Consumers Immune to Viral Marketing

Marketers constantly work to create unique and valuable content in an effort to engage potential customers and drive profitable interactions. Instead of directing messages at consumers or businesses, wise marketers will craft conversations and forge interactions that don’t feel like selling. In other words, it’s “Pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind –the-mirror” marketing. The result: customer loyalty and purchasing is created through minimally-invasive marketing procedure (no anesthesia needed). Take a quick look at your Facebook newsfeed, or your favorite morning talk show, and you will begin to lose count of the number of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos you see. Commercial and non-profit organizations alike have begun to embrace the power of viral marketing. And the good news is: anyone can do it!

Now for the bad news: anyone can do it. We get it. You think your video/blog post/tweet/Facebook profile is the best thing ever and everyone should see it. But after you post and refresh your page for the 27th time in a minute with no new interactions, you start to worry. If you’re managing your companies social media accounts or running the promotional campaign for your next internal event, you may find your boss breathing down your neck about building tangible ROI. However, you also may realize that your online content has about as many clicks today as your pet’s Myspace account. In a sea of click-bait, you wonder how you’re going to net an actionable click. You need your content to go viral and you need to get it there fast. After all, more views = more buy-ins, right?

Not necessarily, however that’s the thought process behind most viral video campaigns. The numbers behind the theory go something like this: if 1% of your  viewers click on your content, and 1% of that group make a purchase, then only one in every 10,000 views will result in a purchase.  By that logic, you’re going to need millions of views just to scratch the surface of ROI unless each purchase produces a multi-million dollar profit.

That’s why the creation of  viral content has become so important. But does casting a larger net really catch you more fish? As with any campaign, you have to ask: “Where are those views coming from? Who are they coming from? Is my content reaching the demographic it is positioned to serve? What about psychographic? What do these views really mean? Is the message getting lost in the hype?”

While the power of viral marketing is apparent in many cases (take ALS for instance), when you’re trying to convey a message that’s less exciting than dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, or for a cause that’s less embraceable than fighting a horrible disease, a targeted approach can be much more effective. Instead of fighting tooth and nail to get 10,000 more views, lets create more enticing and targeted content that earns clicks from 2% of viewers as well as a 2% purchase rate. All of the sudden, every 5,000 views is resulting in a purchase instead of every 10,000. Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “Hey bud, I’ve got a calculator on my iPhone too. What’s your point?”

Instead of focusing so hard on getting the most views, focus on getting the right views. You might get 10 million views with your cute cat video, but how likely are you to actually earn customer loyalty or purchase intent? Viewers are fickle and will leave you the minute your content isn’t relevant to them anymore. Work on earning customer interest and trust and they  will stick around a lot longer. They may not drive you to the airport or help you move, but they’re a lot more likely to budge your sales numbers at the end of the month.

The moral of this story? Once-relevant viral marketing strategies are a thing of the past. When it comes to content marketing, it’s all about reaching the right audience, not the biggest one. Don’t want to take our word for it? Read more in Advertising Age’s new article Remember When Every Brand’s Video Strategy Was to Go Viral? At the end of the day, every marketer wants to earn views, clicks, reposts, likes, or shrines for their content. Just remember: it’s not the size of your reach that counts, it’s the quality of the reach and how you activate it that counts most.