The Power Of Viral Marketing

You certainly know by now that the term”viral marketing” is not simply another dot-com cliché. Quite the contrary, it describes the incredible, unmatched power of the internet to market your business by marrying email to the traditional idea of”word-of-mouth.”

Viral marketing, the concept of making each customer a marketer by encouraging word-of-mouth referrals, is indisputably among the most effective mediums of ongoing self-promotion a website can employ. It gives Internet companies a cost effective, proven tool to increase traffic and lower advertising costs.

Hotmail originally broke through the mold by proving that companies no longer had to spend millions on flashy advertising to become the best and biggest in the business. Having a simple viral marketing campaign they effectively cornered the market with a budget that spent money on initial customer acquisition rather than over-the-top Super Bowl advertising.

But, instead of just standing by idly and hoping it happens, you can actually”drive” viral marketing by crafting a very effective viral marketing program targeted to your audience. This report will offer you the key measures to create a viral marketing program that will power your organization to new heights of success, and do it for a fraction of the cost of other promotional campaigns.

-DO EVERYTHING RIGHT FIRST
Your prospective customers now have the capability to tell colleagues, friends and family about great website experiences in greater numbers and far faster than we could have envisioned just a couple of years back. Consider the energy of a dense email address book and a couple of mouse clicks. In actuality, that’s the”fuel” behind viral marketing. The downside is that they can do the same thing regarding bad experiences with the same speed and efficiency. Research indicates that people share bad experiences up to five times more frequently than they tell about good ones. Before you post a website to your own server and invite people to see it, everything ought to be quality tested and in excellent order. While software makers can sometimes get away with shipping buggy software, you can not issue a”patch” to a website which has already turned off your target market because in this marketplace, your audience will go somewhere else, quickly. And instead of gaining customers”geometrically”, you will be losing them exponentially.

-TWO TOOLS: Buttons and Links
There are two basic tools in your viral marketing arsenal: links and buttons. The point is that with just one click on a visitor can share your website with other people, and those people in turn can do the same. The purpose of designing and placing these links and buttons is to make them clear, easy-to-use, and perhaps even rewarding to use. By creating your buttons more obvious, you give the visitor a visual cue to pass your website on to a buddy and take an active part in the creation of your very own viral marketing campaign. You can take a much more active role and move beyond mere suggestion by providing your customers an incentive to pass something on.

-ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
The analysis is pretty straightforward. For your link or buttons to work, you’ve first got to get it in front of your intended audience of potential clients. Second, your potential clients must be able to easily tell what it is that’s been put in front of them. It is that old three-click rule – if you can not find what you want on a website in three clicks, you are going to browse elsewhere, and in the event you can’t see what you’re studying immediately, you are going to tune out. Part of what should be clear to potential customers is what they have to do and exactly how they could do it. Should you fail at any of these components or if you confuse your message with unnecessary complications, you are potential customer is gone, and you’ve blown your potentially 1 shot in a few seconds of their attention.

Your referral tool wants to, at minimum, accomplish seven crucial things:
Stand out from the clutter of the page.
Be immediately understood
Embody a clear call to action.
Give clear directions about how best to act.
Be placed efficiently.
Provide an incentive.
Make the offer simple, clear and clear.

-BUTTON VS. LINK
Button: Eye-catching, can be graphic. Link: Line of blue text. Both workable, both serve their individual function. The tool you choose will depend on two factors: 1) what you want your visitor to share with other people, and 2) the context in which your visitor will be sharing. If you want people to share content items such as articles or white papers, you can use either a button or a link, although a button is more appropriate as it is more attention getting. Moreover, if the circumstance is your website as a whole or a particular item or a service on your website, then a button is preferable since eye-catching buttons can be designed and set by using simple code that will load almost regardless of bandwidth or browser. However, once the context is email, whether mailing to your opt-in list, doing a targeted marketing, or just sending”Thank you” emails when customers submit an order, you’re better off sticking with a hyperlink. Many of your potential clients do not have email that supports HTML, and even if they do, a button can easily get chewed to bits in cyberspace when moving across platforms and programs. A good guideline is website = button and email = connection.

