Viral Marketing Tips

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Numbers 1 to 5

Here are first 5 of my top viral marketing tips that you can use to bring traffic to your website. Whether there is a flood or a trickle really depends on your ability to give your visitors something they can use or enjoy. It is important to remember that your customers are not stupid. They will know whether what you are offering is something they want, or if it is a cheap advertising ploy. If it is, they will pass the word along. If it is not useful, they will leave your site and say nothing to others about you.

The key to all of these techniques is to give something that adds to the user’s experience. This can be by offering useful information, telling them about something new and exciting, or something that is entertaining or humorous, but the key is to make it the highest quality possible.

With so much information on the internet that is just a click away, what you are offering has to be unique. This can mean being completely new, or it could mean looking at something old from a different and unique point of view. If your message does not touch them in some way, your message will not go viral. You may still get some traffic out of it, but that traffic will come the old fashioned way, through hard work, search engine optimization, and daily on-going marketing efforts.

While for many people, going viral is a one-time accomplishment, others manage to see repeated success. When one of your messages goes viral, not only does it drive a flood of traffic to your site on a short term, but many of those people will become subscribers, which increases your daily traffic. If you can continue to write unique, compelling material, those people will be more than likely to return to your site, and to tell others. The more eyes that see your message, the better your chances of repeating your viral success. Viral marketing should not be used as a stand alone technique. It needs to be a part of a larger marketing strategy.

Many of the techniques by themselves may only send a small stream of traffic to your site. That is why you need to use more than one marketing method. One stream may not amount to much traffic, but several streams could be significant. As your message starts to go viral, these several streams could quickly become a flood.Look though the list of items listed and think about which ones will work for you. Chances are, not all of them will work for everyone. Some of them will naturally go together, others will not.

The list is not meant to be a comprehensive list of everything possible. It is meant to be a tool; an example of things that have worked for others. As you read through the different techniques, keep thinking about your own business. It may help you to come up with other ideas on your own. Be creative. Modify some of the ideas listed and come up with something new that is unique to you and your business. The only limit to what is possible is your imagination.

Tip 1 -Provide Quality

Providing quality content, products, or service is by far the best way to build your reputation, and build repeat traffic to your site. Research has shown that on average, when someone has a positive experience they will tell two other people about that experience. On the other hand, if they have had a bad experience, they will tell seven other people. That act of telling others is how the viral traffic generation techniques start. If your customers never tell anyone else about you and your site, you are back to doing all of the marketing on your own.

To build returning customers to your site, you need to establish a reputation as an expert in your field, very entertaining, or someone who has unique insights. That does not happen if all you are offering is cheap, recycled drivel that you found on someone else’s website. Make sure that what you offer is your own work, and something that is different from what can be found on every other website.

As your reputation as an expert increases, other websites and bloggers will start to pay attention to your website. They will begin to talk about what you are doing, and will even give links from their website to yours. Suddenly every one of their readers becomes a potential customer. The higher the quality of material you produce, the more often your site will be linked to. Each link to your site is an avenue for new visitors to your business.

If you do not think you have the ability to create something that will touch people like it needs to, you may have to spend the money and hire someone else to do it for you. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of service that will put you in touch with freelance writers, site designers, and program designers. If you have an idea about what you want, chances are there is someone available to do it for you. If you are willing to take a chance on a freelancer who has not yet established themselves, you can often find one that will work for a low wage in exchange for the experience the job will give them. Be careful though; often times you get what you pay for. Make sure the work you get is up to the standards necessary to appeal to your audience.

Tip 2 -Give Freebies

One of the best early examples of building a business by giving something away is Hotmail. Hotmail gave away free email services and email addresses free to anyone who signed up for one, and a lot of people did (and still do). Today millions of users have Hotmail addresses.

What made hotmail successful was one of the early successes of viral traffic building on the internet. At the bottom of every email that was sent through one of the free Hotmail accounts was a message telling others how they could get a free Hotmail account. Every time a Hotmail user sent a message, they were helping spread the name of Hotmail.

How did Hotmail make any money off of free accounts? They did it by offering premium services to their customers such as additional storage space, and the ability to send emails without any advertising attached.

Hotmail became successful enough that in 1997, less than 2 years after it was created, it boasted over 8 million users and was purchased by Microsoft. It is still one of the top web based email services in the world.

While you may not be able to achieve the same amount of buzz that Hotmail was able to generate, it does demonstrate the power of getting your message out be attaching it to something that people are willing to share with their friends, family, and co-workers.

Do not discount the fact that people love to get things for free. If it looks interesting, and it is free, people are more than happy to give it a try. While it is easy to get them to try your offer initially, it is a different challenge to get them to continue using it once the novelty has worn off.

Repeated use is critical for your success because multiple exposures will cement your companies name in your customer’s minds. People are more likely to buy something from a company they have heard of than from one they have not heard of. They might not even know how or why they know the name, but that sense of familiarity will make them more susceptible to your message.

What ever you are offering has to be functional, easy to use, and add value to the user. You customers have to feel that it is worth their time and effort to pass the information along. Then, and only then, will they be willing to tell their friends and family what they have found.

