Top 10 Viral Marketing Mistakes
By Dan Swanson
Are you making these 10 mistakes in your viral marketing campaigns? What to avoid and how to correct these mistakes will boost your viral marketing results.
1. Failing to understand how to make a marketing piece "viral"
Often people create what they call a viral marketing piece when it is nothing more than a brochure and an advertisement. It is way too self serving. It has no possibility of creating buzz. While there is no guaranteed formula for creating a viral marketing piece, there are many things you can do to increase its effectiveness and its viral nature.
2. Failing to make it interesting enough to pass along
Whether or not there are external incentives to encourage the viral spread, if you failed to make the article or e-book interesting enough with high quality content that is useful or entertaining, you couldn't pay them enough to pass it along. If on the other hand it is very useful, high quality or entertaining, it will get passed along with or without any other incentives.
3. Failing to provide incentives to encourage people to pass your message along
While there are many successes where the sender was not rewarded for passing on viral information, it works better if you can provide an incentive. Provide an incentive that you don't have to pay up front. Instead provide a success incentive. If the desired outcome is met then you give them money, commissions, discounts, extended memberships, additional MP3 recordings, more articles, more eBooks, etc. Whatever incentive you decide to use, make sure it is easy to sign up for and easy to collect.
4. Failing to provide an incentive for people to respond to your call to action
The way to sell with a viral marketing piece is to do so at the very end, in the conclusion, in the summary or in the resource box. It doesn't need to be a hard pitch, just an offer for an ethical bribe that will move them to visit your website, call your 800 number or send an email to get whatever you are offering.
Experience has shown that the incentive should be related to your product or service. If you are a law firm, don't offer a chance to win a Corvette or an iPod. Too many unqualified people will sign up and waste your time following up with them. Instead if you are a law firm specializing in Intellectual Property, offer a free e-book on "How you can increase the value of your company with patents and trademarks."
5. Failing to effectively promote their viral campaigns
Because we've heard of some success stories where no promotion was needed, it is easy to fall into the trap that yours too will be one of those. I'm not sure what the statistics are but the vast majority of viral marketing requires promotion to make them successful.
6. Failing to encourage others to pass it along
There is a wonderful piece of wisdom you should apply to viral marketing - "you have not because you ask not." Does your viral marketing ask the reader to pass this along to others? This can be done in the resource box with something very simple like, "If you found this useful, please pass it onto others that might be helped by it too."
If it is a viral article and you have also it published on your website, have a button or link on the page that says "Send to your friends." While it is true the "Send to your friends" button won't make it viral all by itself you never know which "friend" that gets it might decide to promote it to their list of 100,000.
7. Failing to send out anything less than a blockbuster success
While it would be nice to repeat viral marketing successes like Blair Witch, Hotmail, Purple Cow or ICQ those are rare occurrences. Just because your idea falls a bit short of phenomenal doesn't mean it isn't worth doing. Let's say you shoot for exponential viral results and only obtain a moderate success, it is still a success. The fact you got free visitors to come to your site is great.
I love Michael Jordan's quote when he attempted to go into baseball after his wildly successful basketball career. "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying." Even if you think it won't blow away Blair Witch's success, try it anyway.
8. Focusing on a single viral piece rather than a viral process
One thing I've noticed in my business career is that we tend to adopt the John Wayne syndrome, go big or go home. We give it ONE try and if it fails we go home. I don't know of successful business people or successful marketing campaigns that take that approach. Instead of giving it this one shot and then not doing anything after that, create a process for creating, promoting, testing and measuring continual viral marketing efforts.
9. Failing to test and track the results
To be successful you need to experiment with different titles for the article or e-book; test different ethical bribes; try different promotional methods; approach different list owners. Find all of the elements that can be tested in your project, test various combinations and measure the results.
10. Not recognizing it is different from word-of-mouth marketing
I fell in love with word-of-mouth marketing early in my consulting career. After 10 years of consulting I analyzed every project I'd worked on, every client I'd worked for and wrote down the source. To my shock, 95% of all of them came from word-of-mouth. The good news was it was cheap (free). The bad news it was unpredictable and couldn't be controlled on-demand like I needed.
Viral marketing is like word-of-mouth in that one person passes it on to another but typical word-of-mouth comes from one person asking the other if they know how to solve a problem. It is much more reactive than proactive. Viral marketing is proactive. A person who reads a viral article or e-book immediately thinks of 5, 10, 500 or even 1,000 people that should know about this and they send it via email or put it up on their website or post in on their blog. Viral isn't one person coughing in another person's face, it is one person coughing in a crowded room causing it to spread like wildfire.
