What is Viral Marketing?
If you’ve been marketing online for some time, you should have heard of the term viral marketing.
It is often dubbed as the most effective form of marketing due to its viral and credible nature and not to forget that it often does not cost you much to implement (in fact it can be free!).
So the next question is, “What exactly is viral marketing?”
'Viral Marketing' has been one of the big buzz phrases of the past few years. Many books have been written on the topic, but this phrase is probably coined by the owner of Hotmail around 1996. In the offline world, this is commonly known as 'word of mouth' advertising.
It basically refers to letting people spread the word about your website/products to others when they come into contact with each other.
In other words, when you create something that is so interesting or involving that others feel that their acquaintances must know about it too, they pass it on without any direct involvement on your part.
Viral marketing therefore works on the basis of tapping into the resources of existing social networks that you are in, and the people with whom you have already networked with.
Therefore, as long as you can create something that is worth talking about, you will actively encourage people to pass the message along, and by doing so, will create a buzz about your product that effectively takes on a life of its own.
It is called viral because as you can guess, it spreads like a virus. And just like a virus, viral marketing duplicates itself with everything it comes into contact with and has the ability to spread itself faster than anything.
Microsoft Hotmail is one of the best examples as when every Hotmail user sends a friend an email, the following ad appears:
Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at
In 12 short months, Hotmail built a multi-million dollar business using this simple viral marketing technique.
Why You Need Viral Marketing In Your Business
So now after hearing some introduction about the ruckus over viral marketing, you might be questioning if you really need viral marketing in your business.
Now let me first ask you this question: Do you want traffic to your sites?
I guess if you’re a serious marketer, you’re shouting ‘Of course!’ right now.
Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. Every marketer craves for exposure to their sites, which is why you see a lot of silly marketers do all sorts of funny things just to get them the publicity they so desire.
No doubt, people always say it’s not only about the traffic you receive, but more about the conversion. We’re definitely not going to contest that fact.
But here’s the truth. Without traffic, your business will NEVER survive. Period.
Think about it. Why are those social networking sites being sold for insane amounts of cash? Is it because they convert their visitors into buyers well?
Of course not!
The true value lies in their ability to generate MASSIVE amount of traffic. And when your site is able to generate a huge amount of traffic, you can easily find ways to monetize and convert the traffic into profits.
So with that being said, is viral marketing the best method of driving huge amount of traffic?
Well, first understand that there are basically three legal methods of generating traffic:
1. By buying the traffic
This is pretty straight forward. Methods include pay-per-click advertising, ezine advertising and mainly other paid forms of advertising.
2. By creating the traffic
You can use methods like search engine optimization, social bookmarking, article marketing, blogging etc. to create traffic to your site.
3. By borrowing the traffic of others
And the last method is probably the most powerful method as you simply borrow the traffic by leveraging on other people’s efforts. This includes leveraging on your affiliates’ efforts, striking joint venture etc.
So, guess which category of traffic generation does viral marketing fall under?
You can say it’s a mixture of creating the traffic and borrowing the traffic of others. In short, it gives you huge amount of leverage and has the best potential of driving a massive amount of free traffic without requiring much effort on your part.
So I’m sure by now, you should be convinced about why viral marketing is dubbed as the KING of all marketing and how it works.
And, you should know that the more people you can pass your viral message to, then the quicker it will spread, especially when you are starting from a larger base number of people.
However, do not get the false impression that viral marketing techniques can only work for those with big marketing budgets. Another major attraction of many viral traffic generation tactics is that you do not need expensive advertising campaigns or to spend huge amounts of money on your efforts.
In fact, many of the most effective viral marketing techniques are free, and many others are low-cost.
Moreover, there are many more reasons why you should incorporate viral marketing tactics in your marketing arsenal as quickly as possible.
So let’s explore some of these reasons now…
Six Advantages of Viral Marketing
1. It’s fast & highly effective.
Viral marketing is one of the fastest ways to get huge amount of traffic, period. When your website is viral, it spreads like wild fire.
Just imagine, you told just 5 friends about your website and the next day, your 5 friends each goes on to tell 5 other friends and the cycle continues for each day. Here's the amount of exposure you will get in just 10 days. (taken from Mike Filsaime’s Butterfly Marketing Manuscript)
You – 1
Your Friends – 5
Their Friends – 25
And so on… – 125
Are you starting to see how POWERFUL it can be?
In short, it is like an out-of-control, driverless car that is rolling down a steep hill, increasing speed as it does so. No one is making the car move any faster, it just does so because of the simple laws of science.
Your viral marketing campaign can be exactly the same.
2. It builds credibility.
This is obvious as people tend to trust their friends/relatives more than the best salesperson in the world. So, nothing beats a recommendation from someone you trust. Not even the best sales copy. Hence, viral marketing will help build your credibility greatly.
3. It brings you highly targeted traffic.
Now first understand the difference between targeted and non-targeted traffic.
Non-targeted traffic generally refers to web visitors who are not exactly interested in what your site has to offer. On the other hand, targeted traffic refers to visitors who are generally interested in your sites’ offering.
Of course, you would want to attract targeted traffic as these are the visitors who have the tendency to purchase your products and earn you cash. Else, you’ll just be wasting your efforts.
Viral marketing brings you targeted traffic because the people who visit your website via their friends/acquaintances would be generally interested in what you have to offer before they decide to visit your website.
Hence, they visit with a genuine interest and perhaps with the intention to buy. Thus, this form of traffic is highly invaluable.
4. It gives you leverage.
It allows you to leverage on others' efforts - You are depending on others to spread the word for you. Once you've got your viral campaign up and ready, you are simply leveraging on other people's efforts to gain publicity for your website.
Needless to say, you’re able to gain visitors not only through your efforts, but also the efforts of others. For instance, you can create an eBook and allow others to freely distribute it at no cost at all.
Of course, your website links will still be intact in the eBook. So if your eBook falls into the hands of thousands of even millions of users, your website will be advertised to millions just through other people’s efforts.
So think of the immense potential of viral marketing!
5. It can reach out to new and untapped customers.
No matter how effective your own advertising or promotional campaigns are, there will always be people that slip under your radar. That is, folks who will never see your sales page or hear your sales message directly from you.
However, once you have an army of people (many of whom you have never met or even heard of) pushing your message to the people that they know, then you will inevitably have your message put in front of people who would otherwise never have seen it.
This is particularly relevant if you are marketing and promoting a product within a relatively tight niche market.
6. It is inexpensive and safe.
As mentioned earlier, the techniques involved in viral marketing are generally free or low-cost as most of it relies on other people’s efforts. Hence, you definitely do not need to fork out much money or can even make do without any capital at all.
On top of that, it is one of the safest forms of marketing as you will never be accused of spam or whatsoever, since you’re relying more on other people efforts to do the marketing and publicity for you.
Alright, and the list of advantages goes on really.
I believe by now, you should be more eager to find out how exactly can you start using viral marketing to impact your business and bring it to the next level.
But before we move on to that, let’s just talk about what are some of the essential elements needed for something to go VIRAL – Creating the Buzz.
Creating the Buzz
Now one essential element which cannot be disputed further is for something to be extremely viral, it has to be buzz worthy.
So what does that mean?
Meaning there must be something about it which makes people naturally want to go on telling others about it and for others to pass the message over and over again.
If a product is buzz worthy, no selling will be required to get the product across to millions. Think iPods, Harry Potter, Rubik cubes etc. These mega sellers all had a huge BUZZ around them which got people starting talking about them and building an immense interest amongst millions of people.
-=To be continued in part 2=-