The Complete Guide to Netflix’s Marketing Strategies

Learn how they’re winning across platforms so you can too

Maheen Siddiqi
Jun 26, 2019 · 8 min read
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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Even if you’re not into the entertainment business, there’s a lot to learn from Netflix’s impeccable marketing strategies, which are strategically focused on creating value while spending less on advertising.

It’s a cool presumption: when Netflix’s audience isn’t obsessing over streaming, it’s focused on something completely unrelated — meme-ing. So yes, if there’s any digital marketing prodigy you want to pay attention to, it’s definitely Netflix.

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Quick recap: Netflix started out as DVD mail-order sales service but made the wise choice at the right time to move to streaming videos instead. This happened right after Amazon and Walmart entered into the DVD rental service, resulting in a huge drop in Netflix’s viewership.

Fast forward a decade, and now they have more than 140 million subscribers.

So we’ve been following Netflix for a while, but have you ever wondered how they got the knack for catching virality even in the simplest of things?

Short Answer: They communicate with us like a fan, believing a brand can only achieve success with an authentic voice—unlike other entertainment companies, which stick to a rigidly formal approach when interacting with their followers.

In this blog, I’ll dissect exactly how Netflix put their brand forward through social media, the content marketing and retention techniques they use, and the way they’re amassing people to continuously binge watch their shows no matter how drowsy they are!

Netflix Learned From Controversies

First off, with popularity comes the controversies, and Netflix is no stranger to backlashes and controversies.

Here’s the most controversial tweet by Netflix.

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Credit: Netflix US Twitter

It was a reference to subscribers watching the same film over and over, but it gave rise to privacy concerns—how much did Netflix know about these people? And why was it willing to share it on Twitter?

Netflix apologized, and assured users it would not share their data.

Outcome? They experienced a hyper-growth of over 40 million subscribers in that period, despite the price hike and controversies.

Is Humor in Advertising the Next Big Thing?

This is only suitable if the idea, product, or service that you’re promoting is not particularly controversial. Although bold humor grabs attention quickly, it can backfire on you so bad, thus leaving a long-lasting negative impact on your audience.

The good news is…

Humor in advertising generates the most engagement if done correctly.

And when it comes to humor appeal, there’s no one in the industry that can dodge Netflix. Since their brand tone is known to be a bit casually humorous, it resonates well among the millennials.

Let’s dig some more…

Netflix’s Twitter — A Meme Account

The streaming service is hard to avoid on Twitter. If you’ve ever stalked Netflix’s Twitter account in your spare time, you’ll notice how casually they send out tweets and get people talking about them. Their social media team doesn’t even put money into sponsoring tweets—instead they simply craft a casual tweet, flaunting how charming and witty they are and voila… it goes viral!

But wait… that doesn’t happen by accident. A brand has to invest in original, personal and authentic content, so as to bring a strategic and creative approach to social media.

As for Netflix, they fully understand how their subscribers procrastinate while binge-watching Netflix the whole night. They know people share Netflix passwords among friends and family, and will do whatever it takes to avoid paying $10 a month.

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Sounds you, right?

So here’s a meme summing up our usual Netflix day.

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The level of relatedness they share with their audience is utterly commendable. So simple, yet so engaging.

Here’s the small section of the jokes Netflix’s SMM team unleashed this year:

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Observe closely, and you’ll notice Netflix don’t even use excessive hashtags, emojis, or phrases like “It’s lit🔥” or “You don’t want to miss this” in every post, something brands use when trying super hard to stay relevant. They’re Netflix, and originality is their motto.

If memes are an art, then Netflix is an art gallery.

Get Retweeted by Netflix

Netflix acknowledges funny tweets. That means if you tweet applaudable jokes or memes at Netflix that also promotes their content, you have a good chance of getting retweeted by their official account.

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This looks like Netflix supporting its subscribers, but it’s also another cost-free marketing strategy. It’s something that helps the brand stay top of mind every time a customer thinks about relaxing and watching movies at home. All without spending a penny.

