I shudder to think of how many of my weekends have gone to waste at the hands of Netflix. Be it House of Cards, Orange is the New Black or Making a Murderer, I – along with countless others across the globe – have perfected the art of the binge.
It fits seamlessly into the modern-day consumer’s demand to be able to read, watch, listen and buy whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever the hell we want it.
In what ways can you feed your audience’s love of the binge?
Have you listened to the Serial podcast? For a while it was a big hit. Season 1 told the story (in week-by-week installments) of a Baltimore teen sentenced to life in prison for killing his girlfriend, as well as the questionable evidence that led to his arrest and conviction.
As a result of the reporting done on the podcast, the teen, Adnan Syed, has been granted a new trial.
I listened to it long after it actually aired, so I got to consume it at my leisure, without having to wait a week for the next episode.
I remember taking extra drives and jogs just so I had an excuse to listen for another hour.
That’s how I consumed Netflix’s Making a Murderer (which had a similar premise to Serial, although the documentary’s subject, Steven Avery, was harder to relate to or even like).
I devoured its 10 episodes in an all-nighter. Now I cannot wait for the next “season”, because I know I’ll be able to consume each episode wherever I want, whenever the hell I want.
Serial on the other hand, doesn’t work that way. Unless you listen to a season long after it’s aired, you’re at the will of the producers, who wait 7 days before dropping the next edition.
I understand why they do this – delayed satisfaction helps build intrigue. I just don’t think this approach is that effective these days.
Lost in a universe – the allure of the binge
When Making a Murderer came out, the country was segmented into those who had seen it, those who were still watching it, and those who had yet to see it —or had no plans to.
It was like we were all a part of our own secret societies. Those of us who binged all 10 episodes in one straight shot got to turn to our friends and family and say:
Oh, you’re only on episode 4? Jeez, so you don’t even know about that yet!
Everywhere I went (online and in real life) I watched as fans and haters of the series unknowingly served as brand evangelists whose emphatic retelling of the series all but compelled others to convert and watch as well.
And these new converts could watch the documentary with ease, whenever they wanted to.
Serial’s delayed approach to content delivery, however, doesn’t allow this convenience. It relies on the expectation that its narrative is so strong that its listeners will sit idly for 7 days until the next episode airs.
I loved Season 1 of Serial, exponentially more than Making a Murderer (it’s amazing storytelling). But, again, I listened to it in binge-fashion because I was late to the game.
With Season 2, however (when a new storyline was introduced) I was forced to wait an entire week to get to the next installment.
By the third episode, I lost interest.
Actually, at first I simply forgot to listen. I have a lot going on in my life. Don’t we all? Remembering to listen to a podcast is pretty low on my to-do list.
One week turned into two weeks, and two weeks devolved into utter indifference at the outcome of the series.
But I wonder, if I had access to the entire season from the onset, would I have been a more loyal consumer?
Turning drip emails into a binge-worthy affair
Many of my clients have me create drip email campaigns for their product or service. These campaigns are fun to create and can be very effective.
Within each email you give your readers a snippet of information, without revealing too much. The goal is to build intrigue and, hopefully, a conversion.
But what if you approached it from a Netflix perspective?
For example, you could create a user-friendly knowledge-base or resource center on your site, that housed all the information your prospects and customers could possibly want.
MailChimp is a fantastic example (especially their “Start here” section – more on that in a moment).
Then, you could write one email to prospects or new customers that looks something like this (underlined words represent a “link” to your site):
So listen, normally I’d send out a bunch of emails over the next few days, highlighting a few features of [product] that I think you should hear about.
But who am I to tell you what you should know?
That’s why, instead of a series of emails, how about just one?
Want to know more about how [product] works? We’ve created an awesome resource center.
It’s got everything you ever needed to know —and more. Take it in however you want (although I think this is a good place to start). I bet you’ll find it pretty easy to navigate through, but feel free to email me if you get lost in the woods.
That’s it! Now it’s all up to you!
Oh, and I’ll probably reach out in a few weeks to see how you’re coming along.
Until then, consume at your free will. You’ve earned it.
I know, this goes against everything you know about email marketing. But while people accept drip messaging, they’re certainly not impressed by it.
And they certainly won’t remember it.
It’s time for you to think outside the [in]box.