How to build viral loops into your content marketing


Growing an audience by giving away free content is one of the oldest tricks in the book. We all know how it works:

1. Jane releases a free resource.

2. In exchange she asks for your email address.

3. And promotes her future products to you.

Whilst I’m a fan of this approach, it limits itself to first order benefits. You give your email. You get the resource. The interaction ends.


I came across a nice variant by coding teacher, @js_tut, where he manages to build a referral loop in:

JS Tut

To receive his eBook, you have to:

1. Retweet his pinned post (promoting the book)

2. Enter your email.

Not only does he grow his email list (first order benefit), he also sees his free eBook get shared all around twitter (second order benefit).


Technically speaking, what this does is increase the viral coefficient of the eBook. The viral coefficient measures the number of new users an existing user generates and is calculated by:

number of shares * conversion per share = k (Viral Coefficient)

To continously grow organically through referrals a viral coefficient must be > 1.


Finally, there’s real psychological power in stating: “Market value $34.99”. Imagine you visit the same web page but with that line removed. You might think:

Damn, I’ve got to retweet to get this free eBook

But in placing a “market value” on the book the script changes:

Nice, all I have to do is retweet to get an expensive eBook

Thanks to Ahrefs for sponsoring. I rely on them to grow my own search traffic.