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16/1/2007 - Propaganda #1

All the groups had a chance to present their VM campaigns to a jury on the trade fair show and Propaganda is pleased to report that one of our campaigns has been chosen as the best VM campaign.

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5/12/2006 - Work in Progress

Today our team received feedback on our first draft of the proposal. We had a little meeting afterwards and discussed some options for the beta version of our plan as well as general ideas for the trade fair.
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3/12/2006 - Check this out

Here you can find tons of examples/clips of viral marketing


We selected this one for your pleasure
Don't forget to pass it on ;-)


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21/11/2006 - Brainstorm session

Yesterday we agreed everybody would come up with a couple of VM ideas that we would discuss in a groupmeeting today.
End result: 13 VM campaigns and a couple of recommendations.
Not bad for a start.
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16/11/2006 - More articles on Viral Marketing + What Propaganda is doing

This week has been mostly getting acquinted to the concept of Viral Marketing by doing background research (see articles on this page). Right now Propaganda is working hard on the Brief. Meanwhile we're also thinking about some general concepts for the VM campaigns for our client (R22).

A couple more articles.

ADAM CROUCH, at The Raw Prawn Blog
The idea of viral marketing is to create an ad that viewers will love so much that they'll pass it on to their friends, who then pass it on to their friends (hence the term "viral"). Think SuperBowl commercials gone crazy. "Viral marketing" can also apply to non-video marketing campaigns that are designed to get people talking, spreading the message.

Viral marketing can be an extremely cost-effective method of brand-building, as your only cost is in the ad development -- no media buying. I would think it is primarily effective among young, internet-saavy consumers, since they are the ones who will rapidly pass funny websites along to friends over email and instant messaging.

In order for a viral campaign to be effective, it has to not only be very funny, but fairly edgy. It's the kind of thing that you wouldn't see on TV -- I think it's safe to assume that Nike's media buys are urinating-camel-free. This also confines you to the young demographic, as people outside of it are more likely to be offended. It's also probably most effective for brands that are relative unknowns, though established brands can definitely use it to create a "hipper" image.

Source:  http://www.brandchannel.com/features_effect.asp?pf_id=173


Although the origins of viral marketing can probably be traced back to graffiti, the term itself is of relatively recent provenance, having been introduced in 1996 by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson to describe the marketing strategy of the free email service Hotmail. Each email sent through Hotmail arrived with the appended message “Get your private, free email from Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com,” along with -- and this was key -- the implicit recommendation of the sender. The service gained 12 million subscribers in 18 months at a total cost of US$ 500,000, compared to US$ 20 million spent by its nearest competitor, Juno. 


Viral marketing has become increasingly sophisticated since the Hotmail campaign. Today it is likely to involve free software, a short film clip or a book, and so far it’s still cheaper than traditional advertising. David Nichols of market research firm Added Value told the Financial Times in 2002, "Grown-up viral marketing is about involving people in things they love as a way of introducing a dialogue between brand and consumer."

In order to turn a message viral, some companies have provided “pass-it-on” tools like online forwarding options and even financial rewards for spreading the message. In a popular strategy, registered individuals are paid cash when others make purchases through advertising banners on the web. Babel Media reportedly launched a new computer game by posting cryptic messages on Internet notice boards and chat rooms where computer gamers hang out. The strategy created an underground buzz that translated into 200,000 visitors to the company’s website in 10 days. Still another strategy has been to get consumers to pass back information not only about themselves but also about their friends and colleagues. One contest, which offered a free trip to the winner and three friends, required contestants to provide details about their friends when entering.

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15/11/2006 - What is Vitral Marketing (part 3)

More on Viral Marketing

The six simple principles of viral marketing      
Source: http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles.htm

I admit it. The term "viral marketing" is offensive. Call yourself a Viral Marketer and people will take two steps back. I would. "Do they have a vaccine for that yet?" you wonder. A sinister thing, the simple virus is fraught with doom, not quite dead yet not fully alive, it exists in that nether genre somewhere between disaster movies and horror flicks.

But you have to admire the virus. He has a way of living in secrecy until he is so numerous that he wins by sheer weight of numbers. He piggybacks on other hosts and uses their resources to increase his tribe. And in the right environment, he grows exponentially. A virus don't even have to mate -- he just replicates, again and again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration:


In a few short generations, a virus population can explode.

