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How To Unleash Your Own Viral Marketing Campaign

By Michael Low
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2004

One of the e-marketing topics least written about is viral marketing. Yet it is one of the most successful e-marketing methods used today!

In this article, I will discuss the various forms of viral marketing (VM) being used online. I will also provide examples of each form of VM and how you can use it.

VM #1. Word-Of-Mouth

The most common implementation of word-of-mouth VM are the "Tell A Friend" or "Recommend This To A Friend" forms on most websites.

Usage rate differs from site to site. For some entertainment sites, the usage of tell-a-friend forms can be very high. Yet for other large content sites, the usage may be insignificant.

The usage rate depends a lot on the kind of content being recommended and the user group.

However this form of VM can be cheaply and quickly implemented and its efficacy can be enhanced with a contest or lucky draw.

There are a number of free tell-a-friend service providers online. For a list of them, go to (

VM #2. Pass-It-On

This is a popular activity for most email users - be it corporate, home or academic account holders.

When we receive attachments of funny pictures or cool Flash games, we usually forward them to friends. And they in turn forward the attachments to their contacts.

The snowball effect can create a distribution channel easily reaching hundreds of people within a few hours - from just one original email.

Here's how you can implement pass-it-on VM:

Create a fun game using Macromedia Flash and send it out to contacts in your address book. Include your website URL within the Flash program and invite people to click to your site.

Also make it available for download on your website .. and watch it spread virally!

If you want to track statistics such as the rate of infection, you can always include a 1x1 GIF or other e-tracking mechanism.

For pass-it-on VM to succeed, you have to create something that people will want to share with others.

Other pass-it-on VM media include PowerPoint slides, fun graphics and small utility programs. Check out some pass-it-on VM examples at (

VM #3. Service-based

The most successful service-based VM pioneer is Hotmail. They started with little promotion but grew phenomenally using a little tag line that they included at the bottom of every email sent out. The tag line included a short teaser and their website URL.

Now imagine the number of emails that are sent out daily and how those emails help Hotmail get more new users - which in turn result in even more emails sent out!

The next example is Blue Mountain e-greeting cards. When someone sends an e-card using Blue Mountain, the recipient has to go to Blue Mountain's site to view it - bringing in another potential user who will send out more e-cards.

One more example: BraveNet Web Services. BraveNet provides webmasters with tools such as guestbooks, forums, polls and email forms.

When people use a BraveNet guestbook on a member site, they are exposed to BraveNet's advertisements - inviting them to sign up for a BraveNet service.

If you own a service-based site, you should seriously consider implementing VM to grow your site. Start brainstorming for ideas!

Which Type Of VM Should You Implement?

Choose one that complements the nature of your business and website. If you sell designer handbags, try doing a fun Flash game that quiz users on different brands of designer handbags. Be bold, creative and original!

To read more about viral marketing, go to (

To search for marketing resources related to VM, go to (

About the Author
Michael Low is a widely-published marketing consultant. He provides top-notch press release (PR) services at affordable rates. Check out his full-range of PR services at (


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