Monday, August 06, 2007

Viral Marketing for B2B Lead Generation, Part 3: Caveats and Links

Viral marketing campaigns can work for B2B lead generation with the right media and promotional methods. Even with the most careful planning and execution, however, not every campaign will be a huge success. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when design viral marketing programs:

Viral Marketing Caveats
  • To maximize your odds of success with viral marketing, create a yearly plan for viral campaigns (the operating principle here is that even baseball's best sluggers don't get a hit every time they step up to the plate, but more at-bats generally means more hits).

  • Humorous campaigns are the most likely to be passed around—but white papers or other content that addresses real-world business problems and solutions are more likely to drive responses from IT buyers and influencers.

  • Very few viral campaigns really “explode” online; half produce a decent return, but less than 1 out of a hundred is a true “home run.”

  • Avoid using a committee to create viral campaigns; these have the lowest success rate.

  • Online games, contests and video clips have become ubiquitous on the Internet; it takes something really special to stand out.

  • Viral campaigns are generally much more effective at increasing brand awareness than actual lead generation.

  • B2B viral marketing campaigns are most likely to be shared among mid-level decision makers and influencers. While blogs and podcasts can be effective at reaching senior managers, C-level executives are much less likely to forward ANYTHING than are lower-level employees.

  • According to MarketingSherpa, “Unless you are marketing to a community-centric target audience, such as IT professionals, many B-to-B customers/prospects will tune out nontraditional messaging in favor of a direct sales effort.”

  • It's rare to find an individual with both viral and traditional B2B PR skillsets, which is why marketing agencies (such as B2B IT specialists KC Associates) are often used to assist with viral campaigns.

  • Campaigns that are outrageously successful in terms of the number of viewers reached can nevertheless produce a very small number of qualified leads (e.g., because many viewers are curious teens rather than B2B buyers and influencers).

  • Evangelism is different from viral marketing; it has a smaller spread but greater actual business impact. White papers remain one of the most effective tools for evangelism.

Viral Marketing Links

Links to award-winning B2B viral campaigns from MarketingSherpa (free):

Viral Hall of Fame 2007: NetQoS' Netcosm

Viral Hall of Fame 2007: The Gobbledygook Manifesto

Viral Hall of Fame 2007: Exeros Inc.

MarketingSherpa case studies and reports ($$ required):

MarketingSherpa Case Study: How to Make Your Technology Brand Famous Via Podcasts, Blogs & Games: 12-Month Viral Marketing Plan

MarketingSherpa Special Report: Viral Marketing 2007 - 15 Data Charts, Top Tactics & ROI

MarketingSherpa Case Study: Video + Humor + Viral = Lead-Gen Success for Data Backup Firm

Previous posts in this series:

Viral Marketing for B2B Lead Generation, Part 1: Viral Media

Viral Marketing for B2B Lead Generation, Part 2: Viral Promotion


The site for B2B web marketing guides, books, news and tools:

The only Minneapolis-based PR, marketing and SEO agency focused exclusively on B2B IT companies: KC Associates

Contact Mike Bannan:


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