'Just one last time, I promise' - Thought every addict, cheater, and binge watcher, ever.
As soon as we hear binging, we see bright red text screaming Netflix. Even though the thought is our own, it feels intrusive. That's how deeply Netflix has associated themselves with the word. Binge has always been a word, but 2012 gave it a new meaning when Netflix started using the word binge-watching in their marketing campaigns.
Over time, binging has come to mean a lot of things. It's not just about Netflix and Bridgerton anymore. It's also 5 hours on YouTube watching cat videos or when you find yourself too deeply invested in some celebrity's love story or knowing embarrassingly intimate details about the British Monarchy or even BTS.
And you can judge yourself later, but you’ve got to admit - once you know a little, you HAVE to know the rest.
One look at Tiktok/Instagram Reels and you will have found yourself scrolling for hours on end, and you really really want to stop, but you can't. Because as soon as you put your phone down, you instantly feel this immense weight on you, asking you to be productive, judging yourself for wasting so many hours. Turns out, it's not an uncommon practice, it's just a way for companies to get you hooked.
In fact, 80% of smartphone users check their device within 15 minutes of waking up every morning. This may sound like your parents asking you to cut back on screen time, but it's not. It's just a reality check to how invested we are in other people's lives, sometimes even fictional people's lives. (Harry Potter fanfiction is a thing y'all)
The book Hooked by Nir Eyal (interesting read) talks extensively about external and internal triggers. The red button that goes off and screams 'Amazon!' every time you need to buy something online is a perfect example of being hooked.
And then you try to reason with yourself, hey, Amazon is a capitalistic giant that exploits labour, doesn't pay its workers, has a horrible carbon footprint, and that you can probably buy your stuff from a local store. Several internal arguments later, you have a stocked up cupboard, a few hundred dollars spent on stuff you don't need, and a massive storage problem.
And no, it's not just you who does this, it's a lot of us. (By a lot, we mean all of us).
Why do people binge?
Most people binge to get rid of distressing and unpleasant emotions - often anxiety, anger, hatred, jealousy, boredom, or self-pity. (Ever heard of revenge bedtime procrastination?) Not too surprising is it then, that higher screen time is also linked to higher depression rates?
Binging is a feel-good fix.
So if it's all that bad, it must be horrible for us, right? No, it's not that simple.
Binging produces dopamine (the happy hormone) that stimulates your brain and makes it go jiggly. In a 2013 survey by Netflix, 73% of respondents had a good feeling about bingeing and felt that it was a reward for their hard work. Some felt it was a great way to take a break from the tiring world they lived in. Turns out, binging isn't all that bad!
But binging isn't just your mind trying to procrastinate working or rewarding you for working, there's science behind it all.
The science behind binging
The human race in general does not agree upon a lot of things, be it pineapple on pizza (lately, it's been kiwi. It's getting wild out there) or politics. But collectively, we all have a distaste for open endings.
There is not one good reason why someone would watch a movie if they had to guess the ending themselves. We're literally paying those who make these movies to tell us! There is a special place in hell reserved for those of them who don’t.
But, open endings work. So do cliffhangers. (Sort of an evil route, but then again, we're all morally ambiguous.) And it's all because of the Zeigarnik effect, the psychological phenomenon that makes us remember interrupted tasks better than uninterrupted ones. Basically, anything that makes us think, "what's next" or "what did this even mean?!" is a trick to make us remember the incident.
Ever missed one episode of Game of Thrones and had to avoid conversation in every elevator you entered, every call you made, and every single time you checked social media? You really didn't want a spoiler about who died this time around. It is during times like this it feels like the universe is conspiring against you to make your life hell. It's FOMO that Netflix capitalises on.
So what does it mean for you?
No one likes unsolicited advice, even if it's well meant. And it's almost a surprise you haven't become a violent person around those glib, clueless individuals.
