Colette Mason Personal Branding Trainer

16 Viral Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses

Written by Colette Mason

Topics: Marketing Tips

Among the many internet marketing techniques being used by businessmen and entrepreneurs, viral marketing is one of the most popular. It used to be called “Word of Mouth” before the internet age. Viral marketing is essential for small business websites who want to get more customers and make more money online.

Similar to the principle used in multilevel marketing, it relies on its advertisements being passed along in several forms of messages to increase product awareness and ultimately, increase sales.

Here are 16 viral marketing techniques to help you make your online campaigns a success:

  1.  Give out free software.
     
    The “free” word is always a magnet that attracts people and creates an instant “fan base” on the internet. Even if offered on a limited time, if users need it, they will sign up for it.

    If you distribute your software by email you can get the person’s email address, or you can provide a link to your site from within the application – just think how many emailed games have made it into your inbox.
      

  2. Use a free autoresponder service.
     
    Autoresponder services add up to your company’s sales by using follow-up e-mail messages in marketing.   They are especially useful if the website owner is too busy to attend to all his visitors and answer their queries. Autoresponders can be effective sales pitches to convince the user to buy your product. If your hosting comes with cpanel, you can quickly set up autoresponders to streamline your communications
     
  3. Provide free web space or web tools.
     
    Blogs have started quite a frenzy on the internet and companies are seeing the opportunities in them, competing with each other in offering customers larger and more flexible diskspace allocations and website features.
     
    As a consequence of this competition, users have the luxury of getting their pick from a host of web space providers offering them the best deals. http://www.blogger.com and http://www.wordpress.com are two well known examples, which look after the needs of a phenomenal amount of users.
     
  4. Research viral marketing awards.
     
    Viral marketing competitions that give out awards can produce innovative ideas for the industry and launch effective sales strategies.  Check out the Semmys for 2009 as an example, and see if any of those techniques would work for your business
     
  5. Create A “Top 100  Sites List”.

    Online users searching for resources on a topic they need will find a “Top 100 Sites” list very useful. This is an effective method of traffic building and increasing your customer base. If 100 seems daunting, start off with 10. By combining these links with affiliate links, this can also be a very effective way of making sure you make more online with your website.
     
  6. Provide free e-cards.
     
    Personalized and animated electronic greeting cards are nice ways to send greetings. Egreetings.com uses teasers for internet users to send e-cards and most of them take the company up on its offer.
     
  7. Offer free graphics, banners and templates.
     
    As in the standard marketing of regular consumer products, freebies will attract most online users. Banners, graphics and templates are items they need and can use and these will fire up the viral marketing fever even more. Templates for websites and Powerpoint presentations are particularly popular amongst companies and office workers.                                     
     
  8. Offer a free consultation.
     
    There are many online users who need advice on consultancy services in many fields, for example public relations, marketing, accountancy, law, web hosting, life coaching and more. Offering your expertise on a specific subject for free will require the user to enter their name, email address and other relevant information. This helps in traffic building of your site and adds to your subscriber list and customer base. If you give something away for free that could you have turned into a product to sell online, you gain credibility because you gave good value to your visitors.
     
  9. Produce a free newsletter with bonuses.
     
    An online shopping company might use this viral marketing technique. Offering catalogs with free online gift certificates will generate a huge customer base.
     
  10.  Offer free screensavers.
     
    Free screensavers are everywhere on the internet. They pop up in many websites and are useful for getting the user’s e-mail address. This is one viral marketing technique that helps a company build its customer base.
     
    Getting online users to take advantage of free screensavers, as well as emoticons or other downloadables that they can use on their computers is one of the most effective techniques used in viral marketing.
     
  11. Offer a free email course.
      
    Free email courses offer a wealth of information to users who are interested in gaining knowledge about the particular topic at hand. Most publishers offer free e-books as a way to lure visitors to their site. Offering the first few modules will pique readers’ interest and might entice them to buy the remaining modules.
      
  12. Write articles and distributing them for reprint with resource box.
     
    A resource box is a box on the side of the webpage where an article is found. It contains complete information about the author and his contact data. Publishing your articles with a resource box and allowing free download will gain you visitors to your site and boost traffic.
     
    Here’s a list of 21 good article directories from http://www.fridaytrafficreport.com
     
  13. Use forums and discussion boards which has the users’ signatures enabled.
     
    Look into forums and discussion boards since the participants will share the same interests. By getting checking out their signatures and the sites they link to, you have a field of potential customers from a specific target market at your hand. Also, remember to add a link to your site or campain in your sig to raise awareness. One last thing, always be polite and sociable when using social marketing – don’t rock up saying “Everyone listen to me”. Sit on the sidelines first and see how people interact with each other. Only contribute positive things when it’s appropriate.
     
  14. Start your own affiliate program.
     
    Affiliate marketing involves using another website to divert or steer online users to your own site and organic or paid SEO is one technique it uses that produces results. It is an often ignored method yet it has been shown to be effective in directing traffic to your site and generating sales.
     
  15.  Provide a guestbook.
     
    Asking visitors sign your guestbook provides you with their contact information which you can use for future marketing and mailing purposes.
     
  16. Provide free forums.
     
    Online forums have a lot of participants. Posting positive experiences and reviews about your product and website can be a very useful viral marketing technique. Also, it’s a great way of getting fresh content on your site without having to write it yourself.
      

By applying these viral marketing techniques to promote your products and service, you will easily generate traffic to your small business websites, build a huge and solid customer base, add to your sales, make more money online  and contribute towards the online success of your company now and in the future.

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