In the last 10 years, the digital landscape has changed significantly. People are phasing out desktop and laptop computers to search the web and interact with content. Instead, they are picking up their mobile phones and tablets. What’s more, digital technology is cheaper today than it’s ever been before; there are virtually no boundaries on how, when and where people can interact with content.

The introduction of social media has caused a change how viral marketing is used and the speed at which information is spread and users interact.[35] This has prompted many companies to use social media as a way to market themselves and their products, with Elsamari Botha and Mignon Reyneke stating that viral messages are "playing an increasingly important role in influencing and shifting public opinion on corporate reputations, brands, and products as well as political parties and public personalities to name but a few."[35]
Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website.
Probably the largest and best known online affiliate program is the Amazon Affiliate program. You can see below that they have changed the name of the program to “amazon associates” because the word affiliate has earned a nasty reputation over time. This is primarily due to the tactics that individuals will deploy in order to earn cash when referring a product they don’t use.
For instance, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has demographic data that suggests individuals between the ages of 18 and 33 are the most likely to use mobile Internet technology like smartphones and tablets, while the “Gen-X” demographic of individuals who are in their 30’s and 40’s are far more likely to seek out information through their laptop and desktop computers.(See also Targeted Marketing)
So maybe you're not at the point you can afford to pay Hilary Duff to refer your product, however there are plenty of other influencers out there with small, although still huge audiences you can work with. We touched on influencer marketing in this post and this post, but influencer marketing can be as easy as reaching out to a popular blogger, YouTuber, or Instagramer and asking if they do sponsored postings or if they would like your product for a review. 
According to a paper by Duncan Watts and colleagues entitled: "Everyone's an influencer",[66] 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.
Dropbox, a leading online file storage company implemented a referral marketing program for its subscribers in 2009. In referral marketing program, those who signed up and those who referred got free space. Within a year, referral accounted for more than 35% of the new business for Dropbox. There are several examples from industry all over the world that have employed referral marketing –AT&T gives customers an opportunity to earn up to $575 per year through referrals.
“It’s easy for an agency to double their revenue by becoming full-service. But Hanapin’s goal isn’t to double what we make from each client; our goal is to double what clients make from us. We do this by solving pressing problems with a unique blend of people and technology. This focus allows us to stay ahead of industry changes and drive goal-crushing results for complex businesses.”

It’s very easy to imagine Oglaf saying to Daelus, “Ay, Daelus, your chainmail is bespoiled. Go to Balthazar the Blacksmith, and tell him I sent ye.” The blacksmith says “Oh, you’re a friend of Oglaf? Fantastic! Here’s a discount!” The next time Oglaf drops by the smith’s, Balthazar says “Business is booming thanks to you, Oglaf!” and gives him a sweet new axe, on the house. Everybody’s better off for it.


Let’s say that you’re running a company that specializes in shoes. Your customer base knows that you’re a shoe expert but also values your input on other high quality products — like handbags. Maybe your customers have asked you about handbags, and you find yourself recommending the same options over and over again. As a shoe vendor, you’re acting as a marketer for the handbag company. 

A truly viral product emerged from targeting a truly viral problem in the digital age, known as attention deficit disorder. Allowing people globally to channel their nervousness into an entertaining handheld device has allowed for the viral spread of Fidget Spinners. The products modest beginnings spread virally through school children and later through to adults. We started seeing fidget spinners in social media, memes with fidget spinners, fidget spinners distracting people while crossing the street, and of course, fidget spinners in the impulse purchase section of your local supermarket. This little product achieved a viral marketing status through providing a ‘solution’ to a viral problem and bringing about a world full of fidgetty temptation.
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
Online banner advertising began in the early 1990s as page owners sought additional revenue streams to support their content. Commercial online service Prodigy displayed banners at the bottom of the screen to promote Sears products. The first clickable web ad was sold by Global Network Navigator in 1993 to a Silicon Valley law firm.[16] In 1994, web banner advertising became mainstream when HotWired, the online component of Wired Magazine, sold banner ads to AT&T and other companies. The first AT&T ad on HotWired had a 44% click-through rate, and instead of directing clickers to AT&T's website, the ad linked to an online tour of seven of the world's most acclaimed art museums.[17][18]
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
The campaign became viral because it could connect to the audience emotionally. People could relate to the concept of the video. The idea was original, and the content was enticing without pushing the products. The ad encouraged social conversation and sensitivity around the beauty of a woman. It empowered women, evoking feelings of warmth, joy, and confidence. Empowerment is a powerful tool, which can enhance the brand image of your company. So build an uplifting relationship with your audience.
Amazon Associates – while not strictly an affiliate network (Amazon both maintains the program and sells the products offered there), it is worth a separate mention for the sheer scope of its offers and operations. AA was one of the pioneering affiliate programs, created in 1996 to enable affiliates to advertise millions of offers from the Amazon e-commerce platform. Advertisers can earn 2-10% commissions on referrals, depending on the type of product they are promoting. It is worth keeping in mind that there are different Amazon Associate programs based on geographical locations.
Ice Bucket Challenge only asked participants to pour a bucket of ice-cold water and donate. The objective was kept simple and clear, and challengers were not required to put in much effort. It is important for you to keep your message direct and simple as customers don’t have the time and patience to go through a lot of content to grasp the crux of your message.
There is a heap of sales clutter on the Internet that is actively annoying and repelling your customers. Don’t let your brand be that guy – instead, your video should be centred around the story and not the sale. Remember: the same rules that apply for written content marketing apply for video marketing – concentrate on the value you’re providing for your customers.
[1] Terminology geekery: It would be cool if we could all agree to use a common language to describe this process, with appropriate signifiers. When a Referrer (Alice) refers something to a Referee (Bob). It would make life a lot easier. This is going to take some time though, because referral programs aren’t completely ubiquitous… yet. Also, because the term “referee” is most commonly used in sporting contexts. It’s not unimaginable, though, that the term “Referee” may eventually be accepted as a signifier of the person who’s being referred to a product or service. Time will tell. At ReferralCandy, we use the terms Advocate and Friend respectively– they’re not perfect, but they make sense and are easier to use.