The concept of Viral marketing is fairly new. It was coined by the guys of Hotmail in around 1996.The Internet was that time in a nascent stage, so people had never heard of a kind of marketing which could spread like virus.Since emails could go very fast and fast and reach millions of people in just afew hours, the concept of viral marketing was born with internet.
Now what the guys at Hotmail did (before they sold themselves to Microsoft) was that they used to offer free mails service to people(at that time even the concept of free email was relatively new)and would advertise its free service in the footers of the mails sent from person to person (something like, Click here to get you FREE Hotmail account).And you guessed rights, with almost zero advertising on their part Hotmail had reached well over millions of members using this concept of free viral marketing.
Viral marketing is called so because as you can understand, it spreads like a virus.A virus duplicates itself with everything that comes into contact with it .Every new contact then becomes a host and can start off the process off on its own leg.
For example suppose I have viral fever and you come in contact with me, then the virus spreads from me to you.Then the virus spreads from you to somebody else who comes in contact with you, and so on and so forth.The concept of viral advertising also works in a similar way(now don't get scared ok?)
Creativity is one good quality a site must possess to lead the race in the cold-blooded competition in the Internet based business race. With so much competition and rivalry going on, every method of marketing must be employed and exploited.
It doesn't matter if you have a knock-em-dead product or an incredibly designed website, if people don't know that you exist, it's a moot point, and you will not make it big. Worst of all, your business could just get slaughtered.
While there are so many tricks and traps being used by so many e-commerce sites today, there are still some great concepts that can help you get an extra boost in the popularity ratings. One of these is the so called Viral Marketing (without the coughing and sneezing.)
While the term Viral easily depicts a virus, a word very much reviled by all computer owners, it is not what it seems. You do not actually use a computer virus to spread your business. It's more like a low-key offer to visit your site or your product sales page woven effectively into extremely useful information that the prospect has asked you to provide. People love it because, frankly, everyone has had enough of all those pop up and pop-under ads and annoying Look at me! tactics. The fact is they close them without even reading what they have to say.
Viral Marketing Overview
Viral Marketing, also known as Viral Advertising, is a marketing technique used to build the public awareness of one.s product or company. It can be in the form of a value-added link that indicates to the reader that, by following this link, there is additional relevant information to be had. It may also be in the form of different types of multimedia that reaches out to the public without actually promoting the product. This type of Viral Marketing may actually be an addictive method that gets a person hooked on your content They then may be obliged (or amused) to actually pass it on, with the product or company advertisement along with it.
In a nutshell, companies depend on the idea that if people like the content of a presented media, they will pass it on to their friends and family. They become your sponsor for that media, such as a cool flash game, a funny video, an amusing story and such. They pass it on to their friends, family and colleagues complete with your company brand or logo, the product.s description or any other content to help promote your company or its product.
Viral marketing has become a popular means of advertising and marketing because it is relatively low cost.
To avoid being tagged as SPAM mail, Viral Marketing counts on the eagerness of one person to pass on the product. If the recipient sees a familiar sender, they won't block it and they will most certainly open it as well. Another set of eyes has just been exposed to your product or company.
Some companies offer incentives such as discounts or rebates when customers help spread their viral marketing. They rely on the number of recipients generated by one customer to determine the value of the incentive that they owe that referring customer. It.s kind of like a pay-per-click program and a business-to-customer spin-off of the traditional affiliate program.
Using Viral Marketing to your advantage
The central and foremost advantage of viral marketing is that you get a lot of publicity and public consciousness about your web site and your company. You get to spawn a flow of traffic that is prospective customers. With a little creativity and imagination, plus some incentives or bonuses, you can reach out to a vast number of people and declare your existence.
Most every site and company is catching on to the value and effectiveness of Viral Marketing and Advertising. Not using it could destroy your business. Along with other schemes and methods in promoting your site, like Search Engine Optimization and such, viral marketing could easily push you ahead in the rating war.
Viral Marketing could be an effective way to get people to know about you and your company. Plus, you get them to pass your advertisement along to their acquaintances. Viral Marketing can also be very low cost, and not investing in it could be utter business suicide. All it takes is a great idea, a good addicting game, a humorous anecdote or one of many ideas that are out there. Use your imagination. Create a gossip or a buzz about your site or your product.
Many movies are promoted by using scandal and gossip to make them more popular. A case in point is the movie "The Blair Witch Project"?
Many big companies have tried viral marketing and have had many huge successes with it.Now it's your turn to use Viral Marketing to work wonders for you. Act now and reap the benefits Viral Marketing will provide for you and your sales stats.