Curzon Cinemas is an independent cinema group in the United Kingdom, recognized as one of the region’s most historic names in cinema, and with a future-facing approach to technology. The 13-strong cinema business also encompasses distribution via Curzon Artificial Eye, and a video-on-demand (VOD) platform via Curzon Home Cinema.
In this blog post, they share in their own words how Movio Cinema’s Dynamic Content unlocked the power of personalisation for their in-house exhibition marketing campaigns. Discover the challenges and successes they experienced firsthand as they take us through the decision-making and implementation process that resulted in a 28% uplift in revenue.
We’re committed to using data to give people more of what they want. As an organisation, we’re really keen to curate material that you wouldn’t necessarily find yourself, but is something that will stay with you. Our company philosophy is to ‘open your eyes to new worlds and new ways of seeing’, which is something we try to encourage all of our visitors to do. We have a very wide range of sites, showing an equally wide range of films and events: everything from Curzon Bloomsbury – a listed building, with a programme focused on independent, foreign language and documentary films – to Curzon Oxford, showing quality mainstream titles in a recently-opened shopping precinct.
We’re very conscious that we’re in an increasingly noisy marketing environment (even if we’re only looking at film marketing!), across an ever growing range of channels. We want our communications to be tailored and infrequent, taking people’s taste into account.
Email is a major marketing channel for us as a group, but it comes with challenges: with so many film choices each week, how do we make an email that is short and offers audiences the film they most likely to want to see? With blockbusters vying against indie titles, taking an editorial approach can mean that audiences aren’t met with the film that’ll mean the most to them.
That’s why we were very excited when Movio showed us their Dynamic Content tool. One of the advantages of using Movio is that it wrangles a huge amount of customer data – especially on transactions – so that you can interrogate it quickly and easily. Dynamic Content takes this even further.
The process starts with selecting the potential titles for newsletter inclusion in a given week. Previously we would have had to make sacrifices to make sure the huge number of Marvel die-hard fans would see Endgame as their highlight, while fans of foreign language films like Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass given less prominence. To side-step this issue, we create audience models – segments of our audience based on past transactional data – to make sure that fans of Ukrainian satire aren’t met with Thanos et al. So, someone who has previously seen both Poland’s Cold War and Russia’s Loveless will see Donbass as their top pick, while someone who has followed Tony Stark from Civil War to Infinity War is shown Endgame most prominently. If a user doesn’t have transactional data that relates to the films, they’re shown the ‘vanilla’ editorialised version as they would have been shown before.
All of the films are still included, but audiences see their top pick in the most prominent position. You, like us, might have considered this a relatively minor shift. Like all good scientists, we conducted a control trial over a six week period. We split our audience down the middle so that half got the editorialised version we’d generally use, and half got the dynamic version. The results were surprising: an 18% uplift in clicks and more impressively still a 28% uplift in revenue in comparison with a like for like editorialised version. Simply put, people were more likely to engage and, crucially, more likely to buy when they saw the film that most reflected their tastes served to them highest. The staff time involved in producing four emails manually with these different interests prioritised would be hard to justify, but the interface, algorithm and modelling within Dynamic Content makes this an efficient part of our workflow.
Our reservation about using Dynamic Content was that it might mean our audience would engage with their top click and then disregard the rest of the email’s content. But we haven’t found that: clicks across the email are consistent, if not improved. It’s hard to analyse user behaviour in this way, but perhaps serving users the right film for them means they’re more willing to see our emails as useful and curated, and click on other picks? One other potential concern we had with Dynamic Content is that not having one ‘lead’ film meant we had to use a more generic subject line (if a call to action about Eighth Grade gets people to open the email, it’s perplexing if what they then see is Ash is Purest White). But using generic ‘This week in Curzon Cinemas’-style subjects hasn’t harmed our open rates. It’d be great in the future to be able to send dynamically-driven subject lines, but it’s pleasing to see people are intrigued enough about what we’ve curated as a cinema brand to open anyway.
Dynamic Content takes a lot of the guesswork and anxiety out of making selections for the limited space we have in our weekly emails. As we grow our base of customer data, we see Dynamic Content becoming even more effective, as we’re able to build up a fuller picture of customers’ tastes and preferences. We’re also keen to adapt email design to make even more advantage of Dynamic Content, as well as experimenting more with comp titles (especially where it comes to expanding ‘niche’ titles to a broader audience).
Thank you to Duncan Carson, Marketing Manager of Curzon Cinemas, for sharing his experience with us.