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Week 12: Memetic Marketing, Part 1 of 2: Sending Email in Your Web Pages

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One way to make your site more useful to users is to allow email to be sent directly from the site. In this first of a two-part series on memetic marketing, Nick Flor shows you exactly how easy it is.
Web business engineering expert Nick V. Flor is the creator of Web Business Engineering.com, a Web business content forum, and the author of Web Business Engineering: Using Offline Activities to Drive Internet Strategies (Addison-Wesley, 2001, ISBN 0-201-60468-X). Professor Flor is a regular contributor to InformIT on Web business topics.

Memetic marketing is a way of getting your users to promote your site for you. A common medium used for such promotion is email. In this initial article on memetic marketing, we examine the technical details of sending email via an Active Server Pages script. But first, the "Hacker Phrase of the Week."

Hacker Phrase of the Week

"Are you crazy? Is that what your problem is?"

Usage: Whenever a friend or coworker blabbers excitedly about something.

Example:

Fred

I was walking near Mr. Slate's office and he called me in and he...and he gave me a huge raise today! And then he...

Barney

Are you crazy? Is that what your problem is?


Introduction

My week 10 article on traffic described how to increase the chances of getting your site ranked highly in search engines. Unfortunately, the sheer number of sites in most search engine databases makes it difficult to get displayed highly in their results listings; thus, you can't really rely on search engines to drive large volumes of traffic to your site. However, they do drive some traffic to your site, and it would be nice if you could somehow convert that bit of traffic into more traffic. This is where memetic marketing comes in. Briefly, using memetic marketing, your users (C) promote (:promo) your site (W) to their friends and other associates (N), as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Memetic marketing component of the autonomous business model.

The keys to effective memetic marketing are twofold:

  • Identifying valuable content on your site that your users want to share with their friends.

  • Developing mechanisms that help your users promote this content with their friends and other associates.

Together, the content and promotional mechanisms are known as a memetic. A common, albeit extremely primitive example of a memetic is a link or button on a web page labeled, "Email this web page to a friend." In this example, the valuable content is the information on the web page, and the promotional mechanism is email.

For this initial article, we'll focus on just the technical details of using email as a promotional mechanism. Specifically, I'll show you how to send email to a user via an Active Server Pages script. With the promotional mechanism implemented, the next article shows you how to generalize this mechanism to help your users promote your site's valuable content to their friends. Finally, on a technical note, this article assumes that your site uses a Microsoft web server with the Active Server Pages (ASP) and Collaboration Data Objects for NT Server (CDONTS) packages installed. Check with your site's system administrator to ensure that they are indeed installed before trying any of the examples.

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