Admark’s Weblog

The Marketing Virus

Posted on: April 29, 2008

Many of us marketing graduates recently participated in a live viral marketing campaign organized by The campaign envisaged us to come up with a marketing drive to promote its newly launched mobile booking service. Our first post revolves around some of the points we stumbled upon while preparing for the campaign.

Bluntly put Marketing is the efforts put in by an organization to grab people’s attention. The ultimate aim of any marketer is to grab people’s attention with the minimum of efforts. One such way of marketing is Viral Marketing

Wiki defines Viral marketing and viral advertising as marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses”. It is a phenomenon which encourages or imposes upon people to pass on YOUR message voluntarily. Marketing experts believe that viral marketing is actually the most powerful form of product attention available to consumers. This is because the number of customers in this case would rapidly increase, and the beauty of viral marketing is that none of this requires marketing dollars, the selling is done by the customer. Viral marketing captures the essence of multilevel marketing. Once one customer gets hooked onto it, the word-of-mouth spreads the message rapidly, and the butterfly effect continues all over.

The viral phenomenon can succeed only the below two factors are met:-

  1. The product or service should be compelling enough to be used. The genuineness and innovativeness of the product should be apparent to the customer.
  2. The marketing campaign needs to be launched on a proper platform.

The internet is the kind of platform, you can say, is custom made for viral marketing. The story of how Hotmail moved from zero to a couple of million subscribers in a few months is one that is often told in many sites all over the net. The net is a natural for viral marketing because it multiplies and speeds up the viral effect. A click is enough for the exponentiation of the intended message. Viral marketing can effectively generate traffic towards your product/service by creating buzz through word-of-mouth. However, in order to most effectively execute a successful viral marketing project, it is important to build a significant understanding of your target audience to tap into their social and psychological network.

Anybody who wants explosive growth and success in any Endeavour cannot avoid thinking “virally” in all their marketing plans. Failing to use this powerful marketing method, which has been successfully used since the beginning of time, will be a very unfortunate thing indeed.

As we were going through the various sources for our viral campaign, we could not help but notice the huge references, in almost all of the articles, to the hotmail case. So out of curiosity we decided to check out the use of viral marketing vis-à-vis in hotmail. One thing we were really amazed by was hotmail’s immense growth:

  • Hotmail grew a subscriber base more rapidly than any company in the history of the world, faster than any new online, Internet, or print publication ever. And add to that every Hotmail subscriber, without exception, has filled out a detailed demographic and psychographic profile including occupation and salary. This is an unprecedented supply of personal information.
  • Another amazing fact was the amount of money hotmail had spent on advertising. A mere $500k spent on marketing had attracted a customer base of 12 million. This meant that hotmail’s customers were its most important marketers. For E.g.: It was the number one mail service provider in India, Switzerland and Netherlands even though it had not allocated any marketing budget in these regions. In fact many in the marketing team were unaware about their presence in these countries.

This brings us to a very important consideration, if hotmail was lapping up customers at such a fast pace, wouldn’t there be any competitor replicating the same model to take away some of its subscriber base. The phenomenal growth of hotmail infact bought many players into the free e-mail space. Prime among them, and hotmail’s closest competitor, was Juno. Closest by virtue of lack of competition, as Juno’s subscriber base was just a fraction of hotmail’s. And Juno’s marketing budget was close to $50 million in its first year.

So why was it that in-spite of having similar services and a much larger marketing spend Juno was lagging behind hotmail? Was it because of the way Juno advertised or just because Hotmail had a first mover advantage? Watch out for this and much more in the coming days on Admark. Do post in your inputs in the comments section of the blog.



2 Responses to "The Marketing Virus"

lets get this blog up and running!

way to go spooky!!

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  • sarahkornfeld: This is a great list! Another to consider is video. There's a video app on Facebook called Vpype (built for Facebook) that is a live, interactive a
  • 210 Backlinks: Great thanks!
  • Jas: Nice blog, found by sheer serendipity. What a pity! :P Are you open for more contributors?
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