Viral Marketing Defined

What does a virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.

Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing." While others smarter than I have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, I won't try. The term "viral marketing" has stuck.

The Classic Hotmail.com Example

The classic example of viral marketing is Hotmail.com, one of the first free Web-based e-mail services. The strategy is simple:

  1. Give away free e-mail addresses and services,
  2. Attach a simple tag at the bottom of every free message sent out: "Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com" and,
  3. Then stand back while people e-mail to their own network of friends and associates,
  4. Who see the message,
  5. Sign up for their own free e-mail service, and then
  6. Propel the message still wider to their own ever-increasing circles of friends and associates.

Like tiny waves spreading ever farther from a single pebble dropped into a pond, a carefully designed viral marketing strategy ripples outward extremely rapidly.

Elements of a Viral Marketing Strategy

Accept this fact. Some viral marketing strategies work better than others, and few work as well as the simple Hotmail.com strategy. But below are the six basic elements you hope to include in your strategy. A viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these elements, but the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy:

  1. Gives away products or services
  2. Provides for effortless transfer to others
  3. Scales easily from small to very large
  4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  5. Utilizes existing communication networks
  6. Takes advantage of others' resources

Let's examine at each of these elements briefly.

1. Gives away valuable products or services

"Free" is the most powerful word in a marketer's vocabulary. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or services to attract attention. Free e-mail services, free information, free "cool" buttons, free software programs that perform powerful functions but not as much as you get in the "pro" version. Wilson's Second Law of Web Marketing is "The Law of Giving and Selling" (http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmta/basic-principles.htm). "Cheap" or "inexpensive" may generate a wave of interest, but "free" will usually do it much faster. Viral marketers practice delayed gratification. They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can generate a groundswell of interest from something free, they know they will profit "soon and for the rest of their lives" (with apologies to "Casablanca"). Patience, my friends. Free attracts eyeballs. Eyeballs then see other desirable things that you are selling, and, presto! you earn money. Eyeballs bring valuable e-mail addresses, advertising revenue, and e-commerce sales opportunities. Give away something, sell something.

2. Provides for effortless transfer to others

Public health nurses offer sage advice at flu season: stay away from people who cough, wash your hands often, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Viruses only spread when they're easy to transmit. The medium that carries your marketing message must be easy to transfer and replicate: e-mail, website, graphic, software download. Viral marketing works famously on the Internet because instant communication has become so easy and inexpensive. Digital format make copying simple. From a marketing standpoint, you must simplify your marketing message so it can be transmitted easily and without degradation. Short is better. The classic is: "Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com." The message is compelling, compressed, and copied at the bottom of every free e-mail message.

3. Scales easily from small to very large

To spread like wildfire the transmission method must be rapidly scalable from small to very large. The weakness of the Hotmail model is that a free e-mail service requires its own mailservers to transmit the message. If the strategy is wildly successful, mailservers must be added very quickly or the rapid growth will bog down and die. If the virus multiplies only to kill the host before spreading, nothing is accomplished. So long as you have planned ahead of time how you can add mailservers rapidly you're okay. You must build in scalability to your viral model.


4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors

Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What proliferated "Netscape Now" buttons in the early days of the Web? The desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner.

5. Utilizes existing communication networks

Most people are social. Nerdy, basement-dwelling computer science grad students are the exception. Social scientists tell us that each person has a network of 8 to 12 people in their close network of friends, family, and associates. A person's broader network may consist of scores, hundreds, or thousands of people, depending upon her position in society. A waitress, for example, may communicate regularly with hundreds of customers in a given week. Network marketers have long understood the power of these human networks, both the strong, close networks as well as the weaker networked relationships. People on the Internet develop networks of relationships, too. They collect e-mail addresses and favorite website URLs. Affiliate programs exploit such networks, as do permission e-mail lists. Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.

6. Takes advantage of others' resources

The most creative viral marketing plans use others' resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others' websites. Authors who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on others' webpages. A news release can be picked up by hundreds of periodicals and form the basis of articles seen by hundreds of thousands of readers. Now someone else's newsprint or webpage is relaying your marketing message. Someone else's resources are depleted rather than your own.

