7 Viral Marketing Strategies to Get Massive Traffic Spikes

by Jason Acidre on March 25, 2012 · 58 comments · Content, Search, Social


There are times that you get surprised to see a sudden spike in traffic when you check your site’s traffic stats in the morning, and you often wonder where those visitors came from and how you were able to pull it off by accident. Well, what if you can replicate that result whenever you wish to?

It’s very possible, given that all it really takes is to have a really awesome content that people will voluntarily share and to have a plan on how you can put that content in front of that particular kind of audience (to people who will really share your content).

This post will mostly cover the promotional techniques that you can do to drive massive visitors to your content. But to start off, I’ll just share some ideas of what a solid and share-worthy content should look or feel like:

Data Visualization:

LRA Crisis Tracker from Invisible Children

Video (Documentary, Short Films, etc…)

Everything is a Remix – by Kirby Ferguson

Awards:

Mashable Awards

Research-based Text Content:

From LifeHacker

Most of these successful materials have resemblances in terms of attack, and some of their most common characteristics are:

  • Design-driven
  • Offers high-value information/experience and have a unique concept for the content
  • Topics have high share-rate

There are also other formats and types of content that can be used for viral campaigns, but sometimes, the real work and real source of success comes from the backend – on how a great content can efficiently be promoted to its target audience – which I will be sharing below.

Media Coverage

Getting press mentions for your site or your site’s content by having it cited as a resource by high-traffic news sites or authority blogs can certainly send massive referred traffic to your site in a day. Though getting featured by these authoritative sites is not easy, as you’ll need something newsworthy for your content or your brand to be mentioned by these types of sites.

Basically, you’ll need a material that people from the press will find useful to create or back their stories up. Sharing your own data is one of the best ways to do it. Here are some of the steps that you can take when planning for this kind of outreach.

  • Prepare a newsworthy content that authority bloggers and columnists can cover for their next piece.
  • Make a list of the columnists and bloggers who write about your industry, including their contact details as well as the sites where they publish their content. You can start by identifying and listing at least 50 different writers in your field and use Excel spreadsheet to organize the levels of priorities for each.
  • Know your targets by researching more about them, particularly those who write for bigger online publications, as this can help you create a more personalized copy for your email once you start pitching the story to them.
  • Craft a powerful email copy and start sending. Personalize each copy (based on your list’s level of priority). It’s best to keep your email copies short and have an element that will make them more engaged while reading your message (like giving compliments to their previous works and offering a news angle that will really make them interested to cover your story).
  • Keep track of your conversations as well as with their responses and try to build relationships with them, as this can help benefit your campaign’s future efforts.

Chris Winfield, from Blueglass, recently wrote an in-depth guide on how to get press coverage for a brand, which covers most of the things that will be needed to have a business featured by journalists on their columns.

Stumbleupon’s Paid Discovery

Most of Stumbleupon’s users are social-media savvy and can easily be engaged by what they see, so if you’ll provide their users with content that’s really amazing and targeted to their interest, you can almost effortlessly multiply the reach of your content, as these viewers have tendencies of sharing your content through other social networks as well.

Stumbleupon Paid Discovery normally costs $0.10 per page view (and they also offer other packages). Investing $50 – $100 for a day (probably on the day that you’ll launch your content) can get you 500 – 1,000 highly engaged visitors to the page you are trying to promote. And you can also expect for those views to multiply considering that a good fraction of those visitors will have high probability of socially sharing your content.

The great thing about this service from Stumbleupon is that the campaign can be easily modified, particularly in targeting the right audience and demographics for your content through manually modifying the age, gender, location, device and/or interests of the audience you are seeking to acquire.

Lastly, it’s important to make your social buttons within the content very visible (make this as the content’s call-to-action) to ensure that the visitors driven through this method will be enticed and compelled to share your content.

Get Featured on other Bloggers’ Newsletters

Connect with bloggers in your industry that have large lists of email/newsletter subscribers, since these bloggers have followers/readership that will most likely be interested with your content.

Pitch your content to these bloggers before launching it and try to offer something that will benefit both parties (perhaps paying for the link placement or to have the content featured in their newsletters).

However, establishing connections before pitching the idea will make it more interesting to them or much easier for them to approve the request, and that’s why building relationships is very vital to any online-based businesses these days.

Make sure that your content will be useful to their followers, and not too promotional, to improve your requests’ success rate. Incentivize the pitch to make it a win/win situation as well.

The schedule of sending out the emails also plays a big part to get that viral effect, so if you can discuss this part of the campaign to them as soon as they’ve showed interest, the better.

Pro Tip: Start with bloggers that you already have built connections with (exchanged of emails, conversed through social networks, have previously linked to your site/content, etc…).

