When I started our Internet marketing company 20 years ago, it was just me and a dream to grow. Today, we have 48 employees, all in-house, in Clifton Park, New York. The average employee has been with us for 6.21 years, and 10 of us have been here for more than 10 years. We have 298 years of combined work experience here. Compared to our Ninja army, I can’t believe that there’s a more experienced or tighter team of SEOs in the world. If you’re shopping around for a SEO company, know that IMN wins on experience and knowledge by far.
I grant permission for every reader to reproduce on your website the article you are now reading — “The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing.” But copy this article only, without any alteration whatsoever. Include the copyright statement, too, please. If you have a marketing or small business website, it’ll provide great content and help your visitors learn important strategies. (Note: I am granting permission to host on your website this article AND NO OTHERS. Reprinting or hosting other Practical Ecommerce articles without express written permission is illegal, immoral, and a violation of our copyright.)
By using Internet platforms, businesses can create competitive advantage through various means. To reach the maximum potential of digital marketing, firms use social media as its main tool to create a channel of information. Through this a business can create a system in which they are able to pinpoint behavioral patterns of clients and feedback on their needs.[30] This means of content has shown to have a larger impingement on those who have a long-standing relationship with the firm and with consumers who are relatively active social media users. Relative to this, creating a social media page will further increase relation quality between new consumers and existing consumers as well as consistent brand reinforcement therefore improving brand awareness resulting in a possible rise for consumers up the Brand Awareness Pyramid.[31] Although there may be inconstancy with product images;[32] maintaining a successful social media presence requires a business to be consistent in interactions through creating a two way feed of information; firms consider their content based on the feedback received through this channel, this is a result of the environment being dynamic due to the global nature of the internet.[29] Effective use of digital marketing can result in relatively lowered costs in relation to traditional means of marketing; Lowered external service costs, advertising costs, promotion costs, processing costs, interface design costs and control costs.[32]
Affiliate marketing is an ideal solution for those looking to gain control of their own income by focusing on performance-based revenue options. Working in tandem with a seller, a motivated affiliate marketer will be able to achieve a passive income from the comfort of their home without worrying about producing their own product or service. Although the success of the job does depend on the affiliate’s marketing skills, it can prove to be an effective way to meet your income goals as either a primary career or a profitable second job.
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.
Trust is a second critical factor for referral marketing. Studies show that customers almost always trust “real people’s” opinions over generic ads and branded sales pitches. If you know and like a person, you’re likely to trust their opinions—especially when compared to a salesperson working on commission. Take TripAdvisor as an example. Even if you don’t know the person reviewing a hotel or restaurant, you’re more likely to trust their review than you would the business’s website or a billboard promoting the company.

The second reason behind this shift in video marketing strategy is the way in which platforms have evolved in response to this new consumer behavior. As YouTube’s product manager Nicky Rettke explained earlier this year, “Historically, video advertising hasn’t been actionable, optimizable, or measurable against direct response objectives. The only way someone could ‘act’ on a video was to watch it.” That changed in 2018. On YouTube, for example, new video formats like TrueView for action allow marketers to start optimizing for a specific user action, like signing up for a service or buying a product.
As a store gets larger and more popular, running an informal referral program becomes increasingly impossible, and the cost of painstakingly keeping track of referral figures (who referred who, how much did we reward them) increases. This can distract from a business’s core value proposition. You don’t want to be spending time micromanaging your customer referral program, you want to be spending your time building great products.
In this new world of digital transparency brands have to be very thoughtful in how they engage with current and potential customers. Consumers have an endless amount of data at their fingertips especially through social media channels, rating and review sites, blogs, and more. Unless brands actively engage in these conversations they lose the opportunity for helping guide their brand message and addressing customer concerns.
Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay per click advertising when the first pay-per-click search engines emerged during the end of the 1990s. Later in 2000 Google launched its pay per click service, Google AdWords, which is responsible for the widespread use and acceptance of pay per click as an advertising channel. An increasing number of merchants engaged in pay per click advertising, either directly or via a search marketing agency, and realized that this space was already occupied by their affiliates. Although this situation alone created advertising channel conflicts and debates between advertisers and affiliates, the largest issue concerned affiliates bidding on advertisers names, brands, and trademarks.[39] Several advertisers began to adjust their affiliate program terms to prohibit their affiliates from bidding on those type of keywords. Some advertisers, however, did and still do embrace this behavior, going so far as to allow, or even encourage, affiliates to bid on any term, including the advertiser's trademarks.
Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.
Because users have different operating systems, web browsers[84] and computer hardware (including mobile devices and different screen sizes), online ads may appear to users differently from how the advertiser intended, or the ads may not display properly at all. A 2012 comScore study revealed that, on average, 31% of ads were not "in-view" when rendered, meaning they never had an opportunity to be seen.[85] Rich media ads create even greater compatibility problems, as some developers may use competing (and exclusive) software to render the ads (see e.g. Comparison of HTML 5 and Flash).

