In the world of film, the great screenwriter William Goldman is famous for commenting about the factors that make a movie a box-office hit: “Nobody knows anything.”
What he was alluding to is that when it comes to predicting what is going to prove to be compelling to an audience, there is no winning formula that can guarantee success.
For SaaS entrepreneurs, discovering your SaaS product is ‘going viral’ is a bit like when film producers have a box-office smash hit on their hands. Virality is where product is in effect self-marketing, making it one of the most interesting phenomena in the digital age.
While there are no guarantees that you can create a viral product on demand, there are a number of ways that you can design and engineer the product, its positioning and presentation to invite the possibility and create the basis for viral growth.
In marketing budget terms, the cost of acquisition is squashed while monetisation conversion increases.
So how do we foster the conditions for the viral growth of online content, products and services?
The first step to engineering virality is to identify a strong and compelling viral hook. Virality tends to be a phenomena we see when people find something useful or entertaining. Virality has been achieved by products and services that have managed to break into the chain of communication or create entirely new channels for interaction and engagement.
Whether it’s a social platform or a video conferencing tool, a product that needs all parties to subscribe in order to participate, or to share content or information is likely the most compelling factor.
Must see or have content is one of the obvious ways to promote virality. In B2C, sharing entertainment such as games, amusing videos, photos and gags has been commonplace. Think about how YouTube and the big social and sharing platforms got started.
For the B2B market, distributing something of value such as business content or tools. Think SlideShare. Or think about real time communication.
Seed users, the initial set of subscribers, are sometimes referred to as Custs(0) and they invite others, i, to access viral content, share, or engage in communication.
If we multiply the number of invites, i by the percentage of conversions, conv% we calculate the Viral Coefficient, K. To achieve true virality, the Viral Coefficient must be greater than 1.
True virality is achieved where: i x conv% where K>1
True virality is where on average, every customer’s invites are leading to more than one new signup, creating a viral loop. A focus on driving the viral coefficient makes or breaks your virality ambitions!
When it comes to thinking about who to target, try not to restrict your thinking too much. Think about designing your service so that seed subscribers will have no problem inviting social contacts, business associates and co-workers where it is appropriate.
Designing virality with a short viral loop time accelerates growth. This is pretty obvious if think about it. A shorter cycle between seed users sending invites and invitees subscribing feeds immediacy, the need to get using the product and not get left behind. Create a buzz and set a trend…
Identify anyone with a high social profile that may be able to act as an influencer. It might be more common to think of such activity as predominantly a consumer oriented digital marketing practice. However, it may be highly appropriate to B2B audiences where the channel and the product are a good fit.
Another obvious tactic to promote virality is to spread word on existing social and business platforms. Initial seed and reseeding can both be achieved through sharing links, comments and blog posts in your existing, appropriate B2C and B2B channels.
The theory and practice of virality is a fascinating topic and it is one that offers a tremendous opportunity. Do you think your product or service could leverage the phenomenon and create SaaS box-office smash?
Xander Marketing has helped over 150 B2B SaaS businesses succeed in achieving their business objectives with high quality strategic and tactical marketing expertise. Get started with better marketing today.
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