But sometimes, your business itself is unsolicited advice. The consumer doesn't trust you, they don't know what you do, all they know is you want them to buy something. It's sketchy.
If your customers don't have confidence in you, they obviously would not consider buying from you. So how do you make your consumers trust you before even trying your product? Simple - through bingeable content.
Why brands need bingeable content
For obvious reasons, no sane person reads blogs about random things they aren't very interested in. If you wanted to buy a washing machine, you’d probably Google 'Top 10 washing machines', pick your top 3, watch their reviews on YouTube and just buy one. It would be absolute madness to read an industry report about washing machines and blogs on how they really work.
But if you wanted to buy a more complex product, like software, you’d probably read those blogs. If you didn't find any (or if they were all superficial and sales-y), you'd be disappointed. And that is how you 'lose a sale in 10 days'.
So how do you build interest and convert? The key is to make relevant, binge-worthy content that is specific to the sales cycle stage your customer is in and the sort of industry your product belongs to.
Not all potential customers are made the same, so making content that appeals to a huge audience yet something that feels personal is what makes content binge worthy. And no, it's not witchcraft.
How do you make content binge-worthy?
1. Make engaging, relevant content
We're not as unique as we'd like to think, because if we were, we wouldn't all share our favourite shows!
2. Spice it up
Distinguish yourself from your competitors, this is so much better than boring product configurations
3. Make your consumers ask, "What's next?"
Let it be enigmatic and unputdownable, yes that's a real word.
4. Easy to access
YouTube's autoplay function doesn't lie
5. Well, a little bit of witchcraft.
But if you really dig into what makes something interesting and bingeable, you'll realize that most times when you find yourself binging, it's because of how easy it is to. In fact, it's harder to stop! This is how brands manufacture habits.
So when your customers land on your website following that ad you invested all those resources into, where do you direct them? Sadly, oftentimes, to a dead end.
When they finally read your blog, you want them to read the next one. You have to make your consumers not just crave more, but also give them exactly what they'd want to look at next, because the last thing you'd want them to leave with is a gnawing sense of ennui.
All couples have an 'our song' that is unique to them, not so surprisingly, more than a few million other people think so too. Our interests, our hobbies and even our love may not be as unique as we think, and while that may be a heartbreaking revelation for many, that just makes marketers’ jobs easier.
A 'curated for you' Spotify playlist will tell you how much your device knows you and so will a Netflix recommendation. Sadly, Spotify now knows you only listen to 2000's rock punk and Netflix knows you only watch sappy rom-coms.
And if you're young and broke, or just cheap (let's admit it), you must've found yourself thinking, "Huh, I could just watch this on Putlockers, I don't need an overpriced Netflix subscription." Well, great point you make there.
But spending anything between fifteen minutes to an hour looking for that one movie you want to watch across all those websites because the first didn't have English subs and the other had horrible grainy video quality is not a great way to go about it.
Because by the time you end up finding the movie with the perfect sound, video and subtitles and no popup ads that open in new tabs, your brain has tricked you into thinking that finding the movie itself was the reward. Imagine coming home at 7 in the evening, making dinner, putting your kids to sleep and then having to go through all that to watch one movie that you're going to fall asleep in the middle of anyway!
Time is precious y'all. Our sanity, more so.
People don't just pay for content. They pay for organized content. It's the accessibility, the ease. It makes your brain go, "Mmmmm one more won't do any harm!", and by the time you make that decision, the next episode has started and you're too lazy to stop.
If this could translate to brands and how they market, the sort of high-quality brand experiences our customers would have, is unimaginable. It'd be like adult Christmas with Santa knowing exactly what you want! (But you'll have to pay for it. Adulting is hard.)
And that is why when your inbound marketing manager tells you to link the right blogs at the bottom of the page and your underpaid copywriter tells you to invest in your copy and content, you sit down and listen. Thank you for coming to our Ted talk.
How does binging translate to Sales and Marketing?
