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  • 1. A GUIDE TO MODERN DAY MARKETING WARFARE USING INTERACTIVE VIRAL MARKETING BRIEFING 1.2
  • 2. Intel briefing Better informed is better armed Three elements of a great battle plan Advanced tactics Potential allies Guerrilla tactics versus open warfare Victory Conclusions 2. 3. 6. 7. 9. 14. 18. 19. BATTLE PLAN CONTENTS 4T2 specialises in creating high impact viral marketing campaigns and websites. We help you build an emotional bond with your target audiences by creating great online entertainment that’s tailored to your brand’s messages. Our campaigns have been used to create instant online communities, promote specific calls to action or simply increase brand awareness. We work for many well- known brands including Betfair, Comet, Dyson, GMTV, MTV International and Vauxhall. How can we help you? www.4T2.co.uk
  • 3. The time for passive marketing has gone To avoid defeat on the battlefield of business you must aggressively pursue new customers and attract flag bearers to your brand. This intelligence briefing explains how to use viral marketing weaponry to obliterate your rivals and gain brand dominance. Armed with this advice you can create a battle plan that will: Your brand is at war. Hit fast and hit hard. Good luck General Michael J Hawkyard Rapidly increase website traffic and lead generation, converting fresh recruits to your cause Differentiate you from your competitors with marketing material that is entertaining and compelling Enable you to personalise communications and create online communities to build loyalty amongst your troops Deliver effective local, national or global campaigns INTEL BRIEFING 2
  • 4. IVM - how the latest marketing weapon benefits you IVM (Interactive Viral Marketing) is a highly effective weapon. It harnesses the power of online games to the needs of your business. The result is compelling web or mobile entertainment that puts your brand and products at the forefront of civilian minds. The goal of effective IVM is for people to form an emotional attachment to your brand through personalisation, interactivity and downright fun. Their experience of your brand is then so positive that they will willingly involve friends and colleagues in your campaign. Because people receive invitations to participate from trusted friends or colleagues, your campaign benefits from the power of personal recommendation. Your cost of acquiring customers will fall and you can be confident of gaining a loyal and committed following. Do not be fooled into thinking of IVM as simply games for a website. It’s a rapidly deployable, self-perpetuating strategy that strikes right at the heart of your competitors by converting their troops to your cause. Used correctly, IVM is a devastating weapon in your marketing arsenal. BETTER INFORMED IS BETTER ARMED 3
  • 5. 6 THREE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT BATTLE PLAN There are three stages to creating a successful IVM battle plan: 1. Identify your message First, identify your campaign message. For example, The Comet Group had the following goals for a recent Christmas campaign: Inform civilians about the deadline for ordering goods from the Comet website to ensure delivery before Christmas Day Ensure you keep your message precise and easy to understand. It should tie in directly with your call to action (3). 2. Select your primary and secondary targets Who are you hoping will participate in your campaign? Different audiences will be drawn to different material and you must plan your attack to suit. 3. Call new recruits to action Once you have successfully captured the attention of your target audience, what do you want them to do next? Visit your website, watch a product demonstration, purchase your goods? When designing your campaign never forget your overall objective and focus your audience on completing it. Successfully calling 1,000,000 potential recruits to battle is all very good, but unless you actually get them to complete some form of task, you will never win the war.
