It is hard to stand out these days as a business. There are new entrants into each market that pose significant competition while the more establish ones are even harder to dethrone. There are fewer options than they were in the past to make a mark.
It should be noted that the businesses that take time to build relationships with their customers are the ones that have been able to be profitable year in and year out. These companies can do so by using social media.
They have invested in social media marketing, and they are able to see results affecting their bottom line. Depending on the industry they have invested in Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and the rest. Although they are missing out on one of the biggest social media platforms that is right under their noses. The platform is WhatsApp.
Very few companies out there know the power of WhatsApp. They don’t know huge the messaging platform has become. As of this writing it has a billion users, it is in 109 counties and there are around 50 + billion message sent every day.
WhatsApp has more users than Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram put together. It is so effective in that when a message is sent, there is a 70% chance of it being opened. Which is 3 times more effective than email marketing.
WhatsApp is unique in the sense that business that are on there are able to show that they are actual human beings behind the brand. Making it more personal for both consumer and company and thus improves sales.
What is WhatsApp
In 2009 two ex-Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, came together and made a free communication tool. They are the ones who came up with WhatsApp.
From their vision they came up with a messaging platform that use the phones internet connection or Wi-Fi to:
- Send Messages,
- Send Images
- Send documents
- Send Audio files
- Make voice calls
- Make video calls
To other WhatsApp users.
Later, they developed a business version called WhatsApp Business. This version has the same features as the other version but has more features.
To get WhatsApp on Android and iOS, it is downloaded from the Google Play store and the App Store and installed on a smart phone. WhatsApp will go through the phone contacts to populate a list of people who are already on it. From there they can communicate with each other.
Many people all over the world prefer WhatsApp because
- It is free. The only other charges you get are data or Wi-Fi charges.
- It has proven to be more reliable than most ways to communicate.
- It is used in most countries in the world.
- Other than messages, videos, photos, audios and much more can be sent using the app.
WhatsApp Business App
In 2018, WhatsApp introduced WhatsApp Business for the business in mind. It initially started out on Android, but it was eventually released to iOS as well. WhatsApp Business has the same functionality as the normal WhatsApp but has a few extra additions:
- Profile – You can setup a business profile where you can list your email, physical address, and a description of yourself.
- Labels– with this you can label chats as new customers or ordered received to keep up with your customers.
- Quick replies – this is the best use I think of WhatsApp business. In that you can set and save quick replies to frequently asked questions. For example, questions on price and location can be easily setup.
- Away messages – as you won’t be always available you can set away messages and respond to them when you are back online
- Statistics – lastly, through this app you can see how many messages were sent, how many were delivered and finally how many were opened and read.
Benefits of WhatsApp
In 2021 and going towards the future, many people have realized the importance of their data. In the past many people didn’t care about who is collecting what but we have been made aware of how this information is used to manipulate us.
Many people use WhatsApp because it offers end to end encryption in that we know it’s only the recipient who will receive the message. We are also sure that no one else will have access to it.
Sometime in 2020 Facebook hinted that it would let third parties review our conversations but there was a lot of backlash from the users. Many users left WhatsApp and this caused Facebook to rethink their idea.
Improved customer relationships
Social media is all about relationship building. By using WhatsApp a business can build a relationship with its clients by sending regular non-intrusive messages. The customers in turn may chose to respond, or not or do it later. This makes them very comfortable in the relationship.
Through this the business can present new products or features or talk about promotions that could be running at a certain point in time.
Gone are the days of reading email newsletter, persistent phone calls and God forbid cringe worthy personal visits. WhatsApp solves these problems by providing an avenue for safe communication.
Higher Conversion rate
Building from the previous point of improved customer relationships, the conversion rate of businesses is much higher. This is because the consumers are more willing to respond to marketing messages from the business. This helps them move down the marketing funnel until they become clients as well as advocates for the products and services.
With a higher open rate of 70% many marketing messages reach their intended audience while at the same time encourage them to buy.
Through building relationships through WhatsApp communication, the business can consult its customers and find out which products or services they are more interested in. They can include customers in researching what the market needs by posing questions on how to improve their products or service.
The result is that customers will love being part of the process and will be proud of the result. This will also encourage them to be product or service evangelists, brand loyal and retain them as customers for a longer period.
In the past customer research was very expensive as you would have to hire a third party to go out to the field to survey customers. This was also an issue as the information gotten was sometimes biased as not everyone is willing to sit and answer questions.
Although through WhatsApp you can segment your customers to the ones who are very interested and invested in your products. The ones who would want to make more of what you produce, and they are more than willing to help.
When an order is made and is being delivered, a WhatsApp message can be sent to the customer to tell him or her when to expect delivery. This has been very effective especially in airlines in whereby there could be a potential delay, airlines have been able to communicate with their passengers very early.
This has also proven to be advantageous due to the pandemic. Our new normal is very fluid in that things change rapidly, and information has to be communicated quickly. What better way to reach your customers than through WhatsApp?
For ecommerce sellers, WhatsApp business has a catalog tool. The catalog tool acts as a mobile store front whereby the business can list up to 500 products. Customers can look at the items on sale without ever leaving the app.
- Maximum of 500 products or services.
- Each product or service can include a title, price, description, product code and link to the product on your website.
- Each product has an image.
- You can share links from the catalog in WhatsApp conversations.
Improve customer support
You don’t have to create a whole customer service department, especially on a tight budget. If the users have a question or a complaint about the product or service they can simply message you.
This gives you the opportunity to act quickly and help remedy the solution. Preventing the person going online and complaining negatively about your business.
