Viral marketing is a buzzword for promotional messages that spread through social networks. Viral marketing campaigns hinge on finding a catchy medium for a message and then propagating it through different online channels including blogs, microblogs, posts, crowdsourcing and so on. The actual message may be in the form of an advertorial, but is more likely to come in the form of a branded game, video clip, image or other format that can be branded. Generally speaking, the goal of a viral marketing campaign is to raise brand awareness - or mindshare - rather than convert clicks into sales of a specific product.
If your referral program isn’t public facing or it’s difficult to use and share with the click of a button, then you’ll severely limit your ability to drive word-of-mouth and referrals. Also, if you’re requiring customers to manually input a potential referral’s information, good luck. For customers, this annoyance creates a barrier that significantly hinders referral activity.
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]
Study after study has proven that referral marketing is one of the best forms of marketing when it comes to sales and conversions. Simply put, referral marketing, sometimes also called word-of-mouth marketing, is just people purchasing products based on someone else's opinion or influence. It's a powerful marketing channel because people trust the opinions of other people in their lives and people they respect, whether that be family, friends, social media influencers or big stars. 
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)

As referral marketing continues to be a key driver for acquiring new customers, brands are looking for more ways to incentivize existing customers to invite their friends. While traditional online referral marketing programs continue to be fruitful, brands are starting to think outside the box to develop new ways to prompt their customers to refer friends.
Referral marketing is a powerful conversion tactic, as people value “realness” and are more apt to try a product or service that’s recommended by a friend or some other trusted source than something they come across via traditional advertising. Referrals can come from friends, influencers, product reviews, news articles, and testimonials. In order to launch a successful referral campaign, brands must offer compelling incentives so customers want to refer others. They must also make the referral process as easy to use as possible. Additionally, brands must treat their referral program as they would a new product launch and educate both customers and employees on how the program works.
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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.
Word-of-mouth marketing comes free and there is no way to quantify it. However, when companies are confident of their product quality and service, they can as well think of incentivizing those who are willing to spread the good word about your brand or product. When word-of-mouth marketing is given a monetary or some other incentive by the company, it is called Referral Marketing.

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.
Influencer marketing: Important nodes are identified within related communities, known as influencers. This is becoming an important concept in digital targeting. It is possible to reach influencers via paid advertising, such as Facebook Advertising or Google Adwords campaigns, or through sophisticated sCRM (social customer relationship management) software, such as SAP C4C, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage CRM and Salesforce CRM. Many universities now focus, at Masters level, on engagement strategies for influencers.
Cookie stuffing involves placing an affiliate tracking cookie on a website visitor's computer without their knowledge, which will then generate revenue for the person doing the cookie stuffing. This not only generates fraudulent affiliate sales but also has the potential to overwrite other affiliates' cookies, essentially stealing their legitimately earned commissions.
Keeping content quality high – regularly creating and updating original, honest, high-quality content can boost your conversion rates by improving involvement and trust. High-quality content is useful, appealing, shareable and actionable, clear, concise and focused. Adding rich media, such as images, statistics, videos, and infographics will help make it even more engaging. You can read more about this topic in our in-depth guide on content marketing.

The role of marketing director is an important one. They may work in-house for the marketing departments of large organizations, for advertising or marketing firms, or for nonprofits or schools. These professionals are responsible for promoting products or services, and duties include conceptualizing and analyzing marketing strategies, overseeing market research efforts, and tracking demand for products or services.

Also known as a publisher, the affiliate can be either an individual or a company that markets the seller’s product in an appealing way to potential consumers. In other words, the affiliate promotes the product to persuade consumers that it is valuable or beneficial to them and convince them to purchase the product. If the consumer does end up buying the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made.
The expansion of various social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, has contributed to the effectiveness of viral marketing. As users grow, and as the time they spend on social media sites exceeds their time spent emailing, more users are viewing news and forwarding it through their preferred social networks. This requires marketing campaigns to shift focus from more traditional email campaigns to more creative social campaigns.

