22 November 2012
Email Marketing
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3 Lessons from Famous Viral Emails

In the age of social networking, where “shares,” “reblogs” and “retweets” determine what’s hip and what’s not, gone are the days when you and your friends would huddle around a Pentium 1 desktop and snicker at a forwarded email from your mom. It seems that viral emails have lost its spot as one of the number one sources of topics for conversation.

Are viral emails still relevant for marketers? Can advertisers still use emails to spread their message? Yes, email marketing still lives! In fact, there are still viral emails circulating around the globe to prove that.

Let’s review some of the most famous viral emails of all time, and see if we could learn a trick or two in making messages go viral.

  1. Demanding Bridezilla – Just last month, a highly demanding bride emailed her bridesmaids what has been dubbed as the “craziest” email a bride ever sent. It was full of impossible demands! It lacked the tack usually expected from such correspondence. “I don’t have time to wait around for responses, everyone has their phone on them, it shouldn’t take you more than a day to get back to me,” Bridezilla said. She was so demanding that one of her bridesmaids called her out, and her response was so spot on, it went viral, too!

    The email was intended only for 10 bridesmaids, but the wedding ended up with 30 – dressed in the nightmare of wedding planners. However, the wedding’s not the central thing here, the crazy email was forwarded to millions last October – a jackpot that marketers would like to achieve. Just imagine having that many people actually read your emails!
    Lesson of the story: What’s important in marketing is getting your message across. When it comes to viral emails, absurdity and breaking societal norms and protocols usually do the trick. Be wacky. Be yourself. Demand attention. Whatever you do, don’t forget the niceties needed in pleasant conversations.

  2. Over-the-top arrogant city boys – Remember that hilarious email by four public school boys who laid down rules for their trip to the Dubai 7s tournament? The email listed 13 rules for the trip, which include “mentioning parents’ salaries once a day,” “cheating is allowed” and other nefarious schemes.

    Lesson of the story: The city boy rules email got viral because it captured the typical schoolboy vibe – the naughtiness, the immaturity and the perfect portrayal of an existing stereotype. Yet, the reason it was passed around so much is the arrogance reeking out of the email’s every sentence. See? A little arrogance goes a long way. A lot of arrogance can go viral. You can boast about your product’s effectiveness, just make sure you can live up to your promise.

  3. Where’s my ham sandwich? – A secretary in sent a company email to everyone in her office, asking about a missing ham sandwich. You read that right; she emailed everyone, including her boss’ boss about her missing lunch! The email exchange between co-workers got so heated that they ended up trash talking and calling each other names. Who knew a ham sandwich could cause such mayhem? Not surprisingly, someone thought to copy the whole conversation and cc the Internet. Boom! A viral email about a meagre ham sandwich.

    Lesson of the story: Again, originality and a bit of absurdity play a large role in making an email go viral. The email exchange became so ridiculous that it turned hilarious and worthy to share. And that’s the lesson here: jokes are funnier when they’re true. Don’t be afraid to use jokes, unlikely comparisons and even a meme in your email marketing campaign.

Viral Emails Still Got the Flair!

What can we learn from these famous viral emails? First, messages that come from real life that puts a different spin on everyday experiences really do the trick. Be it absurd, funny, or downright odd, people want to share these emails because they can relate to it, and they know other people will like reading it, too.

That’s also pretty much how viral memes in social networking sites work. What’s the benefit of sending viral emails? For one, using email to send your potentially viral message is a direct and personal way of sharing. Instead of posting or re-blogging, emails target specific people and have been shown by many studies to be effective. Its “personal feel” and its directness makes people want to read it and share it.

Marketers can still take advantage of viral emails to spread messages. Viral emails still got the flair and marketers need to take advantage of this!

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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