Regular retailers selling a specific product rarely have the time and/or energy to build their own referral solutions. A customized in-house referral program is likely to be far down the chain of priorities. Before you even think about building your own referral program (which requires technical expertise), you need to figure out how to get your online payments processing in order, your inventory in order, etc. (See: When is Referral Marketing NOT for you?)
As opposed to static messaging, chat advertising refers to real time messages dropped to users on certain sites. This is done by the usage of live chat software or tracking applications installed within certain websites with the operating personnel behind the site often dropping adverts on the traffic surfing around the sites. In reality this is a subset of the email advertising but different because of its time window.
Online reviews, then, have become another form of internet marketing that small businesses can't afford to ignore. While many small businesses think that they can't do anything about online reviews, that's not true. Just by actively encouraging customers to post reviews about their experience small businesses can weight online reviews positively. Sixty-eight percent of consumers left a local business review when asked. So assuming a business's products or services are not subpar, unfair negative reviews will get buried by reviews by happier customers.
1% conversion rate might be the average, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t excel with ingenious strategy and persistence. In less than two years, Jason Stone generated over $7 million in affiliate sales, harnessing the marketing potential of Instagram. Now, Mr. Stone is not the average marketer because he has vast experience in visual media. However, the key the stunning figures @Millionair_Mentor commands lies in his strategic approach. He promotes only to people who are statistically likely to be interested in the product he has to offer. That’s why it is crucial to join affiliate marketing platforms that match the interest of your audience.
Not long ago, reach of the average reach of a typical consumer was limited. For the most part it was contained to the number of people they saw in person each day or talked to on the phone. In this day and age though, the average consumers' reach is much larger and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Some consumers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.
Email marketing, done correctly, is an excellent way to re-engage site visitors. But, your email marketing can’t be spammy. First, you’ll start getting filtered out by major email providers (like Google) if multiple recipients report your mailing as spam. Second, you’ll only aggravate potential repeat customers if you fill up their inbox with content they don’t find useful.
Don’t make the mistake to wait for all the good testimonials to magically come to you out of the blue sky. People are busy and they have other things on their minds so even if they were very happy with their purchasing experience from you, they won’t think to send you their testimonial unless you ask. So don’t be afraid of asking. If you did a good job and they are happy clients, they will be willing to help you.
Choose a niche. As defined by the Business Dictionary, a niche is a “small but profitable segment of a market, suitable for focused attention by a marketer”. In other words, a market niche is large enough to be monetizable (enough members to make it worth wile targeting) – and small enough to be described by just a couple of common parameters, such as age, interests, tech usage, habits, etc.
Referral marketing produces the same effect, but is initiated and directed by a business. There's usually some form of incentive or reward offered for customers to refer other people. For example, DIRECTV customers who refer a friend that signs up for their service receive $100 in bill credit—and the newly referred customer also receives a $100 credit.
Conversion rate optimization is all about testing. Many companies get too bogged down in design and what they think looks best and will convert. At the end of the day, you don’t know until you test. At IMI, we have the tools, technology, and expertise to not only build well-optimized web pages but to test them once they go live. Our conversion rate optimization can not only save our client’s money but generate millions in revenue.
"Jim, thanks for the great work. You and your team have been great and we are very happy with the results. Because of this, I wanted to give you a testimonial that you can share. On a nice spring day about a year ago, our site took a nose dive in the rankings on some of our most valuable keywords. I franticly begun searching SEO forums for the best people and ways to get us back to the top and I came a across Jim and his team. Jim was one of the most highly recommended link building Guru's out there, so I called Ninjas. To my surprise they couldn't take my money right away because they were busy working on other client accounts. They were very polite and explained that if they were to take my money that would have meant they could not spend the time they needed to spend on their client's accounts. Right there I knew these guys were for real. Biting my nails and pulling my hair, I patiently waited for two months so they could start working on my account and boy was I soooooo glad that I did. I finally got to speak with Jim, who is an awesome guy with a great sense of humor. I could say the same thing about my account manager and all of the Ninja team. After this meeting the work begun and the rest is history. I would highly recommend Jim Boykin and his team to anyone, even though part of me wants to keep them to myself. However I know they would not take on more than they can handle, unless they know they can put in the time needed to deliver results." Eric K.
Takes advantage of other resources. The most creative viral marketing plans use other resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on other websites. Authors who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on other web pages. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. Now someone else’s newsprint or web page is relaying your marketing message. Someone else’s resources are depleted rather than your own.

