Can viral marketing campaign really boost sales?

Can viral marketing campaign boost sales? If I would need to provide simple yes or no answer than my answer would be no. The biggest problem with most of viral campaign is how to balance viral effect with expected business results. You need to make message so attractive to the user that she would decide to pass it on to her colleagues ad co-workers. Internet users are bombarded with messages – to stand out they need to be very strong, fresh, often shocking or extreme.

People are also more eager to pass to friends if they don’t see them as advertising message. The less-advertising like the message is – the better chance for viral effect. In the chase of optimizing the message to get strongest viral effect marketeers often loose sight of objective of campaign.

It’s not that difficult to achieve strong viral effect. Consider following message: “I will give $50 to every single person that will contact me by email. You can contact me yourself, you can tell your friend about this offer.” Provided that you trust that message is real – I bet you will take offer and pass it to many of your colleagues. Perfect viral campaign – right? It depends on what do I want to achieve – if give away all my money than yes.

It’s the most difficult in B-to-B world, especially when the target are managers and executives. Even if the message is attractive, it may create interest from people that are not your prospect customers. Then – the interest and traffic created by campaign will be of very low quality and will not boost sales in any way.

Backup trauma instituteGood and quite rare example of balanced viral effect with effective embedded marketing message is campaign of LiveVault company. The Backup Trauma Institutecampaign that is starring John Cleese was discussed and presented often as marketing case study.

It’s done in Monty Python style that is often appealing to the target group of the LiveVault customers (IT managers, age 30-40). The movie which is core of the campaign is presenting in fun way the benefits of the LiveVault backup solutions. The marketing message and attractive movie is joined perfectly.

Even for this succesful campaign I bet that majority of the interest is coming from people that will never have interest in buying such solution (I know I’ll not buy myself). With this in mind it’s important to construct call to action right. Make sure that it’s appealing to the people that are your real target. It also needs to be easy to manage from your side for all the people that are not prospect customers. So – don’t ask everyone to call your call center as part of your campaign – you may have problems coping with load and customers that should call may not reach you.

More about other pitfalls of viral marketing coming soon. If you have good examples of viral campaigns – successful or unsuccessful ones that share similar traits – please share them. Your comments are very welcome.

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3 comments so far

  1. Edward Donnelly on

    A study on the Burger King “Huckin Chicken” campaign would be interesting. Have they published any sales data for their chicken sandwich products since releasing the videos on YouTube and MySpace??

  2. Robert Eckert on

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  3. Jonathon Maller on

    I refuse to learn more as my brain is just melting. I am looking forward to the holidays ending this year. Seems outr industry has slowed a lot this year.


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