You’ve heard it all before; if you want to boost your website’s SEO, increase engagement and drive traffic, you need great content. It needs to be insightful, creative and most importantly, it needs to be original.

As Netflix prepares to release its quarterly earnings, we’re reminded of why originality is so important. The streaming giant is known for keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to viewing figures, but we know that its original content has done wonders for the business and its £132bn valuation.

Just one week after Sandra Bullock’s thriller Bird Box was released in December, reports showed that 26 million viewers had already streamed it, making it the most successful Netflix film ever. And with Stranger Things capturing viewers’ imaginations, Black Mirror making us think, Orange is the New Black making us laugh and House of Cards keeping us glued to the TV, Netflix is known for its brilliant original content.

Last week’s announcement that licensed shows Friends and The Office (US) will soon be taken off the US service and moved to rival websites was met with disdain from loyal customers – Friends is the most streamed series on the platform after all. But does this move represent an opportunity for Netflix to shift its focus and prioritise original content over much-loved but older series? It seems so… Earlier this month, it announced the acquisition of a new production space at Shepperton Studios, and The Observer last weekend revealed that it has 285 original programmes in production around the world right now, with a programming budget of £12bn.

So, even though we’re not in the business of producing binge-worthy television series, there’s a lot that financial services firms can learn from Netflix’s approach to originality.

  • First and foremost, it teaches us that we can be great if we stay in our comfort zones but we can be excellent if we stretch out of them and push the boundaries. Netflix has redefined the way we watch TV and created a new category with competitor platforms from Amazon, HBO and NBCUniversal all coming onto the market since Netflix launched as a streaming service. There’s no value in producing something which doesn’t start a conversation, get people thinking, or even better, sharing across their individual networks and changing behaviours.
  • It reminds us of the value of data and understanding our customers and the importance of feeding this into our content strategies. The algorithms working behind the scenes to suggest new films and programmes customers will be interested in, means retention is high and inertia works to Netflix’s advantage.
  • And finally, it reiterates the value of true creativity. This sits at the heart of everything we do. It presents new possibilities, it’s lively, memorable, flexible and it gets people talking. Without it, we are lost.

These three values are central to the content strategies we implement with our clients, and the advice we give – and it’s important that we’re consistent with them. Netflix wasn’t heralded as the king of original content in 2013 when House of Cards was released. It took years of pushing the boundaries, scrutinising customer data and creativity, and this is central for financial services firms looking to boost their website’s SEO, increase engagement and drive website traffic.

So, there we have it- what can financial services brands learn from Netflix? The answer is quite simply, lots.

Sophie Paterson, Associate Director, Vested EMEA

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