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]
"Convert" videos may include a webinar filled with tactical advice, product demos sent via email, landing page promotional videos, case studies, or more in-depth explainer and how-to videos. For example, while an "attract" video might provide a quick tip for nailing a sales pitch, a "convert" video could be an animated explainer video that breaks down the inbound sales methodology.
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.
Trust is the foundation of conversions and sales. But building trust should be a goal on its own. The whole concept of content marketing is based on trust and creating long-term relationships. Stop selling and let the people come to you by providing them interesting and useful information. I couldn’t have said it better than Mark Schaefer, the Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions:
A successful customer referral program can become the lifeblood of your business, but it won’t do anything if it’s not backed by the proper resources. The program should be strategically planned out, regularly measured, and managed on an ongoing basis. When you invest in your program, you can see unimaginable growth through this marketing channel (just look at the ROI of referral marketing by different industries). You can’t achieve success if you’re treating your referral program as an afterthought. Successful programs need structure and commitment from within your company. For this reason, many brands choose automated and streamlined platforms to ensure ease and satisfaction from both a consumer and company perspective.
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. 

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.
Network marketers have long understood the power of these human networks, both the strong networks as well as the weaker networked relationships. People on the Internet develop networks of relationships, too. They collect email addresses and favorite website URLs. Affiliate programs exploit such networks, as do permission email lists. Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.
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It’s simple: the more positive experiences the buyer reads, the more inclined they are to make a purchase. By adding your products to review and lifestyle affiliate sites, you‘ll be found organically for terms that they rank for, compete better with giants like Amazon, and will get more recommendations and exposure relatively quickly. Social proof is powerful:
In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.[14]
“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.”
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics,[35] LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum,[36] and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[37] Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[38]

In 2014, ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Paris set up wifi hotspots in areas of Paris that did not have wifi connections. But to use these special hotspots, you had to select the Scrabble network, create your best word, and earn free wifi minutes based on your score. Like regular Scrabble, players could earn more points with longer words. And if you shared your words on Facebook, you got to double your score (and thus your wifi minutes).


It is increasingly advantageous for companies to use social media platforms to connect with their customers and create these dialogues and discussions. The potential reach of social media is indicated by the fact that in 2015, each month the Facebook app had more than 126 million average unique users and YouTube had over 97 million average unique users.[27]
The fact is, very few people know what goes into making a viral marketing campaign successful until it starts to spread. There are, however, some brands, who have understood what makes the audience tick. In fact, there are some consistent elements in such campaigns, which brands can follow. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at the top three examples of viral marketing campaigns over the past years. There is a lot you can potentially learn from them as they exactly know how to resonate with the target audiences.
Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.

Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.
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:
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