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Sick of Hearing about Viral Marketing?

Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 09:44

Sept. 17, 2008

If you've tried your hand at online marketing, you've probably heard of and utilized a strategy known as viral marketing, which is simply a term describing the instantaneous spread of something through multiple internet channels, such as email, video sites, and blogs, etc.

You may have even Googled "How to excel at viral marketing" or some other question relating to the topic and found that, while you often find characteristics describing how viral marketing functions, you never can hone in on what precisely constitutes a successful virally marketed ad, product or service.

That's because there is no answer to the question. And now, people are starting to tear down the hyperbolic proclamations that made 'viral marketing' such a hot topic.

But where does that leave you, the online marketer? What should you create?

As a consumer, I am drawn to certain things. For example, one piece of online marketing that consistently works on me is an email newsletter from a small clothing and fashion boutique to which I subscribe. Rain or shine, good day or bad day, pay day or broke day, I will open every single email marketing campaign in my inbox from this vendor, even without intending to purchase something from their site. Why?

Well, perhaps because a friend of mine from college invited me to subscribe. But more than that, I find myself drawn to the irresistible pictures of the latest fashions, to the glamour and style, to the back-stories of designers featured on the site, to the beautiful photography and a kind of magical transference of a sense of art, which all give me the impression of something I can't find anywhere else.

That's the reason I keep coming back. It isn't the email advertising. It isn't the fact that I have an addiction to online shopping (although, that may also be a factor). It's the fact that something in my inbox made me feel something long enough for me to want more of it.

Some email campaigns I get from other clothing brands offer promotions; they alert me of sales and free items, in a predictable and perfunctory way. By now, I am well aware of all the sales and promotions they keep bombarding me with that I don't care to open another email alerting me to the newest sale. It is no longer anything special.

And in this example lays secrets to good online marketing, in particular online email marketing:

  1. Create an of-the-moment specialness that can't be duplicated or repeated.

  2. Whether it is art, comedy, or something else, tap into a specific consumer-niche and give them what they can't find elsewhere.

  3. Change up your material or format; always evolve. If you've said it before, why say it again?

  4. Use multiple channels, but don't underestimate email. It's still the most personal means of communication online and the easiest way to filter out spam-the place where you can connect with consumers the most. Email very often is the common denominator among young, old, and other differing demographics.

Notice that I said 'good online marketing' and not 'good viral marketing.' Good marketing works both online and offline. Like a real virus, the 'viral' part will happen or not. But it's best not to obsess over it.

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