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Marketing Your Website: Viral Marketing 4 August 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

The 7am.com java clock I spoke of yesterday is a perfect example of what has become known as viral marketing.

It has been proven many times over that this is the single most effective way to market your website and 7am.com's success is just one example.

Perhaps one of the oldest and least accepted methods of viral marketing is the chain letter -- something that has unfortunately resurfaced as spam on the Internet. The message spreads rapidly by being duplicated each time it passes through another set of hands.

That's how ethical viral marketing can work too. In the case of the 7am.com news ticker and clock -- there was originally just one site carrying these applets. Someone who visited the site added them to their own pages -- and so then there were two. In fact, the first person to add these applets to their website effectively doubled the number overnight. It becomes easy to see how those two sites could become four, and those four could be come eight, etc, etc.

The Internet is unique in its ability to support viral marketing strategies -- simply because every part of the Net is effectively connected to every other part so information can flow instantly and without constraint.

Anyone who doesn't try to include a viral component in their online marketing strategy is just plain dumb.

Affiliate Schemes
If you're selling products or services then these are all the rage on the web at the moment. Everyone from Amazon to Flying Pig wants you to join their affiliate schemes and act as a commissioned sales agent.

Until recently I'd have warned people to be very careful about setting up such a scheme because the costs and other overheads in managing even a modest network of affiliate sites can be crippling. Fortunately there are now a growing number of companies which have set themselves up to provide such management services. This allows you to outsource this critical aspect of such a system.

Just Bribe Them!
If you have huge amounts of money you might just want to buy traffic in the way that AllAdvantage and 4 iWon.com has done.

iWon.com is perhaps the most blatant example of buying traffic -- they're offering some very significant prizes that can be won by those who visit their site and click on links to earn points. The lure of all this cash has thrust iWon into the top 20 list of most frequently visited websites almost overnight.

I suspect, however, that this strategy is probably not an option for most small to medium-sized businesses looking to market themselves on the Net ;-)

Next week I'll be offering a few final pointers, including some that have proven very effective for my own online efforts -- and which cost nothing but a little time.

In the meantime I shall break into this objective and unbiased stream of information and remind readers that they can invest in hiring my services if they're looking for some experienced, proven, professional online marketing advice specifically tailored to their own site or business.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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