In recent years there has been more and more written about Viral Marketing and why you should be using it to drive traffic to your site. So, what is viral marketing, and why should you care? Is this just another fad that will soon fade away?
In short, viral marketing involves getting other people to willingly spread your message for you. People who like what you have done tell other people, and the message spreads from person to person like a virus. When that happens, it is referred to as your message “going viral.”
It relies heavily on word of mouth advertising; someone sees or reads what you have to offer and tells a couple of their friends. Their friends see or read your message and they tell a couple of their friends, and they tell a couple of their friends, and so on. The number of people who are aware of you and your message increases exponentially. The more people hear about your site, the faster your traffic grows. How large will it grow? There is really no way to tell. The only real limit to the amount of traffic possible is how many people your site host can handle.
Just think about how quickly it could spread. If one person saw your message and told 2 people, who told 2 people, who told 2 people, and it continued, your message would very quickly be in front of thousands of people. If each person just told two other people, look how quickly it can grow:
1 x 2 = 2, 2 x 2 = 4, 4 x 2 = 8, 8 x 2 = 16, 16 x 2 = 32, 32 x 2 = 64, 64 x 2 = 128, 128 x 2 = 256, 256 x 2 = 512, 512 x 2 = 1024
Now just imagine if you started with 100 people spreading your message, or 1,000 people. You can see that it doesn’t take long before hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people are aware of who you are, and better still, are visiting your web site and buying your products or services.
Viral marketing effectively taps into pre-existing social networks that your customers are already using. By creating something that is worth talking about and passing along, you create a “buzz” that spreads across the internet, and traffic floods to your site to see what the buzz is about. Once they are there, if they like what they see, they pass the information along, and the buzz continues to grow.
Word of mouth marketing is by far the most effective way to get word out about your site. People will listen to others that they already know and trust much more readily than they will listen to you. These people do not know you, so why should they trust what you are telling them? After all, you might be likely to say anything in order to make a sale. However, they will listen to a friend or family member, especially if the person spreading the word does not have anything to gain by telling them. It is just a friend passing along a great deal they found, or some useful or interesting information.
You may be thinking that viral marketing techniques are only for the major players with big budgets, and that it can not work for small businesses with small budgets. If that is your thinking, I can assure you, you are wrong. You might not be able to afford to produce the highly polished ads like the big companies, but there are still a lot of opportunities for success. Any business or individual with a message to get out or a service or product to sell can benefit from a well crafted marketing campaign.
There are several reasons that you should be using viral traffic generation techniques to build your business and attract customers to your website.
1) It is a fast, effective way to drive traffic to your site
Like I mentioned above, once the word starts to spread, it can spread very quickly, and there is really no limit to how many people can hear your message. Because your message often comes to someone from a person they already know, it has more credibility than if the message showed up uninvited in an email from someone they do not know.
Once the message starts to spread it picks up size and speed as it goes, like a snowball rolling down a hill. You may start out thinking that your efforts were not very effective, then one morning you open your email to find it full of new orders. When it works, it can work very fast.
2) It can be very inexpensive
Once the word starts to spread, there is not much additional cost. The biggest cost you will face is paying for all the additional traffic to your site. All of the cost and effort of spreading the word about what you have to offer is taken care of by the people spreading the word. More than likely, the biggest expense will be the upfront set up or production costs. Depending on which technique you decide to use. After that initial expense, the cost remaining costs are nominal.
3) It can help shield you from negative comments
One thing to remember is that a negative message can go viral, too. Unfortunately, you are not going to be able to please everyone. If you do enough business, eventually you are going to have someone who is unhappy with you and your business. It only takes one customer that is dissatisfied to put a shadow of doubt in your customer’s minds about whether they should do business with you or not. Once that doubt is there, it is hard to remove it. If people are not happy with the service they received, they are more likely to tell people about it than if they are happy customers.
As unhappy customers start spreading negative messages about you, the word will start to spread, and there is not much you can do to stop it. The more it spreads, the more untrustworthy your business appears. All you can do is have enough of a buffer in place that the negative messages do not overpower the positive messages. If your message goes viral, not only will is send a flood of traffic to your site, but other sites will link to you, and your site will rank higher in the search engines. Your name will also appear on other high ranking sites. If a negative message does start to go around, it will have a much harder time getting out, because your positive message is already so highly ranked that the negative messages can not find their way to the top of the search engine listings.
4) It can find hidden customers
Despite the time and money you spend trying to narrowly define your customers, figuring out who they are, and more importantly, where they are, there will always be people that you have missed. Once your message goes viral, there is no telling where it will end up, or who will see it. Because of the widespread coverage that can occur, people that you had not even considered to be your customers will get a chance to see your message. They will decide whether they are potential customers or not. As word continues to spread about what you are offering, you do not have to worry about finding all the possible niches your customers might be hiding. You do not have to go find them, they will find you.