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What Netflix Teaches Us About Managing Search Engine Marketing

Choose one: Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, or Netflix

If you’re like most American consumers, you’ve heard of these three online video streaming services and you have a preference for one of them. You’ve probably used at least one of these services before — maybe even all three.

And there’s a really good chance that you picked Netflix over Amazon and Hulu. In fact, according to a recent Nielsen survey, about 36% of American households currently subscribe to Netflix (which translates to about 40 million American subscribers), while only 13% use Amazon Prime and 6.5% use Hulu.

So what exactly is the deal here? All three businesses are fairly similar — they offer the same service (video streaming) and charge similar amounts annually (around $100 for 12 months of service).

More importantly, why does any of this connect to a discussion about search engine marketing?

A recent article in Adweek written by Jason Lynch offers a simple explanation right in the title — “Here’s Why Consumers Love Netflix More Than Amazon and Hulu: Clear Branding is Key.”

Ultimately, Netflix simply pays more attention to branding awareness and promotes its brand in a continuous stream of original TV shows and custom web design improvements.

For example, at the end of June 2015, Netflix replaced its old website design with a newer and sleeker design, featuring darker colors, which mimicked its mobile web design. Coincidentally, the majority of American consumers who use a video streaming service also think that Netflix will eventually replace traditional TV channels and other streaming services entirely.

Actually, it’s not such a coincidence at all; 94% of people admit that they’ve assumed a business cannot be trusted just because its website looked cheap, 48% of people cite a trustworthy websites as the primary factor for engaging with the businesses, and 62% of companies that optimize mobile web design templates see a substantial increase in sales.

Ultimately, it only takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for internet users to form an opinion of a business when they look at its website. And when consumers look at Netflix, they see a business that knows its place in the industry (i.e., first place).

As Lynch adds, “Users talk about ‘watching Netflix’ as opposed to watching a specific show on Netflix,” which emphasizes how successful the brand itself is. Regardless of which shows viewers end up watching, they want to watch those shows on a trusted and engaging platform. And yes, it’s very likely that Netflix’s impressive use of social media marketing and search engine marketing for shows like Orange is the New Black has a lot to do with brand recognition.

While most small businesses today aren’t going to be targeting an audience of 40 million people, there are two important lessons to take away from Netflix’s strategy: First, pay attention to web design and make improvements before beginning any search engine marketing campaign. Second, remember that you want customers to buy yourbrand — not just your product.