3 content marketing lessons learnt from Netflix


Crowd-favourite streaming platform… Entertainment extraordinaire… Content marketing master?

We may not often think of Netflix as a content marketer, but the reality is they’re dominating what has become a primary marketing tactic in 2020. No one is investing more in content creation than Netflix, and they’re reaping the rewards. Netflix’s content is so engaging we’re willing to spend hours devoting our attention to their content and what they have to say.

While locking in an audience for hours on end may not be a realistic goal for the everyday marketer, there are still key lessons to be learnt from Netflix’s content strategy.

Lesson 1: Save the sales pitch (to the end)

“Keep watching?”

Two words made very powerful by one thing: timing. Imagine you are two minutes into episode 3 of Tiger King and Netflix interrupts with a black screen and a “Keep watching?”. You would be less inclined to do so if you were left to your own devices.

No, Netflix lets you enjoy your ‘you-time’, consume the content, and then ever-so gently prompts you to continue on with what you were already doing so well. That’s Netflix’s only call-to-action.

When creating your own content, the same principles should apply. A focus on timing and brevity when using calls-to-action will help give your content room to breathe, while gently nudging your audience towards a conversion once they’ve been primed to do so.

Lesson 2: Keep your ears open and eyes peeled

While Netflix’s famed algorithms can be a bit of a divisive topic, what we can all agree on is they use real data on the behaviour of individuals to inform new suggestions. Beyond recommending shows and movies, Netflix also relies on the data to make multi-million-dollar acquisitions of content, as well as deciding what to produce next, who to cast, and when to launch it.

Netflix has data analytics down to an art (hot take: maybe more so than making actual art), and they’ve built their success on it.

In the role of a marketer, reporting is unique in that it’s simultaneously retrospective and projective. While gauging performance of content to date, you need to be determining a strategy to replicate and grow that performance. Just as Netflix may hunt for the elements that made Extraction such a success, we too need to identify the key aspects that made content piece X the highest visited page on your website.

Lesson 3: Don’t go stale

One of the landmark events in Netflix’s history was the House of Cards (HoC) and Kevin Spacey fiasco. For several years, HoC was Netflix’s flagship program and a major drawcard for the brand. However, following some solid misconduct accusations, Kevin Spacey was promptly cancelled just before the final season was to be produced. The writers deftly wrote Spacey’s character out of the show and pivoted to co-lead Robin Wright to take the reins. The final season was produced, aired, and then never heard of again. HoC was truly over.

The production team at Netflix was privy enough to audience sentiment to know employing Spacey would be problematic, and the content management team knew they needed to move on from the tarnished HoC. Netflix proceeded to release Narcos: Mexico, The Umbrella Academy, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Roma, and Birdbox in quick succession.

Now, hopefully your content isn’t about to make international headlines because of a scandal, but it is essential to always have content in the pipeline to ensure you’re moving with the times. Whether you do happen to have a negative reaction to a post or piece of content, or things are just slowing, it is essential to be able to explore new mediums and new topics that will continue to capture the attention of your intended audience. Netflix is constantly producing everything from kids’ animation, to reality TV, to ‘Oscar-bait’ dramas – all in the name of producing content for you to consume.

If you’re interested in launching a content marketing strategy to capture the imagination of your clients, get in touch with our digital team today here.

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