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WhatsApp and Messenger Apps as a Marketing Tool

Ahmad Munawar

Feb 26, 2021

So you’re probably utilising Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and or Instagram in your marketing strategy – but have you ever thought about using WhatsApp marketing to get your message across?

With around 2 billion users worldwide, the app offers marketers the opportunity to engage their customers in one-on-one conversations. For this reason – and the growing adoption of conversational marketing through messaging apps – businesses are using the platform to reach customers and strengthen the connection they have with their online communities.

And as we just mentioned, there has been a shift toward messaging apps and dark social that has forced marketers to consider utilizing messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, LINE, Telegram, etc. in their social media marketing strategies. 

But despite the growing adoption of these messaging apps by consumers, many brands are hesitant to utilise dark social platforms like Whatsapp & Facebook Messenger. And we get it, marketing via dark social platforms is a relatively new concept and the analytics just aren't there yet compared to some traditional social media platforms, which you need to have to prove that all-important social ROI target your boss set.

Dark social is therefore relatively unchartered territory, but that also has its advantages. Since few marketers have begun leveraging these messaging apps, your WhatsApp marketing campaigns do not have to compete for attention in the same way your organic Facebook posts are on the Facebook Newsfeed.

Plus, dark social can be highly beneficial for brand visibility. Think about the number of times you read an article and sent it to a friend directly through a messaging app rather than share the post publicly on your Facebook profile. It happens a lot, right? Therefore, the chances that your content is already being shared on dark social are relatively high.

In fact, 84% of social sharing happens via dark social platforms, according to RadiumOne.

With organic reach on traditional social media platforms being so low, it’s time to start thinking differently and trying new methods of reaching your audience. Businesses in South East Asia have been marketing through WeChat, a similar messaging platform, for years, and we'll explore examples of how brands around the world are using WhatsApp marketing in their social media strategies below.  

Table of Contents: 

Is WhatsApp Social Media?

This is a tricky question because the app is primarily used to send text messages to either an individual or a group of individuals. But, the company was acquired by Facebook, Inc. in 2014 for $19 billion, and recently Facebook has begun integrating all of its social media apps, including messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.

And while you cannot run ads on WhatsApp, you can run click-to-message ads on Facebook and Instagram that open a conversation in WhatsApps after someone clicks on the ad's CTA. Innovations and integrations like these have allowed messaging apps to take on a whole new meaning.

Facebook has also recently connected the message inbox on Messenger with Instagram’s for all users, further integrating their suite of products and blurring the lines between social media apps and messaging apps.

Messaging apps popular in Asia, like the Chinese market-focused messaging app WeChat, started as a personal messaging service for people to communicate. However, over time, WeChat evolved into a super app that can be used for blogging, shopping, money transfers, and even concierge services. It's possible that other personal messaging apps will implement similar features in the future. But for right now, WhatsApp can still be considered a social media app without any of those fancy features because of the existing integrations with Facebook and the growing number of brands using it as a customer service channel.

Ways to Make WhatsApp Marketing Work for You

1. Free to Use: The best part about using personal messaging apps for marketing? Most of them are free to download and use. Because of the ease of access and low barrier of entry, brands can begin to roll out campaigns almost immediately upon activation. 

2. Fantastic Open Rates: Sure, you may leave a few emails unread, but how many of your text messages go unread? WhatsApp users open more than 90% of messages they receive, which is likely a much higher percentage than the open rate on your email newsletter. Image having that type of open rate on your next marketing campaign! By including a Call To Action (CTA) function in that campaign, you could significantly boost leads and revenue streams.

3. Personally Engage With Customers: Text messages are inherently more personal than emails, and being able to personally address and respond to customers goes a long way when it comes to building an engaged community. WhatsApp marketing campaigns can be curated for and targeted toward a specific audience.

4. Leverage Multiple Media Formats: Personal messaging apps allow you to send various types of multimedia collateral. Marketing teams can share images of posters, brochures, videos, and links to websites that customers can use to get information on new products and services.

Note: Sharing videos with customers can be data-heavy and it might deter them from watching them. But, apps like WhatsApp allow users to watch videos directly within the app. The company has created a built-in pop-up YouTube viewer, making it easier for people to view your marketing video.

A picture showing hands holding a video take

 Even though there are limitations associated with running a campaign in personal messaging apps such as lack of tangible measurements, algorithms and scope of distribution, customers gravitate towards messengers because they are personal in nature and ultra-responsive. Marketing specific services by messaging apps such as WhatsApp for Business are really helpful for businesses to implement these messaging architectures to suit their needs. For more on this, you can also read our other article here.

A summary of why you should use personal messaging apps like WhatsApp as a marketing tool

  • Private messaging allows you to create a personal relationship with your customers
  • It is free for people to use, and a lot of people are already using these apps
  • There's a greater chance that your messages will be read
  • It's easy to share videos, images, or links around your marketing campaigns

WhatsApp Marketing Software

The massive number of people using these personal messaging apps is a big draw for marketers, but there are not as many social media management platforms that fully support content scheduling and publishing or community management yet. So, if you are looking for marketing software that will help support your WhatsApp marketing strategy, we compiled a list of software providers that do offer these services.

From messaging automation, cross-channel communication, mass texting, and campaign analytics, here are several tooling options that can support your WhatsApp marketing strategy. You could also choose to manage your WhatsApp campaigns by downloading the WhatsApp Business app if you do not want to use the services of one of the company's partners that is connected to the platform via the WhatsApp Business API.


A marketing automation software that also incorporates many other functions such as lead scoring, social marketing, landing pages/web forms, and hosting content platform.


Using a single API, its software connects the brand with customers across the messaging functions of SMS, WhatsApp, and chat.


This software is able to import contacts from WhatsApp and offers an anti-blocking feature to ensure your messages get across to the desired audience.

This is a full-stack marketing automation software is dedicated to delivering messaging campaigns and enabling customer support via messaging. The software also has tracks several metrics that you can use to evaluate the success of a WhatsApp campaign.


This software is cloud-based and manages cross-channel communication. The platform allows brands to deploy mobile push notifications, in-app messaging, and send emails.

A rocket successfully launches upwards

Successful WhatsApp Marketing Campaign Examples

QR Codes

The wide-scale use of the ubiquitous QR code is another innovative way of encouraging customers to access information on your brand. Brands can add QR codes on their products or store windows that users can scan to begin a conversation with the brand. Most messaging apps have code scanners built into them and this makes it simpler for people to read about a new campaign or interact with the brand. WhatsApp recently promoted this function to initiate chats between customers and brands. As an added bonus, you can also share marketing collateral (videos, links, etc.) directly with individuals that scan the QR code.

An example of how scanning a QR code through WhatsApp opens a conversation with the brand that created the QR

Absolut & WhatsApp  

Absolut created an awesome PR campaign to celebrate and announce the launch of the new Limited Edition Absolut Unique collection in Argentina. The company organised a very exclusive party and created a fictional bouncer that users had to interact with to access the party that Absolut was hosting. This unique marketing campaign was an instant hit and scored the brand 3-days of uninterrupted conversations with its customers.

Hellmann's & WhatsApp

Another example comes from the condiment brand Hellmann's who set up a campaign using Whatsapp by asking consumers to send a picture of their fridge, in return a chef would send them a recipe. Over 13,000 people signed up for the campaign and spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with the brand. Hellmann's also received strong insight into what was in people's fridges!

With the countless options available on messaging apps, brands and companies can reach out to their audience much faster with a more personalized touch. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are great for your next campaign and brands should not miss out on using them as a marketing tool.