Viral Marketing and the Basics
The Web 2.0 phenomenon has empowered organizations to more easily employ viral-marketing tactics. Constituents can forward messages, advocate and become virtual marketers on behalf of their favorite organizations. But sometimes we can get caught up in the technology frenzy and lose sight of the basics. Below are some best practices to keep in mind when using viral marketing as a fundraising tactic.
1. Personalize communications.
Many organizations do some form of personalized communications. Adding a person’s name to the beginning of a letter is the most common example. But personalization requirements in today’s world are far more complex. Constituents want to be treated as individuals, not as just another member of a generalized group. Nonprofit organizations need to know more than constituents’ names. They need to know what constituents like and don’t like. By going beyond the names and learning people’s preferences — like whether they are more interested in saving whales than pandas, for example — and then customizing communications accordingly, organizations will build stronger relationships — a key element to converting a supporter to a fundraiser and ultimately igniting a viral campaign.
2. Offer encouragement.
Sometimes people just need a little push. Offering an incentive to encourage individuals to pass along an organization’s message can increase the chance that the message will become viral. These incentives can be as simple as coupons for services and products that have been donated by local businesses.
3. Make it easy to understand and share.
Your messages must be clear, concise and to the point. And remember, sharing the message should be just a click away. Gadgets and forward-to-a-friend buttons are two ways a nonprofit can enable supporters to quickly and easily share its messages.
4. Grow your database the nice way.
Just because an individual was referred by a friend doesn’t mean he or she has opted in to the database. Organizations that use viral marketing also should continue to use standard opt-in/opt-out practices and comply with applicable laws. Just because someone decided friends or co-workers would be interested in a nonprofit’s message or mission doesn’t mean they actually are. Adding a quick disclaimer that assures supporters that their information isn’t automatically added to some marketing list is a good practice that nonprofits should remember to use. This helps eliminate any hesitation a constituent may have.
5. Use your constituents’ connections.
People are connecting online by the millions. Look at the number of “friends” people have gathered on social-networking sites. Or the popularity of online dating. Viral marketing enables organizations to help constituents share their admiration for the organization with their personal network. By creating clear, short messages that are easy to share and send, nonprofits can discover new supporters and touch more people.
Viral marketing is a favorite of marketers and fundraisers because it’s effective and inexpensive. Viral marketing is even more prevalent in today’s Web-driven world, and Web 2.0 capabilities have caused the number of viral marketers to skyrocket.
With so many tools available to enable constituents to become fundraisers, it’s important to remember the basics. Personalized communications; encouragement or incentives; simple messages that are easy to share; good privacy practices; and utilizing constituents’ connections are the five basic things to remember when fundraising the viral way.
Darryl Gordon is vice president of marketing for Kintera.