Why Netflix Is Winning at Digital Marketing


Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Black Mirror, Altered Carbon, House of Cards, 13 Reasons Why…should I go on? I could.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see that Netflix is killing it in the streaming world. They’re the king of original video content and they’re still bringing enough outside options to not seem too selfish.

But what can a marketer glean from Netflix’s marketing success? Can we emulate their tactics?

Let’s take a look at how Netflix brought in and kept subscribers with their billion dollar marketing campaign last year.

Where Netflix Was and Where They Are Now

The age of Netflix as a DVD delivery service seems like a dream. While the company began as NetFlix.com, Inc. in 97′, it actually took off in 2001-02 when it partnered with Best Buy, went public, and changed their name to Netflix, Inc.

The next year, they hit one million subscribers and became truly profitable. And they’re competing against traditional rental companies like Blockbuster (who eventually became another Netflix-like DVD delivery service before disappearing entirely).

Four years later, the internet is finally fast enough for video streaming and Netflix launches their second game-changing ploy. While they weren’t making their own content yet, they offered more film and TV content than any other streaming service at the time.

In 2011, Netflix hit $300 a share right before they made their first major blunder. CEO Reed Hastings announced that Netflix would become two companies, Qwikster (DVD delivery) and Netflix (online streaming). The backlash was intense and Netflix shares dropped 75%.

The world wasn’t ready to go full digital yet. And Netflix certainly didn’t have the online content to make such a move.

But they didn’t give up. They slowly pivoted and gradually increased the burner on streaming. It worked — Netflix removed all mention of DVDs from their landing pages and by 2013, everyone knew them as an online streaming service and not a DVD delivery service.

2013 was a monumental year for Netflix. House of Cards became their first original show, launching what was effectively their future in film and TV production. The show was a monumental hit and subscribers came flooding in just to see what the nefarious Frank Underwood would do next.

The rest is essentially history.

Netflix’s Cutting Edge Marketing

Netflix is now a household name. I know few people who don’t subscribe to their service. But how did they continue the magic of House of Cards?

Wouldn’t people subscribe for a month each time a new season of House of Cards arrived? Netflix refused to rest on their laurels, however, and began producing more and more content of their own.

Netflix Originals became the first wave in an invasion of Netflix marketing genius. House of Cards was a quality production. And Netflix continued to be a powerhouse of video content when they released Orange is the New Black.

They contracted with independent production companies to produce films. They acquired contracts with Disney’s Marvel and continued shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Arrested Development. Their fingers were in everything and people loved them for it.

But outside of the brilliant move commissioning their own content, what else has Netflix done to stay a step ahead of other services like Hulu and Amazon?

Gorilla Marketing Through Apps and Other Products

I’ve talked about gorilla marketing before on Shoemoney, but Netflix takes the cake when it comes to this concept. Netflix’s Black Mirror is our generation’s Outer Limits and it creepily embodies the zeitgeist of our culture. And Netflix knows how to use the meta of Black Mirror’s near future freak factor to their advantage.

RateMe is an online and mobile app inspired by the pilot episode of Black Mirror. Netflix created the app to promote the show’s third season. It’s a creepy homage to the pilot episode’s plot where the main protagonist can’t get an apartment because her social rating is too low.

The app is kind of a silly and useless gag where you can ask it to rate you or you can rate others on a 5 point scale. But it’s still creepy and interesting enough to remind subscribers of the addicting new show.

Other products Netflix used in their gorilla marketing campaigns include a Stranger Things font tool and a guide on how to make your own Netflix pausing Netflix socks.

Netflix Leverages the Metrics like No Other

Talking about Black Mirror-like things, Netflix is watching you. Well, not in a 1984-esque way. More like a clerk in a small shop.

Netflix gathers data on their subscribers and watches the market like a hawk. Of course, they have a whole team dedicated to this kind of analysis. But they’re using it to run email campaigns, text campaigns, ad campaigns, and make huge ROI on all of them.

Netflix mastered the art of reducing the bounce rate in email marketing. Their emails are simple sales funnels or updates on new content. They don’t bandy about with spammy techniques and their email design is excellent.

While their outbound marketing is a polished machine, their internal marketing is where they shine the most. Keeping subscribers is the game and if subscribers run out of shows to binge watch, that’s a problem.

Netflix has become king at showing you what you would love to watch (unless you share your Netflix with your entire family). They track user behavior. Things like pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding (thank the data for the “skip intro” button!).

And it’s no accident Netflix shows hit home 90% of the time. They’re crafted from the data. What you, the subscriber, love to binge watch. They know their audience and they find out everything they can about them.

If you want to hit your marketing campaign out of the park every time, know thy audience better than your lover. Netflix does and they’re winning the streaming content game.

The Netflix Marketing Well is Deep

Netflix’s marketing campaign is massive. And with enough time, I could write a book about their efforts and how their success could inspire millions of marketers to action.

If you love learning about various booming marketing campaigns, check out more content on shoemoney.com.





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