Courtesy of Netflix: On-Demand Nurturing in the Era of Engagement Marketing

Engagement Marketing


When’s the last time you watched just one episode of House of Cards in a sitting?…Or was it more like half a season in one long session? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. I’ve been known to dabble in a binge-watching session…or two.

If any company has mastered the art and science of engagement, it’s Netflix. Engagement metrics (who is viewing which piece of content and for how long) inform virtually every decision this data-driven company makes—from what type of content it produces or licenses from third parties, to how it personalizes the viewing experience and designs its app to keep you tuned in longer.

I Hate to Say It, but Marketers Have a Netflix Problem

Today, we’re releasing new research on the rise of Netflix and how the on-demand era has changed the game for marketers. Netflix enables on-demand viewing, and thus consumers are getting used to this “now—not later” type of atmosphere in the digital realm. With that being said, there are some stark contrasts between the Netflix model and how marketers are currently delivering their content—and some important lessons to be learned from Netflix’s success at holding on to attention. Without a doubt, marketers have a Netflix problem. Let’s dive a bit further into this idea…

 1. Your audience is in control

Your prospects have a strong desire to control their own time—even if that means spending the entire weekend watching back-to-back episodes of Orange Is the New Black. In the on-demand era, the buying journey has changed—and marketers are no longer in control. The Netflix problem is really a scheduling problem. At this year’s Marketing Nation Summit, Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez spoke about how scheduling is broken. Your audience is extremely busy, but you’re playing “catch and release” with their attention by running drip nurture campaigns that force prospects to engage on your timeline instead of theirs. You had their attention, but you let it go…(enter sad face emoji here).

 2. Engaged prospects want to binge

Before Netflix, binge-watching hadn’t even entered our vocabulary. Now it’s the way a lot of us (whether we admit it or not) consume content. The problem with the way most marketers have been nurturing is that engaged prospects are impatient: they want to consume a lot of content in a very short period of time. Engaged prospects don’t want to view your webinar this week and then wait a week to read your whitepaper. In the Netflix era, they want it all…and they want it all NOW. They want you to help them along their buying journey by packaging your content in a way that accommodates their bursty behavior. Your engaged prospects want to binge, but you’re only giving them drips.

 3. You need new (and actionable) metrics

Netflix was the only network that could green light the $100M production of House of Cards without first making a pilot. They could do this because they had the granular engagement data about their customer’s viewing behavior that told them it would be a hit. Now contrast that with how you decide what new content assets to produce to help your prospects along their buying journey. Do you know what your prospects are actually reading or viewing and for how long?

Do you have the metrics you need to measure real engagement with your content and identify engaged prospects, or are you relying on proxies like click-throughs, form fills, and social shares? Research by Chartbeat has shown that there is little or no correlation between clicks and shares and the time spent consuming the material. At best, these only show someone’s intent to engage—and it’s hard to build an effective lead nurture program on intent.

In the era of engagement, which is also the era of Netflix and on-demand, marketers need to switch up their playbook and reevaluate the way they nurture and accelerate engaged prospects along their buying journey from warm to hot.

Why Does This Stuff Matter?

Marketo customers are really, really smart, but even the savviest marketers can struggle to reach their audiences with the right content they need them to read before they buy. By embracing the idea of on-demand or “always-on” nurturing, marketers can:

  • Nurture faster: Generate more and better-qualified leads faster.
  • Reduce or eliminate lead decay: Prevent leads from going stale by doing more with your prospects’ attention while you have it and accelerating engaged prospects through your funnel.
  • Improve content ROI: With better engagement metrics about what types of content your prospects are actually reading or watching, you can do more of what works (and less of what doesn’t).
  • Send fewer emails: Traditional nurture campaigns drip-feed prospects a single content asset per hard-won click, forcing you to send six emails over six weeks to try to get your prospects to engage with the six pieces of content you need them to read. That’s a lot of emails (and a lot of clicks) when you could be using a Netflix-style nurturing model to turn a single click into engagement with multiple pieces of content.

…Doesn’t this sound better?!

Want to learn more? Check out our new Insight Guide for marketers—Engagement Marketing in the Netflix Era: 7 Things You Need to Know.