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Using Viral Marketing To Promote Your Website  By Jane M Dawson

A lot has been said and heard about "Word of Mouth" over the Internet. But what has not been fully explored is the "Word of Mouse." The Internet has connected millions of people around the world in a cost-effective manner. Almost anyone that has anything worth saying is sure to be heard. Let's begin with an anecdote that you can easily verify for yourself.

This is about the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter," which is a theme park based on the famous Harry Potter fiction book series. You would expect a grand opening accompanied with millions of dollars of media spend. After all, that is how it is usually done. But the CEO of this amusement park had something else in mind. She just told it to seven avid Harry Potter fans who were handpicked through the Internet. Soon the word spread like wild fire into a huge community of fans, and instead of paying the media to cover it, they just made the word of "mouse" so intense that media had to cover it. Soon it was on talk shows and news channels all over the world and the company estimated that at least 3.5 million people got exposed to this news.

Mind numbing, isn't it? This is called "viral marketing" and, if effectively done, it turns that 7 into 3.5 million. What's more, it hardly takes any money. Compare and contrast it with the marketing spends that you may already be undertaking and see what is possible. A best marketer is the one who makes the best return for their money. And viral marketing is a tool that you cannot afford to ignore.


What Is Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing acknowledges the fact that a well-connected network of people is as powerful, if not more than, traditional media. But at the same time, it is virtually free to use. Likeminded people will always discuss what interests them. So all you have to do is interest them.


What Medium Is Used In Transmitting The Communication Message?

Almost anything that can transmit information from one user to another will qualify as viral marketing provided the users spread the message and it is not paid for. So this is the list of the most commonly used media:

: They are not only cost effective, but stimulate a lot of the user's senses. When they can see, hear and experience for themselves, they will be a lot more interested.

: By content, here we are referring to the written content which is posted on the Internet. It generally takes some effort on the part of the user, but a reasonably designed one will get some attention, too.

E-mails have a tendency to create chains. Chains are self replicating and, before you know it, will grow in your weekly sales chart.

Podcasts have been gaining a lot of popularity. This is emerging as a very important medium and it can be easily accessed with people on the move.


If It Is So Great And So Easy, How Is It That Not Many Organizations Use It?

Here is where the mystery lies. A lot of them do. So why are you not aware, because you never get the message from the organization but from a user, so you never realized that the message may have been originally generated by an organization? This adds all the more credibility to the message. Some examples:

Hotmail owes a large part of its user base to its pre-existing user base.

Harley Davidson Motorcycles has experienced fast growth since the formed the motorcycle group where likeminded users meet and go on bike rides, spreading the word to even more potential users.


But Does It Work Now, Especially In A Domain As Competitive As Internet Marketing?

You bet it does. Most social networking organizations have grown manifold because of viral marketing. It is contemporary and is working wonders for people who know how to use the powers effectively. Regarding the domain, it doesn't really matter what you are selling. What matters is the fact that if you are satisfying any need of the customer better than others, be it emotional or physiological, you can harness the word of mouse to amplify the effects.


It's Impossible That Viral Marketing Campaigns Will Succeed 100% Of The Time. No Marketing Campaign Ever Does!

Sure, they do not succeed 100 percent of the time. And true that a large proportion of them have been unsuccessful. And this is one thing you should keep in mind when you tend to avoid unscrupulous agencies that claim or guarantee 100 percent success.

If you are preparing for a crucial communication, which has a lot of importance for your organization, don't put your hand in something you are not very experienced with. As you develop and expertise, with time you will feel more and more confident and will start executing it effortlessly to gain success.


So What Is It That Makes A Campaign Successful While Others Fail?

A successful campaign basically has two levels. They are an interesting message and an interested audience. Now, bear in mind that in these cases the audience comes before the message. Any message that you think about sending to the customers must begin with their needs and wants. Let's have a closer look.


Interested Audience: Either the audience should already be immensely loyal to the brand or you should be able to grab their attention by fulfilling a latent need, which you think you have identified and can serve better than any competitor.


Interesting Content: Interesting content is the backdrop of any major viral campaign. You need something which captivates the audience's attention so much that they give it space in their personal time.

Before you develop a message, take a good hard look at the facts and the judgments and make sure that you place the argument in a position where you are stronger than the other. Choose your battleground carefully. Success lies not in fighting battles the right way but fighting the right battles.


What If I Don't Have Either A Good Market Share Or Interesting News?

Viral marketing is not for you. In fact, you should shift the focus of your business from communication to value generation. There has to be something different about you. If you are selling the same products, at the same price, then there is a meek chance that you will succeed out of the ordinary. Chances are you will make equal profits, and the equal keeps falling as newer participants walk in.


What Can I Expect From Viral Marketing?

  • Increased Brand Awareness: This should be the central focus of your campaign.

  • Increased Sales: The sales rise slowly before they grow really fast. This has to do more with the way the word spreads around. As more and more people come to know about it, the sales will gradually rise.

  • Increased Customer Loyalty: This is the biggest benefit that arises out of viral marketing. Your product ceases to be your product only. It becomes the customer's product also. It is this pinnacle of success that very few companies are able to achieve.

  • Low Acquisition Costs: Sooner or later you will realize that you have a lot of customers which you can attribute to the "word of mouse" and that you barely paid anything to acquire them. Ironically these are also your most loyal customers, because in the viral marketing process, a change of belief happens and they make a decision to switch over to you only when they are thoroughly convinced that your organization is worth it.

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