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In The Beginning

Viral marketing is about word of mouth or, in the online sense, you might say, word of mouse! It’s about creating a buzz around products or services.

The first example of viral marketing is often presented as Hotmail, the e-mail service which saw huge growth when the following clickable link was added to the foot of messages sent by its subscribers:

"Sign up for your FREE Hotmail account."

Hotmail realised this potential, and managed to gain more than 12 million subscribers in 18 months through this particular viral marketing.

It is often, wrongly, perceived that viral marketing means online games. Viral Marketing, however, doesn’t only involve online games (those which users play to try to achieve top scores or win prizes and then invite others to participate), It involves anything someone will be inclined to share with others.

This includes:

  • information of interest (perhaps within an e-mail newsletter);
  • special offers; and
  • useful products or services.
  • emphasising the value of whatever it is you have that users might share with others;
  • making whatever you have easy to access (for example, prominent navigational graphics);
  • offering an incentive to encourage people to “spread the word”.
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