Part 13 Viral Marketing: Run a Contest!

People love to win things, and they love to be recognised for

winning. Be creative in deciding what the prize should be, but

consider how much your customers will think it is worth.


While a prize doesn’t have to be something of great value, it does have

to be something that is useful or of some value to the winner. Make

sure that it is something they want, not just a blatant advertisement

for your business.


A bumper sticker marketing your web address is not

going to generate a great deal of interest. Your advertisement or web

address should be plainly visible, but it should not be the focal point of

the item you are giving away.


If you are running a business to business website, free advertising on

your site for the winner is something that wouldn’t cost you anything,

but if your site doesn’t attract very much traffic the prize may not be

seen as being very valuable.


The great thing for you is that running contests is a great way to drive

large amounts of traffic to your site. Other than the cost of the prize,

there is not very much cost involved in this technique. There are

websites and blogs that are in the business of telling others about

contests that other people are running.


They will do your marketing for you. All you have to do is contact these

sites and let them know about your contest. If it’s worth mentioning

they will tell their subscribers.  If the contest is good enough or creative

enough, it may catch the attention of a blogger who will spread the word to others.

The better the prize package, the faster and farther it will spread.


A good way to take advantage of this technique is to have a repeating

contest, or a series of contests. This method will keep customers

returning to your site.


Not only will they return to sign up for the new

contest, but they will also check back periodically to see what the next

contest is, and when it begins.

Part 12 Viral Marketing: Linkbating

The term “Linkbaiting” meets with mixed reaction among internet

marketers. It refers to the practice of “baiting” viewers into linking

back to your site from there site. You write something on your site

that catches the interest of other website owners and bloggers, and

they trackback to your site with comments about what you wrote.


The reason that linkbaiting is sometimes looked down on is that some

marketers use somewhat controversial methods to get those links.

While most of the methods are very legitimate, there are some that

many feel cross the line, and are not appropriate to use.


There are several ways to get other site owners to link back to your

site, many of which I’ve already discussed. The first is to provide

useful information that is new, or a unique view of existing



The second way is to offer fresh, hot information. This is especially

good if you are credited with breaking a story. When it works, this can

generate a lot of traffic very quickly. The downside is, news stories

have a very short life. The viral effect from a hot news story could be

over within a day or two.


The third way is to use humour. People love jokes, cute or funny

stories, and things that make you go, “hmm…” Everyone likes to be

entertained. The trick is to get your message across, while being

entertaining at the same time.


The fourth way to get links is to offer free tools or games

that people can use from your site. Banks and insurance

companies take advantage of this when they offer  financial and loan calculators

on their websites.


While you are using the calculators, you are also being shown a message

about other products and services that are offered. Even if you are

not actively looking at the information, it is still planted in your brain,

and builds brand recognition for the company.


The final method is the more controversial one. It relies on the power

of controversy to get links. The way it works is for the site owner or

blogger to take a contrary position on a popular subject, or to attack a

popular person. Other blogs start to comment on what you said, either

because they can not believe you had the nerve to post it, or they are

coming to the defense of the person who was attacked.


The reason this is seen as somewhat controversial is that often times it

is less than honest. The person making the post may not really feel

that way at all, they only take that position for the passion, and links,

that taking a contrary position it evokes.


The danger of this last method is the damage it could do to your

reputation. If you are seen as a trouble maker or rabble-rouser, many

of your regular viewers may leave your site and begin frequenting

other sites that are a little more in line with their way of thinking.


So why would site owners risk damaging their reputations for links?

The first reason is the immediate flood of traffic it can send to their

site. Even though they may not agree with your opinion, some people

will still check your site out to see if there is anything else



The second reason is that links represent popularity, and some search

engines, most notably Google, use the number of sites that link to

your site when they determine the ranking of each site. When other

sites link to your site, it improves your ranking with Google. This is

especially true with sites that are ranked higher than yours are. The

more sites that link to you, the higher your site climbs.


For some site owners, the traffic generated by getting links outweighs

the negative consequences that might come from a bruised reputation.