Trust is a second critical factor for referral marketing. Studies show that customers almost always trust “real people’s” opinions over generic ads and branded sales pitches. If you know and like a person, you’re likely to trust their opinions—especially when compared to a salesperson working on commission. Take TripAdvisor as an example. Even if you don’t know the person reviewing a hotel or restaurant, you’re more likely to trust their review than you would the business’s website or a billboard promoting the company.


Establishment of customer exclusivity: A list of customers and customer's details should be kept on a database for follow up and selected customers can be sent selected offers and promotions of deals related to the customer's previous buyer behaviour. This is effective in digital marketing as it allows organisations to build up loyalty over email.[22]
Getting a client to personally recommend a product to their friends based on their first-hand experience is the ideal referral. But another new avenue for referrals has been opened thanks to social media. When someone retweets your brand or likes it’s Facebook post, that person is signaling to their hundreds of friends that they endorse your brand. A few of these friends might view that content and potentially endorse it to thousands more. This is how good content has the potential to become viral.
YouTube SEO is search engine optimization to help people find your videos more easily. With millions of videos on the platform, you need to use video SEO to make your videos stand out. To optimize videos effectively, it’s important to do keyword research and to use those keywords in your video title, description, and tags. If people find and click your video, that will improve its rank. Other aspects of YouTube SEO include viewing time, comments and shares.

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?)
Using an omni-channel strategy is becoming increasingly important for enterprises who must adapt to the changing expectations of consumers who want ever-more sophisticated offerings throughout the purchasing journey. Retailers are increasingly focusing on their online presence, including online shops that operate alongside existing store-based outlets. The "endless aisle" within the retail space can lead consumers to purchase products online that fit their needs while retailers do not have to carry the inventory within the physical location of the store. Solely Internet-based retailers are also entering the market; some are establishing corresponding store-based outlets to provide personal services, professional help, and tangible experiences with their products.[24]

Single or Double-sided Rewards – A common practice in referral programs is to only give out a reward to the sender of the referral. We believe that this is not the right way to approach referral marketing. If you don’t reward both parties you are changing the overall motivation a user has to make a referral to their network. Double-sided programs give rewards to both the sender and the recipient. The even reward structure helps motivate users who are not looking to profit off of their personal network.
Now, more than ever, consumers are highly cautious about sharing their information – especially online. Make your customer referral program more attractive by being upfront and honest about the entire process. Let program members know how their information will be used, how they can keep track of the process and exactly what they’ll get in return. The more information you share about your program, the more at ease your customers will feel and the more likely they’ll be to sign on. And on the flip-side, collecting and analyzing data from customer referrals is critical for optimizing future rollouts and campaign iterations. You’re planning to enable your customers to share your brand with others, and in return, they’re going to enable you to better understand consumer behavior surrounding your products and services. The more you understand about your customer base and the leads they generate, the more efficiently you can hone marketing strategies, gain customer insight, and grow revenue. Don’t let this data slip away without tapping into its full potential. Before you launch a program, decide how you will collect, store, and examine the intel and data points you retrieve.
As mentioned earlier, technology and the internet allows for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service for customers as well as enabling them to shop online at any hour of that day or night, not just when the shops are over and across the whole world. This is a huge advantage for retailers to use it and direct customers from the store to its online store. It has also opened up an opportunity for companies to only be online based rather than having an outlet or store due to the popularity and capabilities of digital marketing.
The American media critic Douglas Rushkoff was the first to coin the term Viral Marketing in his book ‘Media Virus‘ from 1994. Social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, play an important role in Viral Marketing. Platforms where information can be shared are particularly suited for this type of marketing. The goal is to spread the marketing message like a viral epidemic. That makes Viral Marketing a relatively cheap way to reach a large audience.
But in a survey (of 1,000 digital consumers) powered by Toluna, a consumer insights company, 53 percent answered "No" to the question, "Have you watched any brand advertising videos via social media networks in the past three months?" But at the same time, nearly 47 percent answered "Yes," and they almost certainly represent the billions of views across multiple video platforms of branded video tracked by Unmetric.
With brands using the Internet space to reach their target customers; digital marketing has become a beneficial career option as well. At present, companies are more into hiring individuals familiar in implementing digital marketing strategies and this has led the stream to become a preferred choice amongst individuals inspiring institutes to come up and offer professional courses in Digital Marketing.
There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.
Affiliates may mistakenly promote your brand or product in a way you don’t like if they aren’t given affiliate guidelines. Make your affiliates aware of your brand mission, voice, and tone. You should also give specific instructions on how your branding and company logo should be displayed. Consider asking to see the creative before it’s published. You can provide a welcome email to your affiliates with a background on your program, your most successful products, and ideas on how to promote you. You can also incorporate online monitoring tools to keep an eye on affiliate content.
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 isn’t an exact formula to make your viral marketing campaign a success. In fact, going viral is one of the most difficult things for marketers. It isn’t possible to perfectly predict what can make or break a viral marketing campaign. However, the above tips should certainly be on your radar to improve engagement and increase your chances of becoming viral.

