December 16, 2008

New Chart: What is Viral Good For? Marketers' Experience Guides Their Views

SUMMARY: Viral marketing pros can teach us a lot about what the word-of-mouth tactic can be good for. Branding is a lock, for instance. But viral is not seen as a direct sales channel.
Views of Experts, Newbies Differ on Impact of Viral

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We premiered our first clinic on viral marketing last week, and the webinar inspired us to focus the final two charts of 2008 on related research. Here’s the first.

Viral marketing –really just an aspect of word-of-mouth – is many things to many people. But all of them share a key component – content that compels one person to reach out to another, ultimately setting off a chain reaction.

This chart shows marketers’ experience with viral and how they see it aligning with different goals. There’s a lot to learn from the pros.

Branding is a no-brainer. Compelling ideas define a brand, so viral can be a good fit in reinforcing or changing a brand’s image. It’s also got great potential for defining a unique brand identity for a product that’s separate from the larger brand. Both new and experienced viral marketers believe this.

What’s more interesting is where their opinions divide. For example, experienced viral marketers think of viral as a powerful tool to grow their databases. From the humble email pass-along to much more sophisticated tactics, viral can allow you to gain access to new audiences.

The experienced are unlikely to see the tactics as a good fit for generating direct sales, and they’re right. A good viral campaign can ultimately lead to revenue, but the core viral message shouldn’t be an offer. Viral/word-of-mouth works best when it generates conversation and interest about issues or topics that are important to the audience. A video flyer about discount cruises isn’t likely to ‘go viral.’ However, a funny video with a travel-related theme just might.

Next week, we’ll look at the biggest ‘disconnect’ in viral marketing – views on price and budgeting.

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MarketingSherpa Video Marketing Benchmark Guide 2009

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