Viral marketing may be one of the most elusive, yet most potentially lucrative forms of online marketing. Many online marketers spin their wheels hopelessly in an effort to create a buzz around their products and services. While many attempts fail, many succeed and bring tremendous benefits. In this post, I’ll share a very successful tactic that I implemented for Christian retailer C28 using an online viral contest.

It’s not uncommon to see retailers offering incentives to get customers on their email list. We wanted to take this one step further. Rather than capturing the email and then showing a “thank you for entering” page, we created an incentive for customers to pass along the information about the drawing they just entered. Basically, the program works like this:

  1. Existing customer enters drawing for product/gift certificate on website
  2. Customer is asked to “Tell-A-Friend” about the contest/drawing
  3. For each friend who enters contest, the original customer receives 2 more entries
  4. Friend of original customer passes the contest on to their friends, who tell their friends, and so on…

As you can see, the contest has the potential to spread virally very quickly. Of course, the contest or drawing has to have enough of an incentive to create this buzz. With C28, we use products or giveaway items that are targeted to the customer demographic.

The results of the viral contest were very impressive. Not only were new people being introduced to the brand, but we were able to track orders coming from people who were referred by the contest.

Leave a comment if you’ve every used anything like this before, and how it worked for you.