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Exponential List Building with Viral Bait

Nov 29, 2007
The key to relationship marketing is building a list and then developing trust. In the Mortgage business I don't expect to get a sale today, my product sells for thousands of dollars and my clients have a problem I can solve every 3 years on average. So I have to be in the long term relationship business which means that I treat everyone on my list as a future client or referral source.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to focus on building the list through viral marketing. Viral marketing is often thought of as a joke email or a chain letter that gets blasted around the web. In the business world, viral marketing is the Holy Grail. A small media seed can grow into a fast moving sales message that multiplies exponentially without additional cost. The viral bait becomes the first of many conversations that we hope will lead to a sale.

Over the years I have researched and developed information products (the bait) that I give away online in exchange for an email address. Once I have the email address and permission to communicate with the new contact, I can begin robotic trust-based selling campaigns that position me as a trustworthy service provider. This type of push/pull marketing is simple. However, creating a viral campaign that spreads without continuous pushing is not easy and often takes trial and error.

Creating a robotic list building system contains 3 main elements:
1. The viral bait - This has traditionally been an information product or other ethical bribe that is given to someone in exchange for permission to communicate with them about your product or service. You can easily create an ebook that provides valuable information about a subject related to your product or service.
2. An ongoing conversation - Communication can take on many forms (i.e., email, teleseminar, webinar, newsletter, promotional advertising) and works as a sifting and sorting tool that makes your prospects identify themselves as potential clients.
3. Conversion - For my business conversion is typically handled over the phone but many lower priced items don't need an explanation and can be purchased directly online by building the demand (benefit selling) and lower the barrier to the sale (guarantee or discount).

The key to the system working virally is identifying the right bait. It took me years to figure out that people only care about mortgage information when they have an immediate need for a mortgage. You may be thinking to yourself, that's great, a prospect that has an immediate need is closer to buying what you offer. However, even though I provided useful information that differentiated my services and positioned me as a trusted source, I didn't have the time or resources to build deep relationships with the prospect. Ultimately I acquired a list of people who could only compare my service on the basis of price.

Besides price, the other downside to my mortgage campaign was that it never became viral. My bait was so specific to a problematic niche that there was no perception of universal value to others. So the chain stopped with the last respondent. In order for the leads to keep coming I had to keep spending. My marketing costs had a linear relationship to the response I received, not the exponential response I was hoping for. With conversion rates slowing in the mortgage industry, the ROI was low and not worth the effort.

So within the past year I re-created my bait to have broader appeal and my campaigns have been viral and achieving 10X the opt-in rate compared to the previous bait. I have completely cut-off my advertising campaigns and the leads are still coming in. That is the power of viral marketing.

If your list building has not met your expectations or is not bringing an effective ROI, go back to step #1 in the robotic list building system. Bait is the gate keeper to the system and the key to viral marketing success.
About the Author
To see the viral bait that I utilize to build my list, Click Here
Brett Nordin is a business consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for various business topics including sales, marketing and business development.
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