Oct 2021

Lessons from Spotify— Personalizing the Experience

What Strategies Launched Spotify to the Top? Marketing Agencies Weigh In

Everyone uses Spotify. Even people who don’t use Spotify...have thought about using Spotify. Since its launch in 2008, the brand has been an unquestionable success. But how did they get here? And what can we learn from their journey to the top? 

Here, at one of the top marketing agencies in the business, we like to keep our eye on superstar brands like Spotify to find actionable insights that our clients can use in their own business strategies. And after evaluating Spotify this time around, we’ve come out with a few key takeaways.

Find Your Narrative

What’s the First Piece of Advice Top Marketing Agencies Give Every Client?

neon sign saying "What is your story" in a window
Your brand story is the benchmark of your marketing strategy

Top marketing agencies know: when it comes to your overall strategy, there’s nothing more important than finding the narrative that sets your brand apart. We’ve talked about how to craft  good brand storytelling before, but here’s a quick refresher:

Your brand story: 

  • Lies at the intersection of what matters to your business and what matters to your customers
  • Is the narrative that tells the world what it is you stand for and what you want to achieve
  • Sets you apart from your competitors
  • Keeps your messaging cohesive and consistent 

When it comes to your overall marketing strategy, having a good brand story isn’t window dressing — it matters. And if you don’t believe us, believe Spotify. 

When Spotify came on the scene in 2008, the notion of music streaming wasn’t new. But this upstart new service saw streaming differently than everyone else did. While competitors focused on offering customers music access, Spotify thought that something else might matter to customers more than simple access itself. And that’s how they found their brand story. According to their chief R&D officer, Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify isn’t about music access–instead, they’re “in the business of discovery.” Music lovers don’t just want to access music, they want to discover new music.

And this story is what sets Spotify apart for listeners everywhere. Since 30% of Spotify streams are driven by an algorithm, users are served up new music and creators that are tailor-made to fit their interests. Spotify cornered the market for music discovery in 2008, and it’s been delighting its customers ever since.

What does this mean for your business? It means you need to find a vision that makes sense for you and your customers, and let it guide your messaging and your product. “Music discovery” served Spotify’s customers better than access did, and inspired their algorithmic model. And even if you’re not just starting out, it’s always a good idea for key stakeholders to come together periodically to revisit your brand story to make sure it’s as powerful and relevant as possible. 

Personalization is Everything 

This Powerful Marketing Trend Isn’t Going Anywhere

Spotify gives each user playlists customized to their interests Image Source: Postman Blog

Speaking of Spotify’s algorithm, as technological capabilities increase, it’s becoming possible to create hyper-personalized and individualized relationships with customers. Customers are learning to expect experiences that are tailored to them, and when your business can deliver that, they’re more likely to buy from and stay with you. This has certainly been the case for our friends at Spotify. 

Since Spotify’s major offering is music discovery, they found a way to personalize this aspect of their service for their customers. After learning about users’ behavior and preferences, the algorithm serves customized playlists and recommendations on a daily and weekly basis. 

But Spotify doesn’t stop there when it comes to creating a unique experience for every listener. As a global company, they cater to several different markets around the world, and they create a customized experience for every one of them. They have curated playlists in different regional languages as well as separate official social media channels for their major markets such as Spotify India and Spotify Mexico. Spotify understands the power of a strategy that combines localization and personalization together to create a truly one of a kind experience that makes each customer feel individually valued. 

Even if you don’t have a global business like Spotify, tailoring your messaging to the regional and local level in your digital marketing strategy can set your offering apart just as well. Take regional interests and preferences into account when creating your blog content, or utilize some local influencers to promote your business. The possibilities are endless. 

How else can you customize your messaging? Maybe you go the extra mile to set up personalized greetings and content on your email campaigns or set up a dynamic ad experience on Facebook. Anything you can do to create a unique user experience will help your business stand out. 

Spotify is a superstar of the personalization game. But nowhere does this fact shine more clearly than in their notorious “Spotify Wrapped” campaign. Let’s talk about this groundbreaking campaign in a bit more detail before we “wrap” up our discussion of Spotify. 

Make Your Content Shareable 

How Spotify’s Wrapped Campaign Gamifies and Personalizes the User Experience

Spotify screen with the title "Your Daily Mixes" with four boxes of different music playlists underneath
Spotify Wrapped gives users a shareable and engaging overview of their listening habits from the previous year. 

Spotify Wrapped started in 2015 as “Your Year in Music. Since then, every December, Spotify sends each of their subscribers a report based on data gathered about their music consumption in the past year. Music lovers are treated to categories like their 5 most listened artists, the amount of time they spent listening, and fun facts like the first time they listened to their top song. This is hyper-personalization at its finest, as each user is served up a story where they themselves are the main character. 

But the genius doesn’t stop there. When subscribers receive their “Wrapped” report, it’s packaged and ready to be shared with their friends in a few clicks. And just like that, Spotify creates a trend. The easy shareability of these Wrapped cards works so well for a variety of reasons: 

  • People want to share their stories: Spotify is giving their subscribers a story that’s just about them. People’s “Wrapped” cards tell their followers and friends about who they are, which is what social media is for, right?
  • People want to be involved in popular trends: When non-Spotify users see all their friends posting their “Wrapped” cards, they don’t want to feel left out. FOMO is a classically powerful motivator: in 2020, Wrapped increased Spotify’s app downloads by 21% after just the first week in December. 
  • People love to compete: Spotify has found a way to gamify their user’s listening with Wrapped as well, creating a sense of competition among friends. Every year, friends can compare how long they’ve spent listening, and who has better music taste. Spotify also recently added in-app quizzes where users can guess what their results will be before receiving them to inject even more excitement into the experience. 
  • Artists need to promote themselves: Spotify Wrapped isn’t just for listeners–they send reports to their creators as well. These artists often use this content on their highly followed social media accounts to thank their fans, increasing Spotify’s reach even further. 

What can your business take away from this epic campaign? You don’t have to do all the work yourself. Encouraging users to share your content as much as possible can be just as effective at increasing your brand awareness and reach as your own social strategy or ad campaign. Put some thought into what you can offer users. Spotify offered something personalized, fun, trendy, and, in the case of creators, helpful for their careers. What do your customers want to share?

There’s no question about it: Spotify is a giant. The massive brand continues to enjoy widespread and well-deserved success and recognition. While you might think that kind of success is intimidating and unrealistic for you, top marketing agencies know that Spotify’s strategies can be easily translated into results for your business. And if you’re ready to start operationalizing the wisdom of the giants, send us a message. We’re ready to go.