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Viral Marketing ... The gift that keeps on giving


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Nobody can be blamed for getting ideas of swine flu, bird flu or some other infectious disease, yet this oddly named phenomenon is one of the most powerful marketing forces driving any internet enterprise.

 Word of Mouth or Viral Marketing was one of the first companies to use this method of marketing. This free email service provider added a link to the footer of every email, to open a free hotmail account. This contributed to their success of being a major email provider.

Viral marketing is also known as word of mouth marketing, whereby somebody, out of own choice and personal discretion, passes on a referral to friends or people known to them. Facebook, the popular social networking site, uses viral marketing extensively, to connect friends, distribute applications and advertise causes, groups and events. YouTube, the video-viewing platform offers similar functionality, to pass videos between friends and embed videos onto sites.

In similar fashion, articles, pictures and documents are passed from an internet visitor to anybody on their email list, who may find the information interesting or entertaining. Such a referral is beneficial in two ways. Firstly a visitor to a site, who finds the material relevant and compelling, will only pass it on to a friend if he or she knows that such a friend may be like-minded or receptive to such material. Secondly, such a visitor uses own emailing capacities to forward the information.

Email marketing is an exceptionally powerful marketing tool, but is strictly controlled by spam restrictions. Spam, or unsolicited email, is heavily frowned upon by internet hosts, and may, upon the abuse of email services, suspend such accounts. This is put in place to protect the web user from receiving constant and incessant emails from unwanted sources.
In order to receive emails in the form of promotional materials, newsletters and updates, the user must elect to receive them. This forms the very basis of email marketing, as it may be detrimental to engage in spam by emailing to unreceptive addressees.

Relationship-building by automation ... is this a contradiction?

Good customer service is essential in any business and on the internet, building a relationship is equally important.

Where location is a key factor in the brick and mortar world, converting traffic into prospects is considered an integral part in ensuring success online. When a visitor arrives at a site, there is a window period of a matter of seconds to grab his or her attention or the visitor will click out and never return.

Alternatively, even if the site is relevant and appealing enough to capture the visitor’s interest, there are no guarantees that the person will ever return or revisit for an extended period of time. A way to overcome this obstacle is to offer guests a reminder of anything new on your site or promote your events or products, by means of a follow up email.

This is of course entirely unethical, unless the guest clearly indicated his or her willingness to engage in such an interaction. For this to be possible a website must feature a facility for a visitor to enter a small amount of information such as a first name and email address and agree that you may send such emails. This is on condition that you do not share his private information with anybody and that the visitor can opt out at any time.

This process can become almost impossible to do manually if the site is popular enough to have a great number of hits at different times of day and night, especially from around the world. To streamline such emails an autoresponder service is often employed.

An auto-responder service comes in the form of a monthly service done by such a service provider or by installing software and doing it all by yourself with own email facilities. Each has cost implications and considerations of practicality and ease of use.

These services benefit a business in a number of ways and are a great aid in retaining and interacting with visitors and customers.

Advantages of auto-responder services
  • Sequential Auto-responders
  • E-Courses
  • Newsletters
  • Promotional Materials
  • Build Customer Relationships
  • Educate
  • Earn trust
  • Display expertise
  • Gain credibility
  • Promote Products
  • Automation
  • Opt-ins or outs handled automatically
  • Leads captured
  • Tracking
  • Advertisements
  • User actions
  • Split testing
  • Deliverability
  • Spam filtering
  • Better capacity
  • Protection from False Accusations of Spam
  • 3rd party email platform
  • Flexibility and Scalability
  • Can be upgraded
  • Multiple domain names



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