December 29, 2008

New Chart: Viral Campaign ROI Starts with Realistic Assessment of Costs

SUMMARY: You must have a realistic perception of the cost of viral marketing to assess ROI. A popular misconception among more newbie marketers: Viral is free. Veteran marketers know you get what you pay for.
Disconnect Between Experienced Marketers & Newbies on Viral Costs

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As we approach 2009, many marketers are looking for ways to do more with less – less time, less money and, in some cases, less staff. Working with fewer resources has led to increased interest in tactics that are perceived as having great ROI – such as house email and viral.

These two tactics share a popular misconception – that they’re free. This week, let’s focus on viral marketing, a medium that isn’t immune to the adage that you get what you pay for.

The chart shows the estimated costs tied to creating a viral video by marketers with different experience levels. You can see a disconnect between the perceptions of veteran and newbie viral marketers. Experienced marketers know that some real costs are associated with the tactic.

Viral costs include:

1. Production – Yes, many YouTube videos were filmed on a handheld, and viral campaigns can benefit from free user-generated content. But, most viral campaigns involve professionally produced content, and the costs can add up. As we see in the chart, many experienced marketers estimate the cost of their viral video campaigns to be in the tens of thousands.

2. Media – Putting a video onto YouTube doesn’t constitute a campaign. Success usually requires a component of media buying, public relations or both.

3. Time – Time is the hidden cost of many marketing tactics. Strategy, planning, creative efforts and tracking are just a few of the steps to a viral campaign.
These costs aren’t a knock against viral marketing.

The key takeaway: Have realistic expectations, so that you could accurately assess the ROI of viral marketing.

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More Research Data from Sherpa:

MarketingSherpa Video Marketing Benchmark Guide 2009

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