Tip 3 -Get A Referral

An added twist to the idea of giving something away for free to your customers is to require them to refer someone to you in exchange for what you are giving away. Simply provide a space where they can enter the email address of one or more people that they have to fill out before receiving the item you are offering. This is especially effective when your free item is something the person can download instantly.

This technique not only puts your message in front of the eyes of potential customers, it also helps you build your own mailing list. You can send an email the people that were referred saying “Your friend (name) saw this, and would like to share it with you. By having the ability to use the friend’s name, it helps to establish your credibility. This will decrease the possibility of person receiving the invitation tagging your message as spam.

Like many of the techniques listed, this will only work if your visitor thinks what you are offering is of enough value to make it worth giving you information about a friend or family member. Friendships are built on trust, and most people will not be willing to risk that trust on a worthless gadget.

Do not expect in instant flood with this method. It usually starts as more of a trickle, but that trickle increases the longer it flows. Over time, the referrals will add up. If each person that takes advantage of your free offer refers two or more friends, it will not take long to have quite a list of potential customers, all at no additional cost.

Tip 4 -Use Video

Unless you have been living in a cave, you have heard of You Tube. If you spend any time online, it is hard not to have heard of it. Millions of people every day view video clips that are stored in the YouTube library. YouTube and Google Videos take advantage of the fact that people are now spending more time in recreational internet surfing than in watching television. It is another example of not only how people want to be entertained, but also that people want choices. The public has gotten used to being able to choose the entertainment they want, and not be forced to take what is pushed at them.

If you are creative enough, or cutting edge, or wacky enough, you could quickly be the next hot video. The videos that have the most chance of going viral are ones that deal with current events, especially if you can beat the major news outlets, videos dealing with business issues, and humorous videos.

Steven Colbert was a great example of this when clips of his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report, were released on YouTube. Despite the objections of the Comedy Central network, when the show was still new, Colbert allowed clips from his show to be posted on YouTube. Within a short period of time his clips went viral, and viewership of The Colbert Report soared.

If you decide this is a method you want to use, make sure you have a fresh idea, and not a rehash of something that has already made the rounds. You don’t need network quality equipment to produce a decent video. While you do want decent quality production, the biggest key is great content.

Make your video, and at the end of the clip place a 3 – 5 second promotional slide with the URL for your website so viewers can look for more useful information. Make sure the landing page you send them to matches the tone of the video. If the video you use is quirky and humorous, and the landing page is serious and all business, your visitors will only stay for a few seconds before leaving for more entertaining sites.

Once your video is produced, and looks the way you want it to, upload your video onto YouTube and Google Videos. These sites offer services that allow website owners and users of social network sites like MySpace to place video viewers on their site. If your video goes viral, not only will potential customers be able to see your video on the host site, but also on all of the personal sites that pick it up. The amount of traffic that could flood to your site is huge.

Tip 5 -Write An E-Book

Have you noticed the number of sites that offer free e-books to subscribers? Give your email address, click the link and you have instant access to an ebook full of useful information. The reason so many sites use this method of advertising is because it works, and here is how you can make it work for you.

Write a short ebook on a topic that relates to your business. In that book you include a little information about your business, and at a couple of key places include a link that will drive traffic from the book to your website. Now post it on your website and let anyone interested download a free copy.

However, it does not stop there. Encourage anyone who likes your ebook to offer it as a free gift on their website as well. If the information is useful, and the book is well written, the number of websites that are offering your book will begin to grow, Soon 50 or 100, or even 1,000 other sites will be helping you spread the word about your business. A successful campaign with timely information could keep driving traffic to your site for months or years to come.

Be careful not to overdo the information about yourself, or include too many links back to your site. The more about yourself you include, the less likely others will be willing to give your book away for you. Another advantage of having your ebook before thousands of people’s eyes is it establishes your credibility. People give more credence to a published “expert” than they do to someone who has not written a book, even if the book is very short. You begin to build name recognition, and when people see your name associated with something in the future, they will be more likely to check it out.

Internet marketer David Meerman Scott used this successfully when he released an ebook titled The New Rules of PR. He posted a link to the book on his blog, and sent link by email to friends and colleagues. Within 3 days his ebook had been downloaded over 1,000 times. At that point it caught the attention of a couple of internet marketing gurus who talked about it on their own blogs. In the 3 days following those blogs Scott’s ebook had been downloaded over 15,000 times.

To date, the ebook has been downloaded over 60,000 times, and it has resulted in a continuing flow of traffic, and several speaking arrangements. He is now considered an expert in the field of internet marketing, largely because of his ebook.

Do a search for ebook compilers to find a program to create your ebook, or find a program that will allow you to save a document as a PDF. Whichever program you decide to use, make sure it allows you to include active, clickable links. If the person reading the ebook has to copy and paste the link into a browser, many of them will not. Make it as easy as possible for them to get to your site.

Also, make sure the program you use will not let anyone change the information in your ebook. There are less than honest people who will remove references to you and the links to your site, and include their own information into your ebook. Many programs will allow you to safeguard your information, so take advantage of them