The most noted advantages of viral marketing include cost advantages, its non-interruptive manner, high level of scope, potential of reaching large numbers of customers, effective customer targeting, and high and rapid response rate.
The majority of authors addressing the topic of viral marketing praise the cost advantage benefits of viral marketing campaigns. It has been stressed that “a viral marketing campaign has a relatively low cost for development, depending on its sophistication, and is within budgetary constraints of many city marketing organisations” (Wober, 2002, p.294).
Authors mention specific case studies where viral marketing campaigns with modest budgets were able to significantly contribute to the levels of brand recognition and brand loyalty. Specific viral marketing campaigns initiated by Mazda, Nike, Virgin Blue, and Old Spice can be mentioned to illustrate this point.
Absence or lack of intrusion and interruption has been noted in the literature as an additional substantial advantage of viral marketing. It has been noted that viral marketing campaigns “tend to be non-interruptive, so they enable consumers to choose to interact proactively with a communication, or not, rather than be passively dictated to” (Kirby, 2012, p.97).
Lincoln (2009) specifies this aspect of viral marketing to be the major factor contributing to its success, and advises marketers to integrate elements of fun within viral marketing campaigns.
High Level of Scope
A high level of scope of the impact of viral marketing implies its potential to reach large numbers of customers in a global scale during a short period of time. This specific advantage of viral marketing has been stressed by Thorne (2008), Donovan and Henley (2010) and others.
Due to the fact that it is facilitated through internet, viral marketing recognises no geographic boundaries and time restrictions in terms of reaching the target customer segment.
Effective Customer Targeting
It has been noted that “since the concept of viral marketing involves passing on a message from a user to another person, most likely the user will pass it to a person whom he knows will be interested in it” (Knowles and Castillo, 2010, p.144).
In other words, the advantages of viral marketing also include effective customer targeting in a way that viral messages can be devised taking into account specifications of target customer segment and they can be effectively spread within the same group through online channels.
High and Instant Response Rate
Response rate to the marketing initiative obtained more timely than many other alternative marketing methods can be listed as an additional significant advantage of viral marketing. It can be further specified that the outcome of major types of viral marketing initiatives can be analysed in a timely manner such as the numbers of views a viral video has attracted, the numbers of times viral message was shared, and the extent of positive comments a viral message has been able to attract.
However, Kabani (2012) argues that it is difficult to estimate the contribution of viral marketing campaign to the level of revenues in an explicit manner. In other words, although a viral marketing campaign may be proving popular with internet users, the level of its direct contribution to the level of sales is difficult to assess.
Donovan, R. & Henley, N. (2010) “Principles and Practice of Social Marketing: An International Perspective” Cambridge University Press
Kabani, S.H. (2012) “The Zen of Social Media Marketing 2012: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue” Ben Bella Books
Kirby, J. (2012) “Viral Marketing” in Connected Marketing, Routledge, Editors Kirby, J. & Marsden, P.
Knowles, R.A. & Castillo, C. (2010) “Small Business: An Entrepreneur’s Plan” Cengage Learning
Lincoln, S.R. (2009) “Mastering Web 2.0: Transform Your Business Using Key Website and Social Media Tools” Kogan Page
Thorne, L. (2008) “Word-of-Mouth Advertising: Online and Off: How to Spark Buzz, Excitement, & Free Publicity for your Business or Organisation” Atlantic Publishing Company