Where is the catch ?

I see atleast two examples of attempts at viral marketing by “Make my Trip” – High 5 program and “Seventymm” free six program.

None of these pays for getting a user to sign up. They have to buy a ticket or continue being a member for the refferer to receive benefits.

In pay per impression or pay per click merchants pay for just awareness. In viral marketing they pay for sign up which is a tougher bar for the viral marketer to cross. In India the bar for the viral marketer to cross is even higher. Usage and in some cases active usage.

Maybe these attempts at viral programs will work in India but I as a consumer would like to see an offering that is strong enough to retain customers after they register and is willing to pay for registrations. Obviously this lends itself to the system being gamed but if there are real benefits to users they will stay.

Would love to read comments from people on whether they think viral marketing will work in India and if yes in what form it will work ?

9 Responses to “Where is the catch ?”

  1. Gaurav says:

    I don’t think that ““Make my Trip” – High 5 program and “Seventymm” free six program” can be considered “viral marketing”. This is incentive based market, just like Expedia’s “50% off on your next vacation” type offers.
    Instead of paying for advertising or affiliates, the companies are simply paying back to the customers for bringinig in more business. I totally agree with RYK and the mashable article.

    Viral Marketing would work anywhere, where there is a need. A classic example is Orkut.com. Apart from the brand it carries and the 1337ness it had due to “invite only”, the main reason to invite friends on it was to simply stay in contact. People wanted to tell their friends/colleagues “I found a cool thing” and “let’s stay in touch.” If you don’t have friends on Orkut (or any other s/n), the reason for your existance on the site would vanish.

    Sanjay Mehta: I wonder why you don’t have an affiliate system? Why can’t a male be a DMA (read last para)? Descrimination :P

  2. cram,

    There is no doubt that such mobile services would be useful, but what I am talking about is spreading your “idea virus” (in Seth Godin’s lingo) using mobile as a medium. So for e.g. Seth Godin mentions in his book that bumper sticker is one of the ways of spreading the word (maybe about your University). So here vehicle is the medium for carrying the word about something that has nothing to do with vehicles.

    Here is an example of the top off my head. May or may not work, but just to explain the point. Lets say there is an Internet site (lets say DVD rental service) that provides you with one free year of SMS (or something like that) when you register for their service. Now everytime that user sends an SMS to someone from his mobile, it has a little ad at the end that “if you sign up for our service you get one year of free SMS too”. If you can seed this to one small set per demographic, imagine how quickly the word can spread and where all it can reach. Of course after this the site should be compelling enough that people really like it and are ready to pay for it.

  3. cram says:

    Hi Madhur

    I agree with you on the mobile angle. But are you referring to offline services or mobile-based services that can possibly benefit from a viral campaign?

    Take something like hotel recommendations. Everyone’s got a cellphone, a great many are travelling all over the country (and overseas). Wouldn’t it be great if someone started a service providing recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, drink, etc? This can be a purely mobile-based service.

    Or personalised weather reports. (“Hi, I’m thinking of driving down to Goa for Xmas, how’s the weather there?”)

    But a site that provides such services may not (I think) gain from a mobile viral campaign.

  4. I think viral marketing can work when there are enough candidates that can potentially get “infected” with virus. Typically the seeds of viral marketing are sown in very targeted groups and it spreads from there on. Most successful viral marketing campaigns (digg, youtube, myspace, napster, hotmail etc.) target the young crowd (teen and youth) because they tend to be more inclined to try out new things and show off among the peers. Unfortunately that demographic in India is not very hooked on to Internet even now. What they are hooked on to is mobile and so I think a viral marketing campaign using mobile as a medium would be interesting to try out and can work wonders. (assuming the service is really virusworthy).

    Here is an interesting article I recently read on this topic
    http://mashable.com/2006/12/13/how-to-have-an-overnight-internet-success-story/

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