Part 18 Viral Marketing: Build A Community

One of the reasons for the ever increasing popularity of the internet is that it allows like minded people to get together from anywhere in the world.

From sports to politics to gum wrapper collectors; if it is something you are interested in, chances are very good that you can find someone who shares your interests.

Take a look at Yahoo Groups.

They host hundreds of thousands of different groups from around the world. A search for “viral marketing” groups brought a list of 360 different groups. While I‟m not suggesting you try to become the next Yahoo Groups, it does demonstrate the desire for internet users to get together with people who share the same interests. One method you could consider 42 to take advantage of this is to host a forum on your website. Find an area of interest that is related to your business, and set up a forum on that topic.

Allow your users a way to leave messages in the forum, or contact each other using email or an instant messaging program, and maybe even set up chat rooms where they can engage in active discussions. As the host of the forum you could help answer any questions, which will help to further establish you as an expert in your field. You would also help moderate discussions, and share new and interesting information.

Encourage your users to participate. Give them the ability to share ideas and to establish themselves as experts. Make it a safe, friendly environment where they can share their opinions (within reason). If your community stays active, it will continue to grow, and some of the community members will become customers. You can find some very good forum programs that are available for free.

Download the program and upload it to your web host and you are up and running. Many of the web host companies have software as part of their hosting packages geared toward building communities on your site.

They make it very easy to set up forums, chat rooms, guest books and more. Building a community in this way will bring people that are interested in your line of business to your website. Once they are there, it is easy for them to look around at what you have to offer them. Because they 43 are already interested, it is much more likely that they will take advantage of what your business offers.


Part 17 Viral Marketing: Offer An e-comment or e-card Service

Social networks have become an extremely popular way for people to stay in touch with each other. Things can go pretty viral on it. While a lot of the publicity on these sites have gotten is because of the teens and college students that use them, businesses have discovered they are a useful way to build their networks as well. Some of the sites are very bare-bones, but some of them are quite elaborate. One thing most of them have in common is a place for visitors to leave comments.

Many times these comments are messages back and forth between friends, but some of the messages are small digital pictures and graphics with a pre-written message. There are web sites that provide these comments free to their viewers. If you see one you like and want to share with a friend, you can copy and paste a small line of code into your friends comment box, and the comment will appear.

When you look at these comments you will notice that on every one there is a company name or web address at the bottom. Most of these graphics are clickable links that will take the viewer back to the web site of the person that created it.

If your comment is attractive or quirky enough, social network users will start sharing it with their friends. When their friends (or their friend’s visitors) see the graphic, they will click on it to see what other comments you have to offer. While many businesses are using these services to build their networks, the majority of users are teens, young adults, and women.

If your business is aimed toward adult men, this method may have limited success, but if you are marketing to the younger generation, you can bring a flood of traffic to your site with this method. A similar service you can offer is free e-cards. People are always searching for cards to send to friends, family members, acquaintances, and co-workers.

They are easy to use, and have maintained their popularity over the years. These cards come in several different varieties; with or without music and static or animated. Some are very simple animations; others are very elaborate Flash animations. Once the person finds the card they like, they can fill in the message box, add the email of the person they are sending it to, and press the send button.

An email is sent telling the recipient that their friend has sent them a card, and it gives them a link to click that will allow them to view the card. The person receiving the card gets a message from a friend to enjoy and a small line telling them who sponsored the card. Because you are hosting the card service, the viewer is already at your site.

You just have to give them a good reason to click the links that will take them where you want them to go.

In early 2006 job listing service CareerBuilder.com launched a program called Monk-e-mail. With the click of a mouse you could choose which chimpanzee you wanted to use with your card, then personalise that chimp with different clothing, glasses, hats, and backgrounds. Users also had the option of writing or recording their own message, and even had a text to speech functions that allowed the chimp to deliver your message.

As an extra bonus, when you move your mouse around the screen, the chimp follows your movement.

Within 3 months of launching, over 14 million monk-e-mails had been sent. The kicker is that CareerBuilder spent no money in marketing this service. In the first week CareerBuilder sent out 1,500 monk-emails to employees and agencies, and word of mouth did the rest. That is what you call viral!

Monk-e-mail was so original and quirky that the buzz quickly spread across the internet, and even made it to the main stream media outlets. You do not need to create a program as elaborate as monk-e-cards but, it does need to be creative and unique.

If you do digital photography or graphic art, this could be a very good way to use your talent to build traffic to your site, or you could hire a freelance designer to create your cards for you. Do a search for e-cards and you will get a good idea of the types of designs people are using. As always, quality and uniqueness are an advantage.

If you missed part 16 of our viral marketing series you can find it here


Part 16 Viral Marketing: Offer A Digital Game Or Tool That Carries Your Message

Games are another thing that can make content go viral on the internet. I’m not talking about intensive multiplayer games that take place in a virtual world, just simple games that people can play at their desk on a break at work.