Courses in consumer psychology help professionals understand how their target market thinks, and what makes them most likely to buy. This helps marketers choose the best rewards and incentives for referral programs. When it comes to getting the word out about referral marketing, the skills learned in media strategy and market research courses can strengthen the ability to reach customers effectively.
For example, digital purchases and physical product orders are treated differently. In general, any order that a customer places within 24 hours of reaching Amazon through one of your links is counted towards your commission. And, if they add something to their cart during this period, as long as they checkout within 89 days of their initial click through, you’ll receive credit for the completed transaction.

Murphy has grown the affiliate channel to represent 11 percent of her overall revenue. She hopes that she will be able to grow that number to 20 percent. What she likes most about the affiliate channel is that it is performance based — instead of paying for ad placements and hoping that they work, she pays a 12 percent commission on actual sales generated. The program tracks sales based on a 365-day cookie, which means that affiliates earn commissions on repeat purchases that occur within one year of the initial referral.
Reward Variety – The type of rewards you offer your users is a crucial element to the performance of your program. If you can offer multiple types of rewards you can help satisfy different referral behavior. Look at how Istockphoto structures their referral program. They understand that power users have a different motivation to refer than their casual users so they designed their program to satisfy both types of users.
In the BigCommerce affiliate program, you receive a 200% bounty per referral and $1,500 per Enterprise referral, with no cap on commissions. Plus, the more referrals you drive through the program, the higher your commission tier will go. BigCommerce uses an industry leading 90-day cookie, so you will receive credit for up to three months for the referrals you generate. Also, there are no obligations or minimum commitments to join the program.
Again, consider the appropriateness of each of these suggestions, based on your program design. If you run a popular ecommerce brand with an engaged base of referrers, or if you’re a company like IBM with a formal partners program, investing in your program’s participants makes sense. If you don’t have a formal referral marketing program, or if you handle referral requests on a personalized basis, it doesn’t.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
Another disadvantage is that even an individual or small group of people can harm image of an established brand. For instance Dopplegnager is a term that is used to disapprove an image about a certain brand that is spread by anti-brand activists, bloggers, and opinion leaders. The word Doppelganger is a combination of two German words Doppel (double) and Ganger (walker), thus it means double walker or as in English it is said alter ego. Generally brand creates images for itself to emotionally appeal to their customers. However some would disagree with this image and make alterations to this image and present in funny or cynical way, hence distorting the brand image, hence creating a Doppelganger image, blog or content (Rindfleisch, 2016).
Twenty years ago, the reach of an average person was relatively small; for the most part, referrals were made face to face or over the phone. Today, with social media and review websites, the average person’s audience is enormous. They can reach hundreds if not thousands of friends and acquaintances in a matter of minutes with a simple Facebook post, Yelp review, or other public-facing review.
If you can afford to partner with a major influencer, go for it. You can ask the influencer either to promote your product via a slight nod or a more overt push. However, if budget is limited, don’t neglect the reach of micro-influencers. An influencer with 6,000 followers can be more beneficial (and much more affordable) than one with 100,000 if she’s a better fit with your target market.
There are numerous ways that advertisers can be overcharged for their advertising. For example, click fraud occurs when a publisher or third parties click (manually or through automated means) on a CPC ad with no legitimate buying intent.[80] For example, click fraud can occur when a competitor clicks on ads to deplete its rival's advertising budget, or when publishers attempt to manufacture revenue.[80]
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