Why Your Site Isn’t Viral

To help me better understand how to make a site viral, a good friend introduced me to Dan Olsen. Dan led product management for Quicken and Friendster. Then, he launched Olsen Solutions, where he helped build online products for companies like box.net, Xing, and TrustedID. Now he’s CEO & Founder of YourVersion.com.

Dan Olsen

Dan Olsen


Dan Olsen is the CEO & Founder of YourVersion.com, a start-up building “Pandora for your real-time web content”.

A few lessons from this program

Based on our conversation, here are some reasons your site might not be viral:

You’re asking too many questions.

Dan says many sites lose users because their registration forms ask too many questions. What’s your name? When where you born? What’s your pet’s name? Etc.

If they can’t get past your endless questions, your users will never want to tell their friends about your site.

You’re not thinking holistically.

Many people create a web site and then try to figure out how to make it viral. Viral isn’t a feature. It’s either part of the core purpose of your product, or it feels awkward and it doesn’t work.

Your product just isn’t meant to be viral.

Dan says that not all products are viral. If your site isn’t meant to be viral, think of another marketing method. Viral isn’t the only way to grow.

You’re not making it easy enough.

You can’t expect your site to be viral and then hide the features that help your uses spread the word. Put your viral tools (like an “invite a friend” link) where users can see them and they’ll be more likely to be used.

Why do YOU think some sites aren’t viral?

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.