The internet has turned another corner in the last few years. This should come as no surprise. The one constant about the internet is change. But the changes that have become a reality in the last few years have made fundamental changes to how we view the internet, how we use it and what we expect when we go on a web site and interact with the web site owners any more.
From wiki control over web sites to YouTube to social networks, the emphasis of the internet has shifted from the operators of web sites to the users. And with this change the way those of us involved in using the internet for marketing have begun to change the way we do business as well.
The model for internet marketing that predates the shift to the WEB 2.0 methodology was heavily dependent on email as the primary line of communication with the customer. Next to online sales, email was the way customers sent in inquiries and the way customer support was handled. And other than online advertising, email was the most sophisticated method for internet marketing we had at our disposal.
Over time, however, the use of email for marketing began to see abuses in the form of spam. More and more the need to protect customers from spam communications has so dominated the world of email marketing that has become a cost burden for online merchants and customers alike and it has slowed or stopped email deliverability to the point that it is uncertain on any given business day whether you can depend on email to keep your business running or not.
As a result, a discipline and a methodology for circumventing email delivery interference points such as spam filters has imposed yet another new area of online knowledge that takes time away from running your business so you can focus on working with ISPs and learning the methods of spam control so you can carefully construct your emails so at least they will get to your customers. But the methods you have to use to jump through hoops to get your marketing emails to customers have come to dominate email marketing so heavily that the message and the communication has almost taken a back seat to just getting the email delivered.
It is interesting that the big changes in how the internet operates in some ways are going to retire this cumbersome email system before we come up with a solution to the email delivery problem. There are some very sophisticated internet marketing techniques that are showing themselves to be highly effective that never depend on email at all. And as modern internet merchants turn to these methods, the problem of email delivery may never be solved as much as it is ignored and allowed to die out on its own.
Viral marketing is one way modern internet marketers are recruiting new customers and getting the word out about products and services by tapping the power of video and the instinct internet denizens have for downloading free stuff. Viral marketing is a method where the merchant creates a download that is desirable. A funny video, a musical performance or an ebook make great viral marketing tools. But along with the free “toy”, the download carries the marketing message of the merchant and is downloaded into the internet network of users quickly and with no cost to the merchant or the user.
The viral part occurs naturally as users upload the video or link to it on other web sites or share it with each other on blogs or through email. The marketing message spreads from customer to customer, like a virus spreads the flu and as it spreads, it directs new customers back to the merchant web site to become active customers.
This is a powerful marketing technique that depends on nothing more than human nature for success. And unlike the cumbersome email system, viral marketing has its own way of avoiding “spam”, it is fast and it is cost free. But above all the one trait that makes viral marketing trump email marketing as the means to success for the future of internet marking is a simple principle that always attracts business people. It works.