Firstly, we covered off a little bit about what viral marketing is – other than one of a long line of buzzphrases that we’re so fond of in this industry of ours. Then we shared a few of my favourite examples of viral content, and finally, we left them with a playbook of sorts that aims to offer some guidance on how to go about creating earth-shattering virals!
Some advertisers offer multi-tier programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-partners. In practical terms, publisher "A" signs up to the program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher "A" attracts publishers "B" and "C" to sign up for the same program using his sign-up code, all future activities performed by publishers "B" and "C" will result in additional commission (at a lower rate) for publisher "A".
Another way companies research what consumers want is through customer surveys. Most of these surveys simply ask the customers what rewards or incentives would be most likely to get them to participate in a referral program. Marketers brainstorm a list of possible rewards to include with surveys, and also ask customers to offer their own alternatives.
I'm going to add in something that has yet to be said. You CANNOT plan to create a viral piece of content or viral marketing effort. The virality of information and messaging is subject DIRECTLY to the audience and how it sees, understands, shares and promotes this content. The major failing of any and all marketing departments and C-suite executives is that they request a viral video or viral image or viral tweet to help build the brand or promote an event. It. DOESN'T. WORK. YOU. CAN'T. DO. IT. If there were a true formula for creating viral content, it would be worth BILLIONS and only the most successful companies would own the patent on the strategy and methodology. Viral just happens and you thank your stars if it happens for your content or message. Now move along. Real marketing takes hard work and thoughtfulness.
When writing this guide, we reached out to the marketer community to collect case studies and learnings about creative marketing strategies. Most of these examples are included throughout the guide, but some didn’t quite fit. So we included those loose ends here, from the perspective of four awesome marketers. What better way to wrap up this guide than with you, our community?
"One client was very happy with his rankings so he sent the entire team to Atlantic City, all expenses paid. Then he said, 'I loved hearing that you all enjoyed the trip. It's great giving back the joy that I get from seeing us going up in rank. I am hoping to present more such rewards for the remarkable job you are continuing to do, and for Jim's brilliant leadership.'" Rafael D.
According to a paper by Duncan Watts and colleagues entitled: "Everyone's an influencer", the most common risk in viral marketing is that of the influencer not passing on the message, which can lead to the failure of the viral marketing campaign. A second risk is that the influencer modifies the content of the message. A third risk is that influencers pass on the wrong message. This can result from a misunderstanding or as a deliberate move.
“It’s an incredibly fast-moving market where technology is becoming increasingly specialized and unless you are really a significant player, and we are very much a medium-sized retailer, it’s impossible to keep on top of it all,” said Kohn. There are certain areas where you have to use third parties. The experience is also becoming increasingly componentised and there are these point solutions, such as search, merchandise where your core solution may not be adequate.”
To scale your outreach efforts, Mediarails is a great affiliate automation tool. It allows you to filter websites by monthly site visitors, social followers, and other metrics to create a list of potential website partners. With this list, you develop an automated recruiting email series based on the website’s vertical. For example, your outbound messaging to a blogger may be different than your messaging to a coupon site.
Don’t make your customers root around your website searching for a referral link. Or even worse, dig through their email to find out how to log into your portal and see their reward status. The harsh reality is people aren’t going to sign up for your referral program if they don’t know about it, so make sure you’re making it visible and prominent. Remember, the entire purpose of the program is to get people to spread the word about your brand, products and/or services. If signing up to do so is difficult and frustrating, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.
The popularity of video also means that more content at the top of the funnel has to be in video format. In B2C it’s almost obvious. But B2B-people are people, too. Video content is more likely to keep the audience in the comfort zone, and they will not engage in system 2 thinking. System 1 autopilot mental state should lead to less critical thinking, less friction, and more conversions.
For some business owners, they’ll think of a website. Others may think of social media, or blogging. In reality, all of these avenues of advertising fall in the category internet marketing and each is like a puzzle piece in a much bigger marketing picture. Unfortunately, for new business owners trying to establish their web presence, there’s a lot of puzzle pieces to manage.
Video is Going 1:1: Given the ease of shooting videos with smartphones, marketers are discovering the value of lead nurturing and customer communications by sending personalized video messages instead of calling or sending email. The notion of using a 1:1 video approach can apply to following-up on an inquiry, offering content, delivering support, simply saying thanks, or practically any application.
