Converting viral traffic

Getting stuff to go viral is sexy. It's a miracle when it works. It makes you famous.

Everyone wants to get tweeted, liked, mentioned on a blog, spread by email and watch the numbers go up and up and up.

The thing is, drive-by viral traffic doesn't convert. 50,000 visitors might end up buying just 23 items.

Ultimately, if you want to get elected, make a sale or even change minds, you can't survive on viral traffic, no matter how big the tsunami is.

After I started talking about permission marketing, the question readers wanted answered was, "how do I get permission in the first place?" The answer was to create an ideavirus, an idea that spreads. And then, as it spreads, don't try to make a sale, merely work to earn the privilege of a follow up, the opportunity to reconnect over time. By email, sure, but phone or reputation are fine too.

Ten years later and the ego pendulum has clearly swung in the direction of the virus. That's what we brag about and what is too often measured.

How many eyeballs are passing by is a useless measure. All that matters is, "how many people want to hear from you tomorrow?"

Don't try to convert strangers into customers. It's ineffective and wasteful. Instead, focus on turning those momentary strangers into people eager to hear from you again and again.

Yes to spreading ideas. Two yesses to using those ideas to earn permission going forward.