Magazine article CRM Magazine

Have You Caught It? Disappointing Numbers Have Convinced Many Marketers to Decrease Their Viral Marketing by 55 Percent Next Year, but Viral Isn't to Blame

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Have You Caught It? Disappointing Numbers Have Convinced Many Marketers to Decrease Their Viral Marketing by 55 Percent Next Year, but Viral Isn't to Blame

Article excerpt

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Viral marketing is exciting, and understandably so--it's a marketer's dream that by simply planting a video, consumers will not only find it, but also spread it far and wide. But as hot as viral marketing is, the dream won't manifest as reality unless marketers do a little less hoping and a lot more targeting. Only 15 percent of viral marketers succeeded in getting consumers to promote their message during the past year, according to a report by JupiterResearch.

Like other campaigns, viral has to follow the golden rules of marketing: Know your audience, know how they communicate, and know your product. However, viral differs because it doesn't stop at one-to-one relationships or focus on customer retention. "What viral really needs to do is stimulate an activity across consumer-to-consumer lines," says Emily Riley, an analyst at JupiterResearch and author of "Viral Marketing: Bringing the Message to the Masses." A trigger must entice consumers to put in the added effort of forwarding the message to their friends. "The content has to really spark that magic," Riley says. "It's like trying to come up with a blockbuster movie--not every movie that goes out there is a blockbuster."

She adds, "Several very popular viral campaigns have warped most advertisers' expectations to be too high," citing successful recent efforts by Adidas and its Adicolor campaign, Burger King and its Subservient Chicken, and Ray-Ban with its new video promoting Wayfarer sunglasses.

Because of the high hopes engendered by these recent hits, viral marketers are now rushing to throw campaigns in the deep end without knowing first if they can swim. Riley advises marketers to launch a viral campaign to an existing group of loyal customers or to create a display to drive traffic. "You need that initial burst," she says. Ideally, you'll be appealing to people who not only trust your brand, but who also have friends who trust them.

But not everyone is doing it right, Riley says. Nestle's Nesquik, for example, fell hard for the lure of online videos: The company tried to reach its target audience--parents buying the chocolate drink for their children--by creating a video of a graffiti artist drawing the Nesquik logo. …

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