If you or someone you know has any experience using Macromedia’s Flash, this can be an excellent way to get your businesses name in front of a lot of eyes. Like everything else, if you do not know how to do it yourself, all you have to do is look around and you will find someone who is willing to do it for you.

This is another area where being creative will serve you well. The game does not have to be an entirely new idea, but the more unique it is, the more interest, and traffic, it will generate. Do a search for “flash games” and you will see thousands of games that people can play without any downloading or programs to install.

You can also see that all of the games are not entirely unique.  Some are simply a twist on an older classic game, but there has to be something different for it to work for you. The internet probably does not need another version of Tetris, but a Tetris like game with different shaped animals instead of blocks might get you some attention.

If your game catches on, there are quite a few sites that will advertise your game for you, and some that will even host a copy of your game on their site. When someone decides to play your game, you can put an advertisement about your business that they can see while they are waiting for the game to load.

One great example of using a free game for marketing is Peerflix. They created a game called “Paparazzi” that made fun of celebrities. The idea went viral and was quickly picked up by Entertainment Weekly, E Online, and most of the game sites. Within 90 days of the games launch, it had logged over 2 million unique visitors.

The great part for Peerflix is that nearly 5 percent of those visitors made their way over to the main part of the website, which was the reason they created the game in the first place.

Another option is to offer a free tool or resource that people will find useful. While some of these options might cost you a little more to develop and host, if they get exposure and become popular, they are an excellent way to get people visiting your site repeatedly.

Calendars, organizers, and reminder services are all ways to get your businesses name in front of your potential customers. Quirky screensavers are another great program to offer. Every time the user’s computer sits idle for a few minutes, your message pops up on the screen.

The trick is to put your message in a place where it can be seen, but it should not be the focal point. People are not interested in downloading your advertisement, but they will accept the advertisement as a small price to pay for something of greater value.

If your program works well and is seen as useful, users will tell other people about it, they will write about it on their blogs, and they will link to your program from their websites. That is what going viral is all about.

The great part about both of these options is it gives you repeated visibility. Marketing experts have determined that on average it takes being exposed to something at least 7 times before people will act on it.

The more often people see your message, the more likely they are to do something about what they see. Advertisers and politicians put their message in as many places as possible so people will get exposed to it multiple times. That is what gets people attention.

That is all for now. If you missed Part 15 here it is again.


5 "BORING" THINGS MOST ONLINE RETAILERS DON'T DO, BUT SHOULD DO?

Not understanding the customer Mindset

This is a crucial aspect that most retailers tend to push aside and happens to be the number one thing you need to focus on in order to increase your sales. Understanding the customer mindset means knowing exactly what the customer wants.

This is where most retailers go wrong. It’s not always the price! Actually it’s never really the price. You need to find out what moves your target market and you need to sell it to them good. For example if you’re an online store that sells baseball caps and notice that people the red baseball cap is the most popular, that is undeniable proof that you need to focus hard on marketing that particular product.

The good thing about that is you may even be able to charge more for this product because you know it's what the people want!
Understanding why people are leaving your site

You need to understand why people are coming to your site but then leaving straight away. In the marketing world this is known as a bounce rate. The aim is to keep your bounce rate as low as possible.

A great free tool that you can use to find out the ins and outs of your site is Google analytics.

Not only will it give you the bounce rates but it would also tell you the average time people are spending on your site.

If your bounce rate is high and people are not spending enough time on your site you seriously need to work on that. You need to analyse the sites you are sending your visitors to and always test with different things.

For example you may want to change font styles, colours, buy buttons images etc. The trick is you should always be split testing so you can see what works and what doesn't. Remember there's always room for improvement.

Take Amazon for example. They are a billion dollar company but the site has changed dramatically since its launch  22 years ago.

Find Out Why People are Abandoning the Cart

If you can find out why people are getting to the checkout page but not buying the product that will dramatically increase your sales.

There are things you can do to reduce the amount of abandoned carts.

For example having a security button clearly displayed on the cart page will reassure potential buyers that their payment details are in safe hands. Do this one simple thing and you should see far less abandoned carts. If you would like more tips on "How to solve the abandoned cart issue for good", Click Here.

Build Trust

Building trust is crucial with any business as it will dramatically increase your sales through recommendations and increase the value of a customer. Even more so if you are an online business because people can't really see you so trusting you will be harder for them.

The process to build trust is simple but may take a while.

You need to be transparent about everything you do. For example if you are offering Free Delivery make sure you don't leave important restrictions in the small print like, "if you spend over £150".

Make sure the requirements for the offer are very clear.

Having testimonials and product reviews from previous customers will make your visitors trust you from the get go. Have them displayed as close to the product as you can so customers can clearly see them.

Insufficient Product Descriptions

Having detailed product descriptions is vital. It will do two things. Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and make it easier for your customers to make a decision. If you don't do this your site may not appear high up in the search engines and  your site will look thin (because of the lack of description).

 

Written By

Naazim Ahmed