Viral Email Marketing Strategies

One of the most alluring facets of social media marketing is the potential for sales and branding messages to “turn viral,” meaning that people start passing them on to friends just because they find it amusing, entertaining, or valuable. But in order for this to happen, you need to really have an idea of what people in your market segments are interested in. You also have to have some good ideas about how to get them to pass your message along.

Although many people have come to think of email-marketing as a one-to-many form of advertisement, there is actually tremendous potential for viral email marketing. Here are a few basic strategies you can use.

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Highlight your “Forward To Friend” links

Although a lot of email marketing campaigns include a link to “forward this message to a friend,” it usually sits quietly at the very bottom of the message, after all the content, all alone. Sometimes people click on it anyway.

More often, if they get the idea to forward the message, they’ll just click the “forward” button in their email client. This is somewhat less good for you as a marketer, because you have no way to measure what’s happening. It’s also not likely to happen very often, because forwarding to a friend is not often the first thing that pops into our heads when we receive marketing materials.

You can improve this natural process dramatically just by making your Forward to Friend link more prominent. Write a few convincing lines about why your friends want to receive this. You could provide a special offer just for friends of your subscribers, or even a special offer in return for forwarding to a friend.

Better still, you offer up a nugget of outstanding content–a tip, trick, example, or video that is relevant to your niche–immediately followed by a request to share this info with a friend by clicking here! This type of message will perform best if you make sure it’s small, simple, and attractive. You want it to be easy for anyone to pass along to someone else, and a full newsletter-style message is not going to provide that.

Provide substantial value

The word “value” here can mean any number of things. For example:

  • Give something away for free
    • White papers, reports, and how-to guides are a classic giveaway. If you provide great, well-organized information, people will save it, pass it along, and spread the word for you. But you are going to have to do some reconnaissance and find out what information people in your market are looking for.
  • As I mentioned already, sales, discounts, and product giveaways can be very alluring, especially in markets where you see a lot of potential buyers sitting on the fence. The discount or special offer, couple with the social proof of hearing about the offer from a friend, can put you at a substantial advantage with these customers.
  • Make something fun or entertaining. Funny works. Go to your local comedy club and offer the funniest guy there a couple hundred bucks to make you an entertaining YouTube video that is punctuated with your call to action.

Make sure it’s easy to subscribe

If you’ve the time to craft a message that will be passed along, you want to make sure you can capitalize on your hard work. You can do this elegantly in the footer of the message, by including not only an unsubscribe link but a subscribe link as well. If you do this, you will of course want to enhance the visibility of the footer with attractive formatting, and provide additional reasons why someone would want to subscribe (or stay subscribed) to your mailing list.

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  • Guilherme Santos

    As you mentioned the “Forward to a Friend” link, I remembered that 1-2-All has a serious bug in it – if I click that link and send an e-mail to a friend of mine, if he/she clicks the unsubscribe link I’m the one who’s going to get unsubscribed from the mailing list.

    Also, the forward doesn’t send the actual message, and maybe it should…

  • Hi Guilherme,

    Thanks for your feedback. The bug you describe should have been fixed in all newer versions, so I’d recommend upgrading to the latest.

    There are some good arguments for and against including the full message in the forward. We’d love to hear your ideas about it. You can get in touch with our dev team at http://feedback.activecampaign.com

    All the best,
    David

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  • Michal

    How do I create a subscribe link?

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