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Viral marketing?

 10:06 am on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

What types of viral marketing actually work? Do things like "email this page to a friend" stuff really work, or do they make a site look cheap? Any others?



 10:19 am on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

This is yet another thing I have not got round to trying.

I have had 2 or 3 requests for an "email this page" link to be put on my site. One person who contacted me said that most of the new websites she visited were found via email from friends. I guess it depends on how net savvy your target audience is. I personally use the "Send Link by Email" option within IE quite a lot to share URLs.

The more I think about this one the more I think it will work. Got some coding to do tonight now !

Brett, I am sure you will be able to add this feature to WMW without making it look tacky :)


 12:23 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

That is kinda my question; what type of users would find that feature attractive? I don't think I'd add it to wmw, but I was thinking some sites aimed at AOL and the WebTV crowd.


 12:38 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)



Bernie Greene

 12:49 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have used the 'send this link to a friend'.
Here in the office we do not always read the same forums, so when we find something we think each other might like to know we send them the link.:)


 1:31 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have a JavaScript "recommendus to your friends" but haven't seen a lot of people doing so (Kind of thinking it really depends on the topic however). I would think that news articles, jokes etc. would work pretty well.

However, a travel site we have on a particular destination probably isn't worth sharing to the office colleagues (unless they were going to the same place).


 2:26 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)


We put together a "real personalized" tell-a-friend and give it away to -G- rated sites. For some reason it has become real popular with fabric, teddy bear, and quilting sites.

I keep up with the usage and it averages 3 or 4 per day per site. For the type of sites and assumed traffic, I'd say they are doing great. After all that's a hundred or so people being told about a site from a friend each month...

If you want it or how the incoming and outgoing referrals are structured, just let me know.



 2:39 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I'm making a few bucks from Mailbits, a "tell-a-friend" service on one of my sites. That site gets a high percentage of AOLers and newer net users.


 2:58 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

> "email this page to a friend"
I've never used these, (don't have many friends) but those people I know have become accustomed to receiving cryptic emails from me consisiting of a few expletives and an url. The 'mail this' action seems like extra steps to me.

However, everything I've read indicates that these are must-do items for good marketing. I do not think this type of add-on would be interpreted as making the site look cheap.


 8:11 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

The thing that's always worried me about the 'tell a friend' thing is the possibility of leaving yourself open to accusations of spam, as the email would in effect be unsolicited.

Apart from syntax checking on the sender's email, I can't see any sure way of guarding against this.

Opinions anyone? Am I being over cautious?


 11:50 pm on Oct 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I think you can get around that a little bit Sugarkane by asking for "real name, source email, destination email".


 12:04 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)


With our system we set it up to look like one friend is e-mailing another friend and included the URL. No hint of spam


 12:28 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

I think you can get around that a little bit Sugarkane by asking for "real name, source email, destination email".

Yup, I see that that would be the way to do it, but the site I'm thinking of is in a market that is hyper-sensitive towards privacy.

We run a legitimate opt-in mailing list, with subscriber confirmation, and still get (unfounded) complaints of spam - I suppose it's just something I'll have to weigh up and make a decision on.


 1:38 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

My 2 cents is I really like the feature to email this page to a friend. Same as Bernie Greene mentioned earlier, it's great for co-workers who are checking out different forums.


 2:16 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have heard glorious stories of TAF working wonderfully. Very few spam problems. I use a (slightly modified) free script from bignosebird, but it rarely gets used. :( But hey, I need visitors any way I can get them. One thing I like about this script, is you can enter many email addys of "friends." When it is used, most people enter more than 1 friend. I think an inline (on the page) script would be used more often, but you have to spare the space, and a lot of it for mutiple addys.

One thing I have had to overcome is building/using something that does not seem professional to me. I would think "that looks/feels wrong/unprofessional," but my users seem to like it just fine. Case in point - popup windows. I hate them, and vowed never to use them myself. But when a friend talked me into using them (I added a cookie JS that only pops the window once per X number of days)for my ezine, my signups tripled or more, and my users did not seem to be annoyed one bit. I now try to view my site through my users' eyes and then judge (easier said than done), which has opened things up for me. A SEO site, or similar professional site, such as this forum, would probably warrant staying away from TAF. But, most general interest sites, or any site drawing many new or less experienced users, could benefit greatly, IMO.

A word of caution with MailBits - their servers are notorious for going down for days at a time due to "upgrades." I have heard of SuperTAF that pays, not as much as mailbits, but should be more reliable, and you can easily add your ezine sign up to it. There is only one page for the user to clickthrough to, from what I understand.


