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E-mail viral marketing: modeling the determinants of creation of “viral infection”

Rishi Raj Sharma (Department of Business Management, Guru Nanak Dev University Regional Campus, Gurdaspur, India)
Balpreet Kaur (University Business School, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 12 April 2019

Issue publication date: 6 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to identify factors influencing the opening and forwarding of commercial e-mails received directly from companies to further promote products via sharing by consumers to create viral infection.


The study is descriptive in nature and carried out in the country, India. A structural equation modeling technique was used to test the hypothesized relationships among the constructs pertaining to opening and forwarding of commercial e-mails.


The results indicate that mail opening intentions of the recipients are influenced by the perceived value of e-mail content and their positive relation with the sender, increasing the probability of further forwarding. However, relationships among consumers have a significant effect on intentions to forward the commercial e-mails. E-mails that arouse positive emotions in the minds of the receivers are forwarded. The study significantly contributes to literature with the findings that not only positive emotions additionally content leads to high arousal through positive emotions leading to viral infection.

Practical implications

The study has implications for marketers who are in the business of promoting their products through e-mails, need to redesign the message content to engender positivity and generate viral infection, which is the ultimate goal of viral marketing.


This study explains factors behind the creation of “viral infection” specifically with regard to commercial e-mails targeted to individuals with high networking potential.



Sharma, R.R. and Kaur, B. (2020), "E-mail viral marketing: modeling the determinants of creation of “viral infection”", Management Decision, Vol. 58 No. 1, pp. 112-128.



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