You’ve launched an amazing product or service. Now what? Now, you need to get the word out. When done well, good PR can be much more effective and less expensive than advertising. Regardless of whether you want to hire a fancy agency or awesome consultant, make sure that you know what you’re doing and what types of ROI to expect. Relationships are the heart and soul of PR. This chapter will teach you how to ignore the noise and focus on substantive, measurable results.
ClickBank was established back in 1998, and this affiliate program primarily focuses on digital information products. It boats a network of over 1.5 million publishers, with an average of 50,000 transactions daily through affiliate sales. It is one of the few networks that offers recurring commissions from advertisers driven by a membership monetization model.
Referral marketing works because consumers trust the opinions of “real people” more than they trust traditional advertising. In fact, Nielsen says that people are four times more likely to buy a product or service when it’s referred by a friend. While referrals usually come from friends and acquaintances, they don’t have to. In fact, influencer marketing is considered a form of referral marketing, as influencers often share their favorite products with followers via organic sharing and sponsored posts. Referral marketing can come from friends, influencers, celebrities, and even online reviews (TripAdvisor and Yelp are good examples of this); again, people trust “real reviews” more than traditional advertising.
Message: Only messages that are both memorable and sufficiently interesting to be passed on to others have the potential to spur a viral marketing phenomenon. Making a message more memorable and interesting or simply more infectious, is often not a matter of major changes but minor adjustments. It should be unique and engaging with a main idea that motivates the recipient to share it widely with friends – a "must-see" element.[22]
If your customers transact with you on a weekly or monthly basis, then it makes sense to incentivize referrals with account credits or discounts towards future purchases. However, if your customers purchase from you less than a few times per year, that reward won’t carry the same weight. In fact, it might send signals that you don’t really understand your customers.
Finally, consider adding intro and outro music. Intro and outro music, or bookends, can serve as a theme for your content. These are a great choice if you don’t need music throughout your entire video. Bookend music can help set the tone for your video, naturally split your content into chapters, and leave your viewers feeling they had a complete experience.
Professional cameras, like DSLRs, give you fine control over the manual settings of shooting video and allow you achieve the shallow depth of field (background out of focus) that people rave about. While they’re primarily used for photography, DSLRs are incredibly small, work great in low light situations, and pair with a wide range of lenses — making them perfect for video. However, DSLRs do require some training (and additional purchases) of lenses.
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.
Once a company knows what its target demographic wants and how they communicate, they begin creating content those people will want to share. The Blair Witch team created websites, message boards, and fake news stories that heightened the horror and mystery of the movie's story. The content encouraged people to look for more information about the story, and even collaborate with their friends in their investigations.
Using influencers in viral marketing provides companies several benefits. It enables companies to spend little time and budget on their marketing communication and brand awareness promotion.[47] For example, Alberto Zanot, in the 2006 FIFA Football World Cup, shared Zinedine Zidane's headbutt against Italy and engaged more than 1.5 million viewers in less than the very first hour. Secondly, it enhances the credibility of messages.[48][49][50][51][52] These trust-based relationships grab the audience's attention, create customers' demand, increase sales and loyalty, or simply drive customers' attitude and behavior.[50][51] In the case of Coke, Millennials changed their mind about the product, from parents' drink to the beverage for teens.[53] It built up Millennials' social needs by 'sharing a Coke' with their friends. This created a deep connection with Gen Y, dramatically increased sales (+11% compared with last year) and market share (+1.6%).[53]
The study found that the referred customers yielded a 25% higher profit margin. This was the case because clients referred friends they thought would be a good fit with this bank. What’s more is that the bank could assume certain similarities between the new clients and their friends. These parallels made it easier for them to identify which products would interest them. The study also found that referred customers were 18% less likely to leave the bank.
You are probably well aware of search engines and how they are used by almost everybody to find information, a product or a service of any type. What you might not understand is how certain websites are ranked at the top of the results and just how much this can benefit a business. Fortunately for businesses, Google has a Keyword Tool that allows you too see how many people both globally and locally search for your particular service or product on average each month. As an example we are going to look at “Window Tinting” in the eyes of a window tints supplier.
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.
The campaign became successful and viral with over 17 million people participating in the challenge worldwide. Many celebrities including Bill Gates, George W. Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Mark Zuckerberg, Rihanna, Tim Cook, Rafael Nadal, and Cristiano Ronaldo took part in the challenge. Below video shows the Ice Bucket Challenge taken by Bill Gates:
To increase your revenue (and affiliate Earnings Per Click), focus on high AOV products. It doesn’t make sense for affiliates to promote a low value product. A 10% commission on $200 is a lot more enticing that a 10% commission on $5. Tell your affiliates which of your high value products to advertise and incorporate these other tips to boost your ecommerce sales.
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