There are more than two billion users of the personal messaging app WhatsApp in the world. It is not a surprise that marketers are tapping into this audience for their campaigns.
When social media giant Facebook acquired the service in 2014, it represented a huge coup for the company as the move signaled its first foray to integrate the social media platform with the biggest personal messaging communication service.
With new developments, now is the best time for marketing professionals to include WhatsApp in their campaigns and boost their brands’ profiles into conversations. So where do businesses start when wanting to use WhatsApp for increasing their leads?
Marketing through WhatsApp
Why WhatsApp for Business is Crucial
The Future of WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp is a personal messaging mobile app where you can communicate with your networks and social circles. It is free for users to download and use. The app supports voice and video calls, group chats, and runs a desktop version as well. Users can also share various media types such as videos, GIFs, PDFs, and geo-locations. The calls can also be made internationally as long as the user has data or a WiFi connection.
All the user needs to do is to download the app in Google Play or the App Store, punch in your details, and it will automatically synchronise your contacts into its system. Businesses can now immediately access their networks within the app and start to communicate with their customers. To access the desktop version is only a QR code scan away and you are ready to go.
From this point, businesses can set up a bespoke WhatsApp marketing campaign to further enhance their strategies. Marketing through WhatsApp ultimately becomes a personalised experience for the customer. But is WhatsApp social media? The communications app is fundamentally social in its function and businesses can employ it as a form of marketing software. With that said, let’s explore more on how businesses can engage with their customers with WhatsApp marketing.
How can a personal messaging app like WhatsApp help your business then? Undeniably its huge user base should be a convincing reason for marketers to commence a foray into this space. Every day there are millions of conversations and chat groups discussing any topic conceivable and it is most likely that your brand is among them.
Establishing your business on WhatsApp is advantageous because the conversations within the personal messaging app are essentially ‘personal’ in nature. Directly interacting with your customers through a communications app will indefinitely build a stronger relationship. With this instantaneous access to your business, WhatsApp can be an important part of your marketing strategy.
Communication on WhatsApp works on three levels - a personal conversation between two entities, the popular group chats where multiple people are involved in a discussion, or setting up a broadcast list to deliver announcements. All three modes are exceptional to be part of your marketing strategy depending on the context of your business’ goals.
Undoubtedly, one-on-one conversations with your customers deliver the most personalized version of customer service. It would definitely leave a lasting impression on your customers when they are able to directly contact a representative of your business.
Group chats promote better interaction between the different members on both sides of the business. Businesses can respond to requests and queries quickly. Brands can suggest newer solutions and introduce new products to their customer base through WhatsApp.
Through broadcast lists, this mode mimics product launches to customers who have a vested interest in your service. Marketing campaigns and customer retention programmes can be disseminated in double-quick time.
A Global Web Index study showed that the majority of communication app users now (84%) share information online. WhatsApp and its parent company’s proprietary personal communication app Facebook Messenger alone collectively corner the market with more than 3.3 billion users. Businesses cannot, and should not, ignore this fact.
WhatsApp users are diverse. Businesses need to recognise the benefits of this marketing opportunity. In the US, one in five adults uses the app, while India represents the biggest market with 340 million users. Currently, five million businesses have signed up for WhatsApp for business and are enjoying the benefits of an app that people use at least once a day.
WhatsApp works primarily as a private messaging service and this personalised domain accentuates the experience for a user. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enhance businesses’ public profiles whereas WhatsApp focuses on its private connections. This advantage strengthens the connection between businesses and their customers.
Businesses need to tap into the marketing opportunities that WhatsApp offers. Despite its initial introduction as a communication service for family and friends, WhatsApp has gradually optimised its functions for commercial or business use.
Businesses can send notifications to their customer base about their new products, updates on their opening hours, or even disruption of services in case of emergencies. This direct connection presents customers with vital information about your business and allows them to act in a way in which is seamless with their own operations.
WhatsApp does have a limitation to its group chat and broadcast list. The functions only allow 256 users to communicate at any given time. However, there are ways that businesses can use these limitations to their advantage.
One way is the compartmentalisation of their customer base. This is a significant advantage because it gives businesses the ability to set up chat groups or broadcast lists on WhatsApp based on certain specifications.
Businesses can group various clients and customers based on their industries, departments or even interests. This gives businesses the avenue to better cater to specific audiences within the sub-categories.
