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How Viral Marketing Can Help You Create Lots of Web Traffic!

What is viral marketing and how can it help you drive traffic?

The term viral marketing might not sound very pleasant, but it has become well established in the online world, at looks as though it is here to stay. It describes marketing strategies that rely on individual web users to pass on a marketing message to their network, creating the possibility of exponential growth and exposure of the message. This type of marketing is known as viral marketing because messages are transmitted from person to person like a human virus, and have the ability to be spread rapidly.

Viral Marketing

There are various types of viral marketing strategies currently in use online, and these fall into four broad categories:

1. Giving away free, specialized information. Publishing a valuable e-book, and giving it away for free is a classic example of viral marketing, particularly if you give the people that receive your e-book the rights to sell or give it away. People love being able to give away free content, as long as it is well researched, accurate and useful.

2. Adding a marketing message to e-mails automatically. Take a look at Hotmail or Yahoo e-mail messages. They all contain a footer promoting their free e-mail services, which is seen by all e-mail recipients.

3. Running an affiliate scheme. Affiliates are paid for every sale they make, or every customer they refer to a third party website. This ensures that they will market the website and its products to their entire network.

4. Creating multimedia content. Some businesses embed their marketing message in an entertaining game, video or picture, which web users will find funny or interesting enough to pass onto their network without financial incentive.

The internet has made communicating messages very quick and inexpensive, as well as encouraging users to form online networks. These factors create a perfect environment for viral marketing to be successful. There are several elements that work together to form a successful viral marketing campaign, and while they are not all essential, the more of them you can incorporate, the more effective your campaign will be.

These elements include:

1. Giving away free products or services. ‘Free’ is an incredibly powerful word in the online world, guaranteed to attract attention. Offering free software, perhaps a scaled down version of a program you are selling, or a free information product, can gain your business a lot of credibility and exposure. Giving away something for nothing might not make you a profit in the short term, but it will increase awareness of your business, drive traffic to your website, and give you a list of e-mail addresses to market future products to.

2. Having a scalable platform. Viral marketing can generate a lot of interest in your business over a short period of time. You need to be sure that your web set up and server can withstand a sudden increase in traffic and activity on your site.

3. Making use of common human behaviors. It can be difficult to determine how web users will behave and whether they will spread a vial marketing message or not. However, if your campaign is designed to appeal to common behaviors, it will be far more powerful. People have a natural need to communicate, as well as a tendency to want to pass on valuable information to others. Make use of these instincts in your marketing strategy.

4. Making your message easy to transfer. Spreading your viral marketing message should require as little effort or cost as possible for the web user. This makes e-mail by far the most effective medium for viral marketing campaigns as forwarding an e-mail is free and instant. Keep your message short, compelling and easy to understand to avoid it being altered in transmission.

5. Using the resources of other web users. The beauty of viral marketing is that the resources used to spread your marketing message are not usually yours. Affiliate programs use ads on other people’s sites, and people will use their own opt-in lists to give away free information products containing your marketing message.

6. Tapping into existing networks. Web users have ever growing online networks including e-mail address lists, friends, family, work colleagues, and people they connect with on social networking sites. Placing your marketing message within these established networks will help it to go viral.

Advantages and drawbacks of viral marketing:

There are several obvious advantages of viral marketing. The first is that it is self propagating. Once you have launched your campaign it will continue to spread and grow with very little input needed. The second is that you can start a viral marketing campaign with a relatively low budget as you will be using digital media, and online communication methods.

The increased exposure your business will get from a viral marketing campaign will increase traffic to your site, and introduce new potential customers. People that receive your message from friends or trusted colleagues may respond to it more favorably than if they had received a mail shot directly from your business.

There are, however, a few drawbacks to viral marketing that can be less easily spotted. The first is that your campaign may be seen as SPAM if it is not executed well, and this will only damage the online reputation of your business. The second is that it can be difficult to determine the initial group of people to start your marketing campaign with.

It can also be difficult to determine what will make people forward your e-mails or pass on your product. You may feel your content is compelling, interesting or entertaining, but will other web users respond in the same way? Finally, viral marketing may mean that you lose control of your marketing campaign and the way your products are promoted. People might change your overall message to use it for their own gain.

Viral marketing is a very powerful online tool, and with the potential for rapid exponential exposure on a relatively low budget, it is not surprising that it is increasing in popularity. You can try the various different models of viral marketing to see which works best for your business, but as long as those spreading your message feel they are getting something for nothing, or are able to forward something entertaining or valuable to their network, viral marketing campaigns have a high success rate.

What are the best viral marketing examples that you have seen on the internet? Please leave links below with the best viral marketing examples that you have seen on the internet and let us know what you liked about them.

If you need help or advice about viral marketing contact us today.