Many startups are talking about word of mouth advertising and hoping for viral growth. But viral effect happens very rarely, especially if there are no consistent, targeted actions from the company. So, how to increase your chances? How to make your product or brand go viral?
Donatas Jonikas (Ph.D.), the author of Startup Evolution Curve (startup marketing manual), has surveyed more than 1.500 startups worldwide and already did nearly 400 in-depth interviews with startup founders. His research showed that many early stage startups (67.5%) most of all would like to get help scaling their business.
The fact is that 78.9% startups were already after the official product launch or were launching their products at the moment. But only 10.6% of all startups who took part in the research had at least initial marketing material for viral growth ready. It means that 7 of 8 startups don’t have their marketing material for viral growth but expect a miracle to happen! Why?! A simple reason stands behind that – most startups don’t know what to do or how to do it effectively.
Source: Results of the survey by Dr. Donatas Jonikas (template from SlideModels)
Considering findings of startup research by Donatas Jonikas (Ph.D.) and report on what people like sharing most on social networks by Kim Garst, there are five main types of marketing material that can boost your viral growth.
1- Viral landing page
This is nearly a must for any business, even if it doesn’t sell online. The primary goal of an ordinary landing page is to collect visitors’ contacts to initiate marketing automation campaigns or do a manual follow-up and lead the potential client to finally purchasing the product or ordering the service. It’s hard to find the reason why you should ignore such possibility to collect potential customers’ contact details and implement a follow-up strategy to sell your product.
Usually, landing pages are being designed to capture leads – to make as more visitors as possible to submit their contact details in exchange for some valuable gift. Yes, most landing pages have built in sharing and invitation buttons, but that doesn’t make them very viral. If you want to create a landing page which could go viral and be promoted word of mouth through social networks, you must give a reason and convenient way to do that.
People like to share things that make them look cool. Discovering something that solves a serious problem or is fascinating might initiate the “aha” moment and willingness to tell their friends about that. So generally there are three main requirements for your landing page to become viral:
- the pitch on the landing page has to be worth signing up for;
- there must be a significant nudge to share it with friends;
- it has to be straightforward and easy to share.
If you want to get more details how to do that, read this article by Gerry Dimova, where she covers a couple of real case studies how to create a viral landing page for a startup.
According to Jesse Mawhinney, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without related images. Also, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than other any other type of content. So why don’t you consider to find a freelancer on Fiverr who will create a professional infographic for 50$ or less?
- Select an important topic which relevant to your target audience.
- Find the right data and analyze it. Your goal is to find an answer or insight which might be useful and exciting.
- Create a story based on findings. Don’t just spit all the facts you’ve found. Try to bind them in a story line, i.e. at least showing the problem and possible solutions.
- The design is the task for the designer which you can find on any freelancing websites, and it’s not necessary to pay an enormous amount of money.
- Polish the design and the story. It should be smooth, nice and catchy.
- Distribute via your marketing communication channels (i.e. social networks, landing page, email campaigns). But don’t forget about appropriate directories and blogs where you can upload your infographics (InfographicJournal.com, InfographicsShowcase.com, infographicsArchive.com).
Once you have your infographics ready, check this article by Neil Patel were he gives more advice how to boost your viral growth through sharing your infographics.
As Dave Loyd forecasts 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. Furthermore, using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.Considering this and the fact that today online video streams easily on the high-speed internet, video needs to be included in your content marketing mix. Creating a video is not hard: it can be direct to camera video, a video capturing your screen or it can be sourcing videos from YouTube that enhance your story. But… not every video goes viral, and there is no secret recipe how to create a guaranteed viral video. Thus, most viral videos (we are talking about startup videos, not just any random videos, which make no much sense) meet these conditions:
- there is an emotional story (but not depressing), or the video itself initiates emotions;
- or there is value in video, a solution of particularly painful problem (we already talked that people want to look cool thus are prone to share their found solution);
- the branding and advertising are kept minimal and subtle;
- a marketing plan stands behind the video (whether it’s paid or free promotion, there is a plan how the link to the video will be initially distributed – if you want to set a fire, first you must collect the driest timber and ignite them);
- quality and length of the video must be compatible with your target customer time commitment (how much time and attention they are likely to spend in the typical situation).
Let’s take Shoe dazzle for example. They sell shoes for ladies. Well, what a startup you would say? But the way they started to sell shoes was quite innovative and granted a significant viral effect. If you want to look what they have to offer or want to get their exclusive deal, you are invited to take a quiz. It’s a comfortable, enjoyable and pleasant quiz, especially knowing that once you do the quiz, you’ll find out your profile style and will be offered only those shoes which fit your style.
So even if a shoe seller can find the way to use quiz for viral growth, then it is a must try for you as a startup assuming you have an innovative product or a service. Quizzes are great to introduce innovations. While the product is new, potential customers are unaware of it and don’t search for it. But if you would create a quiz which reveals how this innovation solves the well know severe problem (think about the ladies when they have to decide which shoes fit their style best :)), that could initiate “aha” or “wow” moments and your target audience will be sharing your quiz like crazy.
Generally speaking, the giveaway is any kind of added value (free seminar, manual, book, tickets to events, starter package of your product, etc.). Who doesn’t want to get free stuff if it’s useful? Who doesn’t want to look cool sharing a useful stuff for free? As the research of more than 1400 startups showed, most, early stage startups share their giveaway in exchange for contact on their landing page, which, by the way, in most cases is far not a viral landing page. The giveaway is just a marketing material which is worth sharing. You must come up at least with a simple strategy how to initiate the virality of your giveaway. Here are few ideas:
- create a giveaway for a particular blog or another channel that reaches your target audience – let the owner of the channel share it with his audience;
- offer a free account to thought leaders and ask to share their experience with the public;
- reach out group leaders on social networks (Linkedin, Facebook, Meetup or any other social network where your target customers are active) and ask them if they’d share your giveaway with their group members;
- use new marketing tools like Maitre App or Pay with a tweet to fuel up viral sharing of your giveaways or any other content.
Some call Maitre App a revolution in viral marketing. It’s very simple solution to what previously required massive investment or coding skills. Maitre App not only helps to collect your website visitors’ emails but also encourages them to share your content with their friends if they want to get a reward. Also, it allows you to use engagement emails to remind your subscribers to share their referral link and increase virality. Such emails can be triggered by special events, like when a subscriber (factual or potential customer refers) a new person or they lose position in the list.
Pay with a tweet does what it says – allows visitors to access your content after they share your link and message via their social network account (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, G+ and few others). As Donatas Jonikas (PhD) advises this tool would be best to implicate on those visitors whose emails you already have (i.e. they signed up for free or trial version of your product and you can offer additional giveaway, meaningful discount, some exclusive features or benefits in exchange if they just share your link and message via social network).
You already know about top 5 types of marketing material that can boost your startup’s viral growth. But before creating any marketing material, be sure, you are providing something people want, and that is worth talking about. Otherwise, none of tips and tricks will help you. Even on the contrary – you could get anti-advertising by creating a negative viral effect. Trying to leverage other peoples’ audience is another condition you should keep in mind. If you can find any way to leverage someone else’s audience, then you will be taking advantage of a traffic shortcut and will be standing on the right track creating a viral effect. That’s the essence of viral growth. But to use someone else’s audience, you must provide a valuable and exciting to share content.