In addition to entertaining original shows and the spawn of new industry standards, Netflix creatively focuses on individualized marketing results.
Very few companies have spawned an entire industry and still managed to reinvent and revolutionize in the years following. If there’s a company worth mirroring, it’s Netflix.
In just five years, the share of households with a subscription has increased 92 percent. In fact, 48 hours later, knee deep into the newest season of OITNB and you’ll find yourself unable to stop the binge.
Despite the closed-lip, covert approach to their marketing strategy, Netflix leaves tangible evidence of its ability to leverage product, data, and social media for viral content marketing.
With a focus on acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones, Netflix uses digital marketing techniques to move beyond just a critically acclaimed product. Follow these principles and you may just find similar results.
Multi-channel campaigns (and experiences)
Access Netflix on any device and you’ll find joint marketing tailored to each channel: commercials on television and social media marketing on the internet. To hype season two of the company’s series Stranger Things, Netflix paired with Snapchat to release a customized lens into an augmented reality horror experience. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email marketing promoted the upcoming season simultaneously.
And when Netflix commissioned a third season of tech sci-fi, Black Mirror, the company designed a tongue-and-cheek app, Rateme, that was simultaneously the horrific but entirely believable popularity app in the very first episode of the show itself.
Multi-channel marketing isn’t about advertising stunts but rather creativity that meets your target audience in ways and on platforms that they’re already using. Content is not restricted to video or article but should include the potential for experiences that continue the conversation and request a little audience participation.
Email marketing combines data and customer onboarding.
In its most basic form, new Netflix customers receive a string of emails with content recommendations and guidance for new users to explore the platform. This is a way to drive platform adoption in the hopes of improving long-term customer retention.
In its more complex, data-driven campaigns, Netflix tracks users’ browsing behavior; time of viewing; the moment you pause, rewind or fast forward; and types of content you choose based within particular days of the week. The company leverages this data to suggest the right content within a series of emails.
When Netflix began promoting a new show called The Punisher, they sent customers a marketing email that looked more like an email phishing scam. When a number of Netflix subscribers reported receiving odd emails telling them that their accounts had been suspended with only the option to restore service via a questionable link, users were surprised to find a GIF when opened. The GIF gradually redacted information until a call-to-action button appeared at the bottom encouraging subscribers to watch the new show. The Punisher’s work with an expert hacker within the show made the email campaign part of the show’s marketing lore.
Unimaginative email marketing has little place in the latest digital marketing world. Netflix marketers primarily invest time into marketing campaigns, namely email campaigns, that both engage and delight subscribers. And where data and tracking can make your content more relevant to the modern consumer, implement it to make your company essential to daily users.
Simplicity and virality go hand in hand.
For non-customers, the Netflix homepage is a lesson in minimalism. Two scrolls and you’ve reached the bottom of the page where you’re met with two messages: “watch anywhere” and “cancel anytime.”
While a homepage isn’t what makes the company wildly successful, their brand voice omits all of the extra “noise” that detracts from their central selling points. In the same vein, Netflix has a knack for catching virality. It stems from making content easily shareable within the social media and everyday conversations.
The landing page above harbors humorous GIFs featuring popular Netflix shows. And in the same vein, Netflix’s conversational, youthful, and borderline brazen brand voice throughout email, content, and social media marketing campaigns has established an engaged and loyal following.
Netflix actively encourages virality of their content within formats that users are already using. While not every brand voice will embody the swagger and informality of Netflix, content and product should match a consistent and authentic voice.
Big budgets and advanced technology do not determine the success of a digital marketing campaign. Netflix is a dominating force, not only for its unconventional content marketing methods, but for its customer-centric philosophy on content and advertising. Our greatest takeaway must be to launch creative cross-platform campaigns that deliver undeniable and simple value propositions to our target audience.