Every day we come across some suggestions and recommendations from our friends, family, relatives and even strangers on the internet about different products and services, which we may or may not use in our daily lives. They may advise us to try a new product or services or warn us not to. This process of sharing the experience and spreading the information involuntarily is ‘word of mouth’ marketing.
Word of mouth, in general terms, is the genuine feedback from the users, shared among the friends and family. This free marketing tactic, first influences the thought and then the purchasing decision. The biggest validation of true word-of-mouth marketing is that it comes from the experience. The word of mouth marketing is initiated by the consumers or users themselves as per their shared experience with the product or service (quality, regularity, appearance, taste, variability etc.)
However, there are many instances where various marketing agencies and companies use word-of-mouth as a part of planned strategic action to promote and market the products and services. Influencer marketing is a prominent induced form of word-of-mouth marketing strategy. No matter what, word-of-mouth allows brands to make strategies and to take actions which influence consumers in such a manner that consumers themselves keep talking, mentioning and referring their products or services to others.
Characteristics of Word of Mouth
The characteristics of word-of-mouth marketing includes:
This marketing tactic is focused more on existing consumers and their satisfaction, with a belief that they will help the company generate more sales through new customers.
Word of mouth is simply sharing of experience. Good word of mouth or bad word of mouth, the consumers are always loyal to their experience and to their duty to share the experience.
The basic structure of this marketing is to influence the customers and attract potential customers who may buy from the brand, directly or indirectly.
Conveys to the existing customers that the brand cares for its customers and is still a best fit for them. Good brand value via word of mouth is a strong association for customers. Customer retention is easy with good word of mouth.
Comparatively less costly compared to other marketing strategies such as advertising. It is voluntarily marketed and promoted by the consumer.
Word-of-mouth marketing creates a community of the loyal costumer’s base who advocate for the brands themselves. A positive review will attract more consumers.
Advantages of Word of Mouth
There are several advantages to word-of-mouth marketing. The first and foremost is its ability to reach the desired target customers. As mentioned earlier, consumers themselves advocate for the brand and their products or services. They recommend their friends and family who use the brand’s products or services, or may use in the upcoming future. With this, the brand can reach out to their target customers very easily and efficiently unlike other strategies.
It is also an important strategy, helpful in creating a strong brand awareness and loyalty. The chain of information generated by a loyal customer of the brand, helps in creating awareness among the potential customers.
Similarly, it is very affordable when compared to other marketing tactics. It is also effective in increasing sales of the company. People value the genuine feedback and appreciation provided by others. When they feel that the brand is trustworthy, delivers what it promises and understands the needs of the consumers, the impact is massive.
Disadvantages of Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is sharing the experience. It is not always the case that consumers will have a pleasant experience with the product or services. In case of any dissatisfaction with the product or service, consumers will communicate this unpleasant experience as well. The brand or company will have no control over what consumers communicate, affecting the product and brand.
Similarly, the company cannot control what consumers will say about the product. Anyone can start the thread of word of mouth. The company cannot stop the words from spreading. Negative influence can damage the company in the worst possible way. The negative word of mouth is generally underestimated which later affects the company.
Companies are always measuring the outcome of the strategies they are implementing and comparing it against the cost they bear. However, with word-of-mouth, it is quite difficult to do so. On one hand, it may increase sales and on the other hand, the sole reliance on it is not sustainable. Furthermore, even if people talk good about a brand’s products or services, there is no guarantee that others will buy them. Forget about buying, they may not even check it.
Similarly, with word-of-mouth marketing, there is greater possibility that the negative feedback spreads faster than the positive one. Regardless of many positive reviews, a single negative connotation in the reviews can influence people to discard the purchasing decision. People are not generally convinced by the positive reviews they get online as compared to the negative ones.
Also, the coverage of word-of-mouth marketing is very limited. It is limited to the numbers of existing consumers of the brands. A satisfied customer may communicate with close friends and family, who may then purchase the product, may get satisfied and finally suggest a few others to try it out. The process itself is lengthy, time consuming and very limited, given the sphere of influence that other marketing strategies can create.