Netflix has become almost synonymous with "Series". They still call them "TV Shows" but in reality, the most-watched Series on the platform are Netflix's in-house productions which will never air on TV (8 of the ten most-watched shows in the UK are Netflix's own). The streaming giant also offers movies and documentaries, but it is the Series that drive its subscriptions.
Netflix is probably the best performing large capitalisation of the last ten years, delivering a 4,000% return. Last week, its market capitalisation overtook that of Disney Inc. Although we can aspire to similar success, home entertainment is a long way from Enterprise Fintech. Yet, Netflix offers valuable and accessible lessons for marketers, in particular for those operating in a relatively small and technical niche, like ours.
It's not just about Series. The way Netflix programs, promotes and suggests its content with data and analytics are quantitative rather than creative.
Episodic Content for Enterprise Fintech
Series are episodic content. It works with any medium: text, audio, video, although the latter two have a more natural affinity with series.
Episodic content builds audiences.
Storytelling helps audiences mentally organise, connect, and contextualise information in a way that makes the content much easier to understand and remember. Series extend the story over lengthier periods and campaigns and gives the viewer something to look forward to. They provide an incentive to follow, sign up, join rather than just consuming all the content in one go.
Episodic content doesn't live in isolation.
If you have a 10,000 words research paper on a topic that is critical to those in your industry or niche, you can drop it all at once and hope that it will generate leads.
Splitting it into multiple parts allows you to fill up your content calendar while also making the information itself more digestible and giving your audience a reason to come back. It's also an efficient way to stretch the impact of your work, and each episode can point to the core research.
The episodes above are part of a series on the blockchain, based on one earlier article.
Episodic content is suited to addresses the challenges of Enterprise Fintech.
Enterprise Fintech has embraced content marketing, but there is a difference between posting regularly and episodic content. Like the financial industry as a whole, a majority of firms declares struggling to produce "enough content" or "truly engaging content" (FT). They post regularly but typically see interaction levels (including likes, comments or clicks on CTAs) around 50% lower than other industries.
Fintech's marketing efforts face a triple challenge:
Complexity: The highly technical nature of their services
Sales cycles: can be long, with numerous hurdles
Segmentation: typically targeting small niches, but with multiple stakeholders
It's fair to say that the industry still relies heavily on a traditional outbound approach, but the barriers to cold emailing and calling are mounting.
Episodic content can tackle the challenges.
Isolating each part and separating it in a distinct episode is an excellent way to reduce complexity
The content sequence can match the length of the cycle and address each of its particular hurdles
It can go deeper into the needs of the segment and accompany the whole customer journey
Now here is how Netflix makes episodic content differently.
Episodic content the Netflix way
Reducing risk with data
Netflix is notoriously using data to program its content. It collects information on user behaviour to predict what will work. With now over 180 million subscribers, this is Big Data, and it means the company can take bigger bets than its competitors. For example, it was able to invest $ 100 million in House of Cards without seeing a single episode (or pilot).
Your content will be on a different scale and budget, but you can adopt a similar approach. You can audit your posts and scan your competitors' to see what worked best.
Here is a screenshot of previous research for a project on "fixed income analytics" based on YouTube data. The full list had over 100 keywords. The "juicier" topics are at the top, ranked by a combination of search volume, competition and relevance.
I will develop this in a future newsletter. For now: what the table show is that you can start "investing" on creating content on a given topic with much less risk than if you rely only on brainstorming.
Netflix is spending a lot on marketing, $2.7 billion in 2019 (compared with $1.8 billion net income!). It does it in an agile way, with quick iteration on its adverts. The firm also uses the show's footage to create multiple pieces of contents that can be served as a teaser and adapts them to different audiences.
There was not one trailer for “House of Cards,” there were many. Fans of Mr. Spacey saw trailers featuring him, women watching “Thelma and Louise” saw trailers featuring the show’s female characters and serious film buffs saw trailers that reflected Mr. Fincher’s touch. (NY Times)
Promoting the content and experimenting with it should be an integral part of your marketing effort. As we've launched our podcast "The Fintech Files", we are planning about a dozen posts or related articles for each episode, including quotes, videos, and more, see below. (It's still a baby, so if you want to rate it five stars, that will help its development a lot ).
The algorithm that makes a recommendation to you on Netflix contributes to "Network Effect" (more users - better recommendations). However, the real value comes from the inventory of shows, movies and documentaries. If you look at it from an indie content creator that looks for exposure, there are benefits in being on a platform that produces blockbuster hits. People may stumble on your content, or the algorithm can recommend it.
You can observe the compounding effect on other platforms as well:
On Medium: where I write for a couple of publications, I see an uptick on my old articles every time I post a new one.
On YouTube: The algorithm boosts your channel if there are frequent posts (or forget about it if that's not the case).
Episodic content is a way to build your audience, but it can also benefit from contributing to a platform or channel with an existing audience, and that's aggregating more content.
YouTube is a perfect example of the benefits of posting frequently. Yet it is hard for most corporates to create 52 videos a year (weekly) or even 12. Thinking about the difficulty to reach a critical mass, we have decided to open our FintechOrama channel to non-competing customers. Instead of building their own and having only a handful of videos there, they can improve their organic reach by participating in a channel linked to the broader topic of Enterprise Fintech, without relinquishing control over the video details.
This newsletter is the first "episode" of a series on - guess what? Episodic Content for Enterprise Fintech. The next one will be about promoting and distributing your videos. Then, we will talk about podcasts episodes. As we go deeper into our audio and video series production and distribution, I will be sharing the learnings along the way.
It's simple, we have decided to focus the whole company on Shows/Episodic Content/Series.