When we say the word virus, what do you think of? Probably that sickness that kept you home from work for a few days last year so you didn’t pass it on to your co-workers. Just like a virus spreads and bounces from person to person, a viral marketing campaign is one that is spread from person to person where everyone impacted by the campaign brings at least one person to conversion for the business.  The conversion might be a sale, a website visit, an email list sign up, or whatever else is important to your business at this time. Wow, sounds like a great, easy way to market your business, hu? Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. Let’s dive into the 3 steps associated with this unique traction channel and figure out what it really takes to create a successful viral marketing campaign.

 

Step 1: Awareness of Your Business

In order for a virus to spread, someone has to be its first victim. This same thing has to happen in viral marketing (except, let’s call them customers instead of victims). In order for your viral marketing campaign to be successful, you need to have early adopters who aware of and interested in your business. 

Here are a few ways to increase awareness of your business:

    • Create great content. From blogging to creating podcasts or infographics, engaging content can help people recognize your brand as topic experts and ultimately who they choose to purchase from.

 

    • Establish partnerships. Working with other businesses (both local and digital) can help you reach a larger audience. Try to promote your products together, host connected giveaways or even just trade social media posts about each other. You can also partner with local non-profits or other organizations that align with the morals of your company. Giving back to your community is a great way to gain positive press.

 

    • Advertising your business. From Google search ads to billboards, there are many new and traditional ways to advertise your business and increase awareness of your business. Check out this video on offline advertising for some more tips and ideas.

 

 

Step 2: Customers Tell Their Friends 

You might have customers who love your product, but if they don’t share with their friends, family and acquaintances then it’s not viral marketing.  

Here are some tips for encouraging your customers to tell their friends:

    • Offer a referral program. Try offering your customers or clients a special deal if they refer a new customer or client to your business. This might just add the small push they need in order to make a recommendation.

 

    • Make it easy and fun to share social media posts and emails. With fun content that can be easily shared with a click of a button, your customers and clients will be quite likely to pass your name on to their friends.

 

    • Branded gear. Let your customers become walking billboards by offering clothing, stickers and other gear with your brand on it.

 

Ask for reviews or customer engagement in social media. Studies show that potential customers trust what other people similar to them so give your current customers an avenue to share their love for your product or service by collecting feedback, reviews and other types of engagement. For example, you know how many grocery stores and fast food services hand you your receipt and say, “fill out the survey on the back for a chance at $1,000?” Well, that is because they know the value of customer satisfaction, quality control, and reviews.

 

 

Step 3: New Customers Participate

Word of mouth can be extremely powerful, but it doesn’t always equal conversions. Once someone hears about your business from their friend they need to decide whether or not they will purchase anything. Here are a few ideas for encouraging new customer participation:

    • New customer discounts. Give your new customers an incentive to purchase right away by offering them a first purchase discount.

 

    • Have an easy to find website and social media pages. Additionally, make sure that information about your product or service is easy to find. While referrals from friends (step 2) help, people often do their own research once they get a referral.

 

    • Moral mission that people want to get behind. Many people like to purchase products and services that do good in their communities and the world. Therefore, if your business has a community-focused mission be sure to share that publically. It might just end up being the factor that creates a conversion for you.

 

    • Create a sense of urgency. Do you have a limited time product? Do you book up quickly? Don’t be afraid to let your customers and potential customers know this to create a sense of urgency. When people feel like there’s a time constraint on their potential purchase they are more likely to purchase than if there isn’t anything pushing them.