Spotify is a music-streaming service that houses millions of recordings, and reimburses the rights-owners of the music for each individual play. Spotify has been an absolute game-changer in how people consume recorded music. Spotify makes money off subscriptions and advertising. Their top-tier subscription allows the user to stream to a mobile device (smartphone, likely), and will probably define the way music is accessed in the next ten years. Here's what they are doing in marketing and making the user experience better, that you too as a marketer can benefit from.

Spotify uses what they know about you

First and foremost in any marketing campaign, use what you already know about the customer to cater to those characteristics. Spotify already has my demographic data from pairing up with my Facebook account, and they use this to come up with some simply brilliant parallels. For example, since they know I was born in the early 80’s, they share a banner on my homepage that says “ 'Baby Got Back' was popular when you were in school, Play now?” Why yes, I’d love to hear some Sir Mix-a-Lot! Spotify makes my experience better by recommending something that I didn’t even remember I wanted, but that would make sense for my age and sense of nostalgia. Every brand can learn a little bit from this example. Even without dialing 1-900-MIX-A-LOT

Spotify uses what they’ve learned about you

I listen to a lot of music on Spotify, and I regularly jump between genres. So rather than trying to form a 360-degree view of me from the get-go, Spotify takes what they’ve learned and makes small assumptions to better guide my experience. By identifying similar artists, albums and songs based on what I’ve been listening to, they engage me for longer periods of time and make me want to upgrade to the premium experience.  Marketers can use this tip to make small steps to guide them through the marketing journey, and allow for different paths, whether through marketing automation, or a carefully managed content strategy. Later, a full understanding of each customer as an individual can be achieved.

Spotify uses what they’ve learned about your friends

In the sidebar, Spotify shows what your friends are listening to, building a sense of community. They also make suggestions based on your friends' habits. The “Birds of a Feather” adage never rings more true than in marketing, and marketers also need to harness the referral and sharing aspects of friends in social media. Harnessing social data and the activity of friends is a treasure trove of data (commonly referred to as part of Big Data), and marketers should find ways to take social interactions into the next level.

Spotify alerts you of new “offers”

An often overlooked way of communicating with customers is keeping them updated on the latest products, services, content or offers you have available. Creating an ongoing dialogue is key to marketing. Spotify enhances my user experience by alerting me when a band I’ve listened to in the past has a new album, when a friend creates a new playlist, and what my friends are listening to. Otherwise, I might not have sought this information out. Alert your customers and prospects when you have a new offering, video or otherwise. That might be the only way they find out about it.

Spotify reminds you of what you’ve been missing

Take for example, my iPhone. If an app isn’t on the homepage, the chances of me using it are very slim. They call the home screen the most valuable real estate in the world. Spotify uses this concept, and reminds you to go back to what you might have missed over time. “Matt, it’s been a while since you listened to Boards of Canada. Play now?” Every marketer can use this idea. Take a look at your email list and look at your fence sitters. Send them an offer that re-engages them in the communications cycle, and base it on their click activity from past campaigns.

Granted, a recommendation engine isn’t for every business, but these simple lessons apply across marketing verticals and channels. Use what you know, build on what you learn about the customer and their friends, and then open up a communication stream that lets people know what’s new and reminds them of what they might have missed. Pardon the pun, but this strategy will be “music to your ears.”


Matt Haskell is SourceLink's Corporate Marketing Manager, largely responsible for the company's video, social media and website presence. Matt enjoys sports and listening to music from his (quite) large vinyl record collection. You can reach Matt via email at mhaskell@sourcelink.com