3G Marketing - Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing - What is it?

Viral marketing is any online marketing technique that encourages people to pass along a marketing message to others, creating an opportunity for exponential increase in the message's exposure. It can best be described as “Internet word-of-mouth”. It utilizes the old adage "she told two friends, then they told two friends and so on and so on...". You may have heard viral marketing referred to as V-Marketing, organic marketing, word-of-mouth marketing or word-of-mouse marketing.

Like a virus, marketers hope their marketing message spreads to the masses - one minute it's nowhere and the next minute it's all over the place.

Advantages of Viral Marketing

  • The message is coming from someone known to the recipient and is much more likely to be opened and paid attention to.
  • The merchant is given exposure to individuals it had no way of contacting otherwise.
  • Because the message is from a friend, it is basically a third-party recommendation of the specific product from a trusted source.

Elements of a Viral Marketing Campaign

  • Should give away something of value (coupons, e-specials, newsletters, etc.)
  • Must be able to send to others with little effort
  • Must be able to personalize who it is coming from and the message

Viral Marketing Opportunities

There are two main ways of incorporating a viral marketing plan into your marketing mix.

1. On Your Web site:

  • allow people to send free postcards to friends and collegues from your Web site
  • use "tell-a-friend” links to recommend a product, service, package, coupon or special to a friend or associate
  • "tell-a-friend" about our associate or affiliate program

2. In Your Outbound Marketing Materials:

  • allow your readers to forward your newsletter (or coupons, or e-specials, etc.) on to anyone they feel would be interested or would benefit from it
  • if readers have received your newsletter from a friend give them the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter so that they can receive directly into their inbox

Some key points to consider as well when incorporating any of these ideas into your viral marketing plan is to remember that privacy is vital for success. Users will only pass along information and new subscribers will only subscribe if they feel that the contact information is in trusted hands. Having a privacy policy that is clearly stated on your web site is the best practice.

In addition, with the prevalent spread of destructive viruses on the Internet, you should avoid using attachments on the message you are trying to spread. Many security measures have been put into place in larger corporations to prevent employees from opening attachments which may contain potentially harmful viruses. The fact is most people are cautious about opening unsolicited attachments. 

Important Points to Remember

The design and placement of the viral marketing elements is crucial to the effectiveness of the strategy. One should keep the following criteria in mind when implementing any of these elements:

1. "Tell a friend" viral campaigns should be associated with something specific:
"Tell a friend about this site" is no where near as effective as having the viral element tied in with something specific: "Tell a friend about this product" or "Tell a friend about this special".

2. Providing an incentive increases the uptake on viral marketing: A viral marketing promotion with an incentive will see a higher uptake than one without incentive. For example, "Tell a friend about our special and receive a ballot in our contest" or "Tell three friends about our golf package to be included in a drawing for this golf bag".

3. All viral marketing campaigns should be personalized: The recipient's first name should be incorporated throughout the e-mail - in the subject line, in the salutation and throughout the body of the message. The senders's name should also be incorporated into the message as well, to reinforce the recommendation from a trusted source.

4. Your viral marketing campaign should stand out clearly from the rest of the web site content: It should be easy to comprehend with concise directions on how to act.

As with everything related to your Internet marketing, you must go back to your objectives and target markets to help you determine if vial marketing is right for you.

Want More Information?

If you would like more information on viral marketing, check out my 1 hour Viral Marketing webinar. It's coming up on June 8th, 2007 – 12pm EST.

There are three ways to get this Webinar:

1. Take it live and have your chance to ask Susan your most pressing questions at the end during the Question and Answer period. Sign up for the live Webinar now!

2. Order this Webinar on CD so that you can take it anytime over and over again. Order this Webinar on CD now!

Click here for a full list of webinar's available throughout the year!

Also, check out the Resources section on my Web site. I have developed a great library of resources where you can find additional tips, tools and techniques online.

Coming up...

Susan Sweeney's new, updated Tourism Internet Marketing Bootcamp. Come on out on June 20 & 21, 2007 to exciting Las Vegas where Susan will provide you with two full days packed full of new Internet marketing tools, tips, techniques and resources to help you maximize your business opportunities online.

This Bootcamp is designed specifically for tourism professionals who want to effectively market your tourism operation online or build a dynamite Tourism Web site from the ground up.

To view the full two day agenda go to http://www.susansweeney.com/agenda.html

To register for this Tourism Internet Marketing Bootcamp go to http://www.susansweeney.com/register.html

Happy Podcasting!

Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com