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WhatsApp Marketing: The new way to reach your customers!

When you’re thinking about different marketing channels to talk and engage with your ideal customers, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Probably Facebook with its 2.167 billion active users. Maybe Instagram with it’s 800 million active user? What about Twitter with its 330 million active users or LinkedIn that has 260 million active users. You’re probably on there too.

But what if we would tell you there is another platform out there, it is text-based, has more users than Instagram and LinkedIn combined. And we’re pretty sure you’re not on there yet.

It’s called WhatsApp.

And even though email marketing is crucial, giving you an open rate of maybe around 30% (if you’re doing an okay job), and that 30% is already way higher than you would ever get organically on Facebook. The average text message gets an open rate of around 98%.

That is the reason why chatbots work so well too. And that is precisely the reason that makes WhatsApp the most engaging marketing channel on the planet.

The reason why you probably never thought about using it as a marketing channel is that there has never been any real tool to help you manage your account and start engaging with your “followers” unless you had that one mobile phone on which the client with your business number was installed.

There’s also no advertising on WhatsApp, so the natural and lazy route of just buying some ads will get you nowhere.

So what do you need to do? When you also can’t track your success, you can’t search for groups to automatically join and promote your stuff?

Right now is the moment to start taking action, build a massive following, and start engaging with your real fans before all marketers all over the world start to figure out they are missing on this vast opportunity and spoil it for everyone.

What’s WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a (mobile) application that allows you to send messages for free to anyone in the want.

But wait can’t I do that with iMessage as well?

Sure if all your friends and customers are just using iPhones, but that’s not how the world is working.

WhatsApp was created in 2009 by two ex-Yahoo employees who wanted to make free communication available to everyone. From there, they went on a train ride, since they were the fastest company ever to 450 million active monthly users, and ended up getting acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.

That is almost twenty times as much Facebook paid for Instagram, that’s how important it seemed for Facebook at the time.

And it seems the bet paid out to be true, over the years WhatsApp has grown evermore, and now you can use it not just for sending messages, but also for:

  • images
  • voice messages
  • your location
  • videos
  • documents
  • GIF’s (our favourite)

You can even use it do voice and video calls, and in that sense, they are fighting (and it seems they are winning) the war to overtake Skype for voice calls.

We already talked about chatbots before and how significant the market share of Facebook Messenger use is. But think about it, if you combine Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, in total they account for 79% of the entire messaging market (sending three times as many messages per day than SMS already in 2016).

If that isn’t a big enough reason yet to start including WhatsApp as part of your marketing mix.

One side note before we continue though:

If you want to start efficiently communicate with your customers and leads using WhatsApp, one of the most important things is that these people should have your contact number saved.

There was a time with email marketing that you could just purchase some external database and send a cold email to them. Everyone now knows that is frowned upon and not a right way to start a relationship. But WhatsApp is even more personal, so what do you think will happen if you start sending unsolicited messages using WhatsApp?

The next reaction would probably be a “BLOCKED FOR LIFE”.

That is not something you want to risk as a person, let alone a business. WhatsApp takes the consent from Email Marketing one level higher, your customers and leads need to save your number to their contact list.

This level of intimacy with your customers is something not to take to lightly. If you invade their privacy, you’re doing it all wrong, and as a result, you need to start getting creative to collect phone numbers and have them accept you as a way to contact them directly.

Why use the WhatsApp for Business app instead of the normal WhatsApp app

If you’re still here, it means we at least piqued your interest, and you want to see what WhatsApp can do for your business. The logical thing to do now would be to download the WhatsApp from the AppStore or the Google Play Store.

However, before doing that, let’s help you set up your business on WhatsApp properly.

If you’re already using WhatsApp on your phone for personal use, there is not a way to use a second account on that same phone (and for scalability purposes you don’t want to have it your business tied to your personal number).

So what to do? In the past, you bought a second sim card, got a spare phone and set up an account like that. However, since the beginning of 2018, WhatsApp released a new application called WA Business (WhatsApp for Business).

 

The WhatsApp Business app though is available for both Android and IOS. WA Business was built with the small business owner in mind and as a result, should be the de facto standard for your business to start using WhatsApp.

Businesses can interact with their customers efficiently by using tools to automate, sort and quickly responds to messages, some of the advantages over the “normal” consumer version?

  • Business Profiles; you can create a business profile with helpful information for your customers like your address, business description, email address, and website.
  • Quick Replies; by using quick replies you can save and re-use the message you frequently need to send. This way you can easily answer your most asked questions in no-time.
  • Automated Messages; Just like chatbots, you can set automated messages. We understand that even though your customers are across the world, you as a business owner sometimes still need some sleep, or when you’re in a meeting, it might be difficult to answer as well. Your customers and leads, on the other hand, are expecting a response straight away. With automated messages, you can do that, or maybe create a welcome message to introduce potential customers to your business.
  • Message Statistics; Get insights into essential metrics such as how many of your messages were successfully sent, delivered, and read.
  • Labels; making it easier for you to organise your contacts or chats with labels, so you can easily find them again.
  • Creating a business profile using a regular landline instead of a phone number

And the last killer feature, if you still have a landline phone, you can now use your landline number to create an account. All in all, good reasons to use WA Business over a standard account.

