As marketers, we can all learn from the Netflix marketing strategy.
The streaming television sensation has captured us all, sucking people into one episode after another, but there’s much more to Netflix than binge-worthy shows.
The Netflix marketing strategy is all about innovation and the latest technology, and it has paid off big time.
Netflix had more than 200 million subscribers by the end of 2020.
Growth is essential for any platform to survive, and so a winning company must design powerful modern marketing strategies that have a universal appeal.
In this blog post, we outline 7 key lessons for modern marketers from the Netflix marketing strategy.
What is the Netflix Marketing Strategy?
Netflix marketing is an integrated, agile approach to brand development and customer relationship management, which works great in the digital age thanks to innovation, adoption of the latest technology, creative advertising, and real-time data analytics.
Unlike traditional marketing methods that focus on making the sale through one or two channels, modern marketing the Netflix way evolves with the changes in the market.
With constant analysis and optimization, your brand too can connect with customers across a range of mediums, devices, and touchpoints, just like Netflix.
In essence, the modern marketing tools used by Netflix are data-driven, customer-centric, personalized, and omnipresent.
The good news is, none of it is superhuman, so you can do it all too.
What are the Key Principles of Netflix Marketing?
The Netflix marketing strategy is a wonderful example of adopting the core principles of modern marketing. The marketing at Netflix is always customer-centric, integrated, and agile.
Netflix Marketing is Customer-centric
Modern marketing tools put customer experience at the forefront of all business objectives and partnerships.
Therefore, modern marketers must learn from Netflix and collect, analyze, and apply data insights across all stages of the customer journey.
Integrated modern marketing tools are great for seamless experience
Netflix marketing is Integrated
With a blend of traditional and digital marketing strategies, modern marketers can capture audiences across a wide range of channels.
Marketers must seek innovative ways of bringing multiple channels and tools together to offer a better customer experience, the way Netflix does.
Think about how often you come across Netflix advertising on mobile phones, although most people watch Netflix on larger devices, like TVs or tablets.
That’s how you build a modern marketing strategy to work for today’s audiences, because even if your product or service is best experienced on a personal computer, your target audience is still easier to reach on mobile phones.
Think about how often you come across Netflix advertising on mobile phones, although most people watch Netflix on larger devices, like TVs or tablets.
Netflix Marketing is Nimble & Innovative
Modern marketing is agile in the sense that it moves with the times.
The best marketers of today use technology effectively in line with a marketing strategy that is designed for unrivaled, personalized customer experiences.
By harnessing the power of data analytics, modern marketers can capture the minds of consumers, reacting to their needs in ways that delight and surprise them.
This must have been your experience too as a Netflix subscriber. Plenty of times you’re looking for a movie and Netflix just suggests it to you, even though you didn’t search for it.
Netflix uses customer data analytics to get the content recommendations right. You’ll need to do the same for your brand marketing.
If you want a detailed data analysis of Netflix’s content strategy, read this blog.
7 Key Lessons From Netflix Marketing
So, now that you know what modern marketing is, it’s time to see it in action. And there’s no better present-day case study to look at for modern marketing tips from, than a company that has two simple choices – grow or die.
Let’s look at the Netflix strategy, and see how modern marketing services work with one of the most successful disruptive business models in the world.
#1: Use Multi-channel Marketing to Connect with People Online and Offline
When it started, Netflix was a delivery DVD service.
Over time, the company has diversified to offer their products to people on a range of devices.
Now, many Smart TVs already have Netflix installed. You can watch Netflix on your TV or computer, smartphone, or tablet.
The company pulls out all the stops to meet their audience wherever they are.
To demonstrate this modern marketing technique, we can look to the time when the 80s-nostalgia-inspired hit Stranger Things was set to return for its sophomore season.
Rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, Netflix made concerted efforts on several different channels to guarantee maximum audience engagement:
- Snapchat – Netflix paid for an interactive ad, offering Snapchat users an augmented reality experience where they could explore Joyce Byers’ house with the creepy Christmas lights.
- Twitter – The novel feature of Barb’s Magic 8 Ball was a subtle way to stir up interest.
- Word-of-mouth marketing – The first season became a huge hit on its own, purely by word-of-mouth. This effect rolled on during the wait for the second season, eliciting praise from celebrities and inspiring a pop-up bar in Chicago.
It’s notable that their marketing team came up with creative ideas for different social media platforms — they didn’t regurgitate from one to the next.
