September 23, 2009

MarketingSherpa’s Viral Marketing Hall of Fame 2009: Top 7 Campaigns

SUMMARY: We're excited to introduce the inductees to MarketingSherpa’s fifth annual Viral Marketing Hall of Fame.

See how seven marketers planned and executed campaigns that built their own buzz and pushed KPIs higher and higher. Includes screenshots, campaign summaries, and Sherpa analysis on seven campaigns from companies such as Disney, Microsoft and Atlassian.
Viral marketing can be a great strategy to reach customers and prospects with something fresh. Some successful campaigns require only a small investment and rely on the audience to spread the message. Other campaigns call for more financial resources, but use the viral effect to ensure a broader reach and better ROI.

Either way, viral campaigns are not always easy to execute. That’s why we’re highlighting seven campaigns inducted into MarketingSherpa’s Viral Marketing Hall of Fame for 2009. You will see how these marketers established goals, outlined a strategy, and marched toward success.

We’ve selected four B2C campaigns and three B2B campaigns as this year’s inductees -- and their tactics vary greatly. One B2B company mailed chocolate covered bugs to their audience (yum!) and got them to film themselves eating the unusual snack. A team of consumer marketers created a customizable video with a pass-along tool to encourage sharing (very cool).

As much as these campaigns differed, there were several recurring themes we noticed:

->Viral video lives on

Video is popular in viral campaigns for several reasons. Most importantly, it’s easy to consume. Secondly, social video sites such as YouTube and Metacafe make it free and easy to host and share videos online.

Four of our seven winners used video in some way. In some instances, a video was the central focus of the campaign. In others, it played a secondary role. All the videos offered quality content, and their topics ranged from fun, to informative, to a blend of the two.

->Heavy use of free promotion

Social media sites are the perfect conduit for viral campaigns. Their users are already connected and sharing with friends. Every inductee, except one, took advantage free-to-use, third-party sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their campaigns.

Additionally, the inductees promoted contests to their house email lists, websites, and blogs -- all of which are essentially cost-free. These efforts helped lift the campaigns’ performance while keeping budgets at low. However, some marketers went the extra mile to boost their results by purchasing advertising such as pay-per-click search ads and print ads.

->A little push over the top

Some viral campaigns grow like kudzu after launch. Others require more nurturing. Several of this year’s winners saw that their campaigns captured some interest, but did not sustain enough momentum to move forward on their own accord.

These marketers had to do a little more work to reach an audience large enough for the campaign to thrive. This additional effort included writing more content into blogs, pitching content to influential social media users, and being quick to respond to online conversations.

Now, here are the inductees to MarketingSherpa’s Viral Hall of Fame 2009:

B2C Inductees:

California State Parks Foundation's Friend Get A Friend
MarketingSherpa Summary:
Faced with massive cuts in state funding and the potential closure of 220 California state parks, this nonprofit organization launched a multichannel effort to drum up support. Two simple Facebook updates helped pull in hundreds of thousands of donation dollars, tens of thousands of Facebook fans, and over three-times as many email subscribers as before.

Disney's What Will You Celebrate?
MarketingSherpa Summary:
Disney's team created a customizable video to draw more consumer interest in Disney Parks. The mock-newscast incorporated Flash technology to add viewers' names to featured places inside the Magic Kingdom. After the video, viewers were able to enter the name and email addresses of three friends they'd like the video customized for and sent to. The campaign paid for itself in a matter of hours.

Microsoft's I Am Enabled
MarketingSherpa Summary:
Microsoft wanted to acquire more registrations for their free personal health record management service -- but without running a direct response campaign. Instead, they educated the public on the value of digital health records through a YouTube channel, a microsite, and a team of bloggers writing and engaging people online. Registrations lifted over 15% afterward.

Rita's Italian Ice Mystery Flavor
MarketingSherpa Summary:
The team at Rita's Italian Ice wanted to build demand for a new product, create a positive brand experience with consumers, and build their email file while they were at it. Their strategy involved a multi-channel push both online and off. Their social media efforts helped the campaign grow to a larger-than-expected size, and 76% of those who entered the contest also opted in for emails.

B2B Inductees:

Analtech's Adventures of Ana L'Tech Video
MarketingSherpa Summary:
Analtech was a well-established name in the laboratory equipment space, but needed to introduce the company's products to a younger generation of scientists. The solution: A six-minute video that combined elements of Monty Python and CSI to demonstrate their niche technology -- and the company's sense of humor. New tagline: "Brought to you by Analtech -- (Short A, people. Please grow up!)" They seeded the video on YouTube and other free video sites, and sent targeted emails to generate worldwide blog coverage that drove 40,000 views and tripled traffic to the company's website.

Atlassian's Stimulus Package
MarketingSherpa Summary:
Twitter acts like gasoline on fire for word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. Just look at the results Atlassian achieved with a promotion that offered $5 licenses for two of its top applications (with all proceeds going to charity). A coordinated launch using email, Twitter, and blog posts became a storm of Twitter activity, helped along by targeting Twitterers with more than 10,000 followers to re-tweet the message. The team achieved their goal of raising $25,000 in 23 hours, and by the end of the five-day campaign landed more than 7,000 new customers from 86 countries, and raised more than $100,000.

Grasshopper's Chocolate Covered Grasshopper Mailing
MarketingSherpa Summary:
A corporate re-branding gave Grasshopper the opportunity to make a huge impression on its core audience of entrepreneurs and SMBs. The campaign featured a direct-mail piece few could ignore: A package of chocolate-covered grasshoppers that recipients were challenged to actually eat -- and record their daring feat via social networks. The stunt exploded on Twitter and blogs, and even landed the company eight TV news segments. Package recipients were also directed to an inspirational online video about the economic power of entrepreneurs (and links to how Grasshopper's virtual phone systems can help). The result: More than 200,000 video views, and a 93% increase in clicks to the "How it Works" section of the company's website.

Useful links related to this article:
MarketingSherpa’s Viral Marketing Hall of Fame 2008: Top 10 Campaigns & Results Data

Chart: Marketers Disclose Viral Video Costs

Ride Nonstop Viral Buzz to Triple-Digit Revenue Growth: 7 Strategies

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