The Netflix Effect: 4 Key Takeaways for Online Fundraising
Netflix released its quarterly report in April, and its stock plummeted 10 percent. That’s what happens when stocks fly so high: Even the slightest hint of bad news triggers a sell-off.
Bear in mind that most of the quarterly report was positive. Netflix added 6.74 million new subscribers to bring it’s total to 81.5 million global customers. That’s 31 percent more than a year ago. And now, 42 percent of Netflix customers reside outside of the U.S.
The bad news was that Netflix expected slower international growth in the future than what analysts had projected. It was still growth—just slower. Anything that sounds like "slow down" spooks some investors.
What is interesting about the Netflix story is how a DVD-by-mail service started in 1998 could become such a media powerhouse in 2016. I’m focusing this month’s column on Netflix, because I think there are some lessons that can be applied to nonprofit online fundraising and marketing strategies.
To put it another way: Why is Netflix so popular, and what can nonprofits learn from its success? Here are four big takeaways.
1. Access. It’s hard to find an internet system easier to use than Netflix. I can start a show in the browser on my laptop, stop it, then tap on the Netflix app on my smartphone and it’s right where I left off. Try finding what you last watched on Amazon Prime or HBO Go (much less mixing it up across laptops and smartphones).
It’s no simple digital feat. But Netflix completes this technical heavy-lifting with apparent ease, at least from the end-user’s perspective.
Takeaway: Nonprofits should keep in mind that someone may start reading (or watching, or donating) on a mobile device and finish later on a laptop, and vice versa.
2. Original content. Netflix dipped its toe in the water in 2013 with "House of Cards," and now it is off to the races with "Daredevil," "Orange is the New Black," and one of my personal favorites, "Bloodline." I think this is still one of the big untapped opportunities for many of you out there. Now that online video editing has gotten easier, your website should look more like Netflix than Yahoo. It’s hard to compete with the heartfelt and true-life stories some of you can tell.
Takeaway: Invest in original content for your website, and make sure some of it is video.
3. Personalization. You may have read about Netflix’s subgenres or "micro-genres." The company has 76,897 unique ways to describe movie genres. From "Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries" to "Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life," there will be something for everyone’s super-niche interest.
Takeaway: Nonprofits should identify different niches in their online audiences, and create content for them.
4. Behaviors. Netflix has uncovered some consumer behaviors that are important to note. When is the last time you’ve engaged in binge-watching? How about the decision to watch “just one episode” of a series, rather than the big commitment to watch a whole movie? (Confession: I rarely watch just one episode!) How about the well-documented phenomenon of people watching video content they already have seen, because they find it more relaxing?
Takeaway: How do these new “Netflix behaviors” impact the way you present your digital content? How can you play a role in the relaxing Internet time many of us engage in at night?
So, the next time you have a strategy meeting about your new website design, or boosting your online fundraising and online marketing, bring up the topic of Netflix for inspiration. And don’t forget the popcorn!
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. He is a regular contributor to NonProfit PRO.