This article was first published on December 30, 2020.

Started in Taiwan in 2015, M17 Entertainment Ltd. runs 17LIVE, a popular live-streaming app designed by Taiwanese pop singer Jeffery Huang (it has now been handed over to a team of professional managers).

17LIVE integrates multiple themes (entertainment, game and community) into one by using technologies such as real-time interaction, live streaming, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. In the past five years, the company has expanded its business and team across the world, and it now has a presence in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the US, Malaysia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It has approximately 60 million users worldwide.

But how did the company achieve a large number of audience in a short span, and what strategies did it use to achieve its goals?

In this conversation, Alex Lien, CEO (Taiwan and Southeast Asia), walks us through 17LIVE’s different customer acquisition strategies.


How does 17LIVE identify quality potential customers? What are the different tools employed to achieve this goal?

As an open platform, 17LIVE continues to advocate content-driven philosophy and delivers diverse topics, from politics and music to entertainment, to live up to the expectations of our audience of different age groups. We focus on live-streaming content on social media to attract users.

We start by discovering LIVERs (those who deliver entertainment and perform talent on 17LIVE) proactively. For example, during the Taiwan elections, every political party live-streamed on our platform, driving massive traffic to the platform.

We recently had an 80-year-old live-streamer signed in to our platform, which is helping drive users from new demographics.

Also Read: ‘SEA’s podcast market is ripe for adoption; we just need to educate the public’: Joseph Phua of M17

Can you talk about the different strategies 17LIVE has adopted to reach out to potential customers?

17LIVE focuses on diversified contents, starting with music, and it now has over 5,000 music streamers around the world.

We start with music because it is easy to combine our expertise with that of our LIVERs. Music is also quite connected with artists and influencers and we have collaborations with well-known artists in regions such as the US, Hong Kong and Japan.

In Taiwan, we host regular Flash Music Events, an annual large-scale project launched in August 2020. Here, LIVERs will have the opportunity to perform concerts in 17LIVE Taiwan Tour Flash Music Events. These events gather new music talents, who march to every corner of Taiwan and perform surprising shows everywhere.

The biggest feature of Flash Music Events is the comprehensive combination of LIVER selection methods and live streaming. It is not just another online competition, but it provides amateur LIVERs better opportunities to perform and interact directly with followers (fans) on the 17LIVE platform.

We also organise Golden Feature Award (GFA), which features rising stars and bands in Taiwan. Since its debut in 2017, it has inspired young people to dream big, break away from the framework, achieve a breakthrough, grow up and show off their talents on 17LIVE. The GFA is a showcase of LIVERs’ annual performance, where they stand on stage with direct support from followers.

We also have LIVIT in the US (17LIVE US), which has signed a contract with hip-hop star Flawless Real Talk (rapper Alberto Martinez). Besides this, we have worked with musicians for online concerts in Japan, such as famous guitarist and singer-songwriter Miyavi).

Other than music, topics such as politics and entertainment are also live-streamed on 17LIVE. In Japan, we aim for diversified contents and organic streamers, where we have signed the likes of Kotaro Yoshida.

Also Read: ‘Companies shut down not because of crises but only when founders give up’: Joseph Phua of M17

What per cent of your customers comes through paid, free, inbound and outbound marketing?

About half of our customers come via paid marketing. On top of the typical affiliate networks, our focus has now shifted to organic traffic; a sizeable amount of our traffic comes from organic installs.

Our B2B partnerships also add exposure to organic installs (MoMo, Burt’s Bees). We also have offline events/concerts such as Taipei Fashion Week with VOGUE and Christmasland in New Taipei City (an annual Christmas event organised by Taiwan most influenced TV station, TVBS, in New Taipei City).

We also get traffic via musician/celebrity contents. For example, in Golden Feather Award, we acquired organic traffic through the performance of hit hip-pop star OSN Gao.

What steps do you take to “lure” potential customers to your platform? Do you also do content marketing (blogging, video, social media, search marketing, email marketing)?

Below are the steps:

  • Signature original contents shows
  • B2B partnership-oriented original content shows that drive organic traffic
  • Streamers promote 17LIVE contents via their own social network
  • Offline flash concerts

How are your customer acquisition strategies different from that of competitors?

Our strengths:

  • Global insights: Diversified contents and global offline events and we are not limited ourselves to a single religion but we are spread across the globe
  • Glocal: We create localised global content and make local original content international
  • Quality content: As a live-streaming platform, our offline events (called real events in Japan) are popular.
  • Promote LIVERs: Our PR team and in-house content team help in getting our LIVERs more exposure.

Do you rely on customer referrals, loyalty programmes, etc. to acquire customers?

We run customised loyalty programmes for our customers. We have our in-house merchandise team who designs exclusive merchandise that can be used in reward programmes, which adds value to our brand.

How do you convert free users to paid ones?

We improve the content quality of LIVERs as they are the strongest driving force of conversion.

Our primary focus is to satisfy our customers and fulfil their needs and wants. We use Machine Learning and AI recommendation engines to provide tailor-made experience for our users to find the contents they love. We also run online/offline events to drive roadmap conversion.

Also Read: 5 steps on how to increase your referral marketing effectively on social media

How do you tackle customer churn? What are the different tools/strategies used to retain customers?

17LIVE’s core strategy to retain customers by delivering quality content. Seeding users more interesting content is our mission. We focus on improving LIVER content because we believe the content is the strongest force to attract users.

17LIVE features centred around building a strong community around LIVERs. We have an in-house business development team to groom our LIVERs, fully support their needs, so that they can utilise our resources, online/offline events, apps and functions to retain users.

What is your customer acquisition cost (CAC)? What are the factors affecting your CAC?

We initially do a market survey to know our target and to know where to invest. Our CAC is handled and controlled by our internal user acquisition (UA) specialist, who has experience working with top content creators in the US.

Factors affecting CAC are content and LIVERS. We keep improving our content and promote the right LIVERs. We believe that the right LIVERs and right content are crucial to the growth of our platform.

Image Credit: 17LIVE


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