Viral marketing, viral advertising or marketing buzz is the marketing technique that uses pre-existing techniques to increase in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing goals through viral processes that are self-replicating and spread like viruses. Viral marketing induces one user to pass on the marketing message to other users, replicating it and making its visibility and effect wider and far reached. Hotmail, now owned by Microsoft is a good example of viral marketing. It promotes its services and advertisements in every user’s e-mail notes.
The basis of viral marketing is the spread of information by word of mouth. But the growth of the internet has given it many routes to replicate and spread – making viral marketing also now, a part of internet marketing. Viral marketing may be in the form of video clips, text messages, images, interactive flash games, e-books, e-mails, websites and much more.
Viral marketing is a customer-focused approach that supplies something of value for free to its customer in order to encourage them to spread the message as far as possible. Consumers receive a link from social media network or an advertisement and spread it through sending e-mails or posting it on personal blogs, social media marketing profiles and many more. It is an attractive option for smaller business and companies because it is cheaper than its alternatives.
The emergence of viral marketing was due to the notion that ideas spread quickly even to distant places. In early times the term ‘viral marketing’ was coined by two professors from Harvard Business School.
The effective working of viral marketing depends on three basic criteria –“giving the right message to the right person and in the right environment”.
- Messengers – These are the people who are responsible for transforming a normal message into a viral cycle. Market mavens, social hubs, salespeople etc. are some such people who amplify the message, make it more persuasive and transmit it to people at large.
- Message – Viral marketing depends on the spread of messages by people to advertise the business. Thus the content should be unique, interesting, memorable and engaging so that it induces the reader to share it widely.
- Environment – The environment plays an important role in the spread of the message. The content and timing of launch must be suitable according to the present environment.
Types of viral marketing
- Pass long – It is a short note usually sent as a footer to other internet users.
- Buzz marketing – It uses the help of famous people to advertise the product or joins a controversy to it.
- Incentive viral – It takes the help of users and rewards them for actions.
- Undercover marketing –When this method is applied, people are not aware of that they are being marketed.
- User managed database – Clients generate certain database themselves with the help of service providers.
These are some of the common ideas to do viral marketing as a part of your online marketing strategy.