Viral Marketing Tips

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Numbers 11 to 15

Tip 11 -Run Contests

People love to win things, and they love to be recognized for winning. Be creative in deciding what the prize should be, but consider how much your customers will think it is worth. While prize doesn’t have to be something of great value, it does have to be something that is useful or of some value to the winner. Make sure that it is something they want, not just a blatant advertisement for your business. A bumper sticker marketing your web address is not going to generate a great deal of interest. Your advertisement or web address should be plainly visible, but it should not be the focal point of the item you are giving away.

If you are running a business to business website, free advertising on your site for the winner is something that wouldn’t cost you anything, but if your site doesn’t attract very much traffic the prize may not be seen as being very valuable.

The great thing for you is that running contests is a great way to drive large amounts of traffic to your site. Other than the cost of the prize, there is not very much cost involved in this technique. There are websites and blogs that are in the business of telling others about contests that other people are running. They will do your marketing for you. All you have to do is contact these sites and let them know about your contest. If it’s worth mentioning they will tell their subscribers. If the contest is good enough or creative enough, it may catch the attention of a blogger who will spread the word to others. The better the prize package, the faster and farther it will spread.

A good way to take advantage of this technique is to have a repeating contest, or a series of contests. This method will keep customers returning to your site. Not only will they return to sign up for the new contest, but they will also check back periodically to see what the next contest is, and when it begins.

Tip 12 -Make it easy for visitors to refer others

Have you noticed the number of websites that include a button that lets you tell others about the site you are visiting? They are becoming more popular, because site owners have learned that if you want your visitors to do something for you, you have to make it as easy as possible. If you want viewers if your site to tell others, it does not get much simpler than giving them a button to click.

The nice thing is, if you design and set up your own site, it is quick and easy to add the button. The hardest part is deciding where you want the button located. If you do not do any site design, it is a small cost to have a designer do it for you.

The button runs a small bit of code called a “tell-a-friend” script. When your viewer clicks the button it opens up a small window that allows them to enter their friends email address and a short message so they can tell others about your site.

The power of this script goes back to what I discussed back at the beginning of this book; people will listen to what their friends and family say. There is a level of trust there that you can not come close to, at least not initially. That kind of trust is built over time.

Does a tell-a-friend button flood your site with traffic? Maybe not, but it will bring new traffic, and the traffic that comes is more likely to come back.

Tip 13 -Use E-Mail Links

Allowing your readers to send a link to your site through email is another way to encourage your visitors to tell their friends and family about your site. It is very similar to the tell-a-friend button in the way it works.

If someone likes your site, they have an option to click on a button that will open a window in their email program. The script the button activates will insert your web address in the message window of the email. They can then fill out the rest of the message and send your link to as many friends and family members as they like.

One reason this works so well is that the message come from someone they already know and trust, not from you. The email will not get stopped by the recipients spam filter, and there is a very good chance they will open it and read what it says.

Like the previous method, it may not send a flood of traffic your way, but the traffic that does come is there because someone they trusted told them to check it out. They come to your site in a much more receptive state of mind, and more open to considering your message. They are there for a purpose, not just someone who is wandering through.

Tip 15 -Offer E-Cards

Social networks have become an extremely popular way for people to stay in touch with each other. If you have not been to MySpace or Facebook, it is worth a look around. While a lot of the publicity these sites have gotten is because of the teens and college students that use them, businesses have discovered they are a useful way to build their networks as well.

Some of the sites are very bare-bones, but some of them are quite elaborate. One thing most of them have in common is a place for visitors to leave comments. Many times these comments are text messages back and forth between friends, but some of the messages are small digital pictures and graphics with a prewritten message.

There are web sites that provide these e-comments free to their viewers. If you see one you like and want to share with a friend, you can copy and paste a small line of code into your friends comment box, and the e-comment will appear.

When you look at these e-comments you will notice that on every one there is a company name or web address at the bottom. Most of these graphics are clickable links that will take the viewer back to the web site of the person that created it. If your e-comment is attractive or quirky enough, social network users will start sharing it with their friends. When their friends (or their friend’s visitors) see the graphic, they will click on it to see what other e-comments you have to offer.

While many businesses are using these services to build their networks, the majority of users are teens, young adults, and women. If your business is aimed toward adult men, this method may have limited success, but if you are marketing to the younger generation, you can bring a flood of traffic to your site with this method. A similar service you can offer is free e-cards. People are always searching for cards to send to friends, family members, acquaintances, and co-workers. They are easy to use, and have maintained their popularity over the years. These cards come in several different varieties; with or without music and static or animated. Some are very simple animations; others are very elaborate Flash animations.

Once the person finds the card they like, they can fill in the message box, add the email of the person they are sending it to, and press the send button. An email is sent telling the recipient that their friend has sent them a card, and it gives them a link to click that will allow them to view the card.

The person receiving the card gets a message from a friend to enjoy and a small line telling them who sponsored the card. Because you are hosting the card service, the viewer is already at your site. You just have to give them a good reason to click the links that will take them where you want them to go.

way back in early 2006 job listing service CareerBuilder.com launched a program called Monk-e-mail. With the click of a mouse you could choose which chimpanzee you wanted to use with your card, then personalize that chimp with different clothing, glasses, hats, and backgrounds. Users also had the option of writing or recording their own message, and even had a text to speech functions that allowed the chimp to deliver your message. As an extra bonus, when you move your mouse around the screen, the chimp follows your movement.

Within 3 months of launching, over 14 million monk-e-mails had been sent. The kicker is that CareerBuilder spent no money in marketing this service. In the first week CareerBuilder sent out 1,500 monk-e-mails to employees and agencies, and word of mouth did the rest. Monk-e-mail was so original and quirky that the buzz quickly spread across the internet, and even maid it to the main stream media outlets.

You do not need to create a program as elaborate as monk-e-cards, but it does need to be creative and unique. If you do digital photography or graphic art, this could be a very good way to use your talent to build traffic to your site, or you could hire a freelance designer to create your cards for you. Do a search for e-cards and you will get a good idea of the types of designs people are using. As always, quality and uniqueness are an advantage.