In our post about Intercom’s story, we talked about brand experiences and how brands compete to provide the best experiences to their customers through continuous experimentation and growth. Scalability would mean a new product and a thousand resources (read expensive & time consuming resources and uncertain results). But, what if you could just invest in your content instead?
Take Ziffy for example. Ziffy is a fictional dog food producing company that records podcasts about what different dog behaviours mean and posts videos of shelter dogs and cute puppies. They also publish blogs titled, 'Common things we feed our pets that are harmful to them' and 'Dog facts you've never heard about'. They engage with their target audience on social media, have a pet party event every year and donate food to your local pet shelter.
Basically, you see it everywhere your pet goes. On your next trip to the mart, you're bound to pick it up. Maybe your dog will like it, maybe it won't. Maybe you bought it for the sole reason that your dog looked like the dog in the video. But they got you to buy their product without a single advertisement. Basically, Ziffy is smart. Be like Ziffy.
Ziffy may be fictional, but real brands have had this realization long ago. AT&T came up with a series called 'Guilty Party' that revolves around social issues that concern the Youth, featuring 9 famous social media influencers. In the next 10 weeks, 42 Million people had watched it with 38 Million engagements (5.7x the industry standard)!
If you've ever known someone who likes Star Wars, you'd know that liking Star Wars is now a part of their personality (sometimes all of it). All fans have at least one piece of merchandise or have seen at least one spin off. Capitalising on this, IBM released a 10 episode series talking about the technology behind Star Wars and managed to reach Star War fans + Tech geeks (often colliding). Turns out, Star wars had more to offer than a fluorescent glow in the dark swords!
Giving your prospects a binge-worthy experience
It is a bright new day and you are in an extremely chirpy mood. You know deep down that the well-crafted and informative content piece you shared is going to win your prospect’s heart.
Your fingers cannot stop doing the tippity tappity happy dance as they open the dashboard to see how well your prospect has engaged with the content, and BAM!
Your enthusiasm and the engagement graph on the screen both race to the bottom. You know the pain is real, and we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
Keep reading to see how you can create a content experience that your prospects deserve.
When you have a collection of content pieces that can be consumed in any order
The old way
A couple of unattractive links and attachments
The new way
A personalized Paperflite storyboard with visually appealing thumbnails and appropriate calls to action
When you have to run campaigns with ONE OR multiple content pieces
The old way
Standardised form with a drag feel. Rigid, multiple set of fields of questions without a clear intent. It is very easy to lose an ICP while asking them to fill this drab or gain an unqualified lead who may not even be a target audience. This form does not contain the exorbitant information that is in the document nor is it SEO worthy.
The new way
Easily create a bingeable and interactive Cleverstory landing page and logically sequence the content pieces. With ability to include multiple file types, give the form the look and feel it truly deserves.
With 'Smart Gating', choose to gate the content where you want; after the reader finishes 25%, 2 pages or even 25 seconds of footage - its completely on your will.
When you have a standalone document
The old way
Have a bland document stare at your prospect’s face
The new way
Get creative and turn it into a piece of engaging interactive content
But remember that content consumption doesn't stop at selling.
Post-sales content consumption is key to having return customers and increasing the adoption of your product. The teams at Cisco have been producing engaging content to keep their customers updated with new product changes and launches. They noticed a staggering 74% increase in content consumption and a 3.5x increase in adoption.
Content is often an investment you make for returns in the long run. It doesn't help you convert right here, right now, but it's bound to pay off eventually. For companies that are far-sighted and ambitious, content should be their next product line.
Content enthusiasts will have you believe that bingeable content is the best thing you can invest in right now, and content's hyper critics will have you believe content is dead. It all feels like a bad game of stock market skepticism, but content, essentially, is just a tool.
How you use it, if you use it at all, is always on you.
You can unlock unlimited possibilities with bingeable content. Try Cleverstory today to see it yourself!