In the ideal app world, viral marketing strategies would help people download your app and enjoy it so much that they share it with others in some way, which then also download your app. And then those new users enjoy it so much that they share it with their network, who then also download your app and then… Well, you get the picture.
Many successful apps were built on the back of such word of mouth. While one of the key factors to influence word of mouth is hiring a developer who helps you build a fantastic app itself, these apps also ensured they made it easier for their audience to spread the word.
In fact, they gave them many reasons to spread the word, not just to let their network know what a great app they were using. And these viral marketing campaigns are called viral loops.
Here’s just one of the many varying visualizations out there on what a viral marketing campaign should look like from Kobayashi Online:
As you can see, it’s a loop because it starts with the individual’s awareness and interest until they recommend it to others who then become aware and interested themselves. The loop is ‘viral’ because its spread is similar to that of a virus, from person to person until it spreads to thousands of those among the target audience.
The popular Candy Crush game is one example of an effective viral marketing strategy, according to a Growth Devil post. When players run into situations where they need help, they can ask friends for lives and assistance in moving on to the next level. They can also send people they know extra moves and other benefits. Even when people have stopped playing the game, they are encouraged to start again by new players who need help.
The game also makes it easy to invite friends to start playing with an in-game invite screen that is automatically populated with the player’s contacts.
Basically, viral loops are an inexpensive way to get your app’s users to promote the app for you – and if you’re not using them, your competitors likely are. Here are five viral marketing strategies to help you create your own viral loops and stay competitive:
#1 Choose wisely
According to an @andrewchen post, the first (and last) choice you should make is where people are going to ‘receive an entryway’ into your viral loop. While apps can do it within the app itself, there are other options to consider. The main factors to consider are how difficult it is for them to integrate and response rate. A difficult integration means that fewer people might see your messages, or your messages could even be filtered out altogether.
Response rate depends on how in-your-face your messages are and how competitive the medium is (Facebook vs. email, for example). Further, according to the Growth Devil post, there is also the decision of the different types of content to use. For example, memes can offer a quick, easy and eye-catching offering, Infographics can convey information in an appealing and memorable way and videos can be compelling and shareable.
#2 Make it easy
You also have to choose your viral marketing ‘funnel’ – making it easy to join and share, according to the Andrew Chen post. Each page is a barrier you’re asking your users to leap over, and you can assume up to 80% to 90% attrition if you ask them to register for a username/password, for example.
According to Growth Devil, online storage service Dropbox is one example of making it easy for users to share, providing a ‘Refer Friends to Dropbox’ link, where they can enter any number of email addresses or names and click send to automatically send invites to those people.
#3 Make them want to share
Dropbox is also an example of this viral marketing strategy and the ‘give and get more’ strategy, which that when a customer shares the product with a new user, they get some kind of upgrade or benefit to their own use of the service. With Dropbox, users have a limited amount of storage space, but every friend they invite will increase their own storage space (as well as their friend’s) by 500 MB.
According to a Leanis Solutions slideshare, people share to signal their traits and attach themselves to something meaningful, to vent emotionally with an instinctual need to share something funny or delightful or to get conversations started.
#4 Keep your eye on the prize
As Chris Garrett notes, it’s better to figure out what group you want consuming your content most, learn about them and create content that will appeal to them – rather than just focusing on getting more hits. A few efforts can help you hit that target, according to a Justin Jackson blog post, including focusing on influencers in the group, piggybacking on existing communities that you can build integrations with and staying aware of trends in your niche.
Keep in mind that while content based on current events, celebrities, and other popular topics can attract wide audiences, according to the Kobayashi post, you should instead focus on creating content that it relevant to your intended audience.
#5 Measure your success
As with any business-related efforts, it’s important to measure whether what you’re doing is paying off. According to a Growth Devil post, there’s even a formula to figure out if your viral marketing strategies are successful: N x P1 x P2 = VC.
- ‘N’ is the average number of customers who are invited by each active user who invites people
- ‘P1’ stands for the proportion of invited users who tend to actually sign up and become active customers
- ‘P2’ stands for the proportion of active users who tend to invite other people.
- VC stands for ‘Viral Coefficient’ and will tell you how well your loop will grow.
If VC is greater than 1, you can expect to see the growth of your viral marketing campaign increase exponentially into every area possible. If VC is less than 1, you’ll need to constantly monitor and re-market your content to keep it going. If VC is 0, you will see no growth whatsoever.
Also, as with other business-related efforts, you may have to change or tweak them to bring your numbers up. But ultimately, hitting that viral marketing campaign will get your app out there and help your app’s users to help you spread the word much quicker.