Viral marketing is an integral part of a campaign strategy that is used to achieve objectives. It is not the objective itself. If the main objective of an e-mail campaign is branding, in order to achieve greater branding success exposure you craft your message or offer in a way that it encourages pass-along.
Producing a message with a quality offer or an incentive for pass-along is what viral marketing is all about.
Just suggesting that e-mail recipients forward your message to their friends and relatives is not viral marketing. A message at the bottom of your e-mail that reads “Feel free to forward this message to a friend” is nowhere close to viral marketing at its best.
On the other hand, if something worthy of sharing, such as a valuable discount, vital information, additional entries into a sweepstakes, an added discount or premium service, a joke/cartoon, or a hilarious video, is included in the e-mail, viral marketing happens naturally and quite successfully.
The bottom line is that your message must be perceived as having value. Relevant or timely information, research, or studies are all good examples of content that might be viewed as potential pass-along material. Interactive content like a quiz or text can inspire forwarding, especially if it is fun. Personality tests, fitness quizzes, or compatibility questionnaires are all things that have been passed on by many people many times. Why? Because they are entertaining and entertainment has value.
A multimedia experience is always going to achieve some pass-along. Someone is always touting the benefits. It is a bit more of a time and money investment but the messages have a great appeal and rich media has the advantage of being new. The tech factor alone is often enough for the message to be perceived as valuable.