Effective digital marketing has more to do with creative strategies focused on the individual customer than it does with big budgets and advanced technology.

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In five years, the share of households with a Netflix subscription has increased 92 percent. Today the majority of households in the United States subscribe to Netflix, and that number is slated to rise this year.

Why is this happening? The product is designed so well that you and I have been sucked into shows, only to emerge from our homes days later. The creative team is skilled at creating programs that receive both popular and critical praise.

But Netflix doesn’t just produce good shows, it also knows how to use advanced digital marketing techniques to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. Let’s talk about a few of the digital marketing principles that make Netflix so successful. Follow them and you may just see similar results.

Related: Netflix by the Numbers

Personalized content is the best kind.

What sets Netflix apart from other streaming services? Amazon, HBO and Vudu all have access to thousands of television shows and movies. They offer intuitive user interfaces, and they are available across devices. Yet Netflix is uniquely situated to dominate the streaming video revolution thanks to the company’s obsessive approach to content personalization.

My Netflix homepage looks entirely different from yours. This is thanks to the power of proprietary algorithms that predict what kind of content you’ll enjoy, and hide the rest. On Amazon Prime Video, I can’t even find the last thing I viewed there easily. Netflix has them beat here.

You might be thinking that content personalization is only available to companies like Netflix that have the capital to employ hundreds of the world’s smartest engineers. But entrepreneurs can also tap into content personalization in a few different ways.

Tools like Optimizely and Adobe Experience Cloud let you to personalize content based on a variety of data points like the country associated with an IP address, or whether or not a visitor is already a lead in a CRM. Based on this information, marketers can choose to display different website experiences in order to better serve the interests of a particular visitor.

As an alternative to third-party software platforms, marketers can always “fake” personalization with a little elbow grease. By building behavior based email workflows, marketers can ask email recipients to click various links depending on their interest. Once their interest is registered, the rest of the email workflow can be based on the interests articulated by recipients.


Remember, personalization isn’t about relying on advanced algorithms. Instead, it’s about identifying and providing the kind of experience the prospect, customer or visitor is most interested in having.

Related: 11 Supernatural Ways ‘Stranger Things’ Has Turned Marketing Upside Down

Multi-channel campaigns are key to getting your message out.

Netflix is available on seemingly every device. From computers to smart televisions, users can access Netflix wherever and whenever they want. Marketers at Netflix take a similar approach to promotion.

To hype season two of the company’s hit show Stranger Things, Netflix teamed up with Snapchat to release an augmented reality experience. At the same time, Netflix used Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email marketing to promote the upcoming season.


Multi-channel marketing isn’t about spending big bucks on advertising stunts. It’s about creating marketing campaigns that meet members of the target audience wherever they “live.” In the case of Stranger Things viewers, Netflix knew that their target audience would spend hours on social platforms, so they developed a strategy accordingly.

Simple is powerful in a complex world.

We live in complicated and noisy times. As a result, the average person has an attention span of just eight seconds, according to the New York Times. Netflix chooses to keep things simple when creating a mission statement or designing a user interface.

The company’s investor relations page says, “We are a relief from the complexity and frustration that embody most MVPD relationships with their customers. We strive to be extremely straightforward.”

It’s no surprise then that for non-customers, the Netflix homepage is so simple it’s sparse. It takes just two scrolls to reach the bottom of the page, and features two messages: “watch anywhere” and “cancel anytime.”


Use simplicity as a differentiating factor, and make it easy for members of the target audience to understand what you do and how you can help them. Ensure that this approach translates to marketing material, product experience and customer service.

Related: 18 Tips To Make Your Marketing Efforts Soar in 2018

Email marketing is still a key component to customer onboarding.

Despite claims to the contrary, email marketing is not dead. In fact, it’s used by Netflix as a key component of customer onboarding and nurturing.

New Netflix customers receive a series of emails that make content recommendations and encourage new users to explore the platform. This is a way of driving platform adoption, which improves customer retention in the long run.

Long time customers also receive periodic emails from Netflix. To promote the release of a new show called The Punisher, Netflix sent customers a marketing email that appeared to be spam at first glance. But once opened, the email played a GIF that slowly redacted information until a button at the bottom appeared, encouraging subscribers to watch the new show.


Email marketing is not dead; unimaginative email marketing is. Netflix marketers invest hours in building creative email marketing campaigns designed to engage and delight recipients. You don’t need sophisticated tech to engage people in your database. You just need to understand the target audience, and apply some imagination to email marketing. 

Netflix is successful thanks to a focus on understanding target audiences. Once that happens, marketers launch creative cross-platform campaigns that deliver simple and clear value propositions.

Remember that success in digital marketing isn’t a result of big budgets and advanced technology. It comes from creative and customer-centric strategies.

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