In particular, make sure your customer service teams are fully updated on the details of your program, as they’re typically the ones speaking with customers first. In fact, before launching your referral program, make sure to run it by your customer support teams to see if they foresee any customer challenges based on previous complaints. Once the program launches, stay in close communication with your customer support teams to monitor any issues and update your program as needed.
Video and mobile go hand in hand. 90% of consumers watch videos on their mobile. From Q3 of 2013, mobile video views have grown more than 233 percent. YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year. Since people like to watch videos on the go, and the number of smartphone users is growing, your video audience keeps getting bigger and bigger.
One of the best known online customer referral programs is the Dropbox customer referral program. Dropbox rewarded both their existing customers and new customers with additional storage space when a new customer signed up for the service. This referral program had a very low barrier to success, friends just had to signup for a free account, but it was very effective at propagating the company’s freemium product.
Partner programs typically have a much more rigorous admission process than affiliate programs and come with some legal obligations. The admission processes can included paying fees, going through a certification program and/or attending training sessions. Due to this rigorous process partners are able to state officially that they are associated with your company and may be listed on your company website as a way of vouching for them.
In the section on preparing talent, we discussed how to record your script in short sections. If the editor were to stitch these sections together side-by-side, the subject’s face and hands might abruptly switch between clips. This is called a jump cut, and for editors, it poses an interesting challenge. Thankfully, this is where b-roll comes in handy, to mask these jump cuts.
To create an effective DMP, a business first needs to review the marketplace and set 'SMART' (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-Bound) objectives. They can set SMART objectives by reviewing the current benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) of the company and competitors. It is pertinent that the analytics used for the KPIs be customised to the type, objectives, mission and vision of the company.
Writing blog posts is especially effective for providing different opportunities to land on page one of search engines -- for instance, maybe your eyeglass store’s website is on page three of Google for “eyeglasses,” but your “Best Sunglasses of 2018” blog post is on page one, pulling in an impressive amount of traffic (over time, that blog post could also boost your overall website to page one).
Most marketing professionals and e-commerce merchants know about word-of-mouth, i.e. when customers tell their friends about products and services. It is famous for being one of the most powerful forms of marketing, the only problem is that it doesn't happen often enough! Referral marketing is, to put it simply, making a conscious and structured effort to make word-of-mouth happen much more often.
Working with people outside of your usual industry can help you create a buzz for both of your companies. The TV show The Walking Dead teamed up with UC Irvine to create an open online course on what a zombie apocalypse would be like. Zombie lovers ate it up like free brains. Both the show and the university benefitted. HP teamed up with Kiva to allow HP employees an extra $25 to donate to the Kiva project of their choice. Both HP and Kiva gained exposure, while worthy charitable causes received funding.
Monetary or Non-Monetary Incentives – Choosing the reward for your referral program should not be approached simply. You need to understand what your users are motivated by and then offer prizes designed to reward that behavior. For example, they may be more interested in having access to premium features, getting company swag or even funny things like a dancing cat.
A disadvantage of digital advertising is the large amount of competing goods and services that are also using the same digital marketing strategies. For example, when someone searches for a specific product from a specific company online, if a similar company uses targeted advertising online then they can appear on the customer's home page, allowing the customer to look at alternative options for a cheaper price or better quality of the same product or a quicker way of finding what they want online.
Rakuten Marketing is a relatively “smaller” affiliate network with just over 1000 merchants (still a vast choice, though, by any standard). Created in 1997 under the arguably cool name of Buy.com, it was acquired by a Japanese e-commerce behemoth and rebranded as Rakuten in 2010. Advertisers can earn up to 5.5% commission of sales, with the percentage varying by product category.
In 2004, Murphy launched an affiliate marketing program on the ShareASale platform with the goal of developing a diversified revenue stream for her business. At the time, the majority of her web traffic was coming in through search engines. As of 2012, the company still relies on search engines, but they have developed additional (healthy) revenue streams.
Why should you bother with referral marketing? You wouldn’t even think to ask that question if you were running a small brick-and-mortar store on your own: You’d just do it, or lose out to others that did. Nobody had to explain to Balthazar the Blacksmith why he should reward his customers for bringing friends in- the value is self-evident. You make your customers happy, you make their friends happy, you get more business. Win-Win-Win.
Accept this fact. Some viral marketing strategies work better than others. Few work as well as the simple Hotmail strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope to include in your strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain all these elements, but the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy: