Viral marketing


Subjects That Spread Like Wildfire

Hot topics

What is it that makes someone want to share their emails and take the time to click and  FWD?

We all get heaps of emails every day, and if you’re like me, most of them get deleted before they’re even opened. So what is it that makes us interested enough to actually open them and forward them on to friends and associates?

After all, when you think about it, the quality and content of these emails reflects on our own personal standards, such as our sense of humor and personality. We are not likely to forward anything that reflects badly on us or makes us look ridiculous.

There are millions of people working from offices around the country, indeed the world, that are looking for some light relief in a day filled with drudgery. This is one reason why viral marketing is so successful.

Another major reason why viral marketing works is that humans are social animals─ we love to communicate with others. A cheerful message that makes someone feel good, a joke, a cute picture, some interesting piece of new information, or something that will improve someone’s life is a simple way to communicate with others.

It is often said that we forward these snippets of information in an email as a way to stay in touch when we have limited time to do so in person or over the phone.

If you want to make viral marketing work for you, you have to tap in to this human psychology.

The awwwhh factor

Women, particularly, are likely to send on anything with the awwwhh factor. Things like:

·         Pictures of cute animals or babies

·         Endearingly stories about the funny things children say

·         Stories of human endeavour

·         Stories about heroic rescues

·         Stories about courage over adversity

·         Romantic stories

Think about the sort of stories, information and pictures you find in some of the women’s magazines.

Women love to gossip and pass on titbits to their friends — they also tend to socialize more than men.

This can give you a clue as to how you can send your marketing message to thousands of women using the Domino Effect — embed your sales message in an email that has that awwwhh factor.

Is your product aimed at women? If it is, you should consider how you can incorporate the awwwhh factor in your marketing message to make sure it gets passed on.


We all enjoy a good laugh; it helps to brighten up the day. That is why emails with a decent joke, a funny story, or an amusing picture get passed on. We enjoy sharing humor.

While individual tastes in humor vary enormously, its appeal is universal. If your products appeal equally to men and women, children or teenagers, you could consider using humor as a vehicle for delivering your sales message. Think about incorporating the following into your viral email:

·         Jokes

·         Funny stories

·         Anecdotes

·         Humorous pictures

Be careful though, you do not want to offend your customers and turn them off to you forever. Steer clear of anything controversial, rude, racist, political, or anything that you might consider a bit risky. Stick to good clean fun and you shouldn’t go wrong.

You should avoid using humor if you are trying to sell something of a serious nature. For example, if you are selling a funeral service, a joke email may not be appropriate. Use common sense!

The Shock Factor

The information we get via emails can sometimes be so shocking or surprising that we feel compelled to pass them on. If you read an email and think “yeah, so what”, it probably won’t go further than the trash bin.

If we find something shocking or incredulous, we are likely to pass it on–that is why we receive forwarded emails on the following topics:

·         Photographs of astonishing feats

·         Unbelievable stories of human endeavour

·         Precarious predicaments

·         Outrageous stories or events

Again, as with humor, use the shock factor carefully. You do not want to offend prospective customers. However, if you can find some amazing piece of information, or something outrageous that is relevant to the theme of your product, then you could get a lot of mileage out of it in terms of viral marketing.

Anything astonishing, outrageous, bizarre or unbelievable is also highly memorable and this principle is used very effectively in feats of memory.

Using bizarre or larger than life images as a way to remember something is also advocated as a method of improving your memory by experts such as Tony Buzan. Get your customers to remember you…


Photos can depict and trigger a whole range of human emotions. They can be funny, sad, shocking, heart-warming, surprising, disgusting —to name a few…

A picture can often express much more than words. If you can find the perfect photo or illustration to backup your marketing message, something compelling enough for people to pass on, then you could be onto a winner.

You can get royalty free photos from:


Again, as with pictures, video clips can express much more than words. A well chosen video could be a fantastic way to get your marketing message across and ensure that your email is passed along the chain.

If you can, create your own video and make it relevant to your product. Make it funny, heart-warming, bizarre or outrageous, but make it memorable and worthy of sharing.

Post your video on YouTube and send the link, or the video clip itself, in your email. If you can’t produce your own video, there are thousands to choose from on YouTube — if you find one that is just perfect, contact the owner and ask their permission to use their clip in your marketing email.

New information

Do you have any new information that would be interesting enough for people to forward to their friends and family?

Are there any new developments in science and technology or a new discovery of some sort that would bring genuine and worthwhile benefits to your prospective customers? If so, it could form the basis of a viral marketing campaign.

Do your research and be on the lookout for potentially marketable information. Make sure it is relevant to your product and compelling enough to attract people to your website.


We all love a good story. The best stories get passed along. They have to be bite sized; short enough to get read and topical or persuasive enough to merit getting forwarded on.

