viral carrier

Before we get down and dirty with your viral carrier – which sounds really gross but I assure is actually quite awesome – you might want to check out our previous chapters. We’re currently on the fourth step of Creating Your Viral Marketing Engine, where we are methodically showing how to achieve vitality for your product or service.

But if you’re all caught up, or just really want to get knee deep in viral carries, by all means carry on.

When It Comes to Your Viral Carrier – It All Starts With the “Cork”


As you build out and examine your viral loop, you’ll soon find that you’re leaking users in various ways.

This can happen for any number of reasons.

  • High bounce rate on specific parts of the experience
  • Broken features that make users think ill of you
  • A plethora of little hiccups within your user journey

Finding these leaks, and putting a cork in them, will make things incrementally better every day.

So long as you’ve got your analytics tool(s) reporting data correctly, they’re going to reveal exactly where these corks in your funnel should go, whether that means fixing a bug or addressing a bounce rate issue. This way you can effectively eliminate these leaks and get users flowing through your funnel like they should.

Sales Funnel Leak - Viral Carrier

This kind of thing will happen often within your traditional sales funnel. That’s just the nature of optimization.

Which is why the same process should take place with viral optimization – and it all begins with your viral carrier.

The Bottom of the Viral Funnel


A viral carrier is the method through which invites are sent to other users by existing users. In other words, it’s HOW people share, or invite others.

Most sites don’t think twice about this. They assume sharing is a spur of the moment thing, and hope and pray for a miracle. Usually, one never happens. Why?

Because good viral marketing is engineered.

It happens on purpose, and it’s carefully thought out, planned, and optimized by analyzing live interactions with your users, visitors and/or customers. Then making informed decisions as a result.

So, based on what you know about your users, how does the typical user send invites? Is it via email? Social media? Snail mail? Text? Tied to the ankle of a pigeon? Paper airplane?  Do you even KNOW?

Regardless of what your answer is – ask yourself this even better question:

Based on my service, what is the most relevant and logical method to send invites?

If it’s a social service, sending invites through social media makes the most sense.

Thus social media is your best potential viral carrier.

Pinterest Facebook Friends - Viral Carrier

If it’s a team collaboration tool used to manage employees or co-workers, email is far more logical.

Thus email is your best potential viral carrier.

Basecamp Invite People Collaborate - Viral Carrier

Get the picture?

Great. Now, let’s look at . . .

A Few Relevant Viral Metrics


Before we talk about your specific viral carrier, let’s talk a bit about viral growth metrics and the two KPIs that can make or break any viral marketing campaign. To help, we’ll be joined by our good friend Math.

The first metric we’ll look at is:

  • The number of invites sent per user on average. Let’s call this i.

Let’s say User A has sent out 2 invites to other users in the past month, and User B has sent out 4 invites in that same time period.

We need to find the average of these two numbers during this time period, which is represented by the following equation:

i = (total number of invites sent) / total number of users

i = (2 invites from User A + 4 invites from User B) / 2 total users = 3 

So during this time period i = 3. Not bad, right?

But wait, the math doesn’t end there!

The variable i only refers to the number of invites SENT per user on average – not the number of new users you get in return. You don’t care about i by itself; you care about GROWTH!

To find out how many users you get from these invites, you need to factor in the average conversion rate on invites sent out by your users. Let’s call this conv%.

Let’s assume you have that same i value of 3 invites sent out per user on average. Let’s then assume that out of those 3 invites sent out, 1 of those people who received an invite becomes a user. So . . .

conv% = total number of new users / i

conv% = 1 new users / 3 invites sent = 33.3% 

So 33.3% of all invites convert into new users. MATH STRIKES AGAIN!

How to Boost Your Viral Carrier Like a Boss


Both i and conv% are incredibly important viral metrics to consider when performing viral optimization. And both are heavily dependent on the viral carrier.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself – and test ruthlessly – to ensure you can boost these two metrics as much as possible:

  • Is there a different type of viral carrier that increases i more?
  • Which viral carrier are you using that yields the highest conv%?
  • Is it necessary to activate a user (e.g. sign them up) before they invite others, or is your i value independent of user activation?
  • Do you have a way of measuring any of this?
  • Are there certain segments of users where i or conv% is higher? Lower?
  • Why do you think this might be happening?
  • Is it time to get rid of those messenger pigeons?

Do all this, and your viral carrier will turn into one of your most powerful growth assets.

What’s Next?


Your i value (number of invites sent) will heavily depend on how valuable, how in-your-face, and how quick your invites are delivered through your viral carriers. It will also depend on the saturation level of your viral carrier. Meaning, how many competitors or other services are/have been using these carriers in the past.

However, before we dig into the finer nuances of all that, there’s something that will effect your i value even more – your branching factor.

And that’s exactly what we’ll discuss next.


Do You Know the Quickest Way to Increase Sharing?

If you want to go viral, you need your users inviting others. It’s as simple as that. But making this process too time consuming or labor intensive is a surefire way to go nowhere slow. So what’s a Viral Hero to do? Find out in our next chapter.


Travis Steffen
Viral Buttons by UP