How to put the “Viral” in B2B Marketing Viral Campaigns?

Does viral work for B2B marketing? We asked B2B Marketing experts: What are the components of a “good” viral B2B Marketing Campaign? Read on to get their insights.

Ardath Albee

Blog Marketing Interactions Twitter Ardath421

“B2B Marketing Campaigns Need Results Beyond Views”

Ardath Albee’s Bio

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist. Her company Marketing Interactions helps companies with complex sales and quantify marketing effectiveness by using interactive e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She empowers her clients to create customer-centric nurturing programs that leverage strategic story development to engage prospects until they are sales ready. Ardath’s book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is now shipping!

Ardath Albee’s Tip

Every B2B marketer wants their content to be so widely acclaimed that it goes “viral.” This said, I encourage marketers to look beyond the numbers of views to the quality of the outcomes. For a B2B company, if 1,000 people download your eBook, white paper or video, does it matter if you can’t link that activity back to revenues?

The best example I’ve seen documented recently is from Junta42. Joe Pulizzi and Jonathan Kranz published The Content Marketing Playbook: 42 Ways to Connect with Customers. Here are the tangible results they documented within 4 business days of its launch:

  • 3 new clients signed up
  • 3 consulting inquiries
  • 3 speaking/workshop inquiries
  • 50 newsletter signups (potential leads)

These outcomes represent real and potential revenues. They were generated from 2,174 Playbook downloads that resulted from dozens of blog post references, hundreds of Tweets, a press mention and the strong traffic pull, credibility and reputation for content value that Junta42 has established over the last few years.

In my opinion, that’s a successful B2B campaign due to a viral response. But there are also residual values to consider. With over 100 inbound links generated, exposure will continue indefinitely. With a 5 – 7 minute online engagement time, they have solid evidence that the content hooked people. You see, they did something really smart. They published the eBook as web pages, in addition to the download. This is terrific for search engine optimization and pulling traffic by being findable.

Does viral work for B2B marketing? Yes. Is the definition perhaps a bit different than just going after big viewership numbers? Yes, again.

In B2B, it’s not about shock value or hilarity (although humor can help), it’s about connecting with the right people with valuable content that motivates them to take action.

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Adam Needles

Blog Demand Generation Twitter abneedles

“Best viral campaigns show real thought leadership.”

Adam Needles’ Bio

Adam is Director, Field Marketing and B2B Marketing Evangelist at SilverPop. He is an entrepreneurial marketing leader, who is passionate about two areas — brand strategy and technology innovation.

Adam Needles’ Tip

The key to successful viral B2B marketing is more than just putting something catchy out there.  It’s thinking about how you can leverage the Groundswell – garnering attention in viral/social channels but then linking this engagement back to more traditional nurturing channels.  For instance, capturing attention via a YouTube video or a viral link on Twitter, but then having people who access this media find something – some link or call to action – that takes them to the next step.  Intuit is good at this and has done it with viral campaigns for their Quickbooks group.  You’ve got to close the loop – connect inbound to outbound and then eventually to a sale.  Successful viral campaigns also have to be consistent with what you do, and while they may not be substantive to your product/service, per se, they should still give insight into what type of organization you are.  Whatever that point of engagement or call to action, it’s got to connect back in a (perhaps fun/light-hearted but still) real way to what you do.  In my mind, the best viral campaigns take the fun a bit further and connect them to real thought leadership, but this can be tough to do.

Craig Rosenberg

Blog Funnelholic Twitter funnelholic

“Create a ‘viral’ campaign economically.”

Craig Rosenberg’s Bio

Craig Rosenberg is Vice President, Products and Services at lead generation company Tippit. Prior to Tippit, Craig was a consultant helping venture-backed Silicon Valley startups build their inside sales and lead generation teams.

Craig Rosenberg’s Tip

First what is B2B viral marketing? I grabbed this off Wikipedia, which is quite good:

The buzzwords viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

I’ve chosen 3 examples of viral marketing to talk about:

  1. The video when Snookie gets punched on the reality show, The Jersey Shore
  2. The John Chambers Telepresence video on YouTube
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Automation Campaign from

The Snookie gets punched “campaign”: When I give examples of viral marketing today, I typically bring up what I call the “Snookie gets punched” viral effect.  First some background for those of you who would not stoop so low as to know who Snookie or what the Jersey Shore reality television show is.  Basically, one of the women whose name was Snookie (yes, Snookie) on a fledgling MTV reality show got punched in the face by a man. The video leaked onto the internet and was shared relentlessly amongst the under 35 year-old crowd.  Why do I bring this up?  Because unfortunately for humanity this is an incredible example of an effective viral campaign. (Just realize I think the idea of someone taking advantage of violence to women is repulsive) The show’s ratings were meager until the video leaked…once the video leaked, the show, simply put, “took off” and is now getting geared up for its second season. I had at least 10 people instant message or email me a link to the “punch” and I saw it all over Facebook updates.  This was not PAID advertising, but was the best advertising this show could ever have. Sad, yes…viral, very much so.  In the consumer space, viral is achievable by being as provocative as you possibly can be.  While this is a perfect example of a highly effective viral campaign, it is not something B2B marketers can necessarily replicate.

The John Chambers Telepresence Video: In 2007, Cisco’s CEO unleashed telepresence (essentially video conferencing) on the world in a video that I and millions of others saw on YouTube.  I can’t find the original, but you can see what the actual video was here.  Net-net, Chambers introduced telepresence by having one of his executives “on stage” in hologram form across the globe.  This is a perfect example of a B2B viral campaign, which, by the way, was viral before Twitter had really reached the heights it has achieved now.  It had sizzle and was provocative but in a professional, B2B setting.  While it was about technology, it wasn’t a boring bytes and bites presentation. Instead, it was something my mom could watch and get really excited about the future.  But bottom line, people shared it and watched – VIRAL.

The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Automation Campaign from This was a campaign my company ran which was extremely successful.  I wanted to include it since it’s a more realistic viral campaign economically, and resource-wise.  Look, you can’t film a woman getting punched and you may not be able to do a slick video presentation with a hologram.  As a matter of fact, if you can’t do video right, don’t do it.  So, what can the average marketer do?  The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Automation Campaign is a perfect example. Anyone can do it.  We basically collected a large number of salesforce automation links and put it into a blog post…it got shared for months and we still see it getting link backs today.

Keep in mind; the typical blog post title of “the 3 most important…” or “10 tips…” is not what we are talking about here.  While those types of blog posts are perfect for day-to-day blogging, they aren’t the kind of content that goes viral. You have to go big to catch people’s eyes, for example: 100+ links.  Also, by using lots of links, we were guaranteed to get 100+ people to share the article. Keep in mind, the article was “in front of the gate”, i.e., there was no registration page associated with it which is another key to “going viral”.

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