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Jan 23, 2003
Blog Post

Viral Marketing Not Easy or Predictable

SUMMARY: No summary available.
Last year I got bit by the viral marketing bug.

It looked so easy, so cheap, so fun. I'd heard stories about how companies such as Honda and eMode had sent out an email to a few hundred people, and then it viral-ed outwards until hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people had visited their sites.

Two Case Studies this week (including one about a campaign I ran myself over the past five months) reveal the truth: Viral marketing is not easy or predictable.

As Sherpa reader Jay Kalpathy, VP NetLine, wrote me yesterday, "Viral audience building is not a slam dunk. We have run viral tell-a-friend campaigns and can attest to the flat numbers that you have seen."

That said, the good news is once you get a referral from a client, reader or visitor, the numbers show those tell-a-friend people are incredibly highly likely to visit and buy from you.

While you may not reach the crazy-high numbers of people viral can, customer-referrals may help you reach more valuable people.

If this interests you, be sure to scroll down to our latest book contest (it's article #9 below) and enter to win a copy of "Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force."


Anne Holland - Publisher





#1. Using a Viral Game to Get Email Newsletter Subscribers

Admission: This is the story of a marketing campaign that didn't work. If you're considering conducting any type of viral campaign, especially to grow your mailing list, absolutely read on.

Features tips on how to work better with online game developers and create a home page that entices more visitors to convert. Interesting friend-get-a-friend email data also included:

#2. Incredibly Unpredictable B2B Viral Campaign Results: The Little Snow Globe That Surprised Everyone

This is the story of a marketing campaign that TANKED, and then two years later out of the blue became a huge success. Call it "viral marketing whiplash."

BTW: The folks who ran this campaign are the same ones who did the now infamous whack-a-flack campaign, which was an instant hit. Find out what they learned from their follow-up campaign. Includes daily data showing how visitor numbers grew in a bell-curve:

#4. Why You Shouldn't Get Excited About the NAI's Email Service Provider Coalition (Yet)

You may have seen the news elsewhere, where it's been breathlessly reported. A group of email service providers are banding together to fight the spam problem. Sounds good, but is this just a happy press release that will lead to nothing?

MarketingSherpa's Alexis Gutzman explains the facts. If you want a dose of reality-based cynicism, here's where to get it:

#5. Exclusive Interview with Amazon's eDocs Director: Should You Be Selling Through Them?

Curtis Kopf, Amazon's eDocs & eBooks Director, asked that we pass a message to publishers saying you should consider selling through them. Whether you publish an email newsletter, how-to booklets, or research reports, there may be an opportunity for you. You won't get wildly rich, but a little ancillary income is not something to sneer at these days:

#6. The Continuing Threat of Affiliate Automation: Risks to eRetailers, Rewards Portals & Affiliates

If you're even remotely involved in affiliate marketing, you've probably heard about the uproar over various programs that have been "hijacking" customers and messing up commissions. We asked expert Jeff Molander to give us an update on the situation, who it affects, and what's being done to contain the damage.

Must-read if you're an online merchant or market online via "rewards" programs:

#7. New Editor Explains How to Get Covered in PRWeek US

PRWeek (13,000 US readers) has a new Editor-in-Chief now that former Editor Jonah Bloom moved to AdAge. Meet her and get her suggestions on how to plant a story about your firm or clients in PRWeek magazine:

#8. Book Contest Winners: "The DMA's Lead Generation Handbook"

Congrats, these five Sherpa readers just won a copy of "The DMA's Lead Generation Handbook." It will be mailed out today:

1. Lisa Sweet, Edgewood Consulting Group, Emerald Hills CA

2. Christopher Cairo, Industrial Food Ingredients, St Paul MN

3. Rob Ewanow, Dawning Technologies, Fairport NY

4. Diane Bedard, Impact Promotional Publishing, Dunedin FL

5. Emma-Kate Werner, RSL COM MOBILE, Chatswood NSW Australia

#9. New Free Book Contest: "Creating Customer Evangelists"

Authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have donated five copies of their brand new book, "Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force," to our book contest for you to try to win.

This 200-page hardcover book includes lots of inspirational real-life stories of companies that grew when friends told friends told friends, including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, SolutionPeople, Delta and IBM.

To enter the contest (takes just one minute and you are *not* asked for your email address) go to:
See Also:

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