Netflix Marketing Strategy - Learn Netflix's modern marketing mantra!

Netflix is a marketing genius! They nail SEO, Social Media marketing, & create incredible data-driven viral campaigns. Let's learn about the Netflix marketing strategy!

25th May 2022
6 min read

Netflix has had a LEGENDARY run so far!

It has given us some iconic television over the years. Think of the most recent TV HITS β€” Queen's Gambit, Squid Games, Bridgerton, Black Mirror, Stranger Things β€” It's all Netflix!

Netflix has quickly acquired a crazy 222M subscribers. And, during the Covid lockdown, it made $30B in revenue!

On top of that, it pivoted from a small DVD rental service to a billion-dollar streaming giant. And, while doing so, knocked Blockbuster into bankruptcy!

So, basically, it's Netflix's world and we are just living in it πŸ™ƒ

But, out of the many gifts Netflix has given us, the concept of binging surely takes the cake.

"Netflix and Chill" has not only changed the entertainment industry but also our lives.

A big reason behind their impact is their absolutely BRILLIANT marketing strategy. So, today we are going to cover just that. Let's go πŸš€

Netflix's many pivots to binging!

Startups rarely survive for multiple decades while pivoting their business models into unknown waters and taking large risky bets on the future. But, Netflix is the BIG exception in this case!

A typical disruptor, it started out as a DVD-by-mail rental service, challenging Blockbuster's business model. Soon it introduced its subscription service model, a switch from the traditional renting of VHS tapes.

Although the subscription model was an unprecedented and a huge bet, Netflix knew that it won't be mailing DVDs to users for the next 100 years.

So, what could be the next goalpost? Well, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, always had a hunch that most entertainment content in the next decade would be consumed directly on the internet. So, they placed their faith in streaming!

Initially, it started out as a streaming platform that licensed movies from production houses. Similar to how a music streaming platform like Spotify licenses music catalogs from record labels.

But, this model was intrinsically flawed. You see, Netflix could only license movies after a year from theater release. That too for a mere 12-18 months till it went to "free TV".

So, what now? Well, Netflix was in a tough spot. So, it turned to what it learned during its DVD rental days.

Back in the late 1900s and early 2000s people rented DVDs for seasonal content, for example, TV series like Friends and Seinfeld, to binge them continuously episode after episode.

Netflix thought to themselves, why not replicate this model. So, they shifted their main focus from licensing movies to TV series and releasing the entire content catalog on-demand, on-go.

This essentially gave birth to binge-watching!

The world of Netflix and Chill!

Now, here's the catch - the concept of binge-watching was not a previously tested concept in entertainment. It was very much a Netflix-only phenomenon.

Apart from this, Netflix also had another problem. As the streaming space would eventually grow, more powerful players, especially production companies were bound to enter the market. So, Netflix had to be prepared.

In 2013, Netflix pivoted once again to become a full-fledged production company that creates original content. And, their first project was House of Cards.

Netflix spent a whopping $100M on this project with no guarantee of success. But, their bets, as we know, paid off. And, so did the bet of binge-watching.

This worked out perfectly for Netflix given its entire bet relied on more user subscriptions. How? Well, let me explain.

You see, from their early days, Netflix made money from users subscribing to their platform. Once they are subscribed they can pretty much watch anything, for however long.

So, Netflix's main goal was always to create an attractive streaming brand. Licensed content didn't help much with that. But, the added publicity aspect of "House of Cards by Netflix" surely helped promote Netflix as well as the show.

Netflix Marketing Strategy - Content is King!

Since becoming a production house, Netflix's emphasis on content, be it for its original series or for marketing, has increasingly gone up.

For Netflix, Content is King!

So, the main Netflix marketing strategy is around content. We are going to cover a few of these marketing strategies below.

A) SEO

In the bling of Netflix's social media marketing prowess, its SEO efforts are largely ignored. But, Netflix is a behemoth in terms of SEO.

Just look at their numbers!

  • According to Ahrefs, Netflix gets organic traffic of 267M per month.
  • They rank for 12.9M keywords and have accumulated 141M backlinks.
netflix marketing strategy

This got us wondering. How exactly is Netflix doing so well on the SEO front when all of its content is only visible to its subscribers.

We did a bit of digging to find out what Netflix was actually doing. So, here's the Netflix marketing strategy for SEO.

Basically, they have created 2 sets of subfolders that brings in the majority of traffic. These are:

  1. /title β€” include pages of all the movie titles on Netflix
  2. /browse/genre β€” includes pages for all the different movie and tv series genres

The first set of /title pages ranks for keywords with crazy search volumes like:

  • naruto β€” 1.94M
  • queens gambit β€” 960K
  • the witcher β€” 668K

The second set of pages ranks for keywords like "comedy movies", "thrillers", "romantic movies", etc.

B) Social Media

Netflix pretty much NAILS social media. Be it Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, Netflix's social media content is perfectly designed for these platforms.

Take the example of Twitter. Netflix's brand account doesn't just share updates on its latest releases like it was narrating news. But, they instead create fun, quirky posts, and memes. Their posts at times are so entertaining that one might mistake them for a meme account!

Netflix's approach is simple - they are lowkey the biggest fans of their own content. Which, fortunately, resonates with the actual fans/their audience.

And, on top of that, the fun banter and responses always keep things light.