Put into practice

I grant permission for every reader to reproduce on your website the article you are now reading -- "The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing"
(see http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles-clean.htm for an HTML version you can copy). But copy this article ONLY, without any alteration whatsoever. Include the copyright statement, too, please. If you have a marketing or small business website, it'll provide great content and help your visitors learn important strategies. (NOTE: I am giving permission to host on your website this article AND NO OTHERS. Reprinting or hosting my articles without express written permission is illegal, immoral, and a violation of my copyright.)

When I first offered this to my readers in February 2000, many took me up on it. Six months later a received a phone call:

"I want to speak to the King of Viral Marketing!"

"Well, I'm not the King," I demurred. "I wrote an article about viral marketing a few months ago, but that's all."

"I've searched all over the Internet about viral marketing," he said, "and your name keeps showing up. You must be the King!."

It worked! Even five years later this webpage is ranked #1 for "viral marketing."

To one degree or another, all successful viral marketing strategies use most of the six principles outlined above. In the next article in this series, "Viral Marketing Techniques the Typical Business Website Can Deploy Now" (http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-deploy.htm), we'll move from theory to practice. But first learn these six foundational principles of viral marketing. Master them and wealth will flow your direction.

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15/11/2006 - Viral Marketing visualised

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14/11/2006 - What is Viral Marketing (part 2)

Some more articles to give an insight into Viral Marketing

Viral marketing

Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of a computer virus. It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.

Some of the first recorded offline / online viral campaigns were developed by Tim Nolan of Spent2000.com fame circa 1996. By placing abstract pairings of catch-phrases, quotes, song lyrics and image mashups, Mr. Nolan developed a method of creating "buzz" around a URL based installation. Phrases like "This city isn't safe" placed along side a URL created curiousity enough in people's minds to remember a URL and visit again once they were online.

Viral marketing sometimes refers to Internet-based stealth marketing campaigns, including the use of blogs, seemingly amateur web sites, and other forms of astroturfing, designed to create word of mouth for a new product or service. Often the goal of viral marketing campaigns is to generate media coverage via "offbeat" stories worth many times more than the campaigning company's advertising budget.

The term "viral advertising" refers to the idea that people will pass on and share interesting and entertaining content; this is often sponsored by a brand, which is looking to build awareness of a product or service. These viral commercials often take the form of funny video clips, or interactive Flash games, an advergame, images, and even text.

Viral marketing is popular because of the ease of executing the marketing campaign, relative low-cost (compared to direct mail), good targeting, and the high and rapid response rate. The main strength of viral marketing is its ability to obtain a large number of interested people at a low cost.

The hardest task for any company is to acquire and retain a large customer base. Through the use of the internet and the effects of e-mail advertising, the business-to-consumer (B2C) efforts have a greater impact than many other tools of marketing. Viral marketing is a technique that avoids the annoyance of spam mail; it encourages users of a specific product or service to tell a friend. This would be a positive word-of-mouth recommendation. One of the most successful perspectives found to achieve this customer base is the integrated marketing comm

MarketingSherpa's Viral Marketing Hall of Fame 2006: Top 12 Campaigns You Should Swipe Ideas From
Apr 05, 2006

Source: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3225#


Marketers of all stripes -- prepare to be inspired! MarketingSherpa's editorial staff reviewed nearly 100 detailed entries to pick the Top 12 viral marketing campaigns for our 2006 Hall of Fame. Includes creative samples and results data for viral campaigns targeting bloggers, art-lovers, green consumers, job-seekers, frequent flyers in India, IP professionals, Portuguese teens, and our favorite, SAP's 35,000 employees. Plus, the whups-it-went-viral Web site of the year:

It's tough coming up with a knock-out campaign in a format that's now 10 years old. (Kinda makes you feel sorry for TV advertisers with 50 years of creatives to beat...)

All too many of the campaigns we reviewed for this year's Viral Hall of Fame were, while ably conducted, fairly similar to campaigns we've seen before (and before, and before that as well.) However, 12 really were stand-outs.

We've explained why briefly below, and you can click for a details page including creative samples and results data on each.

Every type of marketer is included -- from AT&T to an art museum; from a travel agency in India to an entrepreneur in backwoods USA; from super niche business-to-business to a mass consumer campaign targeting "everyone."

The sheer range of these campaigns proves practically any marketer targeting any demographic online can use viral successfully. Viral is not limited to entertainment brands or to sex/games for young adult males. A few notes:

-> Micro-budgets still OK One of the most popular campaigns we picked was created on a $1000 budget. A few others were created by in-house shops or single-man operations. That's not to say you shouldn't hire an experienced viral agency to help (many of the best are represented here too.) But, if you can't afford it and you are a *very* clever and/or lucky marketer, viral can still be do-it-yourself tactic.

