Viral Marketing

In: Business and Management

Submitted By banthracis
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Viral Marketing

When Hotmail first launched in 1996, the company decided to try a new marketing strategy and included, at the bottom of every email its users sent, a clickable link to sign up for a Hotmail account. This simple scheme had the effect of turning every user of Hotmail into a salesperson for the product whenever they sent out an email. This tactic of turning customers of a product into promoters of a product is one of the defining traits of viral marketing and central to the unique nature of this marketing methodology. Due in large part to this strategy, Hotmail was able to grow from 0 to 12 million users in a mere 18 months with an advertising budget of only $50,000. During the same period, Juno, a direct competitor, spent $20 million in traditional advertising costs and had worse results (Jurvetson 2000). The Hotmail case is one of the earliest examples of viral marketing and definitively demonstrated its effectiveness. Viral marketing is defined as “network-enhanced word of mouth” (Jurvetson 2000). Specifically, viral marketing refers to the utilization of electronic word of mouth to transmit marketing materials in an exponentially growing manner, often through the usage of social media (Kaplan 3). The term viral was used because spreading a marketing message using this strategy mimics the exponential growth found in epidemics of pathogenic organisms such as viruses. For example, with a “fan out” rate of three, the first person exposed to a marketing message would inform three others for a total of four people reached. As the cycle is repeated, the number of total individuals reached increases at exponentially to the third degree. This can be mathematically defined as cumulative users= (1+ fan-out) ^cycles (Jurvetson 2000). The power of this type of marketing is clear. With a small initial investment, an organization can potentially…...

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