Viral Marketing Methods

There are several proven viral marketing methods that work well, provided that there is value in the offering. Those include:


So long as we’re talking true value and not a tee-shirt or novelty item, setting up a giveaway, competition or sweepstakes always generates excitement. Especially if you can arrange some type of ongoing or interactive event such as lotteries, or if some portion of the proceeds is being given to charity events that are near to your focus group’s hearts.

One viral campaign that was reasonably successful dealt with a “ticket” to win a new motorcycle being given away with every $100 worth of purchases from a store. Additional chances were sold for $1 a chance directly to the public in addition to the campaign. Flyers and e-mail notices for this event were spread so far and traveled so well, that a yearly giveaway has been done every since. Business for that company has increased tremendously. Had the grand prize been just a jacket or a set of gloves, the response would likely have not been nearly as favorable. The prize value has to be something that really generates excitement and makes the users want to take a risk or chance to get involved, even if all it involves is mentioning the campaign to others.

For good quality viral campaigns, a clever way of setting up such incentives would be to have contestants enter the e-mail addresses of people they think would be interested into your website database. Then, give them an additional entry for every such e-mail that is entered that is valid, (i.e. deliverable) to ensure your winner has not been defrauding you.


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Perhaps an even easier way to provide a value and promote the sharing of gifts is implementing a viral marketing campaign that relies upon you giving away information that your users need or can use. Whether that is a health newsletter, interviews with the stars, tips and techniques for maintaining their motorcycles, taking photographers, or the best places to camp in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t matter. You just need to provide information that is useful and pertinent in a form that is easily distributable and include your advertisements in ways that cannot be easily stripped out.

On your webpage having “E-mail this page” buttons that format and send the information including your links and content are good ways to take advantage of this type of viral marketing. Sharing content with other sites, so long as your links and information are retained, is another way to start the ball rolling. There is a lot of value in site traffic both in advertising revenue and in being able to direct and catch attention to items you personally may have for sale. So why not take advantage of such easy to implement methods of driving traffic your way?


A similar and very effective way to drive interest in products is to allow a stripped-down or time-out version of the product to be utilized in advance. Just be careful that you make very clear any limitations or problems that may occur such as an MP3 encoder that strips off the last 3 seconds of the song before allowing the trial. Nothing will sabotage your efforts so much as allowing a user to cost themselves time or money by not understanding how they should use the product. It is YOU they will blame, and that type of excitement is not what we’re trying to generate here!


If you have a service or interactive site of some kind, allow free access or “trials” on the site. This is how sites like photo-share and U-Tube generate interest. For free you can join and play, and then once you become interested and want to take advantage of more that the sight has to offer, you have the option of buying into the more site’s advanced features. This can be a very good way to drive interest and to create a good viral marketing campaign. Interactive sites often have downloads and forwarding of graphics or free e-mail all of which you can add your taglines to. This captures the attention of the friends which your trial user is interacting with and anyone to whom they forward your information or photos to as well!


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The term that is used when a user decides to take advantage of your services when a forwarded piece of viral marketing data comes across their screen is that they are “opting in” on your offering. However, you need to be careful on both how you consider someone to be truly opting in and how you track and utilize any information that you gather. For instance, if you get their e-mail address as a party who may be interested from an existing user you should not keep and track their data as if they had opted in. Doing so may cause them to become annoyed at any mailings and “junk” e-mail offerings that you then begin to forward to them thinking that they are interested.

Be especially careful about who has really opted in when you offer people a chance to win a prize for every e-mail contact they send you. Some may be tempted to pad out their list with everyone in their contact list, not just people with similar interests. This can cause bad feelings and animosity which, as we have discussed previously, can lead to a negative viral campaign which can be just as deadly as positive programs can be lucrative!

No matter what methods you use to start a campaign, the following insights can help you maintain control and are certain that the message your campaign is sending is the one that you wish to send. Using methods like these to steer your campaign and keep it on track are just as vital to successful campaigns, as is following up with existing members on a regular and valued manner to ensure you have neither lost their interest nor inadvertently annoyed them.

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