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The goal of marketing is to spread the word about a product to as broad an audience as possible. Nothing does that faster than viral marketing.

Research shows that viral marketing introduces 56% of browsers to new sites. Reaching a vast audience in a short amount of time can help raise brand awareness, solidify brand identity, and generate revenue.

While there’s no formula to guarantee a campaign will go viral, there are techniques to follow to help increase success rates. Applying the tenets of viral marketing to your email campaign can yield positive results.

Are you looking to expand your reach and drive ROI with a viral marketing email campaign? Campaign Monitor can help.

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing is a strategy that relies on social networks to promote a product or service much faster than you could manage on your own. Viral marketing campaigns can be shared by word of mouth or through digital or mobile networks.

Most successful viral marketing campaigns are launched either on their own website or via social media networks such as YouTube. Consumers obtain the link from a social media campaign or copy the ad from a website. Then they share it through a social network, blog post, or website. Viral marketing comes in a variety of formats, from videos and images to text messages and web pages.

The goal of a viral marketing campaign is to create messages that appeal to an audience so much so that they share with their entire social network. This means they have a high probability of seeing and spreading these messages in a short amount of time. Successful viral messages have the following traits in common:

  • Organic: Viral marketing happens naturally and greatly depends on reaching the right people at the right time.
  • Timely: Trends come and go, and the success of viral messaging relies on the public’s current interest.
  • Unique: To generate interest, viral messages must grab an audience’s attention.

Viral marketing can be an effective medium for generating interest in a brand. In fact, 80% of online firms use viral marketing as part of their advertising strategy. Viral marketing can exponentially increase brand awareness, generate leads, and increase ROI.

Advantages of viral marketing

The nature of viral campaigns is that users do the majority of the work for you. This means it’s a low-cost and low-effort form of advertising. Therefore, small businesses have the same opportunity to succeed as any big business.

Unlike traditional marketing, viral marketing is not invasive. After all, users are the ones promoting and sharing the information. This leads to a positive perception of the company and helps build trust for the brand. As users share your information, they’re creating a personal connection between you and their own contact base.

They’re vouching for you and recommending you to their network. This helps with your email acquisition strategy. These are people that your consumers think would find value in the information you’ve distributed, meaning they’re more inclined to engage with you and become a customer.

Viral marketing’s impact on email strategy

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that a message will go viral. But here are some effective email strategies that can increase the likelihood people will want to share your message and help promote your business.

Implement referral programs

Referral programs are successful word-of-mouth strategies that help garner sales and grow your business. There are ways for a large audience to refer their contacts to your business. A strong referral program keeps customers engaged and drives brand awareness.

92% of customers trust recommendations from people close to them. Determine a good customer segment that would be likely to spread the word about your business and offer rewards and incentives that they would be happy to brag about.

The goal is to get them to spread the word via email, social media, and mobile applications.

Promote your social media sites

One of the easiest ways to share a message with a wider audience is through social media. Make it easy for your email recipients to share your message with their contacts by including links to your social media platforms in your emails.

But don’t stop there. Include graphics that are sized for specific social media platforms you’re focused on growing and provide incentives for anyone who shares and tags your profile.

Integrating email marketing with social networking can provide a seamless digital campaign.

Include social proof

One of the most effective ways to raise brand awareness is through social proof. The actions of others influence people. In fact, 83% of consumers say recommendations from friends or family increase their likelihood of purchasing a product. Engineering your brand to generate social influence, and to be shared through social media platforms, can increase awareness of your brand.

Endorsements from a credible expert or celebrity can have significant digital influence. Encourage people to leave positive reviews and engage with your brand by promoting user-generated content.

The more people feel compelled by the reviews and recommendations of others, the more likely they are to share your email. The more your message is shared, the greater the chance it could go viral.

3 Examples of successful viral marketing

The key to a successful viral marketing campaign is to understand your target audience. By knowing what resonates with them, you can create an email marketing strategy that can engage your viewers. More importantly, it can persuade them to share your message with others.

Here are three examples of successful viral marketing campaigns.

1. BuzzFeed

Messages that resonate with readers’ emotions are more likely to be shared. In fact, studies show that humorous content is the most likely to go viral. Content that elicits an emotional response has social currency.

Storytelling is also an essential factor in creating viral emails. It’s natural for people to become involved in a narrative. A good cliffhanger keeps the audience watching for more information from your business. Consider a series of emails that continue to unveil a part of a story. These build interest, pique curiosity, and create brand awareness.

In this viral email campaign, BuzzFeed created a funny and relatable story with clickable and shareable content. The email delivers preferred messaging directly to subscribers’ inboxes. It keeps readers engaged, appeals to their emotions, and is something people are likely to share with their contacts.

Viral campaign example from Buzzfeed.

Source: BuzzFeed

2. Mejuri

Exclusivity is a great way to promote information sharing. Jewelry designer Mejuri created a viral campaign as part of a customer loyalty program. The message provides value to recipients since readers can preview sale items and make purchases at a reduced cost before the general public.

The message also creates a sense of urgency. Viewers should act quickly before others can see the special pricing. All of these things encourage subscribers to share the message. This helps spread the word about the business and its offering.

Viral email marketing example.

Source: Mejuri

3. Think with Google

If you want people to share your message, you should ask them to do so and then make the process as simple as possible by including social media buttons in the email.

An emailed message can go viral on social media just as easily as it can via inboxes. One great way to do this is to make the information public. For example, reveal how much money your customers have saved or announce how many views your video has received. When people see what others are doing, they’re more likely to follow suit.

It’s highly shareable in a variety of ways: There is a clear CTA to learn more about the services provided, social media links are prevalent so that the email can be shared online, and there’s a link geared explicitly toward converting recipients into subscribers. With so many easy ways for viewers to pass along the information, this is an effective campaign.

Viral email marketing using social proof.

Source: Think with Google

Wrap up

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase awareness about a product or service. For an email campaign to go viral, you must first understand what persuades people to share information.

Viral marketing is an affordable way to exponentially reach a wide audience and generate interest in your brand. Applying it to your email marketing strategy can broaden your reach, generate leads, and drive sales.

For more information about how we can help create a viral email marketing campaign, contact our sales team today.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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