 11:04 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

We had some group asking us to particpate in a system where when you leave our site a popup popped up (yes hard to say even when thinking it!)
and when people left other sites your site popped up.

We try to avoid any surpises for people travsersing our sites, especially if you cant control the content.

Nothing is worse for your customers I think than to get something they didnt ask for when they are trying to leave. Its like saying when someone if leaving a party Didnt like me? Well try one of my mates....


 11:11 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

Well, I don't know about viral marketing etc. "Not my aisle!", so I have nothing technical to add, as usual. But if you want to annoy me, those pop-ups when you leave a site really get me muttering.


 11:50 am on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

I went the safe (?) way (concerned over spam issues). I rely on the browser having e-mail options configured (which is a gamble). When they click on the designated image it forces the subject and body through a mailto: . I put in a pat phrase with my URL. I have been tracking the image in my logs and it gets moderate use. Enough that I keep it on my index page. By the way semi-heavy AOL traffic.



 12:01 pm on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

Well, I've decided to take the plunge. I've set it up to send me copies of all referrals, and reject attempts to use it without a valid source email.

My fingers are crossed...


 10:20 pm on Oct 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

We set up a customised TAF script 4 months back, made is simple, displayed it prominently, moved it around, made it more subtle - have done a few things to try and make it work. We've found usage very disappointing. Maybe I'll revisit in a few months' time, maybe we're doing something wrong.


 12:28 pm on Oct 27, 2000 (gmt 0)

Good luck with it Sugarkane.

Freebee, if it is not too personal, what type of site did you try it on?


 8:57 am on Oct 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have one of these on my site as well, and like many in this thread I find usage minimal.

I think there are very few sites on the internet that 'amaze' people so much that they want to push it off on their friends. Most people get too much unsolicited e-mail as is. Nevertheless, for the time being I am keeping the "Tell A Friend" link up there.

The reason is that it seems to be 'trendy' at the moment. So, by having it up there I'm trying to demonstrate that my site is up to date.

I do, however, plan to move it soon. I'll be burying it beside my trailing cursor text, page transitions, and the scrolling text that use to run across the bottom of my visitors browsers.

We just aren't there quite yet. :)


 11:10 am on Oct 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

Have done some log analysis and adjusted for "human visits" - (take the usual precaution when looking at somebody else's stats) - looks something like this:

1 in 16 (around 6%) visitors go to the actual Tell a Friend input.
1 in 13 who go to the input (around 8%) will actually fill it out and submit.

There are probably a host of reasons and variables to make this work or why it fails (too many steps, privacy, content etc.)

We're going to keep it running - but are looking at other "viral" methods.

(Brett - we're a travel site which includes loads of news updates etc. - URL sent separately.)


 9:21 am on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

An update: I've had it running for 3 days now. Out of approx 70k page views, only 71 people clicked on the link, and then only 12 followed it through.

Not exactly an unqualified success, but I'll do a few tweaks and see if I can improve it a bit.


 10:06 am on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

>>We're going to keep it running - but are looking at other "viral" methods.<<

I'm still scratching my head for others.

Like many of you, I've found that the "Tell a friend" script get's very limited direct play. However, one of my clients reports a significant uptick in direct email from people whose friends told them about the site without using our utility. They just went to their regular mail client instead. The addition of the message seems to have boosted person to person referrals, just not in the way we anticipated. The power of suggestion seems to be at work.

I'd love to add some kind of a bonus for people who get their friends to buy, but the potential for abuse keeps me from doing it. After all, I know how my own little circle has worked the CD club referral deals.


 3:38 pm on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

The only "viral" marketing method I believe to be effective is a cute/ fun attachment that people send to each other through email.

Think of the "Superfriends" attachment that everyone sent to everyone else..."Whazzzzzup".

If there was only a way to come up with something like that that referred to a web site...



 4:00 pm on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

>The only "viral" marketing method I believe to be effective is a cute/ fun attachment that people send to each other through email.

This may be a 'gender preference' issue, so I'll tread lightly here... YEOW! I hate those things.


 5:33 pm on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)


The point was not like or dislike, but effectiveness.


And I wholeheartedly agree with you. I don't like all that stuff in my inbox either.


 5:41 pm on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

>like or dislike, but effectiveness.
Yeah, you knew I was razzin' you on that one... But I wonder about the effectiveness of anything that makes me want to retaliate with a DOS attack. I'd say be particularly careful of the market with this one, it really might be a 'gender' issue. In a related viral technique, I've never, ever gotten one of those d**n postcards from a man, for instance.


 5:50 pm on Oct 30, 2000 (gmt 0)


Come to think of it, I've never gotten a Christmas card from a man either...


This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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