Viral marketing is a strategy that encourages your customers to pass on, or spread, a marketing message to others. Like a virus, your message has the potential to spread exponentially throughout online communities.
With e-books, you now have a hot new way to take advantage of this powerful strategy to drive floods of qualified buyers to your website by giving away tons of valuable information--and encouraging readers to share it with their friends.
With viral e-books, word about your business can spread fast. For example, let's say you persuade 10 people to pass your e-book on to their friends, and those friends each share it with 10 of their friends, and so on. In no time at all you'll have thousands of people opening up and reading your valuable information.
And the greatest part is your e-book is landing right in the hands of your best potential customers, because readers of your e-book will only pass it on to friends they think will be interested in what you have to say.
It's also surprisingly easy to create a viral e-book. There are four basic steps you need to take:
1. Create a short report (10 to 30 pages) that solves a problem or shares valuable information about a hot topic for a specific group of people.
2. Turn your report into a professional-looking e-book.
3. Add a "viral button" to your e-book so any reader who likes your e-book can easily share it with friends by simply clicking the viral "send this e-book to a friend" button.
4. Give away free copies of your viral e-book and invite readers to share unlimited copies with their friends and colleagues. Watch as 1,000s of people share your viral e-book with friends... who share it with their friends... and so on!
Of course, right now you're probably wondering, "How does giving away free e-books translate into more sales?" For your viral e-book to be successful, you must create a free, information-rich product that's packed with value, then encourage people to download it, read it and share it with friends.
The secret is don't sell in the e-book.
In fact, don't even push readers to visit your website. Just be generous about the information you share to win the trust and respect of these hot sales leads. Then wait until a few days after they've had a chance to read your e-book and send a follow-up letter with an offer for your product. The key to making a viral campaign like this successful is being able to collect the contact information of each and every person who wants to open your e-book.
This means that every person who wants to access your viral e-book must be able to "register" it by providing you their first name, last name and e-mail address--so you can follow up with personalized e-mails that contain relevant product offers.
E-books have moved well beyond the simple electronic delivery of text-based documents. With e-books you can now package audio and video--not just text--in an attractive and easy-to-navigate publication, as well as harness the contagious power of viral marketing.
However, if you're going to use viral e-books as a marketing tool for your business, you can't approach writing them the same way you would approach writing an advertisement.
You must be generous with the information you share to win the trust and respect of your readers, which will entice them to pass on your e-book to friends. Then with the contact information you've collected, you can follow up with personalized e-mails that contain relevant product offers.
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.