Viral marketing, making it work for you

The process of developing a promotional tool that propagates on its own is called viral marketing. An excellent example of viral marketing is a game written for the web browser, most often written in Flash, Shockwave, or Java.

These games are viral because they spread across the web like wildfire, and they contain links back to the author’s website. As more and more webmasters post these games to their own website, the author’s website continues to gain exposure.

While the term ‘viral marketing’ has become an over hyped buzz word, the process behind it is still a very valid, effective marketing method: it’s the internet version of an ancient sales technique called ‘word of mouth’.

Methods of viral marketing SEO

Games are not the only method of marketing in this manner, though they happen to be one of the best. Offering free to use content of any type can build diverse streams of traffic to your website and raise your rankings in search engines.

The only two things needed for a successful viral marketing campaign are materials other people want to use, and a simple way to spread the material. A few of the more popular types of

Viral marketing include

  • donating content to an ezine directory
  • offering awards to other websites
  • providing a free service that self-promotes (email addresses, eCards, etc)
  • offering free to reproduce content to other webmasters (games, screensavers, scripts, etc)
  • writing an eBook and allow free reproduction
  • make sure to include instructions, and be clear

If you write a license to reproduce your works, be sure you are clear and explicit with what can and cannot be done, and how it must be displayed. Copyright does not need to be given up in order to allow works to be freely reproduced.

Some excellent expertly written licenses are freely available to use, such as the creative commons license which outlines distribution, attribution, and derivative works rules.

No matter what conditions you license your work under, for viral marketing to work properly you must be sure valid author and contact information (a link to your website) remains in tact.

Turning a profit with viral programs

This method of marketing is not going to turn a profit by itself. After all, people do not make money by simply giving everything away. Often times a person will build both a free version and a pay version of their product.

In software, this is referred to as shareware. This can be an effective way to generate sales from viral marketing, however the correct balance must be found between the trial version and the paid version.

If the trial version doesn’t showcase the additional features included in the pay version properly, a sale is not likely to be made. Likewise, if the trial version contains most of the good features and has no time limit, any reason to buy the paid version is effectively eliminated.