  • 6. Competitive challenge Direct reward Humour & originality, especially topical or risqué Loyalty to a team, sport or country Useful applications and helpful information What makes your audience tick? You’ve formulated your plan. Now it’s time to refine your attack. Your secondary objective is to motivate civilians to spread your message for you. You therefore need to understand why people forward messages to their friends. Over years of campaign planning, we’ve identified a number of elements that encourage this. Consider how these elements might be appropriate for your campaign: High profile reward Horatio Nelson once said that “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon”. A reward or prize, however modest, will always increase short-term interest in your campaign and help promote your call to action. For example, if your primary object is data collection then offering a prize encourages potential recruits to enter their contact details correctly. A competition with prizes also requires a closing date. Once this has passed, civilians lose their incentive to participate. If the campaign never offers a prize people will keep interacting because their original motivation was never reward based. Virtual prizes Another way to reward participants is to give them additional game levels or enhanced game skills in return for completing the kind of tasks you want to encourage in your call to action. You already know they value this content so leverage it to your advantage. 7 ADVANCED TACTICS Successfully combining prizes with calls to action The most successful method of integrating prizes with your call to action is to run your campaign as a competition with a scoreboard. Once a recruit has played your game and seen what prize is on offer, hit them hard with a pincer manoeuvre. Offer game upgrades in return for completing your call to action. You’re allowing them to optimise their chance of winning your competition. Example calls to action In 2005, the Comet Group’s Christmas campaign contained a competition offering a prize for the highest scorers and game with three levels. Anyone who purchased a present from their website was sent a cheat code that allowed them to unlock a fourth level and therefore score more points. We have also worked on campaigns that feature cheat codes on their product packaging, in their TV adverts and in magazines. In all cases these directly related to their chosen call to action - pick up our product, pay attention to our advert or purchase our magazine. How to breach civilian defences Many civilians are sitting behind defensive barricades such as their company’s internet firewall. I.T. policy is useful in stopping viruses and other malicious attacks. However, it can also block the installation of technologies such as Shockwave that some web agencies use to deliver online games. Even when people can download the software, many can’t be bothered to do so. This means far fewer people will ever enjoy your fantastic campaign. To avoid this problem, we recommend creating games in Macromedia Flash. Flash games take less time to download and can be played on 97% of computers in the UK without any software being installed. Of course, using Flash represents more of a challenge to your chosen multimedia agency, as they have to create something very compelling and original using software that virtually all of their competitors own. 8
  • 7. A good IVM campaign may be linked to by around 3,000 game-promoting websites across the globe. The more websites that link to your campaign, the more popular it becomes, but nurturing these allies requires careful planning. Linking sites fall into four different categories - each with their own agenda. You must decide whether and how to approach them. 1. Community / personal sites A great example of a community site is MilkandCookies.com, aimed at students. Members submit links to entertaining online material they have come across. Other members are then invited to rate it. The most popular items are listed on the homepage and receive a lot more traffic. Members earn points based on the popularity of the material they submit. Other types of community sites include those with an interest in Flash programming, where members go to learn new skills and view others’ work. Whilst these sites may not attract such large amounts of traffic, they are great for collecting feedback from an experienced audience. Effectiveness: An item on the Milk and Cookies homepage is listed for two weeks on average. The content receiving the most traffic on the 19 October 2004 was a game and had been viewed 24,311 times by members One campaign created by 4T2 for CCTV distributor Norbain SD was played 258,000 times in one month by users from community based sites. This compares to only 24,000 game plays in the same period generated from their own marketing material POTENTIAL ALLIES 9 01 Usage advice: Moderators will remove blatantly branded corporate material from these sites unless it is very original, contentious or humorous Some of these websites are not what they seem - they may actually be run by large PR companies or games agencies, who will use your submitted material either for their own purposes or simply refuse to add it. There may be adult content on these websites and you have no control of the screenshots they may use and comments made about the campaign To appeal to specific foreign sites, we suggest either having a translation of the instructions available or making them very graphical and therefore simple to understand Example URLs: http://www.milkandcookies.com (US) http://www.killerviral.com (UK) http://www.inflash.com (UK) Any Blog
