Viral marketing is different from conventional marketing in that it contains elements that are exceedingly attractive to the audience and compel those exposed to it to spread the message. As a result, the word of mouth about the campaign spreads fast. Viral marketing can take all forms, including snail mail, e-mail, telephone calls and advertisements. More often than not, viral marketing doesn’t follow any rules. But these tips help.
- Catchy message: Make your message subject line catchy. A line offering a gift may be enticing but with innumerable spam mails promising thousands of dollars, your e-mail may be consigned to the junk mail folder. So, the next best way to make an attractive subject line is to address your customer’s pain point. For example, if you are targeting people who suffer from migraine headaches, then something like “migraine is finally manageable” can get you noticed.
- Takeaway: Let there be a takeaway in the viral message for your customer. It can be an answer to a problem, a promise of a gift or something sensational that your reader feels a compelling need to forward it and forward it over and over.
- Personalization is effective: Use an e-mail personalization software that will personalize your message, just like mail merge does in Microsoft Word. Personalized messages improve the chances of your message getting noticed.
- Substance: A personalized message in itself may not be enough to create a viral campaign. The intrinsic message has to be attractive enough. For example, a shop can send an e-mail to its customer database about a sale. If the sale is attractive and the customer likes your products, she will forward it to her friends and they, too, could forward it, making it viral. In 1996, Hotmail offered an e-mail service that was seamless, accessible and didn’t cost a thing. It even allowed users to have multiple accounts. The viral marketing campaign had a simple message embedded in all e-mails: “Get your free e-mail at Hotmail.” More than 11 million people subscribed to Hotmail’s e-mail service.
- Use images or videos: Using the power of images is a great way to build a viral marketing campaign. If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video can speak even more. BMW launched a series of videos on its website featuring famous filmmakers such as Guy Ritchie and David Fincher. The website attracted more than 11 million viewers and sent its sales up by 12 percent in one year. You could also use YouTube to get your video to millions of people. Say what you have to say in a video, and put it out there. Your video might even beat “Charlie bit my finger.”
- Use social media: Social media is everywhere. So, using social media to get your viral campaign out there can be very effective. There have been instances where only the power of social media was used to create a great viral marketing campaign.
- Latch on to a winner. There are successful bloggers out there who command a large audience. If your campaign can be linked to a popular blogger, its reach becomes far greater, allowing it to go viral.
- Competitions and contests: Launching an online competition helps a lot. If an online video platform company asks visitors to post their videos, saying that the best one will win a prize and that viewer votes would determine the winner, there would be a rush.
- Incentives work: Providing an incentive to the recipient to send a message to others is very important. For example, you could ask people to forward a message, fill in a questionnaire or inform their friends of an event in return for a gift. If the first ones to respond are given attractive gifts, they are sure to pass the word around. What’s in it for you? You get an idea of what is working and what isn’t along with a new database of prospects and leads.
- Being upfront worked for some. Smart Water created a viral video with actress Jennifer Aniston as its celebrity spokesperson. The video’s opening segment told viewers that they are about to watch a viral video. Being upfront may have worked, as overnight, its viewership hit the million number. To date the video has nearly 9.5 million views.
When you run a successful viral marketing campaign, you’ll know the tricks of the trade. With this experience, you should run more campaigns so as to perfect the process of designing, launching and executing viral campaigns.