How To: Go Viral in Three Easy Steps

Three women talking.

When we say the word virus, what do you think of? Probably that sickness that kept you home from work for a few days last year so you didn’t pass it on to your co-workers. Just like a virus spreads and bounces from person to person, a viral marketing campaign is one that is spread from person to person where everyone impacted by the campaign brings at least one person to conversion for the business.  The conversion might be a sale, a website visit, an email list sign up, or whatever else is important to your business at this time. Wow, sounds like a great, easy way to market your business, hu? Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. Let’s dive into the 3 steps associated with this unique traction channel and figure out what it really takes to create a successful viral marketing campaign.

Step 1: Awareness of Your Business

In order for a virus to spread, someone has to be its first victim. This same thing has to happen in viral marketing (except, let’s call them customers instead of victims). In order for your viral marketing campaign to be successful, you need to have early adopters who aware of and interested in your business. 

Here are a few ways to increase awareness of your business:

    • Create great content. From blogging to creating podcasts or infographics, engaging content can help people recognize your brand as topic experts and ultimately who they choose to purchase from.
    • Establish partnerships. Working with other businesses (both local and digital) can help you reach a larger audience. Try to promote your products together, host connected giveaways or even just trade social media posts about each other. You can also partner with local non-profits or other organizations that align with the morals of your company. Giving back to your community is a great way to gain positive press.
    • Advertising your business. From Google search ads to billboards, there are many new and traditional ways to advertise your business and increase awareness of your business. Check out this video on offline advertising for some more tips and ideas.

Step 2: Customers Tell Their Friends 

You might have customers who love your product, but if they don’t share with their friends, family and acquaintances then it’s not viral marketing.  

Here are some tips for encouraging your customers to tell their friends:

    • Offer a referral program. Try offering your customers or clients a special deal if they refer a new customer or client to your business. This might just add the small push they need in order to make a recommendation.
    • Make it easy and fun to share social media posts and emails. With fun content that can be easily shared with a click of a button, your customers and clients will be quite likely to pass your name on to their friends.
    • Branded gear. Let your customers become walking billboards by offering clothing, stickers and other gear with your brand on it.

Ask for reviews or customer engagement in social media. Studies show that potential customers trust what other people similar to them so give your current customers an avenue to share their love for your product or service by collecting feedback, reviews and other types of engagement. For example, you know how many grocery stores and fast food services hand you your receipt and say, “fill out the survey on the back for a chance at $1,000?” Well, that is because they know the value of customer satisfaction, quality control, and reviews.

Step 3: New Customers Participate

Word of mouth can be extremely powerful, but it doesn’t always equal conversions. Once someone hears about your business from their friend they need to decide whether or not they will purchase anything. Here are a few ideas for encouraging new customer participation:

    • New customer discounts. Give your new customers an incentive to purchase right away by offering them a first purchase discount.
    • Have an easy to find website and social media pages. Additionally, make sure that information about your product or service is easy to find. While referrals from friends (step 2) help, people often do their own research once they get a referral.
    • Moral mission that people want to get behind. Many people like to purchase products and services that do good in their communities and the world. Therefore, if your business has a community-focused mission be sure to share that publically. It might just end up being the factor that creates a conversion for you.
    • Create a sense of urgency. Do you have a limited time product? Do you book up quickly? Don’t be afraid to let your customers and potential customers know this to create a sense of urgency. When people feel like there’s a time constraint on their potential purchase they are more likely to purchase than if there isn’t anything pushing them. 

Want to learn more about viral marketing? Check out this video and be sure to follow our YouTube channel.

Visit our blog and listen to our podcast for more information on the 19 Traction Channels.

Improve Search Position With Google Search Console

First place trophy.

Google Search Console for Non Technical SEOs

I continue to be impressed with the changes Google has made to Search Console in the last year. From an easier to manage user-interface to more robust data points for digital marketers to work with, any growing business looking to win on organic search should be taking advantage of this free software. Check out the video below for a quick screenshare of our favorite Search Console tactics. 

If you’re not a career technical search engine optimization (SEO) professional, you might have logged into Search Console a couple years ago and thought: what the hell am I looking at? You’re not alone. While the platform held some truly powerful data like search position, ranking and trends, it was tough to find, difficult to decipher and riddled with industry acronyms. Though Having spent the last six years bouncing in and out of the different Google marketing products, Search Console remained an enigma. Until this year. It was too easy to glance at “organic traffic” referral in Analytics and see it improving month over month. I didn’t need to ask a ton of questions because there was always something more important to do. 

