Netflix Is Teaching a Digital Marketing Class (kind of)
Ashley is a content writer and brand developer. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from the bizarre world of on-camera acting to the practice courts of NBA basketball players to the virtual meetings of inbound marketers. Today she specializes in building memorable brand voices online, with a focus on the travel & tourism, e-commerce and tech industries.
What comes to mind when you hear the name "Netflix?"
Orange Is The New Black...
The Wonder Years...
Your favorite pair of sweatpants?
While we love binge-watching our favorite TV shows as much as the next guy, we associate Netflix with something else: Crazy-good marketing campaigns that accelerate business growth like gangbusters.
A whopping 54 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to Netflix; that's a 92 percent increase in just five years. During the first quarter of 2018, the company added 7.41 million subscribers for a total of 125 million. There is no question the media giant has a fantastic product people love.
However, is word-of-mouth the only reason they have grown so quickly?
5 Marketing Strategies Worth Swiping from Netflix
A small number of savvy marketers have begun noticing the digital marketing techniques Netflix uses to acquire and retain customers. So, we asked ourselves: If Netflix were to teach a digital marketing class, what would be on the curriculum? We identified five prominent strategies worth utilizing.
The good news is you don't have to be a huge enterprise to take advantage of Netflix's marketing prowess. Companies of all sizes can study the tactics used, personalize them to meet their brand requirements, and crush it within their respective verticals online.
Create Original Content
The primary reason Netflix has quickly amassed such a large following? The company heavily investments in original content. Last year, the organization spent nearly $6 billion on content production. While that may not sound too surprising for a streaming video service, it's remarkable considering it wasn't a part of the company's original business model.
It seems Netflix could have obtained significant success without creating any original content at all. Why not just provide a convenient platform for watching the movies and television shows we're already familiar with? Interestingly, the company saw developing their own content as a necessity.
After grappling with increasingly expensive contracts from entertainment partners, Netflix realized the more affordable option might be producing its own shows. After the massive success of House of Cards, the first full original program, the company went on to release highly-anticipated shows like Narcos, Luke Cage, and The Crown.
As reported by USA Today, Netflix's content spend is accelerating gross adds globally and reducing churn. The substantial growth allowed the company to continue investing in the rights to popular shows like Friends that further elevated Netflix's position in the marketplace.
Key Takeaway: You might not be running a video-streaming service, but you can also captivate consumers with relevant content. Blog articles, eBooks, videos, and podcasts are just some of the formats worth experimenting with.
Are there already a lot of companies doing this?
Sure, but not many of them are doing it well Investing in original content may seem like a gamble, but it will deliver results when coupled with dependable traffic generation.
Run Multi-Channel Campaigns
Gone are the days where people solely interact with content from their computer screens. Today's consumers want on-demand access from their smartphones, tablets and even watches. For this reason, multi-channel campaigns play a huge role in Netflix's marketing strategy.
Most recently, the company partnered with Snapchat to create an augmented reality experience in in the promotion of Stranger Things. Simultaneously, Netflix promoted season two of the hit show on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Is running multi-channel campaigns more expensive than sticking to one channel?
Yep, but you can replicate the strategy by zeroing in on the channels that sport the highest concentration of your target audience. In the case of Stranger Things, Netflix knew the show's target audience were millennials who spend hours engaging with social media.
Key Takeaway: If you're on a budget, try split testing less expensive campaigns on several target platforms. Evaluate the results, and then invest more heavily in the one that delivers the most engagement.
Favor Simplicity of Design
Have you ever searched for a movie to watch on Amazon Prime? It's like shopping in a messy, small-town Walmart. Nothing is where you expect to find it, and sometimes, you just give up and go to Target.
Compare that to selecting a film on Netflix: Everything is neatly organized by category, images are used generously, and nothing extraneous competes for your attention. The homepage literally features two messages: "Watch anywhere" and "Cancel anytime." For Netflix, simplicity is more than just a design feature; it's part of their mission statement.
In the company's own words: “We are a relief from the complexity and frustration that embody most MVPD relationships with their customers. We strive to be extremely straightforward.”
Key Takeaway: While your prospects probably need more information than those of Netflix, you can still benefit from copying the company's minimalist design strategy. At Lean Labs, we're huge fans of something called Growth-Driven Design. It's about providing prospects with exactly what they need to make a decision -- no more and no less.
Utilize Data Metrics
Engaging in marketing campaigns without tracking data is amateur stuff. We all know that. However, that doesn't mean we're always tracking the metrics that are most relevant to our goals. Netflix has truly taken consumer data collection to another level, thus allowing it to further improve their services.
The company stores information on watch content; when you pause, rewind, or fast-forward; and what kind of content is viewed on which day. Netflix uses that data to suggest additional content that makes users continue watching. The company also allows metrics to inform their launch strategies. Before releasing House of Cards, Netflix made 10 different trailers to correspond with user viewing behavior. For example, if you previously watched a lot of Kevin Spacey movies, your trailer included more of his scenes.
Key Takeaway: Tracking data metrics allows for an improved customer experience, a more effective content distribution plan and greater ROI. How could your organization better use data to inform its marketing content?
Email Marketing Still Works
Every so often, we'll hear some pundit claiming email marketing is dead. Netflix disproves this assumption by creating imaginative email campaigns that delight customers. When promoting the release of The Punisher, the company sent customers a marketing email that initially appeared to be spam. However, once opened, the email played a GIF that slowly released information until revealing a Call-to-Action (CTA) to watch the show.
The company also utilizes email marketing during their onboarding process. New customers receive a series of emails that both make content recommendations and encourage them to explore the platform. This sets new customers up for success by teaching them how to make the most of the service.
Key Takeaway: Ensuring your customers have all the information they need to utilize your product effectively is paramount. Email marketing allows you to nurture relationships with both prospects and existing customers, so they become loyal fans. How can your organization create email campaigns that inform, educate and entertain?
Turbocharge Your Marketing
As you can see, Netflix isn't going anywhere. The company's prioritization of original content, simplicity of design, multi-channel campaigns, metrics tracking and email marketing have given it a significant edge over the competition. Netflix may not be publishing their marketing playbook anytime soon, but we may have found the next best thing: The Digital Marketing Mastery Intensive.
Developed by Digital Marketer founders Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry, the digital marketing class shares the exact tactics used to launch and grow more than 600 digital marketing projects for small to mid-sized businesses through content marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click campaigns.
Want to cross-train your entire team in the eight core disciplines of digital marketing?
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Search Marketing
- Conversion Funnels & Value Optimization
- Social & Community Management
- Paid Traffic & Customer Acquisition
- Marketing Analytics & Data Science
- Testing & Conversion Science