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The Viral Marketing Effect

Getting the word out.

July 10, 2007

Of all word-of-mouth (WOM) tactics, viral marketing has probably drawn the most attention from marketers. And they have lofty goals for it. According to a 2006 study by JupiterResearch, cited in Internet Retailer, the biggest goal of viral marketers was to increase brand awareness (71%). Half also expected to drive online sales, and 44% hoped to drive offline sales.

B2B and B2C marketers diverge on what they consider successful viral tactics. B2C companies were more likely to consider blog mentions and posting to sites such as MySpace or YouTube to be something that would generate attention for their viral campaigns. B2B marketers were more interested in getting their viral campaigns mentioned in an online publication or business print publication, according to MarketingSherpa.

Tactics that Can Jump-Start a Viral Marketing Campaign according to US Marketers*, April 2007 (% of respondents)

More than 60% of viral ads initiated by advertisers are video, according to a study by Competitrack.

Consumers often learn about videos from their friends. According to a 2007 survey by the Online Publishers Association, 43% of US online video viewers get videos by clicking links in e-mail messages from people they know.

Methods by which US Online Video Viewers Search and Locate Online Videos, April-May 2007 (% of respondents)

Effective targeting is especially important with viral video.

A UK study released in July by Agency.com, Brand Genetics and Hall & Partners found 83% of uploaders recommended things they liked.

The study defined uploaders as Internet users who actively posted content and reviews to social networking sites. Only 8% of UK Internet users fell into this category.

The theory works the same in the US: Get your video to the right people, and they'll spread the word.

eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson says, "Word-of-mouth is bigger than it used to be, and it is also becoming even more effective. The number of people who have influence — because of their expertise, their passion and their connections — is likely to grow, as the Web offers more user-generated content opportunities and as more companies make word-of-mouth a priority."

Learn more about popular viral tactics. Read the eMarketer Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Winning Friends and Influencing Customers report.

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