Viral marketing is the great white hope of the advertising industry. It promises to deliver all those things that advertising folk like to talk about…
- It’s interactive
- It’s involving
- It’s digital
This is all just so much ‘blah blah’. Viral marketing is an over-hyped tool that has promised much and delivered little in the real world. How many truly successful viral marketing campaigns have you seen?
Yes, there are plenty of things that have gone viral. But they’re not marketing anything. They’re fun. A bit of frippery to distract and amuse. They achieve nothing more.
To be successful as a marketing tool, a viral campaign must achieve a marketing result. It has to deliver eyeballs, sales and/or brand/product awareness. If it can’t achieve any of these objectives, it’s a complete and utter waste of time and money from the perspective of the one paying for it.
To go viral, a campaign must be easy to spread. If it requires anything even remotely difficult or time-consuming, it won’t spread beyond the first generation of people who receive it. This has implications for viral products that require downloading and installing. In most industries, this would kill a viral campaign right then and there.
It makes much more sense for most industries to instead build a web-based viral campaign that doesn’t require downloading, and instead runs instantly in a browser.
UK sex-toy retailer Electric LadyLounge has produced a viral marketing campaign based on a quiz format. The viral tests one’s knowledge of sex-toys. The quiz page loads immediately, and takes around 90 seconds to complete.
The results are displayed, and it’s a bit of a giggle. Even better, you can see how other people did, including the person who sent you the quiz.
This is something you might send on to your friends if they enjoy having a laugh. Electric LadyLounge make it clear that you and your friends can see each other’s results. This provides a social motivation to spread the virus.
The company goes one step further, and offers to enter you in a prize draw each time you send the quiz on to a friend. This is a smart step, although the prize isn’t all that exciting in and of itself. But then, it probably doesn’t need to be in this case. It merely adds a little spice to mix.
There is a built-in form that allows you to send a ‘personal’ invitation to your friends by supplying minimal data. This makes it reasonably easy to spread the ‘virus’, but only to one person at a time. And after supplying 3 pieces of data (firstname, lastname and email address).
It could be even easier to send this out. If the quiz was integrated with Facebook it would be possible to share it with all one’s Facebook friends with a single click.
In my view, a viral marketing campaign will only succeed if 3 criteria are met. You can read about them here.