While a virus, in Medicine, is smallest infectious agent, it is an extremely potent strategy in Marketing speak with similar abilities to proliferate. It is an effective means of advertising and relies on an understanding of what individuals may accept, should price favour them.
Viral marketing by definition is any type of a marketing campaign that encourages those in receipt of an advertising message to voluntarily pass it along to friends, family and others that may be interested. [unlike a bad "virus" which one would not want to knowingly spread or pass along.]
Examples of successful viral marketing are: hotmail and their simple teaser at bottom of all their emails that stated "Get your free private email at www.hotmail.com."
In its first 1.5 years, Hotmail acquired over 12 million subscribers.
eGroups.com [Yahoo Groups] is a free place on Net with tools for groups to share ideas, coordinate schedules and
exchange documents. It reached 4.1 million users at a faster pace than Hotmail did.
MeMail.com, Canadian publisher with over 300,000 subscribers, has 97% of its new subscribers from direct referrals.
Every time a subscriber passes along a story or joke, attached is a subtle endorsement for MeMail.com brand.
Other forms of viral advertising are based on idea, that people will pass on and share cool and entertaining content, which is often sponsored by an individual or company.
This is looking to raise awareness and use of a product or service. These viral commercials can take many different forms: funny video clips, interactive Flash games, images, or even text.
R.S.S. is not just a gift, but a means to propagate your brand via incoming links. It will provide content to any who wish it, but its true purpose is to infiltrate market, virally.
Viral marketing is usually carried out by email, although it is not same as email marketing.
Email marketing is a message that is sent out by a company to a database.
In Viral marketing a conventional database is not used. The idea is to get your reader to pass your message on to their friends, family or associates. The message then carries a powerful personal endorsement and is much more likely to be read and/or acted upon.
When a viral campaign is properly constructed and executed, you will be rewarded exponentially by spread.
Example: 2 readers tell 2, which in turn tell 2 more and so on. It spreads 2+4+8+16+38+64 and hopefully swells to a reach massive number of readers that act on your offer or message.