Social Outreach

It’s easier for your content to reach more people when influential individuals in your industry (that have robust following on social networks) are putting your content in front of your target audience.

Reach out to influencers and ask if they’ll be interested to see your content, but don’t directly ask them to share your content, as they’ll normally spread it if they find it useful for their followers.

Social outreach is mostly effective if it’s planned ahead. You can first start by making a list of at least 50 influencers in (including their contact details) your industry before launching your content. Assess your content if it will be something that these influencers will really take time to review. And to increase your response rate, you might also need to have another reason for contact, such as:

  • Asking for feedback.
  • Notifying them that you’ve mentioned them as a source in the content.

The important thing is to offer a very unique content that can genuinely benefit their readers/followers, and leverage that aspect to get them to share your content.

Promote through Reddit

Reddit has been one of the most highly-utilized community-based news aggregator sites in the world, and certainly a powerful web marketing tool for businesses, if they can make it on Reddit’s front page, where millions of visitors can see a referring link every day.

Yet, it’s not that easy to be featured in their front page, as you’ll mostly need to understand how their story ranking algorithm works. Here’s a great article by Amir Salihefendic on examining Reddit’s default story and comment rankings.

There are other alternatives that you can do to get massive referred traffic from Reddit:

  • Build a solid community that will help you make your story more visible and possibly make your story rank on the front page, by getting scheduled upvotes from your community.
  • Use Reddit’s social button on your content to make it easier for Reddit users to upvote your content.
  • Purchase Reddit’s sponsored link or self-serve advertising (this will cost at least $20 to display sitewide or $30 for an entire day to run on specific Reddits).

Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest has been tremendously growing in terms of usage and sharing these past few months, which prove that getting viral through this channel is very feasible. Personally, this blog has received a lot of referred traffic from Pinterest, through the images (mostly infographics) that some of my readers have shared and pinned through that social platform.

If you’re launching a content that will contain compelling and design-driven images (such as infographics, photography, etc…), then Pinterest is definitely one of the best arsenals that you can have to increase the amount of traffic that your content could be getting.

Marketing through Pinterest is quite similar to how you can market your brand on other social platforms, wherein you’ll need:

  • To build a strong following in your industry within the network, so people can easily check the images you are sharing.
  • To utilize Pinterest’s social button (Pin Button), to entice page visitors to pin and share your images.
  • And to personally share or add your images on the social platform and work your way for people to repin it and make it on the popular images by categories or in the Popular section.

Colby Almond recently shared his experience with Pinterest (viral) marketing and on how he almost got 50,000 page views in a day through the help of Pinterest. It’s a great guide that you should definitely look into.

Multiply Traffic through Social CTA

Strengthen your content’s shareability by allowing your social buttons to serve as its primary call to action. Make them more visible to your audience by placing it on perceptible positions (preferably above the fold).

This is a vital process to make out of the most of the traffic that you’ll acquire from your external marketing efforts, as when you compel your new visitors to share your content, you’re able to increase the chances of getting more traffic to your page and multiply the amount of unique views further (gauging if unique viewers will continuously spread your content through social media).

You can also customize your social buttons (depending on your campaign’s prioritized social channel for a specific type of content) like adding Pinterest button for posts/pages that have high-quality images, Reddit button for materials that you’re pushing to rank on Reddit’s front page and/or giving more importance to Twitter/Facebook/Stumbleupon/Google+, depending on the network(s) where your target audience spend their time the most.

Scaling your Viral Content

Always think of your content’s future and on how you can benefit more from it once its viral effect and your feast in traffic has ended.

It’s important that you sustain the traffic that you have generated through that campaign (or a portion of it) to be able to sell your products/services and build your brand as a leader in your industry. There are many ways that you can do to nourish these relationships to your business and to have long term advantage from your content such as:

Optimize for Search and Social Sharing

Use keywords that get enough search volume from your target market (for your content’s title, permalink and within the body of the content), so you can have better chances of ranking for those keywords on search results. You can also augment and modify your content to be evergreen (after launching it) to still obtain social shares from future visitors to that page.

Second Wave Coverage for Links

Try to get coverage and links from smaller blogs to improve your viral content’s search rankings as well as to own the SERP for particular keywords (especially on events and tools that is associated with your brand).

Optimize the content’s Call to Action

Try to contain the visitors that you’ll be generating by attracting them to avail for your “middle of the funnel” offerings, such as signing up to your newsletter, subscribing to your blog’s RSS feed, following you on social networks and/or signing up for your product/services’ free trials.

You can choose to update this part of your content after its successful launch, or you can also include this right away to capture leads along the process of gaining new visitors to your site.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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