With viral marketing the principal objective is to increase awareness of a product, service or concept using word-of-mouth behaviours. To put it into context, where spam is based on massive distribution of unsolicited emails, viral emails use popular social networking aspects to achieve their goal of reaching the masses.
The development of a viral email is pretty straightforward. An individual will receive a message that can be of any nature really (something with a humorous tone is almost always effective, but try not to insult), which they then pass on to their friends using the “forward to a friend” or “share on a social network” button, strategically placed in the email campaign. Secondary recipients can clearly see and trust where the email comes from and therefore the chance of it getting opened is greatly increased. They in turn then do the same thing, and so forth. The concept is similar to that of an email chain letter, except of course there is no explicit requirement to forward it. A viral email is spread because the content that’s in it is relevant and (this is important), there is true value in passing it on.
A viral email is very similar to a real virus, and is in fact where the name comes from, duh Email1and1. Think about it like this: a virus starts out as a single entity, with the potential to increase exponentially to the point that it dominates. It uses a host and their resources to grow, replicate and double with each interaction. Clever little organisms really, the hard work is done for them, they just have to find the right host to start out with – much like choosing the right recipients for your first viral email campaign.
Recently there have been great examples of hugely successful viral email marketing campaigns. One that you might be familiar with is that of Threshers – the UK off-licence retail chain. They emailed vouchers to staff and suppliers, which were then redistributed by them. This proved so successful that many branches ran out stock when people went to cash in on the deal. On top of this, the story made headlines all over Europe and the Internet was filled with news of this ‘viral campaign.’ According to Threshers however, it was not an intended viral email campaign although due to its phenomenal success, they initiated a similar campaign the following year, with similar levels of success.
Hotmail.com is another superb example of a viral email campaign that resulted in the number of people registering for a free Hotmail account climb rapidly into the millions, literally within a few days. The strategy was unbelievably simple; each email that was sent out from an existing Hotmail account had a tag at the end of it which read: “Get your private, free email at hotmail.com. “
Although email really took off with the boom in internet use in the early 1990s the first email was sent way back in 1971 by Ray Thompson via the ARPANET computer system. Email along with text of SMS messages are now the primary method of sending written communications around the globe. About 294 billion email messages per day are sent this means more than 2.8 million emails are sent every second and some 90 trillion emails are sent per year. This article explains how to send your very first email.
The speed of email and the ability to add images, documents and other elements such as clickable links to websites make it a much more flexible method of communication that letters or faxes.
In order to send and receive emails you will need an email account. There are a vast number of free email providers including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo email and MSN’s Hotmail. These emails accounts work via the internet and are called webmail accounts. The advantage of webmail is that you can log into the account from any computer with internet access and send and receive your email. These email accounts are protected by a username and password which you must type in each time you wish to access your mail.
Most Internet Service Providers will supply you with an email address when you sign up and this will normally be a webmail account but with the advantage that they can also be used via an email client. An email client is a piece of software that allows you to manage your e-mails offline. There are again a wide variety of email clients including Microsoft’s Outlook Express and Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Pegasus Mail and Apple Inc’s Mail. One of the advantages of using an email client is that you don’t have to enter your username and password whenever you want to access your email.