Here are a few examples:

1) Netflix clears the air on password sharing

netflix marketing strategy

2) Again with the savage replies

netflix marketing strategy

3) Netflix is totally excited for Stranger Things like the rest of us!

netflix marketing strategy

4) Streaming War Trash Talk

netflix marketing strategy

5) A friendly advice

netflix marketing strategy

C) TV Marketing Campaigns

Now, Netflix's creativity is not limited to being an excellent Twitter account. Their marketing campaigns are equally brilliant!

1) House of Cards - Frank Underwood's Presidential Campaign!

Back in 2016, Netflix was all set to release 13 new episodes of House of Cards season 4. Only this time, things were different.

The presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was in full swing. Given all the many entertaining news items that come up during presidential elections, viewers were more tuned in on CNN rather than on Netflix.

So, Netflix came up with a genius idea. They released a typical presidential campaign video (that would rival the videos of Clinton and Trump) for House of Cards protagonist Frank Underwoods' presidential run!

They even created an official website fu2016.com for the campaign.

The video was absolutely iconic and shows the genius of Netflix!

netflix marketing strategy

2) 13 Reasons Why

To promote 13 Reasons Why, Netflix went ahead to create individual Instagram pages for each of the characters on the show, almost like they were real people. These Instagram accounts cumulatively garnered 3.6M followers in only a few days!

netflix marketing strategy

D) Data obsession + hyper personalization

Like Netflix is obsessed with content, it's also obsessed with data!

Now, given the fact that it currently has ~222M subscribers, you can only imagine the trove of data it holds on its users' activity.

But, what does Netflix do with this data?

Well, the data is incredibly valuable to identify trends, what's popular, what's not, and more importantly helps with personalized recommendations.

So, based on your watching patterns, Netflix will recommend personalized content that you may like. Moreover, the data also helps inform Netflix's investment decisions. For example, which series get renewed which don't, etc.

So what can we learn from Netflix?

  1. The Netflix marketing strategy is a multi-channel attack. There is no marketing channel that it doesn't absolutely excel in. But, the strategy for each is very cleverly fine-tuned with what works on that platform.
  2. Memes sell! - Netflix definitely understands this. Their social media content is modern and definitely understands what resonates with their users. Also, they are incredibly funny which always works!
  3. Finally, Netflix is very much customer-obsessed. Their marketing decisions and content are not based on whim. But, rather on their customer data. So, their ultimate goal is to align all their decisions with what their customers will love the most!
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How Ads can save Netflix's decline & bring $4B additional revenue!

Netflix is the largest streaming platform in the world! Since its launch in 2007, Netflix has enjoyed a steady increase in both subscribers and revenue. But, it was during the pandemic when they saw exponential growth!

It made ~$30B in revenue while its net income increased by 85% to $5.12B. Additionally, it also added 8.3M paying users in 2021! But, things went south when the pandemic ended.

In the first quarter of 2022, Netflix lost a record 200K subscribers. Its revenue also fell to $7.87B from forecasted $7.93B! They are also expected to lose 2M more subscribers.

So, what is the reason behind this decline?
1. Operations Shutdown in Russia - Caused 700K loss of subscribers
2. Password Sharing - Its 222M subscribers supposedly share their passwords with 100M more users. That's a loss of $1.1B each month!

3. Market Saturation in North America - Netflix has over 75M members here, which is 60% of the households.
4. The India Bet - Netflix wasn't able to make a huge mark in new markets like India!
5. Heavy Competition - More players entering the market like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Roku, etc

But, what's interesting is that ads could save Netflix! Let's do a little math:
1. ~100M users are accessing Netflix using someone else's account.
2. If it introduces a low cost, ads supported plan:
say, 100M non-users subscribe
giving $40/user of ad revenue (Roku’s proxy)
we get, 100M * $40 β‡’ $4B additional revenue.

MakeMyTrip's simple TRICK to get ~34M monthly traffic!

MakeMyTrip is a BEAST at SEO!

- $303M revenue in FY22,
- 64% traffic from Google and,
- 34M SEO users each month!

Their top subfolders are:
-/hotels - 8.7M
- /railways - 4.5M
- /flights - 3M
- /bus-tickets - 1.2M

Let's learn how these subfolders bring so much traffic!

Let's take the example of the "Hotels" bucket. The main page of this bucket basically has a search bar tool. All you have to do is enter the details and you'll be shown a bunch of different hotel options. When you arrive on the listicle page, you'll find some filters.

3) These include filters like:
- Beachfront hotels
- North Goa
- Price filters
- 5/4/3 star hotels

Now, what's really cool is that some of these filters have a unique URL that targets a very specific keyword. For example, these keywords can be:
- 5-star hotels in goa
- hotels with swimming pools
- cheap hotels in Mumbai

So, when a user enters a very specific search query, like "hotels in south goa with swimming pool", the MMT page appears at the top.
You will see that both the filters are already selected!
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How Wordle became so popular: The anatomy of a viral product

Wordle is played by 3 million+ people daily and there have been >3 million tweets about Wordle, that have grown by ~25% every day! It was recently bought by The New York Times for $1M+. But, what's great about Wordle is the fact that this product was created by a single person named Josh Wardle.

Wordle is a simple word game. All you have to do is guess a 5 letter word & you get 6 tries to do so. After every try, the tiles turn a certain color
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Jost is no newbie to delivering viral hits. Previously at Reddit, he had delivered 2 viral social experiments - The Button & Place.

But why did Wordle go Viral? Well, there are several reasons:
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2) It has a super simple interface
3) It takes less than 10 mins of your day
4) You can share your results publicly

But, at the end of the day, Wordle is an exception and you can't buildd a product hoping it will have a similar result. Almost all popular products become known, only after years of grind.