the marketing team at Masterclass doesn’t have some challenges to overcome. 

As part of our own Retention Masterclass series, John Koetsier and I talked to Head of Performance Lifecycle Marketing at MasterClass, Thomas Hopkins. The goal of MasterClass, says Thomas, is to unlock human potential. “And as people have a little bit more time because they’re not commuting, more at home, you know it allows people to have a little bit more time to kind of look at how they want to be spending that time,” says Thomas. Now, with people isolated at home by a global pandemic, screen time is increasing, and many people are turning to MasterClass.  

Generally, for Thomas and his team, the issue is not finding people interested in their product, but connecting the right people with the right content. But right now, as companies everywhere do what they can to help users through COVID-19, MasterClass has asked itself the same question. Part of the answer is MC Live, where users can engage with instructors live and ask questions.  

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PALM: Performance and lifecycle marketing 

MasterClass is also allowing members to gift free subscriptions to a “plus one.” But Thomas’ job is to think about the lifecycle. While getting users through the door is easy right now, Thomas also has to think about keeping those users around for the long haul.  

“So, the biggest thing that we’re doing right now is in this time where people are consuming more content—we’ve opened up our breadth of instructors that we’re advertising and that we’re showing,” says Thomas. “We find that the engagement has really increased. So, before this period we had people watching a certain percentage of our trailers and now we’re seeing that amount of watch time increase. So people are engaging more and more and longer with our trailers.” 

He adds, “So on our channels like Facebook, Google, and then as well as additional channels like TV and podcasts, we’ve actually increased the breadth of categories and instructors to really show all of them and allow everybody that might have an interest in education to see all of our trailers.” 

Like many marketers, Thomas is finding that now is not the time to shrink your efforts—it pays to be bold and bring your product to the people who are looking for it.  

Thomas calls this combination of performance and lifecycle marketing PALM. Part of nurturing the customer lifecycle, is encouraging the mindset of lifelong learners. “The other thing that we’re doing is making sure all of our content is available within our product, to allow people to move around in the product and look at things that are maybe a little bit different than a category that they thought they would be interested in, and because there’s actually a lot you can learn when you have this mindset of ‘I’m a lifelong learner.’” 

By encouraging membership—rather than one-off purchases of a particular class—MasterClass allows users to explore different kinds of content and go down the rabbit hole of learning. With this model, tuning into a new class is risk free, and opens users’ minds to new instructors and subjects. 

To learn more about how Thomas and the MasterClass team approach retention, listen to the entire interview here. 

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