Get inspired: MarketingSherpa went through almost 100 entries and has presented us with their top 12 Viral Marketing Campaigns for their Hall of Fame.
You can find a lot of creative examples of viral marketing campaigns that worked. The campaigns used different channels and ways to “become viral”. Examples: Bloggers (obviously), consumers, friends, travelers, employees of a software house.
The list of entries and the list of favorites clearly show the versatility of viral marketing. One of the top campaigns even went viral without the owners planning for it.
One pattern is clearly obvious: You campaign must be unique. If people react with a “been there, done that” attitude your efforts stop right there.
Other lessons to be learned:
Micro-Budgets are ok
One of the must successful campaigns was started with a budget of less than $1000. Another one was started with no budget at all. This doesn’t mean that you should give your marketing agency the boot.
It just shows that the most outstanding content doesn’t need much boost if all the ingredients (including a bit if luck!) are right.
Measure your results correctly
If traffic is all you are aiming for you might be missing the point. Wasn’t there such a thing as conversion? Define your goals before the launch of your campaign and stick to measuring them. Don’t fall into the trap to get excited about all the site traffic of the world. A website selling garden furniture might get all the traffic of the world by showing the next Paris Hilton scandal video (did I miss something?). But they won’t be selling a single piece more because of that.
Try to incorporate benchmarks that can be measure in your campaign. One company went that far to measure the visitors‘ reactions to a tricky only game. It helped them to decide which players should be approached first and in what way (based on the knowledge they displayed in the game).
Blogs are currently the number one seed tool
Only a few campaigners where using blogs as a cornerstone last year. In 2006, hardly any campaign is getting launched without the involvement of blogs.
Optimized press releases
Promoting a viral marketing micro sites with press releases works – If the press releases are done professionally.
No more Email forwarding forms
Encouraging visitors to send out emails to friends and family via forms on the website is dead. Users are just done with preformatted emails. Many of them won’t even make it through the spam filters. Welcome to the ultra-permission-based-world!
Viral works without $$$ incentives
A compelling viral message spreads out without additional (monetary) incentives for the sender. The reward simply comes in form of the satisfied ego of the sender (“I saw it first” , “you can return the favor”, “told you: I am relevant”).
Here are the actual campaigns that made it into the Marketingsherpas’ Hall of Fame in 2006:
#1. Peerflix Paparazzi
A nice example for the efficient use of the viral marketing power of celebrities. 2 million players with 90 days of the game launch are quite impressive. Even better: ~5% of the players visited the advertizers’ main website after finishing the game.
#2. Beer.com‘s virtueller Barkeeper
If you are aiming at young adults you’ll have to face the #1 rule: sex sells. Now add some beer in the mix. This site became one of the busiest sites on the web within 28 days. Over 10 million visitorsâ€¦
#3. New Rules of PR (PDF)
Are you still debating on whether to write & publish your whitepaper or not? This story of a successful white-paper distribution should answer your question with a clear “yes”. Over 60,000 downloads for a b2b whitepaper. All this without games, sex, beer or any wild guerilla stunts…
#4. Wadsworth Atheneum – Surrealist Exhibit
This campaign proves local “brick and mortar” marketers can use online viral campaigns to drive real-world foot traffic with measurable results. Although the campaign was for an arts organization, we think traditional retailers will be inspired by it to launch viral tactics of their own.
#5. The Quantum IT Challenge
This b-2 lead generation campaign wasn’t all that viral. Only 10% of the payers recommended the game to their contacts. But here is the kick: The behaviour of each single player was analyzed and tied into the follow-up with the leads. Players were ranked based on their answers.
#6. MakeMyTrip Viral Series (India)
To lessons can be learned for this airline ticket promotion in India:
Aus dieser Viral Marketing Kampagne zur Promotion von Flugtickets in Indien kÃ¶nnen zwei wertvolle Lehren gezogen werden:
1. A regional marketer can get strong regional feedback with a viral marketing campaign – no matter how globalized (=flat) our world is.
2. If a campaign works it can/should be extended into a series. The sequel model doesn’t only work in Hollywood.
The additional videos helped to provide more valuable information for the marketer.
#7. Blog in Space
This campaign hit the soft spot of many bloggers. In return for traffic and attention bloggers are usually open to place a link on their blog. If you can win some influential bloggers to do so, many others will follow.
#8. Kreedo Brand Democracy
So what does your target group really want? Why not find out by letting them decide what’s going to be on your site? That’s what this company in Portugal did. They built a micro-site and invited their visitors to come up with ideas and suggestions for content and met their requirements. Pretty ambitious project…
You’ve got kids? They’re going to love this one. E-cards are not exactly hot any longer. But they can still be a major success. This one is super easy. You don’t need more than 10 seconds to figure it out. It let’s the sender be creative and will most probably put a mile in the recipients face.
#10. mySBC eBill Service: Trees in the Forest of Change
You don’t need videos or games to trigger visitors to tell their friends about you. These campaign pays the environmental card pretty wisely.
#11. Belt Buckle Knife
Viral by surprise: This guy just built a website about his product. Soon the world starts to talk about it. You can’t copy this one. It requires the stars to be in the right place and a lot of luck.
#12. The ERP of This Century
Brilliant idea! Any marketer with larger clients should study this one very closely. How do you get the 10,000s of employees of your client to praise their company in ways never thought of? Rap music provided the answerâ€¦
Marketingsherpa‘s 2006 Viral Marketing Report: Benchmark Data, Practical Tips, & Biggest Change
MarketingSherpa‘s 2005 Viral Marketing Report â€” features still-useful practical tips for the top 5 viral tactics:
MarketingSherpa‘s 2005 Viral Marketing Hall of Fame â€” 12 real-life campaigns detailed