Advantages and Disadvantages of Viral Marketing
As discussed earlier viral marketing is a form of word of mouth marketing which is carried out using online means. (Click here for the Introduction to Viral Marketing) Viral marketing is practiced by business organization who are engaged in e-commerce and many organizations have become a success stories by using viral marketing strategies. Hotmail.com is a the best example that can be quoted. Hotmail provided free sign up for users who were interested in obtaining an email account and they were motivated to use the Hotmail email address to have contacts with their friends and business associates. When an email is sent using a Hotmail account a “Sign Up Free for Hotmail” tagline which contained a link to sign up for Hotmail was attached to the email. This persuaded the email receiver to sign up for Hotmail and build their network on Hotmail making large amount of sign ups for Hotmail.
There are many advantages of using viral marketing such as:
- It cater to larger audience through world wide web and emails. Viral marketing practices which use internet as the communication media can be accessed by large amount of people worldwide and it can be seen as an advantage over traditional advertising media such as tv and radio advertisements.
- It uses existing communication among friends and other associations to spread the message. As an example if a product message is spread in Twitter using retweets it uses the existing followers of the retwitter to spread the message.
- It is considered to be a cost effective advertising method when compared to traditional advertising modes. Posting a blog post or sending an emails potential customers does not cost as much cost of advertising in Television.
- It works as a faster mode of reaching the customer.
- Helps to build the reputation of the firm fast through increased sales and online promotions.
- It caters to the exact target market of the product as filtering is possible when using online means. As an example, if a company wishes to introduce a product for teenagers living in New York ans wishes to advertise on Facebook, it is possible for the firm to access basic information of the user and filter the target market.
- Tools used in viral marketing can be set up with less effort. Composing an email message or a blog post does not require much of effort when compared to making a TV commercial or bill board campaign.
- Customizing the message based on user preference and local interest is also possible in viral marketing through data mining techniques.
There can be disadvantages of using viral marketing such as:
- Issue of SPAMS- Viral marketing uses means such as emails and commenting on blogs and forums. When the viral marketing in done in a large scale it becomes annoying for the email receiver to receive large amount of emails in their inbox and they are made filtered as spam messages.
- Viral marketing talks about only spreading the message to potential consumers through online means but spreading the message is not does not benefit the firm. Sale has occur at the end for the firm to benefit but the amount of actual sales made apart from promotions is questionable under viral marketing.
- Results directly attributable to viral marketing is unquantifiable as companies use other marketing techniques and purchase motivation of the consumer depends on the consumer black box, not based on viral marketing.
- It very hard to make the people to spread the message by emails and other means as people are more concentrated about their personal work rather than doing marketing for business organizations.
- Continuous effort in viral marketing can cause the product message reaching out of target audience which will result in brand dilution by sales occurring at non-targeted users.
- Viral marketing focuses more on short term success rather than building differentiation to gain long term advantages.
- It can be easily imitated by competitors as anyone on internet can launch marketing campaigns easily.
- Negative publicity is possible at the same speed of positive publicity or even higher speed than that.