Viral Marketing Tips
Numbers 16 to 20
Tip 16 -Start a community
One of the reasons for the ever increasing popularity of the internet is that it allows like minded people to get together from anywhere in the world. From sports to politics to gum wrapper collectors; if it is something you are interested in, chances are very good that you can find someone who shares your interests.
Take a look at Yahoo Groups. They host hundreds of thousands of different groups from around the world. A search for “viral marketing” groups brought a list of 360 different groups.
While I’m not suggesting you try to become the next Yahoo Groups, it does demonstrate the desire for internet users to get together with people who share the same interests. One method you could consider to take advantage of this is to host a forum on your website. Find an area of interest that is related to your business, and set up a forum on that topic.
Allow your users a way to leave messages in the forum, or contact each other using email or an instant messaging program, and maybe even set up chat rooms where they can engage in active discussions. As the host of the forum you could help answer any questions, which will help to further establish you as an expert in your field. You would also help moderate discussions, and share new and interesting information.
Encourage your users to participate. Give them the ability to share ideas and to establish themselves as experts. Make it a safe, friendly environment where they can share their opinions (within reason). If your community stays active, it will continue to grow, and some of the community members will become customers.
You can find some very good forum programs that are available for free. Download the program and upload it to your web host and you are up and running. Many of the web host companies have software as part of their hosting packages geared toward building communities on your site. They make it very easy to set up forums, chat rooms, guest books and more.
Building a community in this way will bring people that are interested in your line of business to your website. Once they are there, it is easy for them to look around at what you have to offer them. Because they are already interested, it is much more likely that they will take advantage of what your business offers.
Tip 17 -Use Free Article Sites Like Ezines and Associated Content
I mentioned earlier that people are more likely to listen to someone that they consider to be an expert. Why can’t that expert be you? If you know enough about a topic to build a business around it, you are an expert. All it takes is a little marketing to convince others that you are an expert.
One method of establishing yourself as an expert and gaining some exposure for yourself and your business is to write articles for ezine articles and associated content. You write an article relating to your business, and then post it to one of the online publishing services. When people read your article, they see your name, and assume you know what you are talking about. The more different places you can get your name and the name of your business, the better that chances are that people will begin to remember you. Over time with multiple exposures you begin to build brand recognition.
There are two different ways online article publishers let you get your name out. Some sites, like ezinearticles.com, let you put a short 1-2 sentence “About the Author” section at the end of your article. You get the opportunity to put together a brief statement about yourself and your business, and a link back to your site.
Sites like Associated Content and Helium will have a content producer’s page that will allow you the room to write quite a bit more. You can talk about yourself, your business, and why the reader should believe what you say. You can also include multiple links that will lead the reader into your site.
When readers click on the link to come to your site they are what marketers refer to as “pre-qualified”. They chose to be there based on the information they read. They were not tricked into visiting your site, and they were not pressured to go there by spam emails. They are there by choice, and that makes them more receptive to your message, and increases the probability that they will purchase your products or services.
Beside the traffic that comes to your site directly from your article, if the article is really good it may end up on one of the social bookmark sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, or del.ico.us. If your article gets ranked in one of these sites, it can bring a lot of visitors to your site in a very short period of time. That burst of visitors might last for only a day or two, but it could also linger in the top rankings for days or weeks.
Another side benefit of writing articles is that they can provide a small amount of residual income to you. Many of these sites offer revenue sharing that will give you a small portion of the advertising that the article generates. The amount you get per article usually is not very much, but enough articles over time can add up.
Tip 18 -Use Employees
The best advocates you have for your business are already on your payroll. Your employees already have a vested interest in getting the word out about your company. If you succeed, they get to keep their jobs, but if you fail, they may find themselves unemployed.
Your employees know your business like no one else does. They can discuss the ins and outs of your business, and tell others why your product or service is superior to the competition. Enthusiastic employees will spread the word to family, friends, and colleagues about your company, and you do not even have to pay them anything extra to do it. It is part of their normal conversation with people.
