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    May 11, 2010 // 3:00 PM

    5 Viral Marketing Lessons From Dropbox

    Written by Kipp Bodnar | @

    viral marketing Every business wants free positive publicity , but getting people to talk about your company and product for free isn't easy. Dropbox , a cloud storage company, has been able to grow from a software startup with fewer than 100,000 users to more than 4 million users in fewer than two years. All of this by spending no money on advertising and having no prior marketing experience. In such a crowded market place, how did they do it?

    The lessons below were summarized from this great presentation on Dropbox's growth and word-of-mouth success.


    5 Reasons for Dropbox's Word-of-Mouth Marketing Success

    1. Have an Amazing Product -- When Dropbox launched, its market was already highly competitive with dozens of cloud storage companies battling for users. The company realized, however, through looking at comments in forums and reading blogs, that users weren't really satisfied with competitor products. These other products didn't work all of the time and would create file errors. In others words, users couldn't rely on these solutions. Dropbox decided to make a simple file storage application that worked. Customers talk about great products, so the first step in word-of-mouth marketing success is to have a product worth talking about.

    2. Build Your Community Before You Even Have a Product -- Don't make the mistake that you need to have a fully launched and market-ready product before you can get people to talk about it. Dropbox tested landing pages and a private beta program as an effort to generate interest in the product and begin to build a community while the product was still in the development process. Letting users into the process early helped to provide a sense of ownership while it gave the company valuable feedback needed to make the product better.

    3. Question Best Practices -- Dropbox's public launch plan looked like other product launch plans. They had planned to use some pay-per-click advertising, launch at an industry conference and hire a public relations firm. That all sounds pretty smart right? It didn't work for them. The cost of customer acquisition was too high because the keywords they were bidding on were too expensive. Basically, the traditional ways to launch and market a company weren't allowing Dropbox to scale its growth. Still, they realized they were still growing despite the fact that these efforts weren't working. This growth was due to word-of-mouth buzz about their product. Their next logical step was thinking, "How do we get people to talk about our product even more?"

    4. Encourage Word-of-Mouth -- People were already talking about Dropbox, but to ramp up the conversation, the company started a referral program that offered customers incentives to recommend the application to others. This one simple change permanently increased new users by 60%. Additionally, Dropbox made changes to their product that made it easier for users to share their love for Dropbox with others. For example, they offered the feature of shared folders, which allows one folder of documents to be shared with multiple users, subsequently encouraging users to invite others to share access to folders.

    5. Understand What Is Working -- To learn all of these lessons, Dropbox needed clear data to understand what was working and what wasn't. The company prioritized analytics within the company so that it could have the data it needed to make the right marketing and product development investments. To understand how to people are talking about your company, it is important to have the systems in place to see how new users are discovering your business. -- To learn all of these lessons, Dropbox needed clear data to understand what was working and what wasn't. The company prioritized analytics within the company so that it could have the data it needed to make the right marketing and product development investments. To understand how to people are talking about your company, it is important to have the systems in place to see how new users are discovering your business.

    Can you apply any of these lessons to your business?  Have you/will you?

    Photo Credit: Scootie

     

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