Viral marketing is a marketing technique that uses the free distribution of information through social networks to produce increased product awareness. Just as a virus replicates itself by spreading from person to person (or computer to computer), viral marketing uses the powerful networking resources of the Internet to spread the message about a product by motivating people to pass interesting or amusing information such as text messages, jokes, games, video clips, on to their friends and colleagues.
Each viral message contains at least one link to the website that is behind the campaign. Another example of viral marketing is the placing of affiliate links in e-books. The e-book is then either given away free or marketed at a huge “discount”. Part of the packaged includes a “re-branding” offer that allows others to market the products under their own name. Of course, the e-books come with links back to the main product website. As part of the re-branding package, affiliates may replace the links in the book with their own affiliate code so that they can earn commissions from sales generated via the books that they give away or sell. As more and more people take up the re-branding offer they spread the word about the e-book in the hope of earning affiliate commissions and so the message about the product spreads like a virus through the Internet.
Another aim of a well planned viral marketing campaign will be to build a mailing list and database of the target market. In order to do that, anybody wishing to access the e-book or website is first required to register their name and email address. Thus, a good viral marketing campaign achieves two results – a widely advertised product and a massively expanded customer mailing list that can be advertised to again and again.
It should be noted, however, that the success of a viral marketing campaign depends on the quality of the e-book or software that is being distributed. The agent of the campaign, whether it is an e-book or an online game or free resource, needs to offer some compelling and well constructed content, something the value of which is immediately obvious and which makes people eager to pass it on to their respective networks. It has also been found that the inclusion of a request to pass the product on to friends, and an easy method for doing so – a simple form or email link – will increase the success of the campaign.
A recent example that I was motivated to pass on was a mini “crazy golf” game that was fun to play. I was drawn into the game, had a good time playing it. As a result, I was keen to pass it on to my golfing friends to see how they would fare on the crazy golf fairway. Even so, I might not have passed it on if there had not been a link built into the site.
If you are not up to creating a game, writing and giving away a free e-book is something that anybody can do if they have the time. For people in a hurry, however, there are a large number of sources that provide hundreds of good e-books for this purpose. One that I would recommend is called Viral Marketing Giveaway 9. It is designed for people who either want to start online businesses or want to grow the businesses they have by harnessing the potential of viral marketing without having to write their own e-book.
By: David Hurley is the webmaster of Grasp-The-Nettle.com, and writes articles on Internet marketing strategies. For more information about Viral Marketing Giveaway 9
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