Viral Marketing: Letting Others Help You
Your website could use a little viral marketing. What? You don’t want your website to catch a cold? While you might be able to catch a bad flu bug, viral marketing for your website is a good thing. What viral marketing means is getting other people to help market your website and your products for you. If you provide the right idea, it will spread all over the Internet, faster than the common cold.
Because interesting and fun ideas are highly probable to be sent from one person to another, you and your business should catch the viral marketing fever. The great thing about it is the low cost, which may in fact be zero cost, and the fact that other people are sharing your marketing workload. You are, in fact, utilizing other peoples’ Internet resources, including their websites, blogs, and e-mails, to do your marketing for you.
Viral marketing seeks to spread the message of your website or product, from person to person, in the same way as cold or flu virus. One person catches the viral marketing concept, and then passes it along to one or many other people. In fact, viral marketing messages have been known to spread around the entire world, in less than a day.
Many companies, both large and small, have used viral marketing, which is simply good old fashioned word of mouth, in many new and creative ways.
Perhaps the single most famous case of viral marketing is that of Microsoft’s Hotmail e-mail system. By simply placing a link, at the bottom of the Hotmail based e-mail, many people signed up for the free service. Since e-mail is such a ubiquitous use of the Internet, the idea literally flew around the world. As a viral marketing campaign, Hotmail was a tremendous success.
Permission based e-mail has proven to be one of the most effective methods of viral marketing transfer. Bloggers, as usual, are also on the cutting edge of viral marketing campaigns. By means of highly mimicked ideas, referred to as “memes”, bloggers are able to use viral marketing techniques to enlarge their readership.
Businesses and traditional website owners can put the muscle of viral marketing to work for themselves too. All that is required for a powerful viral marketing system is the right message and the people to spread it for you.
People will happily relay your marketing message for you, if you satisfy their basic human needs. Those personal motivations may include being popular, being part of the in group, or simply wanting to get things that are offered free of charge. A strong viral marketing tool will tap into those human emotions.
To start your own viral marketing campaign, you need to reach out to your website readers and your business customers. You must provide them with an idea they will want to share with everyone they know. That desire on the part of your customers, to spread the word even without asking them, is at the heart of viral marketing.
Viral marketing is based on word of mouth. To achieve that favorable and much sought after free advertising, it is essential to provide a reason for it. Give them a good reason to send your word to their personal networks. The viral message must be simple and have widespread appeal. It must also be easy to send, to many other potential viral senders, without complicated instructions. If it is too hard to forward, it will stall out on you.
In an e-mail viral campaign, the message can be as simple as suggesting the recipients forward the e-mail, to as many friends and associates as possible. Creating a link to the company website within the e-mail, will draw added traffic. As new potential customers receive the viral e-mail, many will click on the link to the business website. While some visitors will not stay long, others will search around the site, and read your company’s message.
On your website, be sure to place a button that instantly recommends the website to friends. Simplicity counts for much here. Don’t make it hard or an unpleasant task. Make it fun and make it desirable to pass the site along. The button can be used to rate the site in a number of ways, as “on a scale of one to ten”, or “from uncool” to “way cool”. You get the idea.
Offer something free of charge. People like to get what they perceive to be something of value for nothing. Give it to them. Nothing will start a viral campaign faster than giving out free items. People will not only collect their own gifts, but advise all of their friends to cash in as well. Since you want more visitors to your website, your free offer will bring them to your site in droves.
Be sure that your server is large enough to handle the added traffic influx. Sure, you might not get that many more visitors, but you never know. Should a large traffic volume to your website be the result of your viral marketing efforts, make certain you have the bandwidth scalable to accept it. There could be nothing worse than to find your website can’t take the visitor traffic, without crashing on you.
If you write Internet articles for other websites or e-mail newsletters, offering the free reprint rights to everyone will help spread the word. Freely available articles with a link back to your website, may be picked up by hundreds of websites, and will result in an enormous increase in visitor traffic. People who read the article, will often refer it to their friends, either by forwarding the newsletter or recommending the website.
People who maintain weblogs, better known as blogs, are heavy users of viral marketing devices. In blog terminology, they are called “memes”. Usually appearing in the form of online quizzes and questionnaires, the blog memes spread rapidly from blog to blog. Because of the powerful and generous linking practices of bloggers, the viral marketing tools send traffic back to the referring blog.
Form an affiliate program that offers affiliates a strong reason to send traffic to your site. By offering free samples or items, the affiliate viral marketing program will gain you many new visitors. The word of your giveaways will spread rapidly over the Internet.
Most people have a close network of ten to twelve people, with many people having far larger networks, to whom they regularly forward website URLs and e-mails. Those numbers can cause your viral campaign to multiply exponentially, in a hurry. The use of other peoples’ Internet resources, along with your own website, blog, and e-mail, can create an explosion of website traffic.
Beginning a viral marketing program, by offering a free item or service may not pay off immediately. In viral marketing, which is what offline marketers might consider word of mouth or creating a buzz, a longer term view is the best position to take. The idea is to develop a relationship with your viral marketers so they become your volunteer marketing force. That relationship won’t happen overnight, but will have tremendously long term benefits for everyone involved.
To reach what amounts to an unlimited number of potential clients and customers, at a very low to no cost to you, a viral marketing campaign is just what the doctor ordered. Putting the power of the Internet resources of others to work for you will pay huge dividends in the future.
By using e-mail links and referrals, a viral message can be sent from person to person at almost the speed of light. The word can be spread around the world in literally the blink of an eye. Traffic can be brought into your website the same day. Those visitors may not be immediate customers or clients, however. Like anything else in business, developing a strong customer base will take much longer.
The people who assist your viral marketing efforts will benefit as well. They can be part of something fun and exciting, or they may simply be wanting to get something for free. In any case, any good viral system should have a solid personal benefit for the sender.
Make sure your server bandwidth can handle the extra influx of visitor traffic.
If your viral marketing concept catches on, you will need it to handle the infected visitors.