  • 8. 2. Commercial viral charts Commercial Viral charts exist to build traffic and income for their owners. For instance Lycos may charge up to £3,000 per week for advertising commercially branded games in their viral chart. Unbranded games are listed for free because they help to build a popular section of the site, which in turn benefits Lycos by drawing huge visitor numbers. Effectiveness: Exchange & Mart’s X-Chase campaign reached number two in the Lycos viral charts in the summer of 2003 and resulted in 28,000 visitors for their campaign (it was only beaten by a video of Kylie Minogue modelling her new underwear range). Exchange & Mart paid Lycos £500 to be advertised on their site for one week but stayed in the chart for over a month The Lycos Viral Chart is printed in New Media Age each week, providing additional, free media coverage Usage advice: Many community sites source content from these viral charts, so you also will receive a large amount of traffic from other sources There are a limited number of advertising spaces so book chart slots early at prime times such as Christmas to avoid disappointment Try to time your chart advertising to coincide with any regular email marketing these sites send out, since they will normally feature their viral chart in their newsletters to subscribers Example URLs: http://viral.lycos.co.uk (UK) http://www.boreme.com (UK) http://www.miniclip.com (UK) 11 3. Non-commercial viral charts Other sites generate revenue by embedding your campaign into their own website and placing banner adverts around it. These sites can be difficult to get placed on if you are a direct competitor of their current advertisers. Effectiveness: The Comet Group received a 1,200% increase in campaign traffic when they had their game featured on AddictingGames.com Usage advice: These websites are extremely hard to get listed on. A successful hyperlink from these sites will only have been due to the quality and originality of your campaign A web address listed on chart sites will receive constant traffic. Try to use the same address for your next campaign so you instantly gain a large group of players Example URLs: http://www.addictinggames.com (US) http://www.minijuegos.com (Spanish) http://www.freeonlinegames.com (UK) 21
  • 9. 4. Pay-to-play websites Once your campaign has come to a close, you may be able to gain additional income by converting the game to a pay-to-play format. Pay-to-play sites cost a nominal amount for users to compete against each other in small or large tournaments. The winner typically receives 75% of the total pot, with the game distributor and the original game owners receiving the remainder. It is highly unlikely that you will get fully branded games on these websites due to their affiliate schemes. However, you should be able to come to a mutually acceptable branding and linking solution for this problem. Effectiveness: An unbranded version of X-Chase from Exchange & Mart has now been played over 1,000,000 times on Game Account and was featured on the homepage of Maxim Magazine. If Exchange & Mart now decided to release X-Chase 2, their target audience would be significantly larger than for their previous active campaign Usage advice: You will need to have a very secure scoring system built into a Flash developed game in order to work with these companies Example URL: http://www.gameaccount.com 31 Now you face your most difficult decision. To create a successful campaign you must ensure wide coverage of targets, without diluting your message. You have two options - guerrilla tactics or open warfare. Guerilla tactics As we’ve explained, many websites will not promote commercially branded material for free. Even with a limited promotional budget guerrilla warfare can be used to win free publicity. Here are four examples: End game reveals all Dyson released an unbranded, original puzzle game at telescopegame.co.uk and seeded interest by linking to it in game forums. Because the Telescope game had no Dyson branding, it was listed for free by sites that would normally charge. It was only when participants completed the game they witnessed the commercial message and were given links to further levels on the main Dyson website. Because the game was very popular, the majority of viral sites did not remove their hyperlinks to it when the sponsor’s identity became common knowledge. Camouflage A variation on the ‘end game’ tactic is to launch your game on an unbranded site. Once you have a lot of sites linking to you for free and are enjoying high levels of traffic, you can reveal your true colours by adding your logo to the site and then reap the rewards. GUERRILLA TACTICS VERSUS OPEN WARFARE 41
  • 10. Curiosity will attract There is an emerging trend for complex mystery/puzzle games where the promotion of the game, the identity of its creator and even the nature of the game itself, are deliberately hidden behind obscure clues. These campaigns are designed to appeal to audiences who relish the challenge of problem solving and online intrigue. With books such as the Da Vinci Code becoming international bestsellers, these campaigns are beginning to attract much wider audiences, cleverly tapping into our fascination with conspiracy theories. A current example is www.PerplexCity.com - the game itself was only ever subtly advertised in a handful of magazines and forums. Its popularity has grown by word-of-mouth from there. Be very funny! Even with subtle corporate branding, free promotion may still be possible if your campaign is particularly humorous, topical or controversial. However, campaigns of this nature may be too contentious to be closely associated with marketing material viewed by your mainstream audience. It is common to place them on a separate mini-site not directly connected to your other online marketing. Remember that visitors to viral marketing sites are anticipating material of this nature. Open warfare Guerrilla tactics are great for gaining free promotion for your game. However, if you have the budget or existing online traffic to promote a game yourself, then you can more tightly control its branding and delivery. The knack is to actively ‘seed’ your game using as many methods as possible so the viral effect begins to take hold. Here are some techniques to consider for this kind of open warfare: Use of existing propaganda To build traffic to your main website it makes sense to locate some or all of the game elements there. The whole point of a viral campaign is to get people talking about your brand to their friends. Give your existing recruits an excuse to do this on your behalf. 