Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Viral Marketing Key Success Factors

Viral Marketing Key Success Factors


(This article is the third part of a series of posts dedicated to Viral Marketing. You can find the previous two post here:

From Mass Marketing to Viral Marketing and The Viral Marketing Mindset)


After having a clear idea of where Viral Marketing stands today my main concern was to try to answer the following questions:

  • What elements are needed to create a succesfull Viral Marketing Campaign ?
  • What do we need to take into account when trying to make Viral Marketing Hit?

Before getting into detail, let’s analyze a bit what are the characteristics that differentiate Viral Marketing from other forms of Marketing.

Like Word of Mouth Marketing (one type of Viral Marketing), Viral Marketing campaigns are:

1. Very difficult to control: The outcome is less certain and controllable than with regular mass media campaigns. For example, if you launch a Radio campaign, you control in which radio shows you want to put your ad on; you know the size of the audience of each show and you have historical data on average responses to radio advertising. More or less the only uncertainty is how good will the Ad itself be and how the audience will react to it, but the marketer is in control of all the other variables. In Viral Marketing you don’t control the size of the audience you want to reach, the channels where it’ll be transmitted nor the message itself.

2. Cheaper (…If successful). That’s a big “If”… but if you manage to get a Hit, your cost per reaching your potential market, compared to what it would have cost you to reach the same amount of people by traditional means will be much much lower.

3. The message will be distorted along the way: Since you relay on others to spread your message, there’s a high risk that the original message will mutate and be transformed along the way. This is the price you have to pay for not being the one directly transmitting the marketing message.

Now that we have a clear picture of Viral Marketing, let’s go straight to the point and answer What elements are needed to create a successful Viral Marketing campaign? What do we need to take into account when trying to make Viral Marketing Hit? …

In my opinion, if you’re considering to invest in a Viral Marketing campaign this is what you should take into account to increase your chances of success

  1. Incentive system: Take your time to carefully design the incentive system of the campaign. This is where you have to invest more planning time. The simple question you have to answer Why on earth will someone pass my marketing message to someone else? And the answer should be 100% convincing. If the incentive it’s just fun, your message better be hilarious, otherwise people won’t pass it on considering the tons of messages a person receives a day. If your incentive is a sample, a lottery, discount or money, better be very clear on the procedures and as simple as possible.
  2. Choose carefully your channel: Nowadays the most probable outcome is that if you want to viralize a marketing message, it’ll be done through multiple channels. People choose their own channels and they can choose Twitter, Blogs, Social Bookms, Social Networks, e-mailing, YouTube, etc. Nevertheless, you get to choose the original or preferred channel according to your marketing objectives. It’s not the same to base your campaign on an e-mail than on Twitter. Another important point is that your channel has to be closely linked with the incentive system you put in place. Example: If you have a Viral Campaign based on a YouTube video… How will you incentivize people for watching the video? How will you motivate people to share your video with their friends?
  3. Opinion leaders: If the incentive system is what determines the total audience you might reach, Opinion Leaders determine the Speed at which your message will be spread. You can use Celebrities, influential blogger/twitterers, reputed journalist, or opinion leaders in your target segment to spread your message much faster than if you spread it only through regular people.
  4. Monitor and take action along the way: We mentioned above that one of the key characteristics of Viral Marketing is very difficult to control. Most people interpret this as if you had no control at all over your campaign and can’t do nothing once your campaign is launched. That’s completely wrong. The risk of your campaign going the wrong way is high and that’s exactly the reason why you should monitor closely what’s going on. This will give you time to correct things before they get out of control, clarify points of your message that are confusing, respond directly to your market or… if it’s needed cutting off the campaign.

I’m sure there might be many more other important factors for a successful Viral Marketing campaing… I’d love to hear them. Comments are open !



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