When used properly, viral marketing or viral advertising is by far the best way to promote your website, products and services on the Internet.
Viral advertising implies a virus-like fast transfer of a marketing message on the web, as a consequence of using free viral marketing tools such as YouTube, Flickr or Facebook, built to be viral. Successful viral marketing results in this snowballfactor:
- An exponential increase in users of the free viral marketing product
- free exponential increase in website traffic which in turn helps to
- improve the search engine rankings which in turn leads to
- more free web traffic and so on…
The degree of success, depends on the extent to which the 9 success criteria are followed.
9 Viral Marketing Success Criterias
As many and ideally all of the following tactics should be used:
1. Make an irresistible free offer
You need to provide a free viral marketing product or service since “free” is the biggest customer magnet. “Free” even attracts people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested.
2. Build a viral marketing product – don’t just try to market a product virally
A product is not necessarily viral if it contains a few features that lend viral characteristics to it. Just having a “Recommend to a friend” option on one of your web pages doesn’t make your website viral. For the free viral product to be considered truly viral, more than 1 new user must result from each user recommending it.
3. Target alpha users
The viral advertising message ought to target individuals with a high social networking potential, the so called influencers, ideal for spreading it. With regards to the consumer market, influencers are well connected, have impact, have active minds and are trendsetters.
So what causes an influencer to desire passing on a viral message? Answers include the need to be loved (or fear of rejection) and the need to be successful (fear of failure). For example consider which messages and free products would result in respect and appreciation of the sender when received.
Important and effective online influentials take a serious approach and want to pass on only useful viral marketing messages, not silly videos, jokes or commercials without purpose nor marketing results. They want to be perceived responsible by the recipients; their network. The product they recommend ought to suit the needs of the users optimally. Hard sales talk is not the way.
4. Be creative and ahead of market trends
Study your market and its trends and learn to think ahead in order to provide what turns people on, in exactly the right moment and right way. Do you have…
- the capacity and know-how to come up with an innovative product?
- expert knowledge to share?
- ideas and a network of associates to inspire and motivate you?
- the right web business tools and resources?
5. Easy transfer is prerequisite
The viral marketing message should be short and easily transferred via one or several of the following digital medias:
- instant messaging
- software download
- social medias meaning social media websites, under here social network sites, online communities, blogs, wikis etc. Examples include Facebook, twitter and youtube, that facilitate the exchange of viral messages by automating the distribution process.
The interaction between internet users is highly facilitated by using Web 2.0, a design standard, making viral marketing possible. Examples of inherently viral Web 2.0 sites are MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr. These sites are as well free viral marketing products to the user as they are viral advertising tools to both the companies and the users.
6. Use Existing Social Networks
The distribution of the viral message takes place within established social networks of the individuals who receive it: Around 10 persons within their closest circle and as many as thousands within their broader network, depending on the person’s status and job. Affiliate programs often inspire the affiliates to target their network. Once an online influential with an extensive network is reached, a snowball effect initiates, provided that the viral product is useful and of high quality and the marketing message catchy. Social network websites are important viral marketing tools.
7. Use other’s resources
Spread your viral marketing message by placing articles on other websites (the media) thereby reaching a much larger group of people than had you relied solely on your own web site. By getting your message spread as news, you target many subscribers that might decide to visit your home page or even place your article on their website. An example of effective viral marketing is the placement of YouTube videos on different websites from where interested visitors can copy the video to their own site.
8. Allow for Big Scale Traffic
It is imperative that the resources for handling all the traffic need to be quickly upscalable to avoid overload and break down of the replication cycle of the viral marketing campaign. In order to handle the expected high volume of users, the process needs to be completely automated. For example customers are emailed using sequential autoresponders.
9. Measure and optimise parameters of Viral Marketing Success
To achieve true viral successful marketing, monitor the results expressed by certain parametres then test and optimise them. Examples of parameters include
- sources of traffic
- % registered users
- % users who send out invites
- number of invites sent out per user
- % of invites received