You have officially made it halfway through Creating Your Viral Marketing Engine in 15 Steps.
Everything you’ve done up until now has been critical to your success. And looking at your analytics, you’ve got great data. Pat yourself on the back! Have a drink (or some bamboo if you’re a panda) and take pride in how far you’ve come.
But wait, do you feel that? Something just . . . ugh. Something just isn’t right.
That viral machine isn’t humming along like it should, and your growth curve isn’t sharpening like you (and potentially your investors) want it to.
What’s going on??
When an Old Loop Ends, a New Loop Begins
Just because your users are inviting others, doesn’t necessarily mean they are opening those invites. And IF they are opening those invites, it doesn’t mean they’re taking any action once they do.
This, my friend, leads us to your viral marketing message – which acts as the beginning of any new viral loop.
A vast majority of your prospective users will become aware of your site or app through an invite from a friend or colleague. For a percentage of them, that’s as far as they’ll go.
However, if you do your job correctly, most of those prospects will come see what all their friends and colleagues are fussing on about. Which gives you a great chance to convert them into a user.
The End (and the Beginning) of Your Viral Loop
While the middle of your viral loop will nearly always be different depending on the experience within your site or app, as well as the types of viral marketing you’ve activated, the beginning and the end of your loop are always the same:
- The end is when a user you’ve recruited to your site experiences enough value to send an invite to a friend or colleague.
- The beginning is when a person the previous user invited receives the invite they’ve been sent.
Every viral loop starts and ends with one person. As soon as that one person transitions the required action to another person, their loop is over and the new person’s loop begins.
We’ve already talked about the end of your viral loop in the last post, but we haven’t spent much time on the beginning of your viral loop.
That’s about to change.
The Composition of a Good Viral Message
A great viral marketing message has 5 distinct components:
- The Attention-Grabber – This is how your viral message steals the receiver’s attention away from the rest of the noise in their life. For an email invite, this would be the subject line and sender name standing out from the rest of the garbage in their inbox. For a social broadcast, this would be the imagery and the headline.
- The Referrer’s Name – Your referrals tend to have a far higher conversion rate than ads or cold outreach. That’s because it’s coming from a known and trusted source (i.e. a friend or co-worker). But the receiver must KNOW who the referral came from as quickly as possible for this trust to be granted. For example, this name must be in the headline of the email they receive. Otherwise, they won’t see it unless they open the email, which fewer people will do if they think it’s spam.
- Short, Yet Compelling Message Content – A great viral message must account for the receiver’s short attention span while simultaneously doing its job. So get right to the point. In one or, at most, two sentences tell the receiver what they’re being referred to and why. This looks something like “John Doe is inviting you to join him on Dropbox – the easiest way to store and share files.” Curate this text yourself as much as possible to maximize clickthrough rates.
- Proper Context – Not only does the receiver need to know what they’re being referred to, but they also need to know why they’ll love it. And why they need it NOW. In certain cases, you’ll be the best person to curate this portion. In others, the referrer may be the best person to custom-write this. It depends on who your users are as well as how many use cases you have. This looks something like “John Doe just shared a folder named ‘World Domination Plans’ with you on Dropbox – the easiest way to store and share files.” See the difference? Use your best judgement here, and test, test, test.
- A Clear Call to Action – Once the user knows who referred them, what they’re being referred to, and why they need it, the final step is to give them a clear and intuitive next step. Ideally you’ll want to make your call to action tell the user exactly where they’ll land after they click. This means following the completed statement in #4 above with “Click Here to Join This Folder” or something of that nature.
The clickthrough rate (CTR) from your viral marketing message will depend entirely on how well you execute the above 5 items. You may only have a few short moments to convince an invited user to both pay attention and make the decision you want them to.
Conversion rate optimization techniques are going to lead to huge wins in the virality department if put to use on your viral marketing message. So I strongly encourage you check out other resources like ConversionXL and the Unbounce blog to help educate you further in this area.
So you’ve enticed your users to send out invites by the butt load. In turn, their friends are taking the bait of your well crafted messaging hook, line and sinker. The logical next step is to strategically create where those newly invited visitors will end up after accepting the invite.
After all, everything you’ve done up until now is meaningless if you haven’t optimized that “unboxing.”
Remember you only get to make a good first impression once. So the first ever experience these visitors have with you better be spot on.
This is the big money moment.
Don’t f*ck it up.
What's the Best Way to Make a Good Impression?
You’ve proven that if you send it, they will come. Thanks to your viral marketing efforts new visitors are charging through your digital door. But now what? How do you WOW them into taking further action?
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