Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One of My Sites Went Viral

Here is a copy of an email I sent out to my customers yesterday...


I had something happen to me Sunday that had never happened to me before. A site of mine went viral. For all the internet marketing stuff I personally do, and advice I give, I’ve never had one of my own sites go viral. I’ve helped clients get their sites to go viral in big ways, and paid money via AdWords, and other advertising methods to promote something, but I’ve never had an offer that caught the attention of people and spread like wildfire before, till Sunday.

Taking a step back, anybody watching the Today Show on NBC this morning would’ve seen the shrimp that runs on a treadmill live in the studio. It’s also apparently all over YouTube, and was invited for a demonstration because it has received so much attention online. This is one recent example of going viral. In other words, going viral happens when something that people see or experience is worthy enough for them to pass on to friends, and then their friends tell their friends, and the chain begins.

Typically viral campaigns emerge from interesting, funny, or shocking type things. Think Paris Hilton’s notorious skin flick, or the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment video, those are examples of viral campaigns that people just have to see, and more importantly talk to their friends about.

Since internet marketing services aren’t as sexy as the Hilton video, or as funny as exploding bottles of Diet Coke, I never felt too upset about not having one of our company Web sites go viral. Yet, low and behold, this seemingly normal Sunday evening one of my niche Web sites did just that.

Those that know me well know that I’m a morning person, and am usually asleep before most of you night owls are logging into your Gmail accounts for the first time in the evening. So imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I open my inbox and find over 600 emails from a site that usually gets 1 or 2 email inquires a week!

I immediately started to clock the rate at which the emails would arrive in my inbox, and to my astonishment I was getting three to four emails for every minute the clock ticked off. In short, some website with a massive audience told people something that made them visit my site.

After increasing my bandwidth on the site by 10 fold, and asking a few friends at my beach house to pinch me, I went into research mode to find out how exactly this site went viral, which led me to the following conclusion, 10 SEO articles I had one of our staff writers create and submit to ezine a few weeks back had led to this viral explosion.

In fact, after coming to this conclusion I selected a random email from the bunch and replied, asking the person one simple question, where did you hear about us? Within five minutes he had responded, I saw you on that site.

Over 3,500 emails later I am still receiving a new lead at the rate of about 1 per minute. While this site probably will never reach the amount of views the video of a shrimp on a treadmill will, I’ve certainly learned that viral campaigns can be a huge traffic boost. I’ve loaded all these emails into an autoresponder, and already have them receiving emails about opportunities we have for them, in essence what would cost $5, $10, or even $50 to obtain per lead via Pay Per Click Marketing has been given to me for free, thanks to somebody that read one of those 10 articles we did a few weeks back and made a post on a forum where somebody else read it and decided others needed to know about what was going on.

So here is what this all means to you. While I believe most of our traffic did not come from ezine, but from forums and other online sites people posted to after reading the initial SEO article we wrote, I believe without the initial distribution this never would’ve happened. In essence, your dumb luck increases dramatically when you put your message on high traffic sites for others to see.
So if you haven’t done so already I highly encourage you to do the following three things.

Step 1-Think of something funny, shocking, or appealing (like a free coffee mug giveaway) that you could put into your articles.

Step 2-Order 10 articles from on the topic of this new idea explaining it, and focusing on your general keywords in the process.

Step 3-Go to and order 10 Ezine submissions, and include in the URL that you want in the resource box someplace that takes the person to the promotion / gimmick / interesting thing you had us write about, and reap the rewards.

While many people think of SEO articles as a way to rank higher in the search engines, which they are, SEO articles should also be viewed as a vehicle for promoting your site in unconventional ways that can get you major exposure for less than the cost of a single print ad, radio ad, tv ad, or any other type of major advertisement.

I hope this email gets your mind stewing a bit, I know the occurrences of the last few days has had mine going like crazy. I’ve got to get back to importing all these contacts into my autoresponder now, so think something up, sign up for some articles, sign up for submission, and watch the results pour in!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. When people ask me what I’m most thankful for, I’ll respond enthusiastically my faith, family, friends, and wonderful group of customers that allow me to live my dream. Thanks for being awesome.

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