Netflix understood the features of modern marketing services and knew early on that their audience was very active on social media, so they aligned their marketing strategy to engage users there.
They also used a different idea for each channel.
Today’s consumers use more than one medium to connect with brands.
By implementing a cross-channel marketing campaign, you can reach people wherever they are, engaging them on multiple touchpoints to nurture more interest in your products.
#2: Make Emails Memorable and People Will Talk
Don’t believe the rumors – email is not dead. Far from it.
Netflix is just one of many companies that are tapping into the present-day potential of email marketing, pairing it with machine learning-based systems to get more from their consumer data.
After all, what good is data if you don’t know how to use it?
The Netflix marketing strategy incorporates email to introduce new users to the streaming platform.
Then, Netflix segments users into groups and offers personalized product recommendations and relevant updates based on their preferences.
While these tactics are commonplace among leading forces online, one of the best email marketing tips from Netflix is this:
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Netflix took a chance when they were promoting their new show, The Punisher. They sent an email that looked like spam, and could easily have been rejected or thrashed by many people immediately.
However, once the email was opened, a GIF began to play. Suddenly, The Punisher logo flashes up on the screen, employing subliminal advertising to encourage people to watch the show.
Another example was their email for House of Cards, which merely included the show title, the release date, and the phrase, “coming soon”.
Email marketing isn’t dead.
However, boring, unimaginative emails may as well be sent to the graveyard for all the hype they’ll create.
Netflix seeks to find unique and innovative ways of leveraging this old marketing channel.
Because it still has a lot of potential value, offering marketers an incredible 4000% return on investment (ROI), if not more.
Providing your emails are valuable and skimmable, you can hook the attention of your prospects with very little outlay.
#3: Offer Personalized Content to Keep People Hooked
What makes Netflix superior to other streaming services like HBO and Amazon Prime?
They all have hundreds of fantastic shows and movies. Each of them has an intuitive user interface, and all can be enjoyed on an array of different devices.
The reason that Netflix is so dominant boils down to its obsession with personalization. This is a core component of modern marketing success in virtually every industry today.
The average person flicks through 40 to 50 options on Netflix before choosing one to watch.
Thanks to personalization, no two users will have an identical homepage.
The advanced algorithm at play will continue to rearrange the programs over time, based on factors like your viewing history and preferred genres.
But what if you don’t have smart computers and high-paid software engineers to create advanced algorithms?
Well, thankfully, personalized marketing isn’t limited to computer geniuses with deep pockets.
Your company can still offer a personalized experience by leveraging what you know about your customers and then applying it to your various marketing channels.
In 2018, CMO reported that consumer desire for personalized content reached an all-time high, with 42% of people claiming they get annoyed whenever the content isn’t personalized for them.
Even if you can’t do it on a large scale, you’ll still avoid deterring people with generic guesswork content that has nothing to do with their interests.
It’s worth a try.
Don’t disregard personalization just because you haven’t got a large budget or the desired skill set.
By focusing on your customers, you can create tailor-made shopping experiences that cater to their interests, which ultimately get more engagement.
Over time, a modern marketing strategy that focuses on personalization and the customer experience will help build trust in your company, which leads to stronger customer relationships.
#4: Let Data Show You the Secrets to Better Customer Service
The reason email marketing and personalization are so ingrained in modern marketing is that they are both built upon a very solid foundation.
That foundation is data.
The rise of marketing automation has paved the way for greater personalization, as it allows companies to analyze data, and react to it accordingly.
Better yet, automation can do this instantaneously.
Netflix recognized the value of big data and automation a decade ago, going as far as to offer a $1 million prize to whoever could produce the best algorithm for predicting customer ratings based on data about previous ratings.
Many companies are still in the mode of being reactive.
However, one of the best modern marketing tips from the Netflix strategy is that we need to be proactive instead.
With better data analysis, you can understand what people are looking for, and you’ll be able to provide it before the demand truly arises.
Once it does, your product is the obvious go-to solution.
#5: Embrace Machine Learning to Enhance the User Experience
As already mentioned, no two user accounts on Netflix will be the same.
The order of the shows will be arranged based on the user activity on that account. However, the order of the shows is not the only aspect that continues to evolve.
Have you ever noticed the artwork on shows change from one day to the next?
For example, you may see all five school-uniform clad stars of Derry Girls one day, only for the image to be replaced on your next visit by the scowling face of the show’s lead character, Erin.
