Viral marketing, for those new to the game, is an online marketing method that works in the same way as germs do in the flu season: you pass germs on for free, spreading like a virus. Hence the term ‘viral’.
In internet marketing and ecommerce, viral marketing is all about giving away a free version of your product or service (the ‘germ’ in this scenario) to interested people, making sure that with that particular freebie, whatever it is, your website link, your business’s contact information and email address are included or embedded somehow.
The recipients are allowed to pass it along to anyone they know that they believe would be interested in or benefit from the freebie as well — spreading the viral element in their social network.
You don’t have to push products onto people with a hard sell, or spam them, because people’s natural inclination to share the latest Big Thing or great find does it for you.
Here are some popular viral marketing methods:
Software – Share a trial version of your software with your website visitors as a freebie. Let them see for themselves how great your software is, and let the quality of your product speak for your service. When people find something they like, more often than not they’ll tell their friends about it.
Ebooks – Create an ebook on how to get the most out of your product. Share your tips, tricks and tweaks at no charge with your customers. Include links to your website and email. Put in a disclaimer that also allows recipients to share and pass on copies of the ebook with their own site visitors and other contacts.
Web Hosting – Offer to host small business web sites on your server at no charge. In exchange, place your own banner ad at the top of the site for viral marketing. You can set up a folder for their site and they can choose their own domain name and have it redirected to that folder.
Templates – Design website templates and give them away as free downloads for subscribers to use with the trial version of your product, like JEM does.
Articles – Write articles about your niche. Include your website and contact information in the byline and grant permission for others to publish your articles as long as they keep the byline intact.
When people read your articles they’ll know where to find you online, and they can refer to your contact information and articles on their websites, in ezines, newsletters and other places where the data can go viral, spreading information about your business.
Discussion Board – Set up a Discussion Board or forum on your website with your banner ad attached at the top, then invite others to link to it and use it for their own sites.
By using viral marketing strategies, you can use the Internet’s speediness and people’s natural tendency to share stuff in order to gain more visibility for your online business with much less effort.
See what viral methods work best for your business and focus on refining them as often as needed. Give freely, and give quality. There are lots of people out there who’d credit you for the undeniable quality of your products, so unleash your ‘infectious agent’ and let your work speak for itself.
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