Back in the early days of the computer industry, IBM ruled the world of technology. A lot of computer companies were trying to get their legs under them, but IBM was the king. One of the reasons IBM was able to continually withstand the ever increasing competition was that they understood the power their employees had to market the company. They had a ready made marketing team made up of engineers, secretaries, accountants, and programmers. By harnessing that power they were able to build a stellar reputation in the computer industry.
From the day they were first hired, IBM employees were taught how to be advocates for the company. They were trained in the company’s values, and were shown the quality of the products they were helping to build. They bought into IBM’s corporate culture, and they, in turn, shared what they knew with anyone who would listen. The technology world heard the message so often, and from so many different people, that they never questioned the fact that IBM was the best.
The key to success is your ability to assemble a loyal dedicated workforce. If you can do that, then you have the potential to tap into some of that power as well. Turn your employees into a marketing team and let them spread the word about how great your company is. If they truly believe it, their enthusiasm will become infectious. People will believe what your employees say, because it is obvious that your employees believe it themselves.
Tip 19 -Use Affiliates
If you have never thought about using an affiliate program to sell your products, you might want to consider it. There are thousands of people on the internet that want to be able to tap into the online sales, but they do not have a product to sell. If you allow them to sell your product, you can have an unlimited amount of sales people marketing your product on a commission only basis.
The easiest way to set it up is to use one of the affiliate marketing sites like ClickBank or Paydot. There are several programs around, so you will have to do a little bit of research to find one that is appropriate for your product. For instance, ClickBank specializes in digital products. If you are selling an e-book or a downloadable software program, this might be the program to use. Paydot specializes more in tangible products.
For a small fee, usually a percentage of the sale, these programs will do all of the work for you. They will list the site in their searchable database where people interested in selling online can find you. If they are interested in what you are selling they sign up and become and affiliate sales person for you. They are assigned an affiliate code, and when someone goes to your site using a link containing their code, and makes a purchase, that affiliate gets the credit for the sale. The affiliate program tracks all of your sales, processes the transaction, and makes sure the correct sales person gets their commission.
There are pros and cons to using an affiliate program to sell your products. On the plus side, you have a motivated sales force that actively markets your product on the internet. They do the work, and take on all the expense of getting your message out to your customers. With a sales force of a hundred or even a thousand people, it does not take very long to reach a very wide range of potential customers. Even if people do not click the link to go to your site, it still helps increase your name recognition.
On the negative side, while it does not cost you much in terms of out of pocket expenses, there is significant cost involved. In order to convince someone to bear all of the expenses of marketing your product, there has to be ample compensation for them. Commission rates of 50 percent of the sale price are not uncommon for digital products. The rates for tangible items are lower, but they are still high enough to make it worth your affiliate marketers time and effort. The high commission rates will significantly lower the amount of profit you make on each sale. You can make up for this decreased profit with increased volume, but you have to keep a close eye on your costs to make sure you do not lose money on the transaction.
Tip 20 -Use Free Press Release Sites
Like many websites, newspapers need content. A lot of newspapers, especially smaller local newspapers, have a hard time coming up with enough fresh content to fill all of the space they have. With limited budgets, they do not have the staff needed to come up with fresh material every day. This creates a great opportunity for you.
While papers are not just going to give you free advertising, they will allow you to write an article about something that your businesses is doing, especially if it involves a service or a community event. The newspapers understand that they are allowing you to advertise in exchange for the free content, but it can not be blatant advertising.
All you have to do is write the article, making sure you mention your businesses name, and list your web address so they can get more information. You just have to make sure the piece is well written, and that your business is doing something worth telling people about.
Not only does this get the name of your business out to the community, but it also helps enhance your reputation. Even without knowing you, people will make a judgment on whether they like you, and can trust you. By building a positive reputation as someone who is active in the community, it makes it easier for them to like you, and by extension, your business.
There are over 30 free sites that will publish your press releases for your online. Do a Google search for free press releases and you will get what you need.