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Lessons in Personalization: What Netflix Can Teach Marketing & Sales Teams

Businesses looking for ways to meet buyers where they are can glean three core lessons from the king of personalization: Netflix.

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Netflix is the industry standard when it comes to personalization and capturing an audience's attention. For years, it has captivated viewers and kept them glued to their devices, delivering hour after hour of content by collecting large amounts of user data and creating personalized journeys to provide relevant content. We've grown accustomed to and expect this level of customization and responsiveness in our consumer lives. But what about in the B2B buying and selling landscape?

Today's B2B customers demand a new level of customization and digital savviness. As the demand for personalized buying experiences grows, businesses are looking for ways to meet buyers where they are. They're looking to the king of personalization for answers.

Continuously gather data and measure performance

The first lesson Netflix teaches is that more data is always better. Netflix's model couldn't exist without extensive viewer data, including everything from basic demographic information to how long viewers scroll the main page. Why do they need this much information? Because the more information you have, the more questions you can answer.

Netflix doesn't just sit on their data, either. They use it to inform every possible decision, from predicting what viewers want to watch next to even informing their content creation. The success rate for Netflix's original content is 93%, meaning recording-breaking successes like Stranger Things and Bridgerton were predicted to succeed before even hitting the screen.

Netflix is also constantly looking for new and better ways to measure audience and success. Before 2019, Netflix counted 70% completion of an episode or movie as a view, its main metric for engagement. In December of 2019, it changed a view to any watch time two minutes or longer, reasoning that this measurement would account for unique eyes on a piece of content. Then in October of 2021, the metric changed again, moving away from the number of views to minutes watched.

Now, let's examine the importance of data and measurement from a B2B marketing and sales perspective. To be impactful, marketing and sales teams should collect as much data as possible, including web traffic, email marketing stats and past purchasing data. This data will help build comprehensive and complete customer profiles, which are critical to understanding and reaching prospects.

Once you have the data, organize and present it in a way that makes it useable. Creating a single source of truth for your data as well as comprehensive dashboards that can give broad overhead views and granular ones will be key to drawing insights, no matter what department is using them. Dashboards provide a holistic view of marketing and sales activities to determine the tactics driving revenue, which helps teams make data-informed business decisions.

Lastly, set clear KPIs and measure performance by looking at your data and key metrics. Don't get complacent in your data strategy. Employ enrichment and cleansing strategies to keep data optimized and actionable, and always be on the lookout for ways to improve and better measure success.

Related: 4 Marketing Personalization Tips for Digital Businesses

Personalization is paramount

Netflix built its brand on personalization. Each of its 216 million users has a unique homepage experience catered to their personal tastes. They are so good at personalized recommendations that they generate 80% of their viewer activity.

A crucial part of Netflix's personalization experience is that they understand different people can like the same content for different reasons. For example, some people like superhero movies, some people like looking at Chris Hemsworth, and both groups watch The Avengers. You can see this practice at work when you look at show art and trailers for Netflix's original content.

For their first big original content piece, House of Cards, Netflix cut 10 different trailers, each playing to a different kind of audience. They take the same approach with their show artwork, displaying a different image depending on your content preferences. If a user likes a specific actor, they are more likely to see a title card with their image, whereas a user who likes action may see a still of an explosion instead.

From a B2B standpoint, personalization is equally critical. Buying personas are very similar to viewing profiles, each with its own unique pain points and reasons for purchasing. Companies often underestimate the effort of and how much they need personalization tactics to meet customers where they are today – but it's critical.

Personalization should be used to align marketing across personas and customer journey stages. Perhaps more important in the COVID-19 environment, personalization ensures messages cut through all the other noise consumers are bombarded with. Consumers, including B2B decision-makers, spend more time on social media and email than ever before, so deep personalization is the key to meeting customers where they're at with impactful and engaging experiences.

Tactically, organizations can customize content with unique landing pages or email headers to position core messaging around different perspectives or try concierge selling. Using collected data and buyer personas, equip sales with several pieces of content that would be considered relevant to the customer, then present these options once sales is introduced into the buying cycle. Organizations can foster trust through a digitally-assisted sales approach that customizes all interactions and builds off previous conversations.

Related: Netflix Has Adopted Machine Learning to Personalize Its Marketing Game at Scale

Content bingeing and its place in B2B

Netflix has a habit of keeping viewers on their screens for hours, what we now call binge-watching. They grew this practice by capitalizing on the audience's desire to want more of a show immediately after consuming it, a concept not offered by cable services at the time. By doing this, they were able to maximize mindshare and keep their viewers coming back for more.

Through features like auto-play, the next episode in a series immediately cues up after the first, allowing users to keep going without navigating through the menu. When a series or film finishes, Netflix is there with another personalized recommendation. They even generate entire categories based on previous watches, pulling shows with similar themes, actors or genres.

Content bingeing also serves a specific role in the B2B landscape by meeting buyers' expectations and making recommendations on what to read next. Armed with an abundance of content, B2B marketers can maximize mindshare and build trust with prospects looking to learn and research. There are a few ways to use this concept to your advantage in a business setting.

First, create multiple customer journeys and recommendation paths based on different buyer personas. By leaning on data and keeping personalization top of mind, you can take advantage of a prospect's undivided attention to keep them engaged longer. When one piece of content ends, put the suggestion for another related piece at its end.

Then, use CTAs as content-bingeing gateways. A compelling call to action should not be the end of a content piece but the opening to a content bingeing journey that keeps prospects engaged, enticed and carries them deeper into the sales funnel. Providing a piece of personal information is an explicit signal of interest. Once a prospect has submitted data, hit them with another content recommendation. Software or website plug-ins can help create automated content recommendations as well.

Getting to know and deeply understanding customers has always been part of a successful business, but we are now doing it on a massive scale. By collecting user data and distilling it down into comprehensive user profiles, you can leverage your existing products and services to create a journey that speaks to their unique needs. By applying these personalization practices that Netflix executes so well, organizations can see stronger, more qualified leads and ultimately drive revenue in a digital-first era.

Related: Learn From The Greatest: Marketing Tips From Industry Giants

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