Are there any interesting stories that you could use in an email that have the potential to incorporate your marketing message? Do some research, and look out for:

·         Interesting stories in the news

·         Stories on TV or radio

·         Magazine articles

·         Stories on the internet

·         Stories passed along by word-of-mouth

·         Short fictional stories

·         Anecdotes


Lots of people like to do puzzles or crosswords on their coffee break, or when they have five minutes between jobs at work. The interesting ones get forwarded on.

You could find a way to get your marketing message passed along on the back of a puzzle of some sort:

·         Mind benders

·         Quizzes

·         Riddles

·         Crosswords

·         Word games

You could offer prospects a free gift or prize when you visit your website with the correct answer.

Free stuff

If you could offer something of value for nothing, like Hotmail and Yahoo did with their free email addresses, you could be onto a real winner.

Consider what you could offer for free that would have wide appeal:

·         Reports

·         eBooks

·         Downloadable audio books

·         Other MP3 downloads

·         Software

·         Subscriptions

·         Licenses

·         DVDs

·         Vouchers

In your marketing email, include a link to your website where prospects could acquire their free products. Get visitors to sign up and give you their email address in return for something free, so you can build your list quickly.

You could also email a free eBook, with no copyright restrictions, that allows people to forward it on and spread it around as they choose. Within the book, you should have your website address with a further compelling offer that will generate traffic to your site. Again, get visitors to sign up and give you their email address.

Make it Personal

When you’re deciding on the nature of your viral marketing email, consider whether it would be something you would be happy to forward on to your own friends and family. You could try several test emails on people you know and get their reactions.

Sometimes, Internet marketers tend to forget that their prospects are real human beings, with feelings and individual opinions. It’s easy to depersonalize your prospective customers when your only contact is via email.

It is crucial that you approach each contact on a personal level. Write your email message as if you were writing to a good friend.

Subtle Advertising

When you think about how many people could see your email through viral marketing, or follow-on emails to a downlink, you would be mad not to make the most of it!  Consider incorporating an advertisement as a header or footer, or as a PS in your email.

You can make it subtle by presenting it as a tip or a way to offer help.  For example if you have an eBook on Internet marketing strategies, you could include in your email something like:

PS: Do you need help with your marketing?  David has some

great tips and advice at

You could include banner ads or pop-under’s in your emails. Have a look at these websites for some rotator software that could be useful some have a free trial that might be beneficial to you., & As your business grows you will develop more and more products; it might be useful to have rotator software that will ensure all your products are advertised for however long your emails run.

Another subtle way to advertise your high priced products is to create a product that would be worth around $80 and give it away for free.  Within this product — which could be a transcript of an interview or a derivative of another product — you have links to higher priced products. You effectively whet their appetite for more with your free product.  You can use this method very effectively with your thank you page.

When someone subscribes to your site or buys one of your products, send them a thank you email and offer them your free product — make it look like it is an exclusive offer for members only that would normally cost them $80.

You can use this sort of subtle advertising in many of your products — the trick here is to let your subscribers feel they are receiving something worthwhile and that there is even better to come…

If you have an affiliate program, you can get your affiliates to do the same sort of subtle advertising in their emails and watch the Domino Effect in action when you see your sales figures soar!

Mass Market or Niche?

Another question you should ask yourself is whether to try and appeal to a mass market or whether to concentrate on a niche. If you already have your product in place, then you have to work with what you have got; unless you want to start from scratch, of course.

If you want to market your products using viral marketing, you are probably going to need to appeal to a mass market. This is because you have no control over how your emails are forwarded on and to whom.

Your marketing is generally untargeted and the momentum is likely to dissipate far more quickly if you have a specialist product that appeals to just a small group of people. For viral marketing to work, you need people who are interested in your products.

On the other hand, if your product has wide appeal (like the free email that Hotmail and Yahoo had on offer), your marketing “virus” could continue spreading for long periods of time: showing a really strong Domino Effect.

So what areas have wide appeal? Well, you can do your research and see what’s topical at the moment or choose from a quintessential list of subjects that are known to appeal to large numbers of people.

Subjects such as:

·         Business and making money

·         Personal development

·         Dieting and weight loss

·         Investments

·         Relationships

·         Hobbies

·         Addictions

·         Property

·         Computers and the internet

·         Emotional issues such as fear and phobias

·         General entertainment and celebrities

·         Sports

·         Health

·         Happiness

I’m sure you can think of more.

If you can find a subject that you know a lot about that you could become an expert in, then you could create a long-term business from related back-end products rather than go for a one hit wonder that never makes any money (few front-end products actually make much money).

Just make sure that your offer appeals to a wide variety of prospective customers if you want your marketing virus to spread to as many people as possible.