February 21, 2008

Netflix Gets Email - Part I

by Adam Covati, Product Manager at Bronto Software

I recently had a chance to hear Kelly Murtha, the Director of Relationship Management at Netflix, speak at the Email Evolution Conference in San Diego. As a new Netflix user I was interested to hear more about the email program that I had been just introduced to, and Kelly provided insight into what they're doing to really leverage the email channel. 

Netflix welcome emailNow, their emails aren't the most visually appealing things out there, but they are functional and effective. I don't want to get into too many low level details, they get a lot of that right. Consistent and appropriate from names, good subject lines, and attention to images-off rendering - it's all good, but I want to talk more about the strategy they have.

Welcome To Netflix!

I see the cornerstone of their email marketing program as their new member life cycle campaign. As soon as you sign up, Netflix welcomes you to their world - they are teaching you their lingo and telling you what the next steps are.

If you click through on the image above you will see they reiterate your sign in name, postal address, and contract terms. This confirmation is helpful and comforting, I know that my info is correct, and it helps to create a bit more of a personal experience.

Next Steps

The other key piece of this email is that they start to introduce you to their lingo - the Queue. Not everyone knows what a queue is, so with a quick sentence they give you the gist and get you on your way. For a service like Netflix, which changes the game of traditional movie rentals, you need to explain the paradigm. This isn't something they want to hide, it's what makes them great.

That's just the first email, I received several others that coaxed me along in filling out my queue. Not only did they provide guidance, they also showed me my progress. The email below shows the first 3 movies I had placed into the queue. They have several other emails that go out only if you haven't been adding movies to your queue.

They've definitely nailed it. They take the time to ease you into it, and they vary the emails you receive based on whether or not you have caught on. If you are happily adding movies to your queue then there is no need to prod you along. Also note that these follow-on emails have several Call To Actions as well - those blue buttons at the bottom provide suggestions and easy categories for you to build out your queue.

Take aways

Anyone can send a quick text message out to new users, but are you taking the time to welcome new email contacts into your community? You don't have to have a slick marketing campaign, even sending out a message every other week to new people is a great start. Remember these key points:

  • Personalize the message - Showing that this message is intended for one person, not everyone.
  • Provide next steps - Where should they go from here? Let them know, especially if you do things differently, make a point of it - it's what makes you special.
  • Check back in - Send an email with an encouragement or incentive to those who aren't moving forward in the relationship.

Check back soon for part two of my review, I'll be looking at the ongoing email program Netflix has created to keep customers engaged once they are using the service.

Adam Covati
Product Manager at Bronto

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Adam Covati, Product Manager at Bronto Software

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Comments

Nice write-up.

I use Blockbuster Total Access, and I've never really thought about it before, but they also have a very good email marketing system. I get updates when movies have been shipped and when they receive them back. Also they use email to optimize their system as they send an email once a month or so asking which day you received DVD's. Really compliments the whole operation well.

Kyle,
That's great to hear, I'll actually be talking about some of those aspects of the Netflix program in the upcoming posts in this series.

I receive Blockbuster's marketing messages, but I don't have their service so I'm not privy to the transactional messages. It's good to hear they are working to compete with Netflix on all fronts - competition drives better services for all of us. If you're up for it, I'd love to see some samples of what they send out, feel free to forward some to adam -at- bronto .

Thanks!
Adam

I missed that session at the conference, but I'm a Netflix user and big fan of their emails. They're very functional and very focused on collecting movie ratings and making movie recommendations based on those ratings. I think that they correctly realize that helping subscribers find great movies is what drives usage, and their emails are very focused on driving that relationship forward.

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