For businesses with more complex and larger customer bases, the WhatsApp Business API programme can optimise responses accordingly to the customer’s queries. Businesses can engage their customers with suggestions that prompt interaction with them.
Brands can also access marketing insights from Facebook IQ when they establish a business profile in WhatsApp. Through the WhatsApp Business API, messages can be sent efficiently to a larger customer base. Timely notifications can be sent to customers and this ultimately becomes a product launch or press release, but on a personalised scale.
To learn more about the value of API, check out how you can analyse and sort through different types of data here.
Recently Facebook announced that on 8 February 2021, the social media giant would be integrating WhatsApp’s data into its operations. This move would give Facebook uninhibited access to the messenger’s user data. The data would indefinitely boost opportunities for businesses to better advertise their products on Facebook.
The notification listed details about the messaging app’s key updates including how it processes user data and its partnership with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook suite of apps and how businesses can use Facebook-hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats.
In the long run, there will be more advertising opportunities in both Facebook and WhatsApp. The announcement of this update introduces new possibilities for marketing strategies within WhatsApp.
The synchronization of Facebook products and services with access to the user data within WhatsApp would revolutionise how messages are developed. The links between businesses and their customers will become more intertwined to each other.
In 2020, WhatsApp introduced secure digital payment in Brazil and India. This service is a boon for businesses in these countries, especially small startups, as it gives them a direct payment function. With marketing and advertising opportunities building within the ecosystems of WhatsApp and Facebook, businesses can have better access to diverse markets and customers.
Despite the advantages of having a payment function, customers still have reservations about sending payments through a messaging app. Thus WhatsApp built strong foundations with financial institutions in both countries to deliver the payment function. This is imperative because trust is essential between businesses and their customers. This trust inevitably leads to brand loyalty and longer business retention.
Looking to create a point of difference on customer service, health fund, Bupa, has launched a WhatsApp messaging channel that customers can use instead of waiting on hold.
It comes as more customers are calling contact centres due to COVID-19-related closures of Bupa retail stores. The WhatsApp service means customers who are on hold are given the option to use a secure WhatsApp message with a real person and instead of speaking with someone over the phone.
Bupa customer service director, Daryl Niemandt, told CMO it made sense for the fund to add in messaging as another communications option when it’s used so much in many people’s social lives already. “It made sense that some customers would prefer to communicate with us in this way,” Niemandt said.
“All businesses have busy times and using Messaging as an alternative to minimise on-hold times during peak periods seemed like a good place to start. We chose WhatsApp because of its wide-spread use and simple interface,” he said.
In Australia, health insurance company BUPA launched its WhatsApp business account to better serve its current and prospective customers. With the pandemic shutting down physical contact centres, customers had the option to message consultants as well as get information on insurance plans. Bupa customer service director, Daryl Niemandt, said introducing the messaging app as an option for customers was natural because it was part of many people’s social lives.
With contact centres being busy all the time, customers would appreciate a messaging option which they can communicate with at their own convenience. WhatsApp’s simple user interface and widespread take-up rate also favoured the company’s decision to implement the interactive channel.
With the help of a WhatsApp business account, online travel and activity booking website Klook received positive feedback and programme adoption rate in the Asia Pacific region. Using WhatsApp Business API, the online booking service increased customer satisfaction and increased customer retention through timely notifications.
Leveraging on the popularity of WhatsApp use in the region, Klook integrated its services with the platform to better serve its customers. Customers were more responsive to timely status updates on bookings. Being in the WhatsApp ecosystem, customers were more receptive to interaction with the businesses.
Alternatively, fast food chain Pollo Campero implemented its ordering system through a WhatsApp business account. The business wanted to streamline its ordering and delivery processes without using employing external service providers. The company partnered with Yalo to develop an AI-powered customer engagement system and rolled it out into WhatsApp.
This move allowed Pollo Campero to personalize their service with customers, boost orders and increase profit margins. The business also learnt more about their customers through the messaging app by studying their preferences. These insights ultimately helped to develop marketing strategies to promote new products and effectively inform their customers.
With all these new developments in WhatsApp, businesses need to act on these opportunities to boost their marketing and customer engagement. Undoubtedly, businesses can pounce on this advantage by implementing marketing campaigns and incorporating WhatsApp Business API.
As WhatsApp continues to develop its functions and integrate services with social media giant Facebook, there is still space to implement advertising opportunities and customer retention programmes. Many businesses are jumping on the WhatsApp bandwagon, it is time for your business to do so too.