For your business, you need to consider whether it is more important

for you to have a quick burst of traffic to your site, or whether you

would rather build a steady stream of regular customers that will

continue to return to your site long into the future.


There are a number of sites that have effectively used gotten other

sites to give them a link. Most notably are The Million Dollar Home

Page, One Red Paper Clip, and All My Life For Sale. All three of these

sites used unique ideas that made other site owners and bloggers

want to write about what they were doing. The resulting surge of

traffic made all three of these efforts overwhelmingly successful (and

yes, the Million Dollar Home Page really did earn a million dollars).

Part 11 Viral Marketing: Provide Free Content For Other Blogs/Websites

Another great way to spread the word about your business is to

provide free content to other websites and blogs. Everyone wants

fresh, well written content for their website.


Fortunately for you, not everyone has the time or the ability to do it themselves.

With the ever increasing number of websites and blogs on the internet, there is an

ongoing demand for article writers and guest bloggers. That‟s where

you come in.


By providing free content for someone else to use, they get useful

information on their website, you get your name out, and they pay the

marketing costs. It is a win-win situation for everyone.


Look around for blogs that cover your area of expertise and offer your

services to them. They may want you to show them a sample of your

writing before they are willing to take you up on your offer. After all,

they have their own reputation for quality to consider.


If you have a specific article in mind, you could show them the first couple of

paragraphs. If you are extending an open offer, write a sample article

that shows what you are capable of doing. Just make sure your sample

displays the kind of quality they will be looking for.


After you write your article, you can place a short “About the Author”

paragraph at the end. Included in that paragraph is information about

your business, and more importantly, a link back to your website.


Not only do you get a surge in traffic that comes from their website, but

the more different places your material appears, the better the

chances that one of your pieces will get picked up by one of the social

bookmark sites or another blogger and starts to go viral.

Part 10 Viral Marketing: Use an RSS Feed

Another way to build returning traffic to your site is to provide an RSS

feed. In its current form, RSS stand for “Really Simple Syndication”.

RSS allows someone to place a link on their homepage, website, or

RSS reader that sends an update every time you update the

information on your site.


This is especially popular with news sites and blogs. If you are posting

to your blog every week day, your readers will get an update 5 times a



That means 5 times a week they will be reminded of your name

and your website. This can really work to your advantage because they

are getting that reminder because they asked to be reminded, not

because you are forcing yourself on them.


Every day they have a chance to read your message, and have the

opportunity to visit the main part of your site. The more traffic that

comes to your site on a regular basis, the more sales and advertising

revenue you can generate.


Another way to use RSS feeds is to bring news or information about

your niche that will add value to your site. By putting fresh, up to date

information on your websites main page, you give visitors a reason to

come back to your site on a continuing basis. If they are interested in

your topic, the will return to your site to get updates.


Both uses of RSS are designed to keep your customers coming back.

The more often they come back and get new, useful, or entertaining

material, the more likely they are of spreading the word to their

friends and family, and that is the first step of going viral.

Part 9 Viral Marketing: Use Social Bookmark Sites

Something that has really flourished in recent years is the popularity of

social bookmark sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, and These

sites allow users to search, set bookmarks, organize, read, and rate

anything on the internet.


If something you have written is posted to

one of these sites, other readers get a chance to vote on whether or

not they like it. If someone thinks it is good, and worth sharing, they

can vote for it. The more people vote for it, the higher up in the

rankings it moves.


The higher it goes, more people see it. The more

people see it, the more opportunities there are for someone else to

vote on it, which helps it to rank even higher.


The good part for you is, even if a reader doesn’t vote on your article,

they still might go to your site to see if there is anything else there

that they might like.


One important thing to note is, these social bookmark sites do not like

you to vote for your own articles. In fact, if you do vote for your own,

it could cause it to move lower in the rankings. You have to have

something that other people find interesting enough that they feel

compelled to vote for it.


These sites attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every day. If you

are fortunate enough to have your message ranked toward the top on

one or more of these sites for even one day, the flood of traffic to your

site could be tremendous.