This comes down to machine learning.
The company’s vice president, Todd Yellin explains how Netflix puts this revolutionary technology to good use.
Netflix has created several ‘landing cards’ for each of their shows, and the company runs some 250 A/B tests every year.
This gauges engagement based on the artwork.
“If you click play nowadays in the streaming world, it tells volumes more information that is a lot less superficial than getting someone’s gender and age”, explains Yellin.
With two groups of about 100,000 people each – one control group and one test group – Netflix is able to offer varied landing cards and see if one version truly has an impact on engagement.
“If one version gets more people to watch the show”, Yellin says, then “it may be incorporated across the whole service.”
Machine learning is a game-changing tech that has already transformed marketing research in a big way, in many industries.
With an ML-based tool at the core of your modern marketing strategy, you will be able to take personalization and automation to an entirely different level.
#6: Make Interactive Products and Experiences to Generate a Buzz
Have you experienced Bandersnatch yet?
Notice how we say “experienced”, as opposed to “watched”. Indeed, this is more of an experience than a normal show.
Netflix’s shockingly popular, and oft-times disturbing series, Black Mirror focuses on the warped possibilities of technology.
But even by the daring heights the dystopian series reached before, its interactive feature-length offering Bandersnatch broke new ground entirely.
By allowing viewers to take part in the story, making key decisions for the protagonist at every turn, this daring change in the Netflix business model has opened the door to the future of television.
Some people were hooked for as long as four hours on this episode, continually attempting to navigate their way to a happy ending.
While that is ultimately a futile exercise, the enjoyment in trying still keeps viewers engaged.
Image credit: Cinesmacked
Content marketing has become formulaic over the past decade, making it hard to get noticed even when you’re doing all the right things.
The companies who truly think outside of the box stand to gain a lot of attention.
By creating standalone products or unique experiences that start new conversations, your brand can build instant awareness and recognition.
#7: Focus Your Customer Service On the People Who Matter
On June 28th, 2018, Netflix did something quite brilliant.
It was also somewhat of a gamble, which could easily have backfired.
But, as you’ve no doubt gathered by now, Netflix isn’t afraid to take a risk or try something a little bit edgy.
The year was a big year for black actors, as many stars of African-American descent made their breakthrough.
Traditionally, Hollywood has been a tough nut to crack for people of color. But where some people saw barriers, Netflix saw an opportunity.
So, on that day in June, Netflix launched a video inspired by the photo, ‘A Great Day in Harlem’.
Whereas that famous photo was of a collective of black jazz musicians, the video from Netflix comprised lead black characters from its wide range of shows, movies, and documentaries.
With 47 stars taking part, the company displayed its diversity in age and gender, highlighting the comparative lack of ethnic diversity in Hollywood.
In one fell swoop, this video bolstered the brand image, helping to convey Netflix as a progressive, personable brand in the brave new world.
Considering the majority of their user base is made up of millennials and Gen X, this campaign struck a chord, even if it ruffled the feathers of older people and the great white institution of Hollywood.
You can’t please everyone, nor should you try to.
Instead of pandering to the people who seemingly hold the power and money, you should focus on building stronger relationships with your target audience.
If younger people who care about the environment or social integrity are your main revenue stream, then work on nurturing trust and loyalty with them.
This will be much better for your business in the long run.
If You Want to Nail Modern Marketing, You Must Dare to be Different
This statement could easily summarise the blog post about Netflix marketing and what modern marketers should learn from it.
As one of the ultimate digital disruptors, Netflix rose to power by breaking the mold — and also the hearts of Blockbuster employees and every illegal download website owner.
It’s no surprise that the company would continue in the same vein by actively exploring unorthodox means of marketing.
Being unpredictable and experimental is the foundation of modern marketing.
Whether it’s their memorable embrace of augmented reality and edgy video marketing or their twist on the reliable old email, Netflix never stands quietly in line with its rivals.
Bandersnatch may be the beginning of a whole new era of television, and it came from Netflix’s desire to continually push boundaries.
The company is always testing out new ideas, embracing new technology, and leveraging machine learning and data analytics as much as possible to engage audiences.
Netflix seeks to connect with people through omnichannel marketing, and ultimately, offer a customer-centric, personalized user experience that people won’t forget.
p.s. This avant-garde approach to modern marketing is much easier to execute when you have a powerful, integrated marketing, sales, and service platform.
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