Viral Marketing: Consumers’ motivations to forward emails

In marketing on December 17, 2009 by Magnolia Tagged:

Phelps and his colleagues (2004) examined interpersonal communication via email and the reasons why people send emails. They used different research techniques: focus groups (66 individuals in eight focus groups), content analysis of 1259 emails and in-depth interviews.

They found that messages that spark strong emotions -humour, fear, sadness, or inspiration- are likely to be forwarded. Emails which contain information and relevant data about important events (warning, crime), and good causes are frequently forwarded and, also, opened by the receivers.

Other findings of this study were the principal reasons why people send emails. These researchers classified the reasons why consumers pass along emails into four categories: enjoyment and entertaining, relax, keeping in touch with people and helping other people.

Based on the findings of Phelps and his colleagues I undertook a research on consumers motivations to forward email messages. I carried out a survey  to evaluate how consumers rate the content of the emails in order to pass along these messages.  The results of this survey are as follows:

The chart above indicates the order of preference of the email contents according to the respondents of the survey. Emails perceived by the respondents as ‘important’ are the most likely to be opened. The second email content most likely to be opened is ‘funny’ emails, which are followed very closely by entertaining emails (third). ‘Helpful’ emails are ranked by the respondents as the fourth type of content most likely to be opened. The fifth email content most likely to be opened is ‘exciting’ emails. Finally, ‘relaxing’ emails are ranked by the respondents as the last type of email contents in order of preference.


Phelps, J., E., et al, 2004. Viral Marketing or Electronic Word-of-Mouth Advertising: Examining Consumer Responses and Motivations to Pass Along Email. Journal of advertising research. December, pp. 333-348

4 Responses to “Viral Marketing: Consumers’ motivations to forward emails”

  1. Finally I found some good content out there

  2. Hi
    Your research was excellent and I was interested in the topic
    Please research questionnaire for me send
    In my research in this area can help
    Excuse me.I speak english not very vell

  3. Hello Mohsen,

    Thank you for your comment.If you need any help with your research I can send my list of references. I think that may help you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: