Viral Marketing for your Website
by William Frederico
Viral Marketing is a powerful way to get your website and your business noticed. In this article we will focus on Viral Marketing through the use of Informational Articles, which we call Viral Articles.
What Is Viral Marketing?
Viral Marketing is simply a marketing strategy that encourages other website owners to help market your business and your website in exchange for providing them with rich, interesting content in the form of informational articles (or other services) for their site. The trick is that the content you provide them promotes a powerful self-replicating "viral" aspect of the plan - a special copyright disclaimer that encourages any viewer of the article to feel free to reproduce the article on their website if they like, as long as they reproduce the article and credits in their entirety. This strategy creates the potential for exponential reproduction and exposure of your article, resulting in many incoming links to your website and wide-spread exposure of your business.
Enough with the details, you just want to get started? Here's the FAST TRACK TO VIRAL MARKETING:
Take the Viral Marketing Fast Track
If you don't care about the details of Viral Marketing and just want to know how to do it, here is how to get started. Take a look at the bottom of this article at my "Viral" Copyright Statement.
You'll notice my name in the signature line along with a link to my company website and some important keywords. Right under it is a copyright notice that basically says that anyone may copy and reproduce the article as long as they include the credits and the copyright notice. So, if a webmaster sees this article and likes it, they'll add it to their site. That's it, it's that simple.
You hope that visitors take you up on your offer and reproduce your article on their website. You hope that eventually your article will get posted to a few high traffic sites, where many other webmasters will read it and do the same. And so on. This allows the possibility of your article being replicated exponentially, thus creating an exponential number of incoming links to your site. Not to mention the number of people who will read your article and learn about your name, your business, and get a glimpse of your expertise.
So, the step-by-step marketing plan using Viral Articles is:
Really, it's as simple as that. You're all set, go write some good stuff and set them Viral Articles loose!
Hang In There and Learn a Bit More...
Ok, for those who decided to stay with us, let's take a step back and think about the reasoning behind the Viral Article strategy. Why is it effective and how does it work?
1. It Does What Google Likes
One of the major factors in getting a good ranking in Google and other search engines is the number of links coming into your site from other websites. If your website has good stuff, then other websites will link to it. Essentially, Google says "sites that have more incoming links are more interesting, relevent, and valuable so they get a higher ranking." If you get more incoming links to your site, your ranking will improve. Incoming links carry even more weight if they come from sites that are relevent to your website topic area. And it's even better if those sites have a high Google page rank themselves.
These facts tie into our Viral Marketing strategy quite nicely. It's easy to see how a well-liked article can create plenty of incoming links to your site. But it doesn't stop there. The very nature of this system encourages webmasters to place your article on other websites that are of topical interest to your article (it would be unlikely for someone to include an article about "Programming in Java" on a "Used Car" site!) This suggests a high chance of your article being placed on a website that is relevent to your product or services. This is a homerun on the Google/search engine front!
2. Beyond Google - Becoming an Expert
Getting ranked on Google is important, but it's not the most important thing in the world. Remember, the ultimate goal is to sell your product. Create interesting and useful articles. Get them exposed to as many readers as possible. This showcases your abilities and expertise. People will discover not only that you exist but that you really know your stuff. You become an expert in your field, and everyone wants an expert working for them! This is a basic marketing concept that sometimes gets lost by web businesses in their quest for "top ten" rankings. If enough people know that you're an expert, you will succeed regardless of your Google ranking!
3. More Marketing Common Sense
Ok, you probably already know that one of the basic marketing goals for any business is to create a network of contacts. A main reasons you do this is to let as many people as possible know that you exist, what your business does, and how to contact you. When you network in person at business meetings, you'll typically give several business cards to each person you meet. You encourage them to spread your business card to others. If someone in your network comes across a job that you're qualified for, they are likely to send the business your way.
It's not much of a leap to realize that your Viral Articles can accomplish the same thing. When your Viral Article is spread, people will come to know that your business exists, what you do, and that you're an expert in your field. If they like what you have to say, it's likely they'll consider you for their needs or refer you. They may also simply choose to pass a reference to your article along just because it's useful. Your Viral Article becomes a self-replicating business card with full-page advertisement attached. You just can't beat that.
4. Content is the King
The real key to success for your Viral Articles comes down to the content. If you want alot of people to reproduce your article, it must be interesting, unique, and innovative. You have to provide stuff that people want. When it comes to the Internet, Content is truly the King. Give people stuff they can use and they'll want to hear more from you. Make it easy for them to spread the word and they'll create a buzz. People reward good content by linking to it. If you do it right, your work will take on a life of it's own.
(on a side note, the concept of "Content is King" applies to your website too. Give something back to your website visitors in the form of fresh, interesting content & features and they'll have a reason to come back again and again. By making your website an enjoyable, dynamic place to visit you give back to the internet community - and you will be rewarded.)
Other Viral Marketing Possibilities
We've mainly covered Viral Articles here but the concept can be (and has been) applied in many different forms. Here are some other ways that you might employ viral marketing techniques:
E-Zines and Newsletters
Periodic newsletters are a good way to keep your name fresh in your visitors' minds. You can leverage your newsletter as a viral marketing tool by encouraging readers to share the newletter with their friends and family. Make it easy for them to refer your newsletter and the process becomes even more effective. Here are the steps:
- Build a mailing list through your website and other marketing avenues.
- Send out a periodic newsletter to your subscriber database. As always, offer interesting and useful content in your newsletter.
- Encourage readers to email the newsletter to their friends as long as it is forwarded in it's entirety. If you're tech saavy enough, you could provide links in your newsletter that make this process easier.
- Include a Viral Copyright at the bottom of your newsletter similar to our Viral Article copyright encouraging webmasters to reproduce and share the content on their website as long as they keep the copyright intact.
When you think about it, an e-Book is just a really big article. If you're a prolific enough writer to write an e-Book you should definately leverage your work to help your site. Offer it as a free e-Book, get your "feel free to reproduce" viral copyright wording in there, and get the word out by:
- Promoting your e-Book on your website.
- Posting to topical Message Boards a link to your e-Book (i.e. "check out my FREE e-Book on Vacation Secrets.")
- Offering it to other topical websites.
Email This Article/Page To A Friend
More under the category of "ease of use," this functionality should definately be integrated with your website. You've seen it before, websites have a link at the bottom of every page that says "Email this page to a friend." You click on the link and are asked for your name, your friend's email address, and a short message. They fill out the form, click send, and "boom," your website gets viewed by one more potential customer.
Make it easy for visitors to your site to share your website resources. It's a simple matter to add an "Email This Page to a Friend" link on every page of your website (especially if you have the right web hosting setup.) Let visitors email interesting pages from your site to their friends, families, and associates. At the bottom of the email you generate with the link to your page, make sure to include the "Viral Copyright" statement that encourages recipients to share the page with even more people.
(shameless plug - if you're not tech saavy enough to add an "email this page" feature to your website, please contact me here at Logic Mountain. We can typically set your website up with this feature very inexpensively. There's no reason why this feature shouldn't be available on EVERY website you own!)
Free Email Accounts (as seen in Yahoo)
Most people are familiar with this model, however, because of server, bandwidth, and legal issues this type of Viral Marketing implementation is beyond the reach of most small companies. But it's a great example of how effective Viral Marketing can be. Here's how Yahoo does it:
- Offer free email accounts.
- Users sign up for a free email account. Your email server intercepts every one of their outgoing emails and appends a blurb saying something like "Get your FREE Yahoo email account." Of course, there's a link to the signup screen.
- Recipients of the emails sign up for their own free email accounts.
- The process repeats. And repeats.
- Yahoo sits back and watches their database fill up with contacts. Oh, and by the way, now they can append whatever message they want to the incoming/outgoing emails and market whatever service or product they choose. Pretty powerful stuff!
Other Free Offerings
Here are just a few more samples of other strategies that employ Viral Marketing tactics.
- Free web hosting offers,
- Free message boards,
- Free "Joke of the Day" for your site
This article focused on mostly Viral Articles but we also touched upon many other possibilities and examples of Viral Marketing. You should have everything here you need get started. Feel free to use my "Viral Copyright Statement" as-is or modify it as needed for your own use.
Viral Marketing, especially Viral Articles, are really a fast and easy way to promote yourself and your business. Get some articles written, add a "Viral Copyright Statement," and go get your name out there. Then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. While you're at it, why not put your thinking cap on? With your newfound understanding of this concept, you might even innovate a new Viral Marketing wrinkle and find yourself sitting at the top of Google (and the top of the world) in no time! I hope this article has been helpful to you and I certainly welcome your comments and suggestions at theViralArticle@logicmountain.com. Have fun and go viral!
Another Shameless Plug
My company, Logic Mountain, has developed numerous internet solutions and web content management technologies that can make implementing your Viral Marketing plan a breeze. We also have several powerful proprietary tools that help you managing your website and providing dynamic content just plain easy. If you need help getting your website technology up to speed, we have an affordable solution that we will custom tailor to your needs. Drop us a line and we'll be happy to help your business take it to the next level. Click here to visit Logic Mountain.
Web Site Development, Web Marketing, Internet Development, and E-Commerce
Copyright Information THIS ARTICLE IS FREE FOR REPRODUCTION under the following conditions: You may use this article on another website but it must be reproduced in its entirety along with live links, credits, and this entire copyright statement must be included. We do not release any other rights or ownership associated with this article. Any other use must be approved in writing by William Frederico. Copyright 2004, William Frederico, Logic Mountain. All Rights Reserved. Visit http://www.logicmountain.com for free technical and web development articles, J2EE software development solutions, custom web site design, ecommerce, web hosting, web services, graphic design, VRS Voice Response Systems and technical business solutions.