Why Is Word Of Mouth Marketing No Longer A Sustainable Way Of Bringing In New Clients?
Anyone in the marketing industry will tell you that word of mouth marketing is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In fact, other forms of advertising such as social media and influencer marketing have stemmed from good old fashioned word of mouth.
Word of mouth marketing is a strong recommendation from a trusted source (often friends, family or co-workers) that spurs you to act in a particular way. For example, let's say one of your close friends visits a swanky restaurant, and afterwards they encourage you give the place a try because the food was faultless. The next time you're looking for a nice place to eat, you might consider dining at this new restaurant because your friend raved about it.
To a degree, word of mouth marketing can be an effective technique at spreading the word about your product or service, however there are some drawbacks that you need to be aware of.
Slow & Steady
One of the biggest obstacles is the fact that it takes time to actually get the ball rolling. First of all your business has to create a shareable message that your customers will actually want to inform their friends about. This could be a new branch opening, a new event, a special discount or even just a really positive memorable service from your business. Then you have to actually cast your net wide enough to ensure a large group of people actually spread the word about your product or service – this could be your employees as well as your customers.
More often than not word of mouth marketing is a slow burning process. Sometimes it will have the desired effect and spark interest from new customers immediately, and other times the campaign will just fizzle out.
The customers who are going to spread the word about your business will likely only reach out and talk to people they come into contact with on a regular basis. Of course, it's possible that new contacts might spread the word to other people, and then these people might tell their friends (creating a domino effect) however this can take a long time to happen. This unfortunately means that word of mouth marketing doesn't have the same reach as other online channels like social media, PPC, your website or blogs which can be found by anyone using the internet.
Difficulty In Evaluating The Results
It is virtually impossible to physically track and monitor the success rate of word of mouth marketing. Think about it, unlike online channels you can't exactly install a tracking code to easily measure your conversion rate!
While it's true you could simply ask people how they heard about your company (either in person or through a questionnaire) there is no guarantee that your customers will answer honestly, or even if they will answer at all. This can pose a problem for your business because it makes it extremely hard to pinpoint what your business is doing right, and what you could improve on.
Let's say you asked 30 of your recent customers to recommend your business to their friends. After a few weeks you don't see an increase in the number of new customers. What exactly did you do wrong? Are your customers telling their friends about you? How can you improve? What can you do differently?
Word of mouth marketing can sometimes leave a lot of unanswered questions because your business isn't necessarily in control of what's being said, and therefore you can't fully track how well your business is being received.
Lack Of Control
Word of mouth marketing is a two way street: the message spread about your company can be superb or it can be awful and catastrophic.
Let's say you're a printing business that accidentally sent out a faulty batch of photos. After receiving the order your customer isn't happy and asks for a refund which they are entitled to. Afterwards that customer might tell other people about their negative experience with your company, and as a result, word of mouth marketing might discourage new clients from contacting you.
With word of mouth marketing it's extremely hard to rectify your mistakes after they happen because other people are spreading the word and telling their sequence of events. Therefore if you accidentally do something wrong it's hard to rectify your company's image.
In theory, word of mouth marketing is completely free where the aim is to get your existing clients to 'brag' about their positive experience to their friends. Nevertheless you also have to consider the investments you will make in hiring and motivating your employees to actually showcase your brand in a positive light.
We now live in a society where people don't necessarily need to ask their friends for recommendations or referrals. Instead a person can simply hop on Google and type in what they're looking for, such as “plumber, Derby” and then judge the credibility of your business by what they see online through your website or online reviews. For this reason, it would be foolish to rely solely on word of mouth marketing to find new clients. The wise option is to use a variety of different marketing techniques such as social media, paid ads, content creation, emails and website design to ensure your business has a greater chance of being seen by new customers.
For further help and support on the changing aspects of digital marketing please contact one of our experts at the JDR Group for a free review of your current marketing strategy to see where you could improve!