Monday, May 4, 2009

Successful Viral Marketing Tips

When viral marketing works, literally millions of new potential customers get exposed to you. It’s literally crowds spreading the word to other crowds on your behalf (hmm, that might make a good name for an eMarketing Blog :)

But unless your viral marketing campaign is exceptionally funny, exceptionally irreverent or exceptionally unique you won’t get that kind of volume. Oh but wait, there is a workaround!

2 years ago I helped create a heartwarming video honoring Mothers. It didn’t use flashy, expensive video. We hired a writer to create the story and I put it together using stock photos and stock music. It was launched 1 week prior to Mother’s Day and within 7 days it had spread to being watched and forwarded to well over 1 million people! It continued to spread long after Mother’s Day was over. So what made this viral campaign so successful?
  • It leveraged a well-known occurrence (in this case Mother’s Day)
  • The content was emotionally stirring enough to warrant forwarding it to others

You can watch the Mother’s Day video here:

Here are some exceptional tips and tricks to help make your viral marketing a huge hit!

Leverage Well-known Occurrences

  • Leverage current news events. If you had done a viral campaign somehow tied to the Swine flu outbreak, can you imagine the volume of traffic you would have gotten? Whenever there is a major news story that you can somehow relate to your company, jump on it immediately with a viral campaign. Riding the coat tails of “in the spotlight” media exposure is a free ride to success.
  • Leverage Major Holidays. Mother’s Day was a great holiday to launch this viral campaign because it is so cross-cultural. Celebrate your company’s independent thinking by leveraging Independence Day. Showcase how easy your product is to use by leveraging Labor Day. You get the idea.
  • Leverage well-known Dates: Does your company provide tax services/software? April 15th comes to mind. Does your product save time? Leverage Daylight Savings time. Milestones in history are also great viral campaign accelerators. Is your product innovative? Leverage the anniversary of the Wright Brother’s first flight. Be creative.

Don’t Sell Anything

The kiss of death for any viral campaign. The whole purpose of a viral campaign is to get others to spread your brand, not for you to tell everyone how great you are. Still there are ways to do both. Here is a great example:

Blendtec makes hi-end blenders ($1,000). So how do you get consumers to buy such an expensive blender? You leverage viral marketing showing how indestructible they are. The now famous “Will it Blend” series shows what happens to iPhones, marbles, even a crowbar when put in the BlendTec blender. If you go on Youtube and search for “will it blend” you’ll see all kinds of things that have been chewed up in this blender. Not only are they funny but they PROVE how well-built these blenders are. Some of these have had over 4 million views! The series has become so successful that some companies are now paying BlendTec to chew up their products (Nike shoes for example). Who would have ever thought a viral campaign would evolve into its own revenue stream! Now that’s real ROI!

If You Can’t Be Funny Then Leverage Babies and Puppies

Once we realized how successful the Mother’s Day viral campaign was, we quickly built a Father’s Day version and launched it the week before Father’s Day. It didn’t see the same kinds of success as the Mother’s Day version, which leads me to believe that (and I could be completely wrong here as I have no factual data to back this up) that women tend to feed heartfelt viral campaigns more than men. IF this is the case then leverage babies and puppies. It is the viral campaigns that put a smile on your face that are the most successful. If you can’t be funny, then be as heartfelt as possible. Try and replicate the feelings we all get when we meet babies or puppies.

Above All, Be Entertaining

Think about the things you forward to other people. Aren’t they typically something you found entertaining? If you use this as your main objective you will find success with your viral campaigns.

To prove my point, check out last week’s most popular viral campaigns (according to Ad Age):

What do sheep have to do with Samsung’s LED TVs? Find out here:

What do kid’s eyebrows have to do with Cadbury chocolate?

TMobile Makes you want to dance:

Ray-Ban uses a chameleon to showcase sunglass colors:

Steve Kellogg
-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant


  1. Online viral marketing utilizes social networking sites to create brand awareness and attract customers.

  2. Awesome website with awesome articles keeps up the good work and share more and more as you can thank you so much from. content-writing