Viral E-mail Marketing for a Cause
When it comes to increasing brand recognition, viral e-mail marketing is the way to go. “Word-of-mouse” can exponentially multiply consumer awareness of your brand with just a few clicks.
For this reason, viral e-mail marketing particularly is an effective tool to help nonprofits with lean marketing budgets increase Web traffic because it exposes an organization’s message to more people at less cost than traditional marketing tactics. “People are more likely to listen to, respond or to forward information that was provided by a friend. And since the Web is the first place many people go to learn more about an organization, even a remote curiosity will increase Web traffic,” explains Darryl Gordon, vice president of marketing at Kintera, a San Diego-based software company that specializes in working with nonprofits.
Josh Billauer, co-founder and chairman of the Los Angeles-based Life Rolls On Foundation (LRO)—a nonprofit dedicated to promoting spinal cord injury research—says trust is the key to viral marketing. “When referred by a friend to visit or support our organization, the relationship is much deeper and repeated visits to the Web site are more common. Our existing supporters tell their friends to come check out LRO, and this implied trust is better than any banner ad or ad-word we could buy,” he says.
While a viral e-mail marketing campaign may have an expanded reach, Gordon says it also is one of the most difficult campaigns to ignite. “Because a viral marketing campaign relies on the recipient to spread the marketing message, the content must be so compelling and creative [that] the recipient wants to share the information with others.”
Once you’ve struck a balance between content that is both entertaining and informative and still represents the organization, consider implementing the following two techniques to encourage supporters to spread your message.
1. Include “Forward-to-a-friend” buttons on e-newsletters and landing pages. Once a campaign is in place, using referrals to create an opt-in list is the next challenge. How can you encourage potential new constituents to revisit your site and support your mission? “Without trust, constituents are likely to be one-time visitors, or worse, [eventually] opt-out. Building a database of opt-in contacts is so much easier when people find us, rather than us finding them. When new potential constituents see what their friends are doing online in support of LRO, whether it is putting banner ads on their personal social networking sites [or posting photos of LRO events], they, in turn, want to do the same,” says Billauer.