How 'digitally led' HSN links TV and digital

HSN (formerly known as the Home Shopping Network) is out to prove that TV is no longer the center of its content strategy.

HSN’s core demographic is women between the ages of 45 and 55. HSN is one entity that is not enacting a millennials strategy. That means instead of focusing on trying to come up with Snapchat content and a Peach strategy, HSN relies heavily on old-school digital distribution methods like email, while also pushing ahead with an app strategy and experiments in emerging channels like Twitter’s Periscope.

In the past few years, HSN has been pumping out digital content from seven content studios. It is also repackaging TV content into snippets that can be used in email marketing and on product pages, and turning segments into live streams. On air, HSN hosts point viewers to the website and mobile app to view extra content.

“We’re looking to be known as a digitally led company,” said Ryan Ross, evp of marketing and digital commerce at HSN. “TV is still extremely important, but now we’re figuring out how to leverage that channel in terms of digital retail. The company has been transforming for a number of years.”

HSN’s traffic is about 50-50 between desktop and mobile (both Web and app), and during TV segments, that traffic sees an overall spike. To create value within the mobile app, TV hosts will voice expanded product offerings and promotions available to view in the app.

Ross said that HSN’s everyday programming gives the company a supply of the type of content that other retailers are only recently beginning to invest in. Now, HSN is figuring out how to push its studio-born content to new channels that its watchers will respond to. A TV segment on a beauty product will be cut down to a 60-second Facebook video, or a program on a crafting project will become a six-minute video sent to email subscribers. While the company has experimented with Twitter, Periscope, Instagram and Pinterest, the customer is “most at home on Facebook,” according to Ross, and traditional email marketing is used to follow up with shoppers after a purchase.

While overall sales crept up year-over-year in the third quarter by 3 percent, digital sales grew 8 percent. CEO Mindy Grossman reported that digital now comprised of 37 percent of HSN’s business.

“We haven’t moved people around physically, but between creative and marketing and digital, the customer — who she is and what she wants — is front of mind. That drives the conversation,” said Ross.