It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.
Viral marketing sometimes refers to Internet-based stealth marketing campaigns, including the use of blogs, seemingly amateur web sites, and other forms of astroturfing, designed to create word of mouth for a new product or service. Often the goal of viral marketing campaigns is to generate media coverage via “offbeat” stories worth many times more than the campaigning company’s advertising budget.
Viral marketing is successful because there are so many customers who are willing to pass along just about any message, as long as it is valuable or beneficial. Most people, who receive valuable viral messages, pass them on to other interested people. Word-of-mouth communication increases sales, brand awareness, and market coverage.
Types of viral marketing:
Pass-along: A message which encourages the user to send the message to others. The crudest form of this is chain letters where a message at the bottom of the e-mail prompts the reader to forward the message. More effective are short, funny clips of video which people spontaneously forward. Many of these, such as the Cog (television commercial) from Honda began life as TV commercials and have since circulated on the web by word of mouth. The number of people reached in this way is often much greater than the number who viewed the original ad.
Incentivized viral: Offering rewards for providing someones address. This can dramatically increase referrals. However, this is most effective when the offer requires another person to take action. Most online contests offer more chances of winning for each referral given; but when the referral must also participate in order for the first person to obtain that extra chance of winning, the chance that the referral participates is much greater.
Undercover: A viral message presented as a cool or unusual page, activity, or piece of news, without obvious incitements to link or pass along. In Undercover marketing, it is not immediately apparent that anything is being marketed. Particular effort is made to make the discovery of the item seem spontaneous and informal, to encourage natural memetic behavior.
Benefits of Viral Marketing:
Short term gains – immediate visitors.
Long terms gains – attract visitors for years to come.
Exponential growth – reach a large audience with minimal effort.
Automate your marketing methods – simply set up your campaign and reap the rewards.
Inexpensive set-up – it requires very little time.
Viral marketing tools are easy to develop
Establish a solid reputation quickly.
Easily combined with other marketing methods
Increase targeted traffic to your website quickly and easily.