Has Viral Email Caught a Cold?

Lets cut to the chase. Lets talk about a Fad which really started with the wide spread use of email applications in the early 00's. I think it was about 2002 when "viral" became the latest buzz word. I'm talking of course about "viral marketing". To simplify things I am only talking here in the context of emails.

The Idea

As we all probably know, the basic concept is that if people like the content of a email they will send it to a friend. You send out, for example a newsletter, hoping that your clients/associates might forward it on to their contacts. Those contacts may forward it on again etc etc and so this “spreads†the awareness of your site like a virus.

The Situation

Many large companies have utilized this form of marketing and if well thought through can be very productive. However if not well through through the receiver could be left with a negative view of your company or service. This type of marketing can do more harm than good.

Also there are now strict legal requirements to consider (see www.out-law.com). Before undertaking anything like email viral it is well worth researching the legal side of what you are about to do.

With email viewers raising their level of security on spam mail, it is becoming harder for things like pictures and large html emails to dodge the filters. Most email programs have pictures switched to "off" as default and as a result viral emails are becoming ineffective.

In fact all the factor mentioned above seem to place more reasons to not go down the viral marketing route than to go down it!

The Question

The question I wish to ask everyone is this: Do viral marketing emails have a future?

With the take off of RSS and content driven sites the focus seems to have moved away from things like viral marketing. Have you found that clients aren't asking for viral as much as they used to? Do you enjoy receiving viral marketing emails? In short, dear reader, has viral email caught a deadly cold?

This post can also be found on Fadtastic.