-OPTIMIZE YOUR BUTTON
To maximize the design of your button, return to the seven elements of success. To satisfy the first rule, and to stick out from the clutter of the page, the button has to be small enough to not take up too much above-the-fold property, but not too small that it will not be seen. Simplicity is the key here – your button should have a pleasing and eye-catching design, not one that will give the viewer a headache from Flash overkill or frightening color mixes. If your user does not understand what your aesthetically pleasing button is for, they’re probably not going to use it. This is where you will need to do what your basic teacher always admonished you to do: use your words carefully. Clearly spell out in simple terms what the button is for, why you want your user to use this, and how they go about using it.

-PLACE YOUR BUTTON
Now it is time to set the button, and there are several placement options depending on what you want your customers to share and in what context the thing to be shared appears. Bear in mind that your button is a call to action, so the best placement is at the stage in your process where your customers are the most engaged, and motivated. The number one place for a product referral is the page where the item looks and appears by itself or differentiated from other products. Not only will your visitor not be preoccupied with billing addresses and credit card numbers, you also don’t run the risk of losing a referral chance as you put the button deeper in the ordering process, where the probability of an abandoned shopping cart climbs.
If you provide a referral tool for an article or white paper, the ideal place for the button is at the beginning of the report or white paper for shorter pieces and at both the beginning and the end for pieces over a page in length. Like most surfers don’t read each line of text on each website, it is likely a lot of your visitors will likewise not be reading each and every sentence and paragraph of what they may send on, particularly if they’re doing preliminary research or idly surfing.
Other prime locations for referral buttons, depending upon your website and on your own needs, are your home page, your product or service pages, and on any special offers. Ask yourself what it is you want visitors to your website to pass along and put buttons so. Put the button close to titles, icons, or logos which you expect to capture attention, while also maintaining the essential basics as near the peak of the page as you can. Internet sites, like newspapers have a”fold” (i.e., what is seen before the user needs to scroll) and anything considered of paramount importance should be placed over the fold.

-OPTIMIZE YOUR LINK
A link is a link is a hyperlink. Not exactly lots of design flexibility, is there? The best you can do, and what you should do it if it’s possible, is to create links that take at least a portion of your message. The actual key with hyperlinks is to accompany them with a brief, clear, and compelling message. Additionally, underline or color the text of your connection so that it’s obviously a link.

-PLACE YOUR LINK
Again we return to our earlier point that the call to action works best when the visitor was fully engaged. If you want people to talk about an article or white paper, the connection goes in either the beginning, when they are first interested about the content, and in the end, when they have read it. If it’s in an email, you place it at whatever point in your message that you have given your reader the most powerful incentive to behave. Put it too early in the procedure, (before that special offer or promotion), and it’s like suddenly demanding money from the customer when they’re only halfway through the buying decision procedure. You won’t gain a customer, you’ll lose 1 client with exceptional word-of-mouth potential.

-THE SECRET INGREDIENT
Consider Three Scenarios:
People love your site, but you do not give them any tools, much less any incentive, to discuss it.
People love your site, and you give them an easy and obvious way to share it.
People love your site, and you not only give them an easy and obvious way to talk about it, but you actually reward them for doing this.
Which scenario will lead to the most referrals? Which scenario would you respond to best? Adding referral tools is a terrific beginning, but when you also add an incentive, you have given your customers no reason to not act, and your response rate will skyrocket accordingly. As e-sales guru David Weltman, successful CEO and former IBM adviser, says,”What you get is referrals on gas.”
However, before you begin handing out incentives, consider what your target audience will value and appreciate. To some tech-savvy audience, an offer of a complimentary”Outhouse Construction for Numbskulls” guide will be less compelling than, say, free delivery or entry in a competition to win a brand new monitor.

-IN CONCLUSION
When used properly, nothing can match the power of viral advertising. It’s so effective because it’s based on personal opinion, much the same way an editorial carries more weight than an advertisement because it is coming from a reliable source. You trust your friends and colleagues to send you material that’s interesting, useful, and relevant to you personally. Trust will always be stronger than flashy design and expensive ad campaigns, when information comes from someone you trust, it’s a lot more powerful.
You may employ a team of designers and developers and copywriters to build you a beautiful and functional website. You may pay for content, purchase advertising, and even buy lists of email addresses. The 1 thing you can not purchase when developing your business is the trust of your customers and the recommendations from current customers to potential new ones. That is achieved only with viral marketing.