51 Other useful electronic tactics include adding a link to the campaign to your company’s outbound email footers and referring to it in general email marketing and newsletters. The web agency developing your viral campaign may also have its own email databases of viral marketing participants to seed the campaign with. Another good email list to join and distribute campaign information from is http://www.chinwag.com/viralmonitor Don’t forget to add the address of your game to offline marketing material such as posters, press adverts, point of sale material and product packaging. This can be a very cost-effective way of seeding a campaign by ‘piggy-backing’ on existing marketing efforts. Utilise your existing allies How many of your affiliates would like your game on their website to help promote your product? Could you encourage this behaviour by cross branding the campaign? PR Viral campaigns are often original and amusing, therefore making great press releases. You should work with your PR team to gain maximum exposure for your efforts. Exhibitions Most viral games can very easily be turned into full screen games for use at exhibitions. As they feature movement, audio and data capture technology they are very good at drawing crowds to your stand. You could even make your online call to action promote your exhibition by having a live final at the event or cheat codes on your stand. Budget for additional promotion If you want to guarantee being placed on viral charts such as Lycos, then add their commercial promotion costs to your budget to begin with. Search engine optimisation If you name your campaign wisely and host it on your main website, you can significantly increase your general search engine results because of the large amount of sites that will link to yours. 61
  • 11. VICTORY How do you know you’ve won? Before launching your attack, set specific target results that will enable you to measure your success. Page views, unique visitors, game plays, high score submissions and challenges to friends are all easily defined metrics that demonstrate exactly how your campaign is performing. If you are using your campaign to drive other visitor behaviour, such as purchasing specially promoted products or signing up to email newsletters, then you should also track these results to provide a measurable return on investment. The golden rule of IVM A large manufacturer of soft drinks recently created an online game that was promoted on their can and required people to purchase one of their products to access it. This might have driven product sales but it had a significant weakness. No one could play the game without purchasing the product. Therefore viral sites could not feature the game and you could not easily send it on to your friends. This decision also prevented anyone who lived outside the UK from participating because they could not purchase a can containing the unlock code. The campaign broke the golden rule of IVM warfare: Fun first, message second An alternative strategy would have been to promote a game online but only make its early stages freely available. This allows people who have yet to purchase the product to get involved with the campaign and makes it much easier to virally promote. Once they are keen players, they can be tempted to purchase the product with offers of access to advanced game features in return for entering a code found on the can. This way many more people can be involved in a brand experience and yet direct sales of a product can still be pushed. “The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it” ~ Louis Simpson 81
  • 12. CONCLUSIONS We hope you feel that your time has been well spent reading this confidential report. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” When creating truly successful viral marketing campaigns you will frequently be writing your own rules and breaking common perceptions. You will be judged on your actions and so will your brand. Be brave, be bold but stay focused on your goals and victory will be yours. And remember – fun first, message second. If www.4T2.co.uk can be of any assistance in the creation of your campaign, please email sales@4T2.co.uk or phone +44 (0)1202 767 300 from a secure landline. If you have any thoughts on this brochure, or additional advice that you are willing to share to the general public, visit Michael Hawkyard’s blog at www.artofdraw.com and leave a message. 91 Business Link provides the information, advice and support you need to start, to maintain and to grow a business. Business Link exists: To help anyone who is thinking of starting a business To help small and medium-sized businesses to grow To help businesses to deal with problems, challenges and opportunities Business Link provides information and advice to help you make the most of your opportunities. Rather than providing all the advice and help ourselves, we fast-track you to the expert help you need - whatever the issue! The Business Link service is a crucial part of the Government’s campaign to promote enterprise and to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business. Business Link is available and quality assured regionally to clear national standards. For more information: www.businesslinkwessex.co.uk or telephone 0845 6009 006
  • 13. INTERACTIVE VIRAL MARKETING 4T2, 7a MILBURN ROAD, WESTBOURNE, BOURNEMOUTH, DORSET BH4 9HJ tel: +44 (0)1202 767 300 email: sales@4T2.co.uk www.4T2.co.uk BROUGHT TO YOU BY BUSINESS LINK WESSEX The Impartial Route to Business Advice www.businesslinkwessex.co.uk Tel: 08454 58 85 58 Business Link Wessex, Merck House, Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1TD IN CONJUNCTION WITH DORSET BROADBAND PARTNERSHIP DorsetB roadband Pa rtnership