How to reach your target audience on WhatsApp

After you’ve set up your business account on WhatsApp, it is time to start thinking about ways to reach your audience. Based on the introduction we gave about the platform, you might get a better picture of how people are using the app.

Mostly WhatsApp is being used as a messaging platform for people, for families and friends to reach out to each other, to discuss personal things, to try to talk that cute person into going on a second date with you. The first thing you need to start thinking of is how you and your business can fit into these conversations.

Maybe you need to customise and adapt your brand persona a bit or create a virtual person that is acting on behalf of your company. But whatever you do, since you’re trying to talk to your (potential) customers in a space they are used to informal conversations, you need to create an appealing brand persona for them to engage with.

So let’s say you want to start handling customer support using WhatsApp, you can create a unique number just for this function. Then you can create a “real person” to manage it, let’s say “Steve from customer support”. By doing this, you’re directly making the conversation a lot more personal, even though different people might handle customer support, it still gives a feeling of a real person that your customers are talking too.

Talking to “Steve from customer support”, lowers the barrier for conversations, and (busy) people find it a lot more comforting knowing there is a real person and not a bot on the other side of the chat, exchanging pictures of products they are interested in, asking questions, etc.

Start growing an audience

Although you might have an entire contact list already on the phone of people you’ve communicated within the past, you can’t push any messages to them if they don’t have your (new) business number stored in their phone.

One of the ways to start communicating with your audience is by starting to put a button on your website so they can quickly start a conversation with you.

You can do this, for example, by implementing the little widget button from WhatsHelp. Just following the instructions on their website will have you set up a way to communicate with your customer even quicker than it took to set up your WhatsApp for Business account.

Another great common way is by offering something of value in exchange for their phone number. This can be a lead magnet, a promotion, a freebie, some valuable information they could want. You can go as creative as you’re imagination runs, by making an attractive promotion you make it easier for people to share their number with you.

Using the automated messages function, you can send them the promo offer straight away. Don’t forget to offer more than just an automated message with the promo offer though, try to engage with them from the get-go so you can start building those relationships.

What can you do with Whatsapp Business

Providing customer support

When you’re a small business or startup, it can be challenging to provide an entire customer support desk for your customers. By using WA Business, even companies tight on cash can afford to answer questions their customers might be directed towards them quickly.

The beautiful thing as well, of course, is that the app supports all sorts of media. This means next to text; you can use audio, video, maybe even a quick call to provide excellent customer support.

A great example of this and the first airline with a verified account is KLM. KLM noticed the most their customers want a faster way to get an answer to their questions after all flying can be stressful enough! That’s why they opened a dedicated customer support account, where you can receive your booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass, and flight status updates.

Be sure to use the WA desktop apps as well (or make use of the automated messages when you’re not there), to make sure you can respond more easily; people are used to real-time communication on WhatsApp so be sure to give your customers what they expect for the best experience.

Getting feedback and doing consumer research

One of the great things about having a more intimate relationship with your customers is that you can take the interaction and participation to the next level. By actively including your customers in the creation and build process of your product or service you can strengthen that relationship very easily, while at the same time learn a lot of interesting information.

The beautiful thing as well, of course, is that the app supports all sorts of media. This means next to text; you can use audio, video, maybe even a quick call to provide excellent customer support.

Using WA Business can be an inexpensive and quick way to do some research and generate customer feedback.

Not sure what kind of flavours you should add to your store? Ask your customer to between different options.

Want to know which feature you should work on next for your startup? Ask your customers.

Instead of having to call an individual customer, or send an email hoping they would read it, you can create questions inside your different segmented groups. Customer participation is always a great way to get relevant answers for your business. Using WA Business is doing marketing research quickly and efficiently, and best of all, it is free!

Using the feedback you get from these chats, you can make changes to your offering and set up promotions for specific products. Be sure to make the conversation as natural as possible though; you don’t want to become intrusive so that they might start to block you again.

And of course don’t forget to reward your most loyal responders with special offers and coupons to encourage future engagement, long-term customer retention and brand loyalty.

To get reviews and ratings

You can get your customers to review your product or service. Give them links or options to reply to a survey.

WhatsApp being a go-to platform for communication can actually motivate your customers to give you more accurate feedback. Give them innovative ways to give feedback and they will actually interact with you.

To send reminders

Just like keeping your customers informed about their order status, you can also use it to send reminders.

Millennials and even Gen Y folks have becoming used to checking WhatsApp on a daily basis much like (or maybe much less than) a newspaper.

Which means that if they have a policy that needs renewing or a flight that needs to be boarded the next day, you can send a message reminding them of it. This way you can also reduce the risk of them missing out on important deadlines.

Getting creative using the WhatsApp Status feature

Remember that moment in 2017 when every company out there was cloning the “stories” feature of Snapchat? Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Instagram and of course WhatsApp could not be left behind as well.

 

WhatsApp was used as an add-on to the existing service that was accessible via social media platforms. But by using WhatsApp, it enabled a much more direct and personal element, with questions being answered the moment you needed them the most.

For us, this is an excellent example of how to use content marketing in its purest form. By offering a place for educational content, helping your consumers in a way that the product itself is offering assistance as well.