-> Track your results by *goal* not merely traffic Drove us nuts! Many of the larger brands nominated for this year's awards (in particular Hollywood and consumer packaged goods firms) had delicious creative we yearned to award, but they only measured traffic and basic site stats such as time-spent to "prove" success.

Thing is, their stated campaign goal wasn't traffic. No, it was to sell stuff and/or raise brand awareness. Both of these are measurable without rocket-science (surveys and/or e-coupons for a start.)

So why do some of the biggest marketers with exciting viral campaigns not bother with valid measurement? We suspect it's the pocket-lint factor. Viral, compared to other media buys, was so tiny that they didn't bother investing in measurement.

-> Blogs are now the seed campaign of choice Last year a few entries talked about seeding via blogs or measuring results via blog mentions, this year it was nearly everyone.

-> Optimized press releases come in second Yes, sending out an $80 press release about your viral microsite really, really works … as long as you plant optimized keywords in your headline, opening paragraph and hotlink wording.

-> Stop with the enforced email forwards already! Forcing or bribing people to forward your info to a friend in order to be rewarded or win looks skanky in today's ultra-permission-based world. Especially when you tell visitors nothing about their friend's privacy in the space directly next to the email form.

A true viral campaign gets forwarded because consumers are compelled to do so by the glory of the content, not because you bribed them with points. With that said, here are the 12 campaigns that won our hearts this year, and why:

#1. Peerflix Paparazzi

MarketingSherpa Summary: A terrific example of cost-effectively tapping into the viral power of celebrities to build your own online buzz, traffic, and ultimately brand. Within 90 days after launch nearly two million unique visitors played the game more than two times each - plus 5% traveled onwards to visit the main brand's site. And that's the entire point after all.

Click to view campaign details:

#2. Beer.com's Virtual Bartender

MarketingSherpa Summary: It's pretty much a "duh". If your target is young adult males, sex really, really sells. That combined with the word "beer" explains why 10 million visitors hit the site. But, what if you're not marketing to young men, you can't use sex, and your brand isn't about liquor? Are there lessons to be learned? Yes! In fact we suspect some clever b-to-b marketer will come up with a "virtual CEO" soon, inspired by this campaign.

Click to view campaign details:

#3. New Rules of PR (PDF)

MarketingSherpa Summary: Business-to-business marketers who are dreaming that someday their white paper will go viral should check out this campaign. Per our Viral Marketing in 2006 Special Report (link below), newer seeding tactics such as blogging and press releases optimized for search engines can give a campaign that extra viral boost within a niche market (especially when you don’t have sex, celebrity, or games to drive traffic.)

Click to view campaign details:

#4. Wadsworth Atheneum - Surrealist Exhibit

MarketingSherpa Summary: This campaign proves local "brick and mortar" marketers can use online viral campaigns to drive real-world foot traffic with measurable results. Although the campaign was for an arts organization, we hope traditional and multichannel retailers in particular will be inspired by it to launch viral tactics of their own. How about a dress-your-own celebrity model contest that leads generates in-store coupons for all players…. Ooh ooh, the ideas are endless!

Click to view campaign details:

#5. The Quantum IT Challenge

MarketingSherpa Summary: Although this business-to-business lead generation campaign targeting IT professionals didn't go wildly viral (10% of game players referred a friend), marketer Kelsey Galarza who herself hails from a consumer marketing analytics background, did something almost no other online game we've heard of does: tracked each respondent by their game play.

Each player's success at a fairly tough game gave her the qualification data she needed to decide which leads should be followed up on by sales first, and which could wait a while or needed further qualification efforts. Bravo!

Click to view campaign details:

#6. MakeMyTrip Viral Series (India)

MarketingSherpa Summary: Two useful lessons from this viral campaign promoting airline tickets to affluent consumers in India -- (1) Even in this era of globalization, a regional agency can increase viral responses in a regional market and (2) if one campaign works, turn it into a viral series for ongoing brand building. Included, useful response data on how different campaigns took off in different ways.

Click to view campaign details:

#7. Blog in Space

MarketingSherpa Summary: This campaign is proof that if you blatantly appeal to bloggers' egos and desire for more traffic/attention, they will in turn happily link to you. And if your offer is appealing enough, where a few influential bloggers go the rest will virally follow.

Click to view campaign details:

#8. Kreedo Brand Democracy

MarketingSherpa Summary: The big problem with viral marketing is figuring out ahead of time what creative your prospects will find so exciting that they virally spread the word. Often it feels like a crap shoot. This campaign by a market research firm in Portugal offers a solution -- why not launch with a microsite something that's "good enough" for some viral spread and then ask your visitors what else they'd like you to add to it? If you build what they *really* want, they will come.

Click to view campaign details:

#9. Monk-e-Mail

MarketingSherpa Summary: This campaign uses elements that we've seen before quite a few times in the overcrowded field of viral e-card campaigns. Consumers get to play with an interactive form (including adding their own audio) to send a silly, personalized e-card to friends. We've all been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So why did it make Sherpa's 2006 hall of fame?

Check out the landing page. It's the best we've ever seen for this type of campaign because everything's included above the fold on just one page. You don't have to click through a screen by screen process to send an e-card. And we bet that meant considerably higher response rates.

Click to view campaign details:

#10. mySBC eBill Service: Trees in the Forest of Change

MarketingSherpa Summary: This campaign proves it's entirely possible to invent a highly-compelling viral marketing site even when you're not marketing it as entertainment (no videos, no games), nor forcing respondents (who in this case were "green" consumers) to act as your viral agent to claim a reward. Almost half a million have converted so far … very impressive.

Yes, this campaign demonstrates that with thoughtful design and execution viral can work for almost every brand and demographic online.

Click to view campaign details:

#11. Belt Buckle Knife

MarketingSherpa Summary: This is one of those classic "whups-it-went-viral" campaigns. An earnest fellow puts up a Web site to promote his home-grown product, then suddenly the world starts talking about it. This kind of tactic is impossible to copy - it's gotta be real and it’s got to be luck.

So why does it make Sherpa's Hall of Fame? Measurement. Turns out the site owner measured the value of each type of viral traffic to see who would buy, and who was just wasting time entertaining themselves on his server. We really wish more viral marketers would measure traffic ROI like this.

Click to view campaign details:

#12. The ERP of This Century

MarketingSherpa Summary: Brilliant! This viral campaign should inspire every marketer targeting huge organizations such as the Fortune 1000 and Global 1000. When your business prospect has tens of thousands of employees around the world, how can you get them all talking about how wonderful you are? How do you turn a handful of internal evangelists into thousands praising your name? Turns out rap music has all the answers…

Click to view campaign details:


unication IMC perspective.

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13/11/2006 - What is Viral Marketing

Some articles to give insight into the concept of Viral marketing

viral marketing


viral marketing

Marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.


Viral marketing depends on a high pass-along rate from person to person. If a large percentage of recipients forward something to a large number of friends, the overall growth snowballs very quickly. If the pass-along numbers get too low, the overall growth quickly fizzles.

At the height of B2C it seemed as if every start-up had a viral component to its strategy, or at least claimed to have one. However, relatively few marketing viruses achieve success on a scale similar to Hotmail, widely cited as the first example of viral marketing.

Tips for Optimizing Viral Marketing Campaigns (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=837511)

Viral marketing, or "refer-a-friend," email campaigns have received a lot of attention in the media recently. These campaigns, which encourage recipients of promotional emails to forward the messages to their friends, have garnered both positive and negative reviews from consumers, privacy advocates, and industry pundits.

At the heart of the issue are concerns over sending unsolicited email, but by using viral marketing tactics carefully, marketers may avoid negative reactions and gain an excellent return on investment (ROI) as they increase the reach of a marketing message to a targeted group far beyond their original audience.

Listed below are five insights on how to execute a viral marketing campaign most effectively.

  1. Offer an incentive. Viral marketing works best when a valuable and tangible incentive is offered, encouraging individuals to forward an email message to their friends. However, marketers should cap the incentive to a specific quantity to avoid spam-like distribution of the message -- for example, offering an incentive of 20 percent off referrers' next purchase if they forward the message to five friends. Open-ended incentives, such as offering a $5 credit for every five friends referred, can end up causing a marketer customer service, financial, and privacy-related problems.

    A women's athletic clothing multi channel retailer recently offered a creative and socially aware incentive when it launched a viral marketing campaign that rewarded message recipients with a free T-shirt and a $1 donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation when an individual sent the special email message to five friends and three of those friends opted in to the retailer's catalog or email list. The campaign was tremendously successful, driving a click-through rate three times higher than normal, an email newsletter sign-up rate of over 30 percent, and a catalog subscription rate of nearly 70 percent.
    Meanwhile, cost per sale decreased by 89 percent.
  2. Don't consider the referral an opt-in. When a customer refers a friend, the referral should not be considered an opt-in. A name and email address volunteered by a person's friend does not constitute an opt-in by the individual, so the data should be deleted immediately after the referral email is sent. Verbiage should be included in the referral email asking if the individual would like to receive future mailings, allowing her to opt in if she wishes.
  3. Personalize the referral email. Response rates increase dramatically when users can see that a message is coming from a friend, so it is best to personalize the email message to show that it's coming from a recognizable source. The subject line is the key component in a viral marketing email, because it can immediately identify the email as friendly. A good subject line may read: "ADV: John Doe Thought You'd Like 20% Off at XYZ.com," thereby identifying that it is an advertisement, there's a special offer, and the message was sent from a friend.
  4. Track and analyze the results. As with any marketing campaign, tracking the results and optimizing performance over time is absolutely necessary. Thankfully, sophisticated email marketers can track insightful and actionable data that can be used to evaluate performance. Important metrics to analyze are pass-along, click-through, and conversion rates. Marketers should separate the click-through and conversion rates by original customers from referrals and evaluate their respective performances. These metrics will alert a marketer to which offers and customers drive the highest ROI.
  5. Continually promote friendly referrals. Marketers who want to have their messages frequently forwarded should place a viral marketing offer in every relevant outgoing email message. Viral marketing makes for a great one-time campaign, but it can also be a very effective tool for continuing to broaden the reach of your marketing messages over time.

Though no sure-fire way exists to prevent negative customer reactions, by following these five concepts marketers should find their viral marketing campaigns to be most effective.

Viral Marketing Gets Structured
› › › Media Buying

By Tessa Wegert | August 3, 2006

The problem with viral marketing is it's nebulous. It isn't difficult to come up with an example of a successful viral campaign that put the company behind it on the map. But try to define exactly what made that campaign work -- or trickier still, to replicate it -- and you'll likely find yourself at a loss.

That viral marketing's definition has changed over the years contributes to this dilemma. Today, it's more commonly associated with funny videos that make the rounds of the Internet (homemade or, more rarely, corporate-funded) than the send-to-a-friend e-mail feature that started it all online. How does this form of media benefit a client whose objectives includes generating e-mail, subscriptions, leads, or e-commerce sales? And how, pray tell, can viral -- the Wild West of online media -- be judiciously integrated into an online marketing campaign?

PopularMedia has been addressing these questions since 2003 and has formulated a solution that seems to mark a return to the viral marketing of old, when it was a balancing act between "virality" and monetization.

"Viral marketing is like catching lightning in a bottle. It's great, it's viral. But it's very difficult to recreate when everything is weighted to the creative," says PopularMedia CEO Jim Calhoun. "Through proprietary methodology and analyzing how consumers share information, we can get people to repeat the process."

The private-label viral marketing solutions company first works with a client to determine objectives, then devises several variations on a theme. It runs simultaneous trials to determine which offer is most interesting to the client's target customer. The offer that resonates is built into a microsite that incorporates a viral component, such as a tell-a-friend prompt.

Interaction with the site is measured and optimized to ensure it results in monetary success. Clients pays a flat fee for the creative process, build, implementation, reporting, and analytics, as well as a CPA (define) fee for each completed consumer transaction.

Calhoun admits the procedure isn't magic. "We're not the funny video guys; what we do is very math- and science-focused," he says. What PopularMedia offers interactive marketers is far more practical and germane than a funny-video approach. It's analytical and measurable, like traditional online media. That makes it easy to view as part of a traditional online campaign, as well as easy to justify to clients.

Now, PopularMedia, which works with such companies as Entertainment Publications and Time Life, is taking the concept of providing viral marketing with some recognizable structure to another level. It's launched an ad network designed to help clients reach beyond the existing customer databases they'd normally use to promote viral microsites to new customer acquisition efforts.

