We know about Netflix because we have all used the platform to stream our favourite TV shows and movies. Whether it was just to spend an evening at home binging on your favourite show or watch a movie with friends over the weekend, Netflix rarely ever disappoints.
In doing so, have you ever thought about how Netflix became so big and continues to be a giant in the entertainment industry? Even if you’re not in the entertainment business, it’s incredibly intriguing how the streaming platform became the behemoth we know it to be today.
Did you know that their marketing is strategically focused on creating value while spending less on advertising?
Having discovered this little tidbit, I thought it would be good to share what I’ve learned about this digital marketing prodigy’s formidable tactics.
What’s the story behind Netflix?
Founded in 1997 by two friends, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, in Scotts Valley, California, Netflix’s original model was a pay-per-rent service for movies, which were mailed and delivered to your doorstep.
What made it different from other services was that they didn’t charge any late fees. You could keep the DVD with you for as long as you liked and when you returned it, you were able to get another movie of your choice.
This service has certainly changed a few time over the years – from debuting a low monthly subscription fee, offering unlimited DVD rentals, adding a personalised movie recommendation system, obtaining patents, streaming movies online, premiering original feature films and shows, and winning Emmys and Academy Awards to reaching over 140 million subscribers in over 190 countries.
Within just 22 years, it has become the leading service provider of on-demand movie, documentary and TV show streaming in the world. I find this all to be extraordinarily mind-blowing.
What can we learn from Netflix’s marketing tactics?
Netflix seems to focus its marketing efforts on content and social media.
The reason? They know what’s up.
Times are changing, tech is changing, and users are embracing all these changes because they know that if you don’t get with the times, you’ll just be left behind.
Not only has Netflix achieved phenomenal success in just a couple of years, but it has also set the pace for digital marketers, reminding us about the importance of being relevant. Their marketing is both an art and a science – a powerful blend of data and creativity.
Humour in advertising is the next best thing
I’ve always believed that humour in advertising can generate tons of engagement if done correctly.
There’s a certain level of risk involved with using this tactic because humour is not always appreciated the same way and could fail at delivering what you have in your mind and come off as rude and insensitive.
If you are to take a leaf out of Netflix’s book, however, understand that they use humour to be relatable to their consumers.
Marketing tip: Use humour only if it’s suitable and non-controversial for the product or service you’re promoting. Have fun but not at the expense of painting your brand as one that’s insensitive and inconsiderate towards consumers.
Memes are the biggest gift for social media marketing
Would you believe it if I said Netflix’s twitter account is basically a meme account? If you happen to check it out, you’ll notice how casually they send out tweets and get so much engagement.
Their tweets aren’t sponsored, they hardly use hashtags, emojis, or millennial catchphrases, but are still incredibly charming and witty – so much so, it’s hard to scroll past them without wanting to retweet their content.
Their dedication to creating original, personal and authentic content that brings a strategic and creative approach to social media is the biggest lesson we can learn from these efforts.
Also, notice how hard they work to stay relevant. Using memes and humour, they’ve developed a strong connection with their audience and not-so-subtly increased brand loyalty.
Marketing tip: Get with the times! Research the variety of marketing methods that are gaining more traction and engagement. Even if they’re hard to adopt immediately, find out how you can be more relatable and increase engagement among your consumers.
Appreciate your customers for choosing you
Netflix retweets funny tweets by their followers and supports their content creation. This is not something new and it’s certainly not only used by Netflix, but their efforts are easily among the most successful at creating engagement.
Netflix, being the global giant it is, provides plenty of validation and appreciation to their consumers and this is why the streaming platform is as popular as it is. We all seek validation and appreciation, and if an international brand like Netflix is offering that to you for free on social media, I bet that would push you in their direction.
Marketing tip: Share stories and posts, retweet, and give appreciation where it’s due. Make your consumers understand how appreciative you are that they’ve trusted your services or products over others.
Never fail to engage with your customers
Netflix uses social media for maximum effect. They create polls, ask engaging questions and keep track of the answers and replies they get from their followers. This results in people starting discussions about their brand and even starting casual discussions about a bunch of other topics.
Since Netflix has demonstrated a knack for responding with cheeky and funny replies, they get more replies to their polls and questions, encouraging fans to continue the conversation, giving Netflix further publicity.
Marketing tip: All social media platforms have a range of methods that give you access to engage with your customers. Use these methods – posts, polls, questions, stories, and videos – to increase engagement with your customers and do it more often to continue keeping their attention and interest.
Find out more about your customers and personalise your messaging
Netflix keeps a close eye on your browsing behaviour.
If you look closely, all the emails and push notifications they send you are personalised according to the data they collect from you. While there’s plenty of controversy regarding browser data collection, Netflix uses this data to better their customer’s experience. As such, it’s arguably less insidious than other organisations like Facebook.
Their email designs are simple and compared to other brands that send out emails, their approach is direct and compelling. If you get emails from Netflix, you know how they promote a single TV show or a feature film that has a clear call to action button, without bombarding you with a bulk of recommendations.
Marketing tip: Be smart about the data you collect from your customers and leverage the right metrics for your business. Always remember to deliver content your consumers want to see. If your business has a range of products and services, pitch one product or service at a time without being too pushy. Make your consumers feel like you remember them – it also always helps to address them by name!
Adopt quality content and relevant marketing strategies to enjoy Netflix-level success
Netflix started out by doing the same thing as Blockbuster – renting out DVDs – at a time when Blockbuster was already dominating the video rental industry. Netflix didn’t charge a late fee and let their customers keep the DVDs for as long as they liked. Late fee charges were a big cash cow for Blockbuster.
Despite the absence of social media, Netflix understood their consumers better than Blockbuster and changed their marketing models to serve consumers better. Blockbuster failed to realise the importance of this and never attempted to make effective changes, which ultimately resulted in their downfall.
When it comes to the sheer volume of original, quality, and relevant marketing tactics, Netflix has always been on top of the game. The content strategies Netflix uses now, in the age of social media, still keep them ahead of the game compared to their current competitors such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO.
Your marketing strategy should be innovative, embrace change and produce quality, relevant, original and personalised content to engage with your customers online. Encourage interaction and appreciate your consumers for their efforts in choosing you over other competitors.
Most of all, keep an eye on Netflix and find out what they’re doing.