The first step is creating a list of potential affiliates in a simple Excel file or Google Sheet. The top columns should include the website’s URL, contact email address, date of contact, and any notes you have on the opportunity. Keep your spreadsheet simple. To hunt for the correct contact email address, leverage the information in your affiliate network, use an online tool like Email Hunter, or even find their contact information on LinkedIn.
A browser extension is a plug-in that extends the functionality of a web browser. Some extensions are authored using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Most modern web browsers have a whole slew of third-party extensions available for download. In recent years, there has been a constant rise in the number of malicious browser extensions flooding the web. Malicious browser extensions will often appear to be legitimate as they seem to originate from vendor websites and come with glowing customer reviews.[32] In the case of affiliate marketing, these malicious extensions are often used to redirect a user’s browser to send fake clicks to websites that are supposedly part of legitimate affiliate marketing programs. Typically, users are completely unaware this is happening other than their browser performance slowing down. Websites end up paying for fake traffic number, and users are unwitting participants in these ad schemes.
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.

Online marketing includes most, if not also all, of the marketing strategies included in online marketing. We have ads for people typing keywords in Bing Ads or Google Search, including searches performed on YouTube as well. Then we have the massive Display Network from Google, including the Audience Network for Bing Ads (MSN, EDGE, etc.), among other networks serving text, image, and video ads.
Designed to create a huge amount of traffic at all times, these sites focus on building an audience of millions. These websites promote products to their massive audience through the use of banners and contextual affiliate links. This method offers superior exposure and improves conversion rates, resulting in a top-notch revenue for both the seller and the affiliate.
Scammers can take advantage of consumers' difficulties verifying an online persona's identity,[98]:1 leading to artifices like phishing (where scam emails look identical to those from a well-known brand owner)[99] and confidence schemes like the Nigerian "419" scam.[100][101][102] The Internet Crime Complaint Center received 289,874 complaints in 2012, totaling over half a billion dollars in losses, most of which originated with scam ads.[103][104]

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)
An important step is to get out and talk to prospective publishers and business partners. Do they participate in affiliate programs already? What has the yield been in terms of performance? What are the typical revshares that ad networks are taking? What are typical conversion rates? What would be the incentive for publishers and business partners to promote your products and services?
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.

According to HubSpot, 80% of customers remember a video they’ve watched in the last month. One of the biggest strengths of video marketing is that it’s highly visual and auditory, which means it’s easier for many users to remember than text-based content. When customers remember your video marketing content, they also remember your brand, which translates to more sales and leads for you. What’s more, customers typically like to share videos they enjoy, which can expand your online reach.
In fact, the biggest challenges of video marketing in 2017 are strategic: How to build a solid and effective video marketing strategy, how to create content that people want to consume, and how to create engaging videos that get shared. Additionally, video content marketers need to have a solid understanding of metrics, and how they indicate a video’s success and areas for improvement.
Viral marketing works famously on the Internet because instant communication is easy and inexpensive. The digital format makes copying simple. From a marketing standpoint, you must simplify your marketing message so it can be transmitted easily and without degradation. Short is better. The classic is: “Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com.” The message is compelling, compressed, and copied at the bottom of every free email message.
Sixty-five percent of business decision-makers visit a marketer’s website after viewing a branded video. It’s clear that quality and relevant video marketing content can dramatically improve your site’s SEO by driving people to your homepage. Additionally, video can enhance your conversion rates: HubSpot reports that 39% of business decision-makers contact a vendor after viewing a branded video.

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.


