There is no magic formula to make a viral marketing campaign successful but I will give you some tips that will ensure yours is planned properly.
Each viral campaign is unique but follow a basic structure:
- Know your audience. You need to identify what motivates your customers. It really is worth taking the time to research and analyse any existing marketing information you have on them. Different audiences will respond differently to particular campaigns – for example a youth market may want games or apps to download whereas a business customer may want a “how to” manual.
- Identify your offer. Clarify the item, message, experience, promotion or product that you will include in an email or website that will motivate your customers to recommend it to their contacts. Viral marketing is most effective when you are providing people with something unique. Our clients have used expert tips, resources that aid decision making, funny content, interactive material, competitions, financial incentives, free products or trials, applications and gift certificates. This list is not conclusive and your choice of offer will depend on your audience, campaign and available budget. Some clients choose to run complex viral campaigns involving commission-based promotions and interactive games.
- Incentivise. This is popular for rewarding customers for forwarding the message to a limited number of people. You can offer gift vouchers, competition entry or discount vouchers for example. Alternatively you can give them a small percentage of the sales generated from their referrals. If you use your customers as your distribution partners, you can control the amount of commission you spend on acquiring new customers but if you are using a financial incentive you need to put measure in place to prevent spam-like distribution of the message (not only potentially damaging to your reputation but almost impossible to manage).
- Make it easy. Your marketing message will only spread virally if you make it easy for customers to recommend it. Groupon is a great example of this who offer a deal a day with set terms – you get an email, if you like Today’s Deal you click to buy and if enough people want to buy the deal is on. It expires at midnight the same day. Simple formula and simple to recommend – customers can earn monetary discounts redeemable on future deals purchased for recommending others. Make sure your email, download, logo or content is easy to replicate or transfer so that users can pass it on – there are several referral tools to choose from on the internet.
- Adopt best practice. If your campaign objective is to capture data like email addresses for use in future marketing campaigns, then make sure you state that this is your intention so those providing their details can expect you to contact them again. You must ensure that your campaign complies with anti-spam regulations.
- Monitor the campaign. You can access information such as number of referrals, click-throughs, conversions etc and also identify where customers have come from which will allow you to plan your next campaign more accurately. In addition by calculating metrics and plotting against the campaign cost you can see which activities deliver the best return on investment for you.
- Be prepared. Make sure that your system can cope with the increased demand that your viral campaign can generate. If you are directing people to a particular web page or you want them to call a dedicated number, ensure the resources are there. Similarly, if you are offering a free gift, product trial or service, be prepared for the demand to exceed your guesstimates.
For help pulling together your own viral marketing campaigns, please contact me.