Ever heard the saying, “If you build it, they will come”? Well, it’s actually NOT true.
You’ve probably already learned this the hard way: maybe you’ve written a blog post that you expected to get hundreds of shares but that only got two or three, or maybe you posted a video on Facebook or YouTube that you expected to go viral, only for it to get a couple hundred views at most.
This is something a lot of people struggle with when trying to grow a business, myself included. But you have a choice: you can either accept that people won’t share things they don’t want to, or you can make sure people will want to share your content. I made the latter choice after I saw how it worked for Dropbox.
Dropbox’s Big Break
A couple years ago, Dropbox was a small company that nobody knew. In order to grow, they had to start getting customers. At first, they relied on paid advertising, but it was too expensive for them to use over the long term. So they had to come up with a clever way to get people talking about them. But with thousands of businesses out there, how could they get people to talk about Dropbox? By giving them an incentive.
Dropbox is a cloud storage business that offers files hosting services, so they set up a system where every person who shared their referral link would get an extra half a gigabyte of storage space for each friend who signed up. And what happened? People started spreading the word about Dropbox everywhere. To this day, it’s the company’s #1 growth strategy. In fact, chances are you first heard about Dropbox from a friend!
How I Used Incentives to Grow My Business
I used Dropbox’s strategy to build my email list: giving incentives to people in exchange for word of mouth about my business. A good example is when I launched ConnectLeads a couple of years ago. Before I even started selling it, I released three videos in what’s known as a “prelaunch sequence”: releasing content early to get the market excited about an upcoming product.
The interesting thing about my prelaunch was that I didn’t just release those three videos; I also mentioned a fourth video that viewers could only access after referring three friends. I knew people wouldn’t share my first three videos on their own, so I gave them an incentive. Because of that, people started sharing my videos everywhere. It turned out to be the biggest launch in our business, mostly because people were talking about the product even before we launched it.
Giving people incentives to spread the word about your business is highly effective, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here at UpViral. The first thing we usually ask potential customers for is their email address. We want to know who we’re talking to and be able to contact them later. Having a video go viral is one thing, but building an email list at the same time is a lot more powerful.
After collecting their email address, we give each person an incentive to share, complete with their own referral link leading back to our landing page. At UpViral, we keep track of every person who subscribes through a referral link, so if you implement this strategy in your business, you can set up a similar system of offering an incentive to people who get their friends to subscribe.
How did this work out for our ConnectLeads pre-launch? Let’s have a look at the results:
As you can see, it collected well over 18,000 leads in total. What’s even more impressive, is that over 15,000 of those have been referred by other people, revealing the true impact of UpViral.
But how do you choose a good incentive to offer? What gets people over the edge and say “YES, I want to share this”?
Incentive Tip #1: Your Incentive Should be Valuable
When deciding on an incentive, there are three important factors to consider. The first is that it must be valuable. My rule of thumb is that if people wouldn’t be willing to pay for your incentive, they won’t share for it as well. Think of social sharing as a form of payment, but with “social currency”. You want to make sure that whatever you’re giving away for free is something people actually want.
Incentive Tip #2: Your Incentive Should be Unique
Second, your incentive should not have an “easy alternative”. For example, if you’re giving away information, it shouldn’t be easily searchable on Google, otherwise people will take the path of least resistance and not share your content. Similarly, if you’re giving away something they want while at the same time selling it for $1, then they won’t go to the trouble of referring their friends when they can just pay a small price to get it right away.
Whatever you offer as an incentive should be unique, something people can’t get anywhere else. That way, if they want to get your incentive, they’ll have to spread the word about your content.
Incentive Tip #3: Your Incentive Should Be Socially Accepted
Finally, everything you offer people must be shareable. Remember, you’re asking them to share your content on their private social media accounts with their friends. If it’s not a subject they’d be willing to talk about freely, they won’t share it. For example, people love talking about restaurants, but adult web shops are a lot more taboo. Think about the shareability of your content before you offer your incentive!
Incentives are a powerful way to grow your email list and business. Simply follow these three tips for creating an incentive and your content will be going viral before you know it!
Did you find this post helpful? You can implement this strategy in your business using UpViral.