viral satisfaction marketing


You’ve reached the last chapter of the 12 different types of viral marketing. (Viral Panda and his sidekick Red are very impressed.) In a few moments you’ll be one giant leap closer to building scalable, sustainable growth for your product.

(Note: If you’re just joining us, I recommend starting from the beginning with inherent viral marketing.)

But before I dive into the topic of our twelfth and final form, I wanted to first stress something very important. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

No matter which type you choose, the foundation of all viral marketing is value.

Not value from YOUR perspective, mind you. I’m talking about value from the perspective of your USERS.

Value Stems From Your Product . . . Right?


The perceived value of your product is one of the most important items you need to address to achieve success.

For viral marketing to work in any capacity, you need to provide an elevated value to users that drives them towards inviting others to likewise be users. This value is important because it creates a feeling of satisfaction within the user. And in today’s wide sea of sh*t products, a truly satisfying experience is well worth telling others about.

However, satisfaction does NOT have to come from a product in order to still be worth talking about.

Sure, it has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere needs to be an absolutely incredible touch point with your brand (i.e. point of contact between a buyer and a seller). In other words, you need to provide the user with an experience so uniquely great in contrast to what everyone else is doing that it becomes the remarkable “purple cow” Seth Godin so often refers to.

So, let’s think for a moment. Where could such a key touch point exist?

Customer Service and Virality


Viral satisfaction marketing is a form of viral marketing that occurs when a user has had such a great experience with your team that they share it with others.

Through this interaction, you’ve given that user value. Not to mention an altogether different experience than they typically receive from other brands in EVERY industry.

Viral satisfaction marketing may not seem like a form of viral marketing. If you’re looking at viral marketing through a structural lens like inherent viral marketing or viral collaboration marketing, you may have a point.

However, Zappos would argue otherwise.

Viral Success Story: Zappos


Originally the Amazon of online shoe sales, Zappos became famous for their unrivaled customer support. There was no script. No automated robots. No outsourced call center in India. Just real people whose primary goal was to absolutely delight customers.

So much so, they began airing commercials showing off REAL customer service calls.

Zappos Customer Service - Viral Satisfaction Marketing

Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, knew that these customer touch points were traditionally a source of friction and frustration for customers. Most companies would do just enough to ensure customers didn’t totally hate them, and not much else.

In general, personalized customer service was deemed either too expensive or inadequately  “innovative” to be worth the effort, or some other equally as wrong and stupid reason.

For Hseih, however, it was a no-brainer. He created a culture inside Zappos of genuinely happy employees who were thoroughly interested and passionate about helping customers solve their problems. Their job wasn’t just about assisting customers. It was about brightening each customer’s day, and ensuring all of them felt like they mattered.

And guess what? Once customers got off a call with Zappos support, they went and RAVED about how incredibly well they were treated. Rhapsodizing over how the agent went above and beyond to help them.

Zappos Twitter Customer Service - Viral Satisfaction Marketing

Do you think these ringing endorsements helped Zappos acquire new customers?

(HINT: If you said “not likely” go sit in the corner.)

Satisfaction Virality vs. WOM


If you tried to argue that viral satisfaction marketing is simply a form of viral word of mouth marketing, you’d be correct . . . mostly.

Word of mouth” is so broad and vague that cramming every subset into one crowded chapter wouldn’t be useful or practical. It is implemented in different ways by different companies. My goal is to give you an actionable view of each viral engine and the intricacies that need to be considered in each case.

The mechanics of creating viral word of mouth marketing in the ways we’ve previously discussed (here and here) deal mostly with the product, not with support interactions.

That’s the key difference.

It is important to separate these two because only SOME companies can leverage viral word of mouth marketing, but EVERY company can leverage viral satisfaction marketing.

You can even leverage it from Day 1, well before you have a product. In other words, before your product can speak for itself, you have to speak for it.

Give People Something to Be Happy About


Basecamp founder, Jason Fried, has publicly boasted that his company’s customer support response times are often within one minute.

Not surprisingly, they have proudly showcased this spotless support record off on their website.

Smiley 37Signals Customer Support Happiness Report - Viral Satisfaction Report

Think this is by accident? Nope. It’s a form of viral marketing. Because good customer service is such a rare experience, users talk to others about it immediately. It gives them a sense of confidence that if anything goes wrong, help is just a minute away.

The Right Time to Ask


Not all support interactions need to be organic. In fact, with the right tools, the right automation, and the right planning you can create other support interactions to keep your viral satisfaction marketing engine chugging.

For example, many apps – including Circa News – use this simple flow to EITHER ask for a rating from satisfied customers OR ask for feedback from an unsatisfied customer.

Circa News Customer Service Survey - Viral Satisfaction Marketing

Not only does this feedback help Circa improve, but it serves as an opportunity to provide support to a user who may be at risk of churning otherwise.

Turning an unhappy user into a delighted user is often the mark of a successful viral satisfaction engine. Why? Because the shift is so rare that it’s worthy of conversation.

I’d suggest including within this flow a steady balance of:

  • Ratings – social proof is a powerful conversion tool
  • Invite CTAs – happy customers will be your most viral customers, so it’s sensible to ask here

Be Remarkable All Around


Just as you want your product or service to be remarkable, each additional touch point you have with customers can help boost virality. Whether it’s a postcard in the mail or helping a frustrated customer at 2 am while their toddler is screaming in the background – you’re not there to judge, just help.

In other words, don’t measure the amount of time it takes to resolve each problem a user has. Resolutions can be quick, but delighting the customer takes an added effort. So, offer stress-free support. Have fast response times. Create a remarkable, conversation-worthy experience. And work hard to help customers as much as possible in order to stand out from the competition and leave them satisfied.

Even if it means singing Rockabye Baby to help put their baby to sleep.

Succeed and I guarantee they’ll be coming back for more, and bringing their friends with them.

What’s Next?


You didn’t think we were going to stop here did you?

You may know all 12 forms of viral marketing, but knowledge without action is worthless. Now you need to CREATE your viral engine. Which is precisely what we will be diving into in the next section.

Get your party pants on!


Learn How to Build a Powerful Viral Engine - Step by Step

You can read these lessons all day long, but without IMPLEMENTING them you’ll never get anywhere. Our next chapter contains 15 powerful lessons on creating a viral marketing engine from scratch. Do you have what it takes to take this thing to the next level?



What did you think of this post?

  • Do you have a firm grasp of the 12 types of viral marketing?
  • Can you think of any other types that might fit the mold?
  • Which actor would you pick to play Viral Panda in a movie?

Hit me on Twitter, or comment below.


Travis Steffen
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