Viral Marketing

Have you heard the news? Viral marketing is so now – Pass it on...

Given the current climate you may not be surprised to learn that online couponing and incentive programmes increased by 38% last year1. If you have been tempted to ‘credit munch’ with one of the various 2 for 1 restaurant deals being touted over the Internet at the moment, you’ll know how enticing and effective that type of campaign can be.

This is just one form of viral marketing that is taking the net by storm - and boosting floundering sales to boot. Viral marketing has the potential to be one of the most effective tools in an online marketeers armoury right now, so stop to consider - are you making the most of it?

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing is effectively the online version of word of mouth. It’s a term used to encompass any strategy that encourages people to pass along a marketing message, ultimately creating a snowball effect in terms of reach. 

There are numerous methods that can be used to achieve this goal, including: 

  • personal recommendation of a product or service
  • the sharing of an invitation to get something for free 
  • a funny, cool or controversial message, joke or video that captures the recipients’ imagination
  • rumour, gossip and urban myths
  • chain letters with warnings
  • "leaked" information or second-hand versions of official reports.

The time is right

There has never been a better time to tap into the opportunity a good viral marketing campaign presents. Not only are more people than ever online, but nearly 30 million people in the UK now visit social network sites and spend over six hours a month on them2. 

These have become self-targeting audiences and some of the biggest names in the business are harnessing their power. Were you one of the ones who heard about the  Tesco two hour half price clothes sale that was by invitation only to those who (quickly joined) them on Facebook?

The cost is effective

The great thing about a good viral marketing campaign is that if it captures the interest of its recipients, and they feel compelled to ‘pass it on’, the growth literally snowballs and can continue exponentially after only one initial, and relatively low budget, outlay.

The secret to a successful campaign

The key to a successful viral marketing campaign is to tap in to the psyche of your target audience and so getting the initial creative idea right is vital. Few people like their personal web space being bombarded by blatant advertising, and they certainly won’t be inclined to pass it on, so you need to find a way to make your message not only acceptable, but funny/cool/interesting enough for the recipient to want to pass on to their friends and colleagues.

To help propel your message experts, such as the team at Alchemy Interactive, suggest you consider the following when creating your viral campaign:

  • Emotion: whichever emotion you choose to ignite (love, happiness, compassion, greed, humour, anger), make it strong enough to really get your audience excited.
  • Content: accept that the creative idea is the fuel and is ultimately more important than your product, message or service. You need to harness an idea that stands out in some way. Perhaps it is unusual, exciting, different, unforgettable, relevant to today, or will make the recipient laugh out loud (LOL!). You then need to trust that if the idea is good enough it will carry your message through in the end.
  • Follow up: how can you make the campaign work harder for you? Can you follow up in any way? 
  • Comments: the interactive aspect of this medium means that you can listen, and respond, to your audiences comments. Provide an opportunity for them to leave a comment on your page, and ensure you reply. 
  • Share: make your campaign easy to pass on, simple to access and, crucially, free!
  • Trackability: consider how you will track the success of your campaign. This can be done by pass-along, click-through, and conversion rates separating the click-through and conversion rates by original customers from referrals.
  • And finally, how you can make it work even harder: If you can link your viral to a URL with the original message it will have more on an impact on search engine performance by getting other sites to link to it and thereby increasing its popularity.


If you are interested in finding out more about how a viral marketing campaign could work for your brand or service, why not call the experts at Alchemy Interactive, a London-based web-design agency with more than ten years experience in this area.

They can help you explore the potential of this medium and assess what could really work for you.

During an initial brainstorming session, they’ll try to establish the bare essentials in terms of: 

  • What motivates your customers?
  • What do you wish people said about you, your service or your brand?
  • What is your biggest challenge?
  • What do customers love about you?
  • Thinking honestly, what is your biggest downfall in customers’ eyes?
  • What can you do that’s controversial?
  • What can you do that’s outrageous?
  • What can you do that’s funny?

With this information the team can suggest creative ideas to help get people talking - or tapping – about your product, service or brand.

So why not call Alchemy Interactive now? Pass it on...


  1. Akhavan reports
  2. Nielsen data -
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