Whilst this form of marketing is in dire need of a new title, its strength is that it harnesses the power of the internet. For examples of the genre, http://viral.3dge.net is an unending source. Virals require care though. They can have a life of their own and should not be used as the mainstay of an email campaign.
It is impossible to define the life of a typical viral email marketing campaign. Whilst the norm is that it will peak very early some go on for years and it is difficult to predict the timing of responses. If you remove the landing page or the offer the viral might build resentment rather than an increase in email addresses.
If your email campaign goes live at a time when those in the industry it is targeting are in a slack period, your recipients will have little else to do other than idle their time away. Your clever and expensive viral video creation might well hit all possible targets at the same time and stretch your resources requiring unplanned expense.
The patently obvious must be remembered: the viral is not an end in itself, no matter how clever. It should be designed to capture email addresses. This can be done passively by way of banner ads, product placement or more aggressively by incentivising the supply of another person’s email address.
A prize draw is a common form of viral support for an email acquisition campaign. A participant will get an additional chance for every other email address he supplies. The one requirement is for the reader to land on the microsite where there will be a persuasive argument for them to opt into direct email marketing.
The essence of a viral email is making the sender look good or feel good. It could be by way of the funny video, the hilarious joke, the stunning prize or the bargain offer. Creating such email virals requires good taste as well as good sense. What might be thought of by your company as a risqué but right-side-of-the-border joke might well be seen as an embarrassment when it drifts outside the confines of B2B. Becoming upset at some imagined slight is becoming something of a lifestyle choice by many, as can be the pursuit of compensation for hurt feelings. A video has a great deal of potential for offence and picking between the bland and the actionable needs care.
The potential for catastrophe for budget limits on rewards-based incentive virals is immense. When planning a campaign with one included, the prize must be limited. Rather than rewarding the person for every email address they generate, a better option might be seen to run with a prize for the most successful. With the bargain offer, it should be remembered that a store running a loss-leader will have limited stock. If you suddenly run out of goods because it was costing too much then you are more likely to generate resentment than opt-ins. But there is mileage to be gained with the ‘This is what I want for a Christmas present’ email that can be forwarded by a hopeful recipient to those with the money.
Due to its waywardness the viral sector of an email campaign to acquire email addresses needs careful consideration and one should not be overwhelmed by its benefits of costs and coverage.
The lack of control should not blind one to the fact that it can be an automated procedure so investment, once the procedure is established, is low. When a website visitor indicates interest in a particular aspect of the product list by asking for further information, or a quote, or asks for notification of an event then this can trigger a follow-up email seeking registration on a direct email marketing list.