What does a virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.
Single or Double-sided Rewards – A common practice in referral programs is to only give out a reward to the sender of the referral. We believe that this is not the right way to approach referral marketing. If you don’t reward both parties you are changing the overall motivation a user has to make a referral to their network. Double-sided programs give rewards to both the sender and the recipient. The even reward structure helps motivate users who are not looking to profit off of their personal network.
Viral marketing includes any strategy that encourages the individual to expand the marketing message to others, creating the potential for its exponential growth in terms of availability. Like viruses, such marketing strategies use an advantage of the fast multiplication to deliver the message to thousands or millions of people.
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]
Are you launching a new product or a service? Create a video to show how it works. 98% of users say they’ve watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. That is why 45% of businesses who use video marketing said that they have an explainer video on their home page. Of those businesses, 83% said that their homepage explainer video was effective.

Old Spice’s viral video marketing campaign first aired during 2010’s Superbowl weekend. It went on to increase the company’s revenue by 107%. The campaign had 40 million views. It increased Old Spice’s Twitter followers by 2,700%. It lifted Facebook interaction by 800%. All these viewers turned the Old Spice YouTube channel into the all-time most viewed channel.003
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
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.
Content marketing: Writing articles or blog posts related to your business and submitting them to be published on other websites is another great way to reach your target market for free. Although mass distribution of a single article across the web doesn't have the same SEO benefits it once had, submitting exclusive articles to a specific site can still reap many rewards including SEO, boosting your credibility, and reaching a market that might not otherwise know about you. Because writing can be time-consuming, you may want to consider how you can repurpose what you write into other forms of content or with new angles for other audiences.
"Jim and Jen, Thanks for your time and an awesome meeting. Jim,You have done so much in the past few years with your company, Your office space, your employees, their commitment are evidence that you have instilled your positive traits into them and your business. You should be proud. Jen, You are 'on it'!! It is uplifting seeing someone your age being so intense and into their work like you are. I can tell you're the type who wakes up with a smile and positive attitude. Michelle and I enjoyed the dialog and the advice. I really appreciate all you have done for me over the years and continue to do." Marcus L.
This wartime propaganda campaign by the British Government discouraged talking about sensitive material where it could be overheard by spies. It was devised to prevent morale sapping rumours from spreading during the 2nd World War. Inversely viral in a way, but intended to start a movement and encourage a set of behaviours that could be further amplified by the public at-large.
The inbound methodology is the marketing and sales approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. Each video you create should acknowledge your audience’s challenges and provide a solution. Looking at the big picture, this content guides consumers through the journey of becoming aware of, evaluating, and purchasing your product or service.
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]

The use of Viral Marketing is relatively simple. It’s about the fact that people pick up and pass on the marketing message on the internet and social media. That’s why it’s important to first come up with a marketing campaign that’s not just inspirational, but also easy to share via for instance Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn. The marketing message needs to grab people’s attention and generate interest right away. It’s also a good idea to choose a specific target group that is almost certain to pass the message on in their network. That’s why it’s wise to choose a marketing message that’s easy to share with friends, fans or followers. That way, the message can spread across the internet like an oil spill, and even influence other groups via the target group.
Our leadership philosophy is to both lead and be led. We derive guidance and strength from every team-member in the company no matter what rank or experience level. We invest a great deal of time and resources in recruiting and developing the best talent in the industry. Every team member at IMI is encouraged to be an emerging leader and take on responsibility outside of their normal role. That is what makes IMI great and why we continue to flourish.
The disadvantages to consider with viral marketing include the nuisance factor. Due to the large amount of email people receive daily, viral marketing messages may be viewed as spam. Another consideration is negative marketing buzz. A message may not be construed as intended, and could be discussed in a negative manner. Viral marketing can also be hard to measure. 

When asking for referrals, most often companies forget the target group they are looking at. Every friend or colleague of your customer may not be a prospect and get a long list of prospects, spending time on them may not bring the desired result. In such cases, the company can outline a client profile- desired age group, income, interests, industry, gender, hobbies so that results would be better.

There is debate on the origination and the popularization of the specific term viral marketing, though some of the earliest uses of the current term are attributed to the Harvard Business School graduate Tim Draper and faculty member Jeffrey Rayport. The term was later popularized by Rayport in the 1996 Fast Company article "The Virus of Marketing",[12] and Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1997 to describe Hotmail's practice of appending advertising to outgoing mail from their users.[13] An earlier attestation of the term is found in PC User magazine in 1989, but with a somewhat differing meaning.[14][15]
×