Netflix Uses Social Media to its Max

Netflix knows how to get the most out of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For that, they create polls and ask engaging questions which quickly stimulate a response from viewers. One cheeky reply from Netflix, be it a snarky comment or a GIF, can result in five minutes of Twitter fame. This further encourages fans to continue the conversation below their posts.

Here are some Twitter polls that start discussion around their brand:

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And then they go on posting questions that prompt fans to start casual discussions:

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It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from a professional brand. Why? Because they tend to get in their audiences’ shoes.

Netflix Embraced Its Place in Pop Culture

The term Netflix and chill blew up the Internet with memes, vines, and tweets in 2010–11. It felt like a digital wildfire that everybody went along with. Chances are you’ve seen it too, but if not…

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This phrase—a euphemism for hooking up with someone—has entered the lexicon, and now it’s free marketing every time somebody uses it.

Netflix Does Email Marketing Like A Boss

What could be more irritating than having to delete a pile of boring, bland newsletters and, most annoyingly, repetitive content in which you’re not even interested anymore? Netflix knows your pain, and plays off it right.

The company keeps a strong eye on your browsing behavior and sends out emails based on that.

Here’s just a sample of user preferences that Netflix measures:

  • What time you watch content, on which day
  • When you pause, rewind, and resume content
  • The ratings you give to each movie/series
  • The device you use to watch that particular show
  • Do you prefer watching a single episode, or entire series at a time?
  • Other browsing and scrolling habits

Sounds creepy, no? But as long as data is being used to better customer experience, the customers are happy! Smartness isn’t about tracking each and every metric that you’re familiar with, but leveraging the right metrics for your type of business.

Netflix Personalizes Everything

Netflix not only addresses its users with their first names, but also sends out highly personalized content based on the factors mentioned above. Okay, that’s pretty common, every other brand does that.

Then how is Netflix different from the likes of Hulu, HBO, and AmazonPrime?

For me, the most appreciative part is their simplistic approach to email designs, which allows readers to quickly find the call to action without getting lost in the rabbit hole of suggestions.

Netflix will never bombard you with the bulk of their movie/shows recommendations, as their content library is huge. Instead, they prefer promoting a single TV show that has a clear call to action button, helping users to cut through the clutter easily.

Let’s have a look at this example.

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A simple layout, free of clutter.

Netflix also throws push notifications to users who’ve permitted them. Here’s a post in which a user has shared how they felt when receiving alerts.

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Image source: customer.io

My point is, your audience will never get bored or feel irritated if you deliver content that they actually want. Sounds common sense, no? But not every brand does that successfully.

Pro Tip: Try to master the art of selling products and/or services while not sounding too pushy. Have lots of products ready to be launched? Pitch slowly, don’t go overboard and try to sell everything all at once. Your email should look like a welcomed guest and not like an unwanted pest.

Recap

So, in fifteen seconds… how did Netflix beat the big names in the industry like AmazonPrime, Hulu, and HBO, and retain its subscribers through word of mouth?

  • A heavy investment in genuine content that keeps the audience from steering away.
  • A robust tracking system for users’ on-site activities to know what they actually want and how they’d like to watch.
  • Most importantly, catching trends and generating content that further stimulates everyday conversation…. and engaging with that conversation through social media.

The bottom line

  • Focus on converting your audience, rather than just attracting them.
  • Create data-driven content by leveraging the right metrics.
  • Never overlook your campaign’s objective—for ROI, email marketing is your best bet, whereas for virtually unlimited growth, go for strategic content marketing.
  • Don’t be a rigid boss! Talk to your audience, encourage interaction, and engage with their ideas.

But remember…

Marketing comes later—the quality content comes first. And when it comes to sheer volume of original content, Netflix blows away the competition.

“Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” — David Ogilvy

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Maheen Siddiqi

Written by

Social Media Marketer, Blogger, and Football enthusiast!

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

Maheen Siddiqi

Written by

Social Media Marketer, Blogger, and Football enthusiast!

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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