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Viral marketing through e-mail: the link company-consumer

María-José Miquel-Romero (Comercialización e Investigación de Mercados, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain)
Consolacion Adame-Sánchez (Dirección de Empresas – Juan José Renau Piqueras, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 11 November 2013




The purpose of this paper is to identify the antecedents that may determine the opening of e-mails from companies that endeavour to promote their products, and what may motivate individuals to forward such messages to others.


The paper presents exploratory research to approach the nature of the viral process and descriptive research for testing the proposed hypotheses.


The opening of an e-mail is determined by the value that an individual may perceive that the message might contain. Forwarding of the message is determined by its opening, and by the individual's perception about the value of the message it may provide to others, besides the need for communication with others held by the individual. Also, the higher the value perceived by the recipient with respect to the message, the better the associations given to the source of the message. When it is considered that the message may be relevant to others and when an individual has a need for interpersonal communication, better environmental conditions will be perceived to forward the message.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides a starting point for further research in the field of viral marketing where companies should play a more active role.

Practical implications

Guidelines in the development of a viral marketing campaign through e-mail are proposed.


Most of the studies focused on viral marketing consider the reception of a message only from another person, not from a company. This study focuses on the opening of a message from a company and its forwarding to a colleague.



Miquel-Romero, M.-J. and Adame-Sánchez, C. (2013), "Viral marketing through e-mail: the link company-consumer", Management Decision, Vol. 51 No. 10, pp. 1970-1982.



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