The PopularMedia Network, which officially launched on August 1, includes a select group of third-party social networks and content-rich portals, some of which are its own viral marketing clients. Offer-specific display ads (which PopularMedia works with its clients to create) can be purchased on a CPM (define), CPC (define), or CPA basis, depending on the publishers' pricing policies, and linked to the client's viral microsite.

The idea is to secure additional distribution of the viral piece through media buying. Unlike a typical viral marketing effort that puts distribution entirely in the consumers' hands, nothing is left to chance.

This overall approach might appear to take some of the glamour and excitement out of viral marketing as we know it. It all but eliminates the rush of checking your daily site logs to find millions of new visitors unexpectedly dropped by. But as with any hot medium, there inevitably comes a time when the focus shifts from mayhem to monetization. For all you marketers who would rather produce tangible results than gain fleeting notoriety and brand buzz from a clever viral campaign, this is a shift that's long overdue.

Self-Propelling Viral Campaigns
By Julian Smith | April 12, 2004

ISPs offer sophisticated filtering to combat spam and pop-ups. Privacy legislation demands stricter email opt-in. We're seeing a crackdown on intrusive commercial online messages that's limiting online marketers' freedom. A growing number are considering viral marketing tactics to overcome these restrictions and help spread brand messages amongst a target audience.

Viral marketing essentially takes advantage of the rapid multiplication effects of online social networks (through email, chat rooms, IM, file-sharing networks, etc.) to help spread a commercial message on the cheap. Potential exists for exponential growth in message exposure that can far exceed what's achievable were similar budget spent on commercial media channels.

Passed via peer to peer, "word of mouse" messages can help endorse a brand among like-minded consumers, thus spreading its influence. Because they're passed between individuals at a low distribution level (Bob sends a message to a handful of his mates, who in turn pass it to a handful of their mates), they can bypass spam filters with relative ease.

Non-commercial channels can also get around advertising authority standards and promote brand aspects that might otherwise be considered controversial. Taking this non-mainstream route, a brand can be imbued with certain credibility, status, and subculture currency attractive to the target audience. The approach can also be useful for testing ad messages and creating buzz before going mainstream. Multimedia communications company 3, for example, used virally spread video clips in a teaser campaign to build excitement amongst early adopters prior to the public launch of its 3G handsets in the U.K.

Though you can certainly derive a number of benefits from encouraging the viral spread of commercial content, be aware of the limitations. Control of the message and its distribution is lost as word spreads, making outcomes unpredictable and difficult to measure. The proportion of the online audience likely to participate is small. Jupiter Research's latest European consumer survey shows only 5 percent of the Internet population had forwarded an advertising message. Of respondents who said they had, 64 percent were under 34 years old and 56 percent were male.

Those seeking to attract and influence a young, Web-savvy, male-oriented audience (difficult to target in more mainstream media) should consider online viral tactics. Many of the most successful viral marketing campaigns, a number of which have ended up in my own inbox, have come from advertisers promoting consumer packaged goods and lifestyle brands to this demographic. Notable U.K. examples include alcohol brands (Vladivar Vodka and John Smiths beer); cars (Mazda and MG Rover); sex-associated brands (Trojan condoms and Agent Provocateur lingerie); mobile phones (Virgin Mobile and 3); and computer games (Xbox, EA SPORTS, and Eidos). Burger King's gulp-inducing Subserviant Chicken tore through the U.S. like wildfire last week.

The success of a self-propelling, viral marketing campaign depends on creative execution and the quality of the initial seeding. To optimize message spread, content must be entertaining and engaging. The online audience will pass on advertainment, not ads. Content that's funny, topical, or sexy has best viral currency as it reflects well on the message sender, not the message originator. The Ford Ka evil twin clips recently doing the rounds were classic (but animal cruelty allegations sparked enough controversy to make the ad quickly disappear. Download).

Ensure the message fits with the brand's values and personality and doesn't undermine perceptions held by the target audience. My perception of the Ford Ka, it has to be said, was certainly improved by viewing the clip. Video clips offer the greatest visual appeal and require the least viewer interaction or involvement. Be careful to use formats that are widely accepted (such as .mpg) to ensure ease of use and encourage distribution.

It's possible to offer incentives, such as prize drawings and discounts, to encourage viewers to forward commercial email to contacts and thus spread your message. But these member-get-member schemes are better used for cost-effective customer acquisition. Non-incentivized viral campaigns are more of a brand-building tactic.

Initiating a true viral campaign requires careful seeding amongst key influencers within the target audience and can be boosted by postings on sites such as the Lycos Viral Chart, ViralMeister, TTR2, and ViralBank.com, which can also offer tracking and campaign measurement. Evaluating viral spread is possible, to some extent, by tracking content downloads and monitoring chart success and qualitative consumer feedback.

If you're thinking of using viral material, be aware that gaining a complete return on investment (ROI) picture is impossible, not least because the content can continue to circulate on the Web long after the campaign is considered over.


Published: July 14, 2005

The Little Bug that Could (Part 1) (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/6322.asp)


By Jim Meskauskas


Media Strategies Editor Jim Meskauskas lays out the history of viral marketing, from nascent pathogen to full-fledged epidemic.

One of the biggest influences that the evolution of the internet and digital media and marketing has had on the rest of the advertising industry is on the language we use to talk about it. The industry is replete with words and acronyms that before it came to be were only a twinkle in a lexicographer’s eye.

Online advertising and marketing has given rise to an entire cottage industry of business endeavors based on explicating advertising and marketing with new language. Many of these are based solely on wrapping old concepts with new jargon and representing them to the marketplace as wholly new. Entire careers have been made on making what is old new again, using new words and phrases to describe old phenomena.

Among the most pervasive new labels that have been applied to marketing and advertising activity is viral marketing.

In December of 1998, the erstwhile must-read online advertising industry newsletter ICONOCAST read "the award for internet marketing buzzword of the year goes to 'viral marketing.'”

Viral marketing has been with us for quite some time now, and is really a take on a much older form of marketing known as word of mouth. Word-of-mouth advertising is itself a member of these words and phrases used today to describe older forms of marketing in new ways. In reality, word of mouth, or WOM as it is often referred to, has been around since lingual upright bipeds have been exchanging objects of perceived value for goods and services that did not already belong to the tribe.

Viral marketing is much the same, only there is the added component of a shareable asset that can be easily passed from person to person using media that facilitates alternative means of communicative action.

Online viral marketing: a history

It seemed that over several years during the dotcom heyday, wherever one went in online advertising and marketing circles, it was impossible to have a conversation or attend a conference without someone bringing up viral marketing. Since the notion of viral marketing was really formalized as a viable, intentional marketing device in 1999, everyone in the marketing departments of nearly every advertiser has been looking for a viral marketing solution.

One could reasonably argue that the very first online viral marketing piece was the very first marketing email sent by DEC (eventually part of Compaq, now HP) in 1978. DEC announced a new DEC-20 machine by sending an invite to all ARPANET addresses on the west coast, using the ARPANET directory, inviting people to receptions in California. Though at the time, the community chastised DEC for breaking the ARPANET appropriate use policy, it served as a marketing message that could be passed along to those within one’s community that might have interest in its content.

It was a long time before email would become the recognized progenitor of viral marketing with Hotmail’s use of a “tell a friend” link (“Get your free private email at http://www.hotmail.com”) automatically appended to the end of emails sent by users of the free email service. In fact, the term “viral marketing” was coined by Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which invested in Hotmail in the early days.

Remember the Mahir Cagri “I kiss you!!” craze that ran rampant during late 1999 and the first half of 2000? The guy was on all manner of talk shows, and his site is in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records for receiving the most visits to a personal homepage, with an estimated 12 million “hits.”

To capitalize on this “viral” phenomenon, eTour joined forces with Mahir, sponsoring a U.S. Tour. At WebAttack 2000 at the Roseland in Manhattan, Jim Lanzone, vice president, marketing of eTour, came out to give a speech wearing red Speedos, a la Mahir, to discuss the power of viral marketing.

Then there was the Superfriends Budweiser email, with Batman, Robin, Superman and Aquaman saying “Wazz Up?!,” to one another.

We had the BMW Films series about which there was much talk within the advertising community.

Other “spread the word” campaigns have included Suburban’s Trunk Monkey and the Sportka of Ford’s European division.





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13/11/2006 - Welcome

Propaganda from left to right:
Vernon Roberts (Traffic Manager)
Bart Balm (Fair Trade Expert)
Daniella Roozendaal (Consumer expert)
Zuzana Blystanova (Fair Trade Expert)
Marchena Saften (Viral Marketing Manager)
Clayton Fredrik (Project Leader)
Chris Engbersen (Researcher)

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