The main aim of marketing is to spread awareness about a product or service to the maximum number of people possible. The fastest way to achieve that is through a viral marketing strategy.
Every now and then we hear about a new viral video or viral advertisement that has come up and spreads at speeds faster than light. It’s the kind of content that intrigues people genuinely, peaks their curiosity, and incites enthusiasm.
This type of content can have people talking about your business, brand, or product while also spreading the word about it. Eventually, this is the type of content that can turn an individual that browses the Internet into a customer and then into a loyal brand advocate.
That’s also what statistics suggest. Specifically, viral marketing is found to introduce 56% of browsers to new sites. And while there is no surefire way to achieve virality, there are some basic techniques that one can follow to increase success, and these techniques involve the use of email marketing.
But before we delve deeper into all of that, let’s see…
What is Viral Marketing?
Viral marketing is a marketing strategy that relies mostly on the audience to do the promotion of a product or service. The usual channel for this marketing strategy is social media, while the viral message can then be shared via word of mouth or through digital and mobile networks.
The goal of viral marketing campaigns is to create a message so appealing (or fun) that the audience chooses to share it with their entire social network. Some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns have been launched either on the company website or on social media platforms like YouTube.
Viral marketing is a great way to generate interest in a brand in a short amount of time. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that 80% of online companies leverage viral marketing tools as part of their strategy.
In a nutshell, viral marketing is used in order to increase brand awareness, improve lead generation, and of course increase ROI.
Benefits of a Viral Marketing Strategy
As discussed above, in viral marketing the users themselves do most of the work for you. What this means for you is that you don’t need to spend as much as you would in promoting your campaign.
Viral marketing is a low-cost and low-effort advertising type, allowing even small businesses to succeed as if they had bigger marketing budgets.
Moreover, due to the fact that people do the promotion, viral marketing is inherently non-invasive. Users willingly choose to share and promote the message across, and this leads to a “natural” positive perception of the company. By letting the users spread the word about your company or product, brand trust is created, while a personal connection is built between your company and its audience.
Another important benefit of a viral marketing strategy is the high potential reach. With the right marketing idea at the right time, your message can reach a lot more people than paid advertising would.
Finally, viral marketing is like a ticket to “instant” lead generation. Since you’ll be on everyone’s feed while your message-campaign spreads, more and more people will want to join your newsletter and get to know your brand more.
Now that we’ve established how viral marketing works and the benefits it offers for your brand, let’s go ahead and see how you can infuse your viral marketing strategy with the power of email marketing in 6 easy ways.
#1 Offer Valuable Things for Free
Giving away things of value for free is always a good tactic to stir positive sentiment and get people to notice your brand.
Offer an incentive during the newsletter sign process to encourage users to join your email list, namely a lead magnet. Lead magnets are usually free stuff to get users to give you their email. Fortunately, modern online form builder tools allow you to create eye-catching forms to use on your website, while you can also A/B test different variations and see which works best, thus maximizing their effectiveness.
The whole concept is based on the principle of reciprocity. You give something valuable to your audience and they give you something in return.
At this point, remember that lead magnets do not necessarily need to cost a fortune, or be extremely hard to create. The point is to lure new people into joining your list by giving them something that either solves one of their pain points or helps them achieve something they want.
Here is an example by OfficeVibe giving new users a free checklist to join their mailing list.
Other free gift ideas include discounts, ebooks, white papers, free tools, or templates, depending on your industry and your audience. For B2C, discounts and free products work the best.
#2 Use Giveaways to Increase Your List Size
Giveaways and sweepstakes are an ideal way to grow your list fast and efficiently. Moreover, they create buzz and get people talking about your brand.
What you need to do is entice people to give you their email or phone number in return for a great prize. There are various tools that help you create your giveaway and then automatically import those leads you get into your favorite email or SMS tool.
The next step is to encourage entrants to refer their friends by sharing it, and in this way earn more bonus entries that will increase their chances of winning. This tactic not only generates engagement but also increases the chances of going viral.
By referring their friends, the users themselves unlock new audiences for you and expose your brand to people that you couldn’t otherwise approach directly.
#3 Integrate Social Media with Email Marketing
Integrating social media with email marketing is one of the easiest things to do. And you can actually do it in two simple ways.
First, you can take advantage of social buttons and link them back to your social media profiles. Email marketers usually add their Facebook and Instagram accounts. But it’s perfectly fine to link back to more, provided that you have established your presence on that channel first.
Here’s an example of social media buttons from Ettitude offering five different ways to connect and incentivize potential shoppers to share their style through the hashtag #MyEcoAttitude.
Apart from including social buttons, you can also integrate social media and email by creating a social-infused email campaign.
For example, you can use your most liked Instagram posts to promote your products and lead your audience back to your website where they can shop the look.
If you want something more actionable, you can even incentivize your audience to visit a single social media account and take a specific action.
Here’s how St. Ives uses the above practice to create an interesting Instagram-oriented email campaign to increase engagement between channels:
#4 Create a Viral Email that Gets Shared Through Social Buttons
Being able to understand your target audience and create an email that resonates with them is key to the success of a viral campaign. More specifically, messages that elicit an emotional response from the audience are more likely to get shared.
That’s exactly what Buzzfeed leverages successfully. They employ storytelling to get people involved in a narrative and build anticipation and interest. The point is to create unique and interesting content that users will want to share with their friends.
Another thing to consider here is that it’s useful to take advantage of the wow factor. People are inherently curious about things they see online, so you need to leverage that and pique their curiosity and draw them into your story.
In general, your content needs to be entertaining and not salesy, otherwise, you risk reducing the virality of your campaign.
#5 Implement a referral program
Referral marketing is all about motivating your already engaged customers to incentivize their friends to take action. This call-to-action (CTA) can be a discount or any other offer that will benefit both them and their friends.
To create a successful referral program for your audience you need to follow a few steps:
- Create a converting headline: State the immediate benefits right from the start. For instance, “Refer & earn up to $75.”
- Make your offer easy-to-spot: Create a dedicated referral email campaign with a clear CTA or dedicate a section to your program.
- Explain the benefits of joining the program: Show your existing customers why they should recommend you to their peers.
- Decide on the incentive: Choose whether the incentive will be one-sided or two-sided. To win, you’ll need to make the offer as attractive as possible.
- Use a referral marketing tool: Choose a platform to design and manage your referral program as efficiently as possible. Tools like Referral Rock and ReferralCandy are popular options to do so.
If you want to leverage viral marketing to the fullest, you’ll need to consider all of the above and create an incentive that your audience will fall in love with.
Of course, don’t forget to create an enticing email campaign with a clear CTA to set the viral email marketing gears in motion!
Here’s how Saatchi Art does it:
Viral marketing is an affordable way for companies to reach a wide audience and at the same time generate interest in their brand. By applying email marketing as part of your viral strategy, you are increasing the chances of having a successful viral campaign with the potential to drive more conversions and bring in more revenue.