Marketing 2.0: Forging New Relationships With Viral Marketing

There’s been a big focus at this conference regarding Web 2.0 and social networking, and the resulting fallout it could have on CRM. As Martin mentioned in his previous post, much of it seems to be a lot of hype with very few companies actually leveraging the solutions practically in terms of CRM.

That said, conversations with a number of attendees and a few Gartner analysts have shown some real progress being made in viral marketing, thanks largely to the evolution that the Web has made in the past 10+ years. Whereas the concept of importing sales leads or building networks for a sales force via Facebook is still very much a theory, viral marketing is legit, and appears to be the only pillar of CRM that’s truly leveraged Web 2.0 to the tune of more customers and increased revenue.

Years ago, companies built Web sites and then attempted to drive consumers to it via banner ads and keyword searches. Today, it’s now possible to construct a Web site that works similar to an application, molding the site’s content and format to allow it to mold to different scenarios, allowing companies to market virally.

Today the Web is no longer just a collection of sites and pages. It’s a collection of feeds and services that deliver content fluidly across a myriad of contexts, from portals and news readers to widgets, mashups, and consumer-generated media sites. The uncontrolled nature of Web distribution is increasingly disruptive to the media business, and smart marketers, particularly in the B2C model, are learning how to leverage Web 2.0 technology to track much of the unfettered content to initiate transactions, build brand recognition, and create advertising opportunities that you didn’t see just a few years ago.

In addition, the vendor market has matured to the point where there are now dozens of technologies that support this. These technologies, based on digital rights management platforms that media once hoped could effectively lock up digital content, now are effective at enabling new business models for advertisers and marketers based on open distribution.