What are some methods for viral marketing

Viral Marketing


If you delve deeper into the matter of the communication and sales policy of marketing, you come across viral marketing. The concept includes various techniques and methods that are intended to induce customers to pass on advertising communication about a product or service of their own. It aims to encourage consumers to communicate with one another through word of mouth (also known as word of mouth marketing, the personal transfer of information about products and services).

With this method, the message can spread like a virus efficiently and quickly and should enable an exponential distribution of advertising information and thus also increase brand awareness.

Particularly in today's world, the age of the internet and social media, this method has increased in effectiveness because the speed of information exchange is far greater than it used to be and consumers can communicate with one another very quickly. For example, the content of the social news service Reddit can quickly go viral due to the large number of users who actively post and discuss texts and links from around 190 countries. In addition, opinion leaders can be specifically addressed in a viral marketing campaign, as they have a large network and can therefore quickly reach a large number of other potential customers.

Areas of application [edit]

  • B2C (business to consumer)

Viral marketing works especially in areas in which there is a constant exchange of communication. This category includes, for example, email users, social networks, chats and discussion forums. Platforms of this kind enable the constant exchange of experiences and recommendations. However, customers who are in competition with others will not support this form of marketing very much. An online shop that benefits as a user from excellent search engine optimization software, for example, will not recommend it to others in order not to endanger its market position.

  • B2B (business to business)

As mentioned above, it can be assumed that companies do not exchange any information relevant to competition. It should be noted that, for example, people employed in a company are also in numerous other relationships in which an exchange of communication and experience can be advantageous. This category includes professional associations for marketing, controlling or human resources that have members with the intention of making contacts or exchanging experiences.

In principle, however, the target group in which the targeted message is communicated will be smaller. The challenge is that the content of the message is useful for the target group, but does not affect the competitive interests of individual companies.

Success factors [edit]

In order to generate success, the information must be of some use to both the sender and the recipient. For example, free services, products or useful and entertaining information would be particularly suitable. In addition, there is the use of motivators. Without the necessary motivators, there is no willingness to recommend something to others. However, too many motivators at once can trigger defensive reactions in customers, which can lead to deliberate manipulation of the system by the customer.

Ease of use when forwarding newsletters or sharing content can increase the conversion rate. Longer forms that require personal data to be entered and are therefore time-consuming reduce willingness. Last but not least, the company should allow for a high level of participation when using viral marketing measures. The offer, whether a service or a product, must be scalable. For example, if you offer a free download on the Internet, the server provided must be able to withstand a high number of accesses.

The classic Hotmail example [edit]

The pioneer among viral marketing examples is the free email service www.hotmail.com, which has a simple strategy. When it was founded in 1996, it was agreed to include the following attachment at the end of every email sent via Hotmail:

Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

After just 1 1/2 years, Hotmail had 12 million subscribers.[1] Traditional print publications would have around 100,000 subscribers within this period. In addition, from launch to its 12 millionth user, Hotmail spent less than $ 0.5 million on advertising and marketing. The competitor “Juno” put in around 20 million US dollars and gained only a fraction of subscribers compared to Hotmail. Some time later, an Indian joined the service and added 100,000 members within three weeks.[2]

Examples of viral marketing

A viral video can spread very quickly if it's emotional, funny, innovative, or in any way poignant. It is then shared by consumers across a wide variety of platforms. The effects are not always scalable, but it is clear that the reach of the partially hidden advertising message increases suddenly and the image of the company, the project or the campaign can be significantly shaped. The following is a small selection of very successful videos that have garnered a lot of attention.

Volkswagen Darth Vader [edit]

The Volkswagen spot has reached more than 60,600,000 impressions to date, in which a little Darth Vader tries out his magical powers on a Passat that his father starts with the remote control.

Video: Volkswagen Darth Vader

Evian babies [edit]

This Evian spot received over 77,600,000 impressions. It should make the positive effects of water on the human body observable. The main role is played by skating, break-dancing babies, whose movements have been cleverly animated.

Video: Evian Babies

T-Mobile Dance

This viral spot, which shows a flash mob dance in Liverpool Street Station, generated more than 39,580,000 impressions. Hundreds of people present record the event directly with their smartphone in order to show it to other people if possible, thus underlining the message “Life is for sharing”.

Video: T-Mobile Dance

Disadvantages [edit]

Due to the current popularity of viral marketing and the associated large number of e-mails that land with potential customers, the probability of rejection even with useful information is very high. In addition, one should not disregard the fact that the mutual forwarding of information and experiences cannot be controlled and that word of mouth of a dissatisfied customer is more extensive than that of a satisfied customer.

References Edit]

  1. ↑ Justin Kirby: A brief history of viral marketing. In: Connected Marketing. Google Books, 2006, pp. 89-90. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  2. ↑ Dagmar Recklies: Viral Marketing. In: www.themanagement.de, February 2001. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.

Web links [edit]