There could be common questions asked by customers in which you can preempt and send automated responses when they are asked. This helps to speed up customer service process.
WhatsApp Marketing Strategies
Every marketing objective must have a goal(s). These goals direct all the marketing activity and they offer a benchmark to determine if any progress is being made.
Using WhatsApp, the goals could be different. They could be:
- Helping clients buy the products or services
- Reminding clients of new items
- Acting as support for the business.
By choosing any of the above goals, the business can come up with several strategies to reach the goals. The benefit of WhatsApp is that through communicating with the clients its quicker to identify problems and act on them.
Not every client is created equal. There are some who buy once while there are others who buy frequently and become brand advocates. Using WhatsApp you can segment your customers and send different groups the appropriate marketing messages.
This also works well when you are moving clients through the buying cycle. There are those individuals who need to be reminded more often than the others to what you are selling. While others you will learn early they would be a waste of time or just cost more to acquire them as customers.
Knowing the audience will also help come up with a much better buyer persona. Through this you will be able to see how best to target new clients.
Social media has humanized companies. No longer are the days when some business would seem unapproachable because of rigid structures. Nowadays businesses know they need to be better at showing their clients that there are people behind the brands and would love to connect.
This makes more people comfortable talking to them to help sort out any potential issues. It has been researched that people are happier talking to other people. When the person is completely satisfied, they can become clients and then if you are lucky your brand ambassadors.
Lastly, talking through WhatsApp is personal as they have given you, their number. This is very intimate and subconsciously the clients trust you and would like to engage with you as a friend.
With this you can show who you are by communicating about fun things about your life or business but still be able to be professional. Personas ensure that the client feels like he or she is talking to a real person rather than a chat bot.
For example, Apple users are known to be fun and trend setting while Nike customers are athletic and are on the go.
WhatsApp marketing is the perfect example of permission-based marketing. This is because before you are able to communicate with someone on WhatsApp the person needs to have given you, their number. There is nowhere where you can buy a bunch of numbers and start sending random messages.
To get people to give you their number, you can get their details through subscription forms whereby you offer them something for free and then they give you, their digits.
Like every other marketing channel, you will need a good number of WhatsApp contacts for it to be effective. The number will obviously depend on the industry and the size of your business.
Design your messages
What you send to your clients really matters. This is because there is a high open rate and when they realize your messages are not to their liking, they will either stop opening or block you.
The first thing to think about is message frequency. We all have that one annoying friend who sends messages too often. This can be the same case with businesses. As a company you should send at least 5 – 10 messages in a week. Once or twice a day.
When it comes to the actual message, too much promotional material will put people off. Like other social platforms, your content should be entertaining, educative and a bit of promotion. The content should be short. Most people don’t have time to read lengthy communication.
The type of content can vary due to WhatsApp’s flexibility. You can send messages, pictures, videos, gifs and songs. When it comes to text messages, you have the options of using emojis, italics and putting certain words in bold.
Responding to messages
Many people expect a quick response when they send a WhatsApp message. They are impatient and expect a reply within the hour. This is taxing for most businesses as they aren’t available to reply immediately.
It could be even that the message has been sent after hours and there is nobody on the desk to respond.
Luckily WhatsApp has messaging tools such as “Away Message”, “Greeting Message”, and “Quick Replies”. This lets you as a company to respond immediately and give you an opportunity to talk later in depth. These automatic messages can be preset and followed up later.
WhatsApp Marketing Options
Here are the various options that you can use to communicate with your customer base.
This is the most non-intrusive way to market your product and services. Through WhatsApp status you can showcase your business without being directly in the face of your clients.
With WhatsApp status you can post content that will be live for 24 hours and then it will disappear. You can post videos, images, gifs, and your location.
This will be by far the most common type of communication that will be there. In fact, it is even encouraged to talk to your customers this way. You can respond to each individual customer making him or her feel special. The outcome of this is usually a loyal customer depending on if the problem has been solved.
Through this type of communication, you have the option of chatting, voice calls, lastly video calls. The last two options are great since you can communicate with people all over the world at no extra cost.
Broadcasting through WhatsApp is sending many people the same message unlike one-on-one conversation. Broadcasting is like the blind carbon copy in emails but on the flipside the recipients will not see the other people who have been contacted. They will see the message as if they are the only ones have gotten the communication.
Broadcasts are great because they allow you to create awareness about a new product or service; and your brand.
You can send a broadcasted message to 256 people at the same time.
Personally, this is the selling point for WhatsApp. This is where you can create a group of 256 contacts where you can communicate with them. Unlike Broadcasts, everyone can see what is being communicated and they can respond to one another.
The best part is you can have different groups of people who are like minded. You can have a group of your best customers where you share exclusive deals and discounts thanking them for their loyalty.
The groups feature encourages customers to talk to each other and publicly discuss the products and services. Through this information you can find out what are potential problems and solutions and find ways to fix them.
Most WhatsApp users are familiar to how groups work and many of them leave if the messages become off brand or off topic. There is a likelihood for many users to avoid joining new groups because they are already in too many groups. Hence it is advised not to just add a person to the group but get their permission first.
WhatsApp has proven to be an incredible marketing tool if used correctly. It can be used for customer service, resolving queries, tracking progress, and building relationships.
There is a growing trend that people are more comfortable to talking to chatbots, but WhatsApp takes it a step further by communication with a real person. This makes it easier for both parties to get what they want. Consumers get answers and the business can build a relationship.
The best part about WhatsApp so far is that it is free and is used by many people around the world. It is easy to use and intuitive.
Meta knows the value of it and are pouring in many resources to update it and ensure it remains appealing to many people all over the world.