Here’s a quick snapshot at the high level helicopter view metrics Google Search console can provide. Different than analytics (at least before connecting with Google Search Console), these metrics can give you info on interest before users ever reach your site. Imagine 50 fish swimming around your hook, Google Analytics tells you which fish you caught. Search Console lets you know which fish got away.

Google Search Console Data

Google Search Console Investment:

The good news is, the application is free. The bad news, you’re going to need to put in some effort to like what you see on the dashboard. When the software side of our business, website personalization software GeoFli, started to get more and more leads from our website, it quickly became clear this was a result of our haphazard SEO efforts. Whoa. What if we spent time actually honing that effort and better understanding what keywords were driving the most qualified traffic. More importantly, what keywords are we ranking for in position 5, 6, 7 that we might  be able to at.

If your customer acquisition looks like the flowchart below, SEO might be a good investment of time and resources. You can’t get users to your site, and they’re not converting once they’re there. But when you do acquire a customer, they stay for life. The key here is to use the early acquisition and activation strategies of content writing, SEO and other early marketing traction channels to acquire qualified traffic to your site.

startup marketing for pirates

Search Engine Optimization:

Where should SEO rank as a traction channel for your business? If you have $5,000 to spend on marketing, should you spend it on Facebook Ads, pitching at trade-shows or producing content to help your website rank? Our team loves investing in content that has a long lifespan. We call it evergreen. This includes simple video, articles and photos that add value to your customers’ lives. Remember, people go on the internet for one of two reasons: information or entertainment. If your content can do one of those two things, you’re leagues ahead. 

Adjacent Traction Channels:

Blog Outreach:

If you’re not getting a lot of site traffic, find someone that is. Now, it’s not going to work to reach out and beg: that’s kind of sad. Instead, find ways to add value (notice the trend here). We did this with our personalization software, GeoFli. We reached out to platforms we used like Mailchimp, Trello, MaxMind and Zapier and gave them a quick pitch about how their service really helped our company grow. We used some data, some flattering testimonials and some screenshots. Oh, and we included a back-link to our site in our paragraph. We were picked up by Trello and MaxMind and featured on their sites! To this day, those two back-links still refer traffic our way. 

The reason this traction channel is adjacent to SEO is because inbound links are an important piece of any SEO strategy. Even if you don’t have a “strategy” but just want to climb the mountain to organic search one step at a time, targeting blogs with valuable insights and education on your area of expertise is a great way to do it. 

Using Search Console to Select a Content Topic

As described in the video below, Google Search Console is a gold mine for figuring out what articles to spend time writing, and which ones to avoid. Unless you’re starting from a completely blank slate, you’ll be able to look at the queries your website is ranking for most often and tackle head on. 

Pro Tip:

We like to look specifically at impressions compared to page position. In the screenshot below, our in-house personalization software, GeoFli, allows anyone to change website content based on location. There are a few things a user must understand before taking steps to purchasing a starter subscription. One is understanding their website traffic. “how to measure website traffic” is a great example of a keywords with a lot of impressions (500/month) that we’d like to own. And we’re currently ranking in position 13. I think we can improve that by writing some valuable content that meets user intent. See video for more info on how to navigate these screens.

Pro Tip # 2:

Improve organic click-through-rates by testing language. Phew, that’s a lot of marketing jargon. Take a look at the screenshot below. Both are in position 1.8 in search results (nice!) but one has a 32% click through rate (percentage of people that see the search result vs. click) and one has a 3.6% click-through-rate (CTR). The far right is position, green is CTR. 

Use this opportunity to test the meta descriptions of the blog posts driving traffic. If you get 1,000 impressions and go from a 10% to a 20% click-through-rate simply by improving the title and meta description of your article, that’s an increase of 100 free website visitors a month!

Test out Google Search Console:

I’d highly recommend checking out Google Search Console for your business. The insights are extremely valuable and there are dashboards through Data Studio you can build, integrations with Analytics of course and you’ll be able to quickly see what users are searching for to land on your site. 

Next Steps:

If you’re looking to glean some of these insights, head to Google Search Console. Warning, verifying your site can sometimes be a headache. If you use Tag Manager, great. You’ll see the verification tag live on your site and it still will tell you it’s not added yet. You can verify with Analytics and that works about 25% of the time. Frustrating? As always we’re here to help. And as always, we hope you learned something.