Consider Hotmail:

It gives its subscribers a useful service, Web-based email, and then attaches an ad for Hotmail at the bottom of each sent message. Hotmail gains the credibility needed for successful viral marketing by putting its users in control, because when users recommend something without being tricked or co-opted, it provides the message with a kind of credibility that cannot be bought. Viral marketing is McLuhan marketing where the medium validates the message.

Viral marketing is also based on the perception of honesty: If the recipient of the ad fails to believe the sender is providing an honest endorsement, the viral effect disappears.

An ad tacked on to a message without the endorsement of the author loses credibility; it’s no different from a banner ads This element of trust becomes even more critical when firms begin to employ explicit viral marketing, where users go beyond merely endorsing ads to actually generating them.


  • Low cost: The internet is made up of electrons, so there is not really anything physically to grab hold of like in a brick and mortar business.

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    This considerably reduces your costs as you don’t really need many materials or buildings. Just a computer with internet capabilities is all that is needed.

  • Very fast: A great advertisement I saw once said “If you were an electron, you would be there by now”. This was an ad at an airport. It’s referring to the internet. It’s made up of electrons so it’s VERY fast.

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    Click a link, and you could be looking at an Australian website, click another one and you could be in America. If you wanted to get information any other way from these countries, you may end up having to go there. The World Wide Web eliminates the need for this.Go any where you want with the click of a button.

  • You can reach a global audience: By this I mean, you don’t have to set up shop somewhere and sell to the locals. You can set up an online shop, and sell to anyone in the world. This means a huge increase in potential revenues and a fraction of the cost it would take for you to set up shops all over the world.


  • Can leave the businessman feeling isolated: This is very common; because the World Wide Web is faceless (In most cases), it can appear cold and inhuman. This can leave you feeling isolated and very inward. Not a nice feeling at all. Everyone likes to socialize and meet people, but in this case, its quite difficult to, in business anyway.
  • Hard to tell if people are lying: There is so much information on the World Wide Web now; it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between crap and quality. A lot of the crap is targeted at newbie. Here’s an example “Make money fast by doing nothing”, sound familiar? I bet you’ve had a ton of emails saying something similar.
  • Information Overload: Once again we get to the part of there being a lot of information on the World Wide Web , there can be too much good information which can be a lot of competition for an industry. It can leave you more confused than if there were presented with loads of crap. You might not be able to tell who to choose
  • Brand Dilution In viral marketing you depend upon people not versed in your brand to do the “selling” for you. It is therefore important to carefully craft a message that is strong enough to endure misinterpretations.
  • Association with unknown groups. Viral marketing’s strength is its potential to spread exponentially from person to person. During this process, it is possible that your message could end up in the hands of and passed on by people you would rather not be associated with. You therefore need to define and limit in advance what information you make available for your viral marketing.
  • Avoid making purely financial type of offer The best viral campaigns work on the principle of value not greed. You should therefore avoid the use of money as an incentive. Greed can make you have too many offers that are impossible to pay. Some people might mistake your monetary offer as too good to be true
  • Spam threats If done poorly, viral marketing can lead to large-scale spam issues. Consider for example a company that pays individuals to email their friends to convince them to buy one of its products.

In this case, the individual who receives the email had only given the friend permission to send email of a personal nature and yet he cannot control who actually gets the email. Successful virals should be simple, but visually arresting and pleasingly different. It should merely offer tantalizing glimpses, encouraging the user to look for more information. Viral marketing is here to stay, not least due to marketing budgets being squeezed, forcing companies to consider the most cost-effective ways of getting messages out there. When virals appear alongside hotmail for example the consumer may feel tricked or annoyed, due to lack of goodwill.

Cite this page

Consider Hotmail. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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