Viral Marketing Tricks
An introduction to Viral Marketing
15th April 2001
Viral Marketing sounds scary, doesn’t it? The first time I heard this term I thought someone should be visiting the doctor’s office. It never occurred to me that this had anything to do with the internet. When it finally did dawn on me that this was a promotional technique, I didn’t have a clue as to how powerful it could be.
I began my relationship with this odd sounding technique by installing greeting cards on my site. I know it sounds small, but greeting cards are actually one of the most powerful techniques of all. Why? Because everyone seems to want to send ecards to their friends, lovers and relatives. Each card contains a link back to your site, which tends to produce visitors.
My next exposure was something called “tell a friend”. This is a simple script, installed in less than an hour, which allows your visitors to, well, tell their friends about your site. This is an excellent way to get people to visit, as virtually everyone will do something that their friends recommend. I’ve found this does not produce an incredible amount of traffic, but considering only an hour was put into installation, it’s not bad.
Another viral marketing technique which I’ve tried is creating an email service. I signed up a couple of domains with BigMailBox.Com, which allows me to give away web-based mailboxes. For example, I own the domain renaissancefaire.Org. I could link this to BigMailBox.Com, and allow people to send messages to theirname@r… Since every single email that is send from this mailbox contains a link back to my site, it tends to produce some traffic.
Another common viral marketing technique is electronic books. In fact, this is now the big rage. Just create an ebook and give it away! Everyone will want to download it, pass it on to their friends and add it to their own websites for others to download. The truth is that a good ebook, like anything else, will indeed do exactly that. And, of course, a bad ebook will sit there and rot.
Another great viral marketing technique (but one I have not personally tried out myself) is creating a freeware program and giving it away on your web site. Of course links to your website are scattered throughout the program. This tends to produce quite a few visitors, assuming the program is any good.
The same kind of thing can be done with free CGI scripts. You offer the script without warranty on your site, freely given to anyone who wants it. Allow them to post it on their site for free download also. Before long, you could find yourself getting a steady stream of visitors looking for those scripts.
Another excellent viral marketing technique is to write articles and post them on the web, allowing other sites and ezines to post them as well. A small word of caution here: I know from experience this can produce phenomenal amounts of traffic very quickly so be prepared.
I’m sure you can think of dozens or even hundreds of other ways to get in on this bandwagon. I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve learned — the search engines are worthless in comparison to link exchanges and viral marketing. Also, I’ve found these techniques are much more fun and much less prone to the whims of some search engine company.