No matter who you are, your viral loop is meant to help you grow.
However, “growth” can mean different things to different people depending on your specific business and your specific goals. You may be trying to grow in users, revenue, or on some other key performance indicator (KPI).
So in that regard, everyone’s viral loop is unique. But there is still a general outline that all follow.
The Basic Composition of Every Viral Loop
A sound viral loop is comprised of a few distinct steps:
- Making a prospect initially aware of your product through a viral invite
- Communicating initial core value to the prospect through your viral message
- Demoing your product’s full core value to your prospect through your viral media
- Converting the prospect into a user (or viral marketing conversion)
- Communicating your viral value to that user at the moment of the viral hook
There are some big wins that most products can leverage to make things work even better within your viral loop – such as branching or viral incentive marketing. But despite those, for nearly everyone, the viral loop starts over again when new prospects receive an invite once these 5 steps above have been completed.
Notice how I made #4 bold? That’s because viral marketing conversion is the topic of this chapter. And it’s a big one, because without user’s converting your viral campaign (and business) might as well be dead in the water.
Switching Funnel Goals
When you acquire a new prospect or lead through viral means, your first and foremost goal is to convert that prospect into a user. While you may get a little bit of virality from users who like your product without using it, you’ll get 10x the virality from those same people if they become a user themselves.
But Travis, why does this happen?
I’m glad you asked.
An endorsement from a friend is great. But an endorsement from that same friend combined with anecdotes of their own personal experiences as well as their ability to answer basic questions on various use cases is as big of a viral win as you can get. With this, conv% goes through the roof.
To get you well on your way towards the pantheons of viral glory, below is a short list of things you can do today to convert more prospects.
- Shorten and simplify the conversion process. If you reduce friction, effort, and the information required to act (e.g. sign up, download, make a purchase, etc.), you’ll start seeing a big jump in conversions.
- Minimize or eliminate distractions. Any graphics, colors, or elements within your prospect-to-user conversion funnel that doesn’t directly support a conversion action within your viral loop is a distraction and should be removed. So put away all those bells and whistles unless they’re helping the cause. Boring pages often convert better than ultra-artistic, flashy designs. Remember, you’re growing a business, not making an art project.
- Do your homework. Check out some of the more specialized conversion rate optimization educational resources like ConversionXL or the Unbounce blog. Use what I’m presenting as a starting point and from here research deeper into winning conversion tactics. After all, this is a site on viral marketing and the computing habits of panda bears, not CRO.
Remember, the most glowing endorsements (and thereby the most virality) will come from satisfied customers you have worked your ass off to provide value for.
As the saying goes, a happy customer is a viral customer. (That’s how the saying goes, right? Oh well, it does now.)
We’ve gone through pretty much all of the key steps within any viral loop, as well as some effective augmentations.
Now, let’s take a step backwards and look at some practical visualizations we can actually use on a day-to-day basis to increase virality.
Can You See Your Viral Marketing Funnel?
Knowing the steps of a viral loop will only get you so far. But what happens when you turn viral theory into viral practice? To do this you’ll need to create a visualization of your loop complete with data and context. Join me in the next chapter and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
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- Viral Communication Marketing – How Apple, MailChimp and Hootsuite Used Hotmail to Inspire Explosive Growth - June 25, 2015