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Viral Email Marketing: Best Practices for 2022

photo of a person sharing viral content on facebook

Helping your word spread to more decision makers.

The best marketing emails are not meant to be read by one decision maker at one company. Viral marketing emails are meant to be read by the whole account. While you may cringe because the word viral reminds you of the Covid world we live in, the benefits of this email strategy far outweighs the non-existent disadvantages.

What is viral email marketing? Viral emails encourage and stimulate the recipient, whether the first or the last, to pass your email or its content to their colleagues inside and sometimes outside their organization. In other words, viral emails are more well-received and contagious than a traditional cold marketing email. Yes, contagious in a good way.

As you can see, the key is getting the first person to open and engage with the initial email, thereby becoming a superspreader of your message (okay, I’ll stop with the analogies). But how do you improve the chances of your email becoming viral? It starts with your Sales DNA—Desire, No-Risk Help, and an Ask.

Viral Email Marketing Best Practices

The following ten best practices are readily applicable, but there is a core formula for any successful viral email—DNA.

An email is viral when it communicates an authentic Desire to help the email recipient, it offers helpful value-adds with No-risk to the email recipient, and it Asks for a low involvement reciprocal response on behalf of the email recipient.

Start using these best practices today and watch your word rapidly spread to more inboxes. Click on the table of contents below to skip to your desired section.

Keep it Simple

Have you ever written an email with a bunch of technical jargon and buzzwords? We all have, but would you send that email to your best friend? Of course not! You keep email correspondence with your network more casual and easy to digest.

Do not overthink email copy. Do not turn your core message into 5 drawn out paragraphs. And do not require the email recipient to scroll down the email.

Do keep your viral email to 2 to 3 sentences and close it off with your call to action and a friendly ask. You value their time. A concise email is one of the best ways to demonstrate that.

Help Them Stand Out

Do you remember the last time you laughed hysterically at a sales meme? After you stopped laughing, did you keep it to yourself and move on with your day? Of course not, you shared it with your family and friends via text messages and social media.

The key takeaway. Not only did you want them to laugh with you, you subconsciously wanted them to see you as funny. This is a basic human driver, and it’s very applicable in the world of email and content marketing.

But don’t merely send your prospect valuable content—suggest that they share it and hint at the benefits they will receive by doing so. For example, “Matthew, share this video with your coworkers and they’ll thank you for it later (who doesn’t want happier coworkers, am I right?).”

photo of a man receiving a viral email

Work with the Marketing Department

Someone in your marketing department has some viral email marketing shortcuts for you, but they don’t know that you need data, let alone what data. Marketing departments are continuously testing and tracking headlines on their website, advertising copy, downloaded content, call to actions, and more.

Before you start writing your viral emails and choosing which content to share, review marketing’s data to accelerate and simplify your productivity.

But don’t forget to share your data with marketing once you’ve launched your viral email campaigns. Just like I shared in the previous best practice—it’s all about reciprocity!

Smaller Asks, Bigger Returns

When including an ask in your viral email, you should step back and take a quick look at where this email is falling in your campaign. Is it the first, the last, or somewhere in between?

This is important because you never want to ask your prospect to do “too much”. I’ve seen the common mistake where the emailer asks the prospect to share it with their whole office or social media network, and the mistake when they place too high a ceiling on the number of suggested people to share it with—20, 25, even 50!

Start with 1 share, and cap it off at 5. If you’ve seen the movie Pay it Forward with Haley Joel Osment, you know that it won’t take long for the one or five prospects to spread your message in a multiplier effect.

Give Referrals a Way to Opt-in

When your viral email makes it to the inbox of five of your prospect’s colleagues, that does not give you the green light to email them quite yet. You’re still a “friend of their friend”, so you need to get creative in getting them to raise their hand.

One way you can do this is by including a check box or subscribe button somewhere on the landing page that they and their colleague have visited. “Yes, I too would like to receive Sales Accelerator content before anybody else.” A message like this uses a scarcity and exclusivity play.

Another way you can do this is by sending their colleague one email with one ask. “I’ve been sending John Sales Accelerator content for months now… would you like to join the list so you can get similar content before anyone else?

Email Personalization on Steroids

I know what you’re thinking. “How can I personalize a viral email if I’m only writing 2 or 3 sentences?!” If you’ve read Veloxy blogs the past three years, you know that we go above and beyond mere first name and company name personalization.

First, you can use a business intelligence tool like Lead411 to discover recent happenings at the company, or you can receive instant alerts for job postings or new hires. For instance, if your target account is looking to hire 10 more SDRs, why not send the sales managers content that will help them onboard faster.

Second, you can use an email tracking software like Veloxy. Not only can you use this to discover what viral emails are indeed going viral and to where, but you can discover when your prospects are actively using their inbox for predictable future opens and engagement.

Send Viral Emails at Predictable Times

Playing off the previous recommendation about email tracking, you don’t want the prospect to necessarily know that you know when they’re in their inbox. Rather, you want to predictably send them viral emails at the same time on the same day, so it seems it’s mere coincidence that your schedule matches their schedule.

Not only is this best practice for cold emailing, this is also best practice for maintaining a good sender reputation. Spammers and other pesky emailers have the reputation for rushing to discover your inbox activity schedule by sending more emails at various times earlier on. This is why you should start slow and patient (trusting in your email tracking software).

photo of a woman receiving a viral email

Thank Your Biggest Advocates

Once you’ve been having measurable success with your viral email campaigns, you should have a good handle as to who your best advocates are at every account. Without gamifying your messaging (there’s better programs for that), you should create a benchmark for incentivizing prospects.

For example, if a prospect forwards and shares your content across their account (via email) and social media fifty times, you could surprise them with a Starbucks or Amazon gift card. More times than not, surprise incentives have more positive impact than incentives people work up to, because they’re not aware their efforts are being tracked, and improvisational gifts trigger powerful emotional responses.

Finding the Balance: Viral Emailng & Cold Emailing

I’d like to include this fun and insightful blog post by spending a little more time comparing and contrasting viral emailing with cold emailing.

While a cold email can go “viral”, they’re more times than not meant as a kind of icebreaker between two people who don’t have an existing relationship. However, if you’ve read our cold emailing guide, you’ll recall that you should always lead off with helping, not selling.

When you freely offer help and value, your message, and more importantly your name, has the greatest chance of going viral within an organization. Definitely test merging them together. You’ll see the fruit in your response rates and conversion rates!

Sauvik Sarkar

Sauvik Sarkar

Sales AI is transforming selling activities for companies of all sizes, and one of the leaders in this movement is Sauvik Sarkar. While artificial intelligence can be intimidating to most, Sauvik helps improve adoption with one-on-one training, insightful blog articles, and more.

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