WhatsApp Marketing for Business: A Guide to Getting Started

WhatsApp Marketing for Business: A Guide to Getting Started

But how can you effectively use WhatsApp for marketing? What is WhatsApp? WhatsApp is a free mobile app that uses your phone’s internet connection to let you chat with other WhatsApp users, without SMS text message charges. There’s also a web app and desktop versions for Mac or Windows PCs, but you need to have it installed on your mobile phone first, since each WhatsApp account is tied directly to a single phone number. WhatsApp uses the phone numbers from your phone’s contact list to show you an up-to-date directory of WhatsApp users who you already know. One-to-one chat Like other chat programs, you can chat directly with another user who is in your phone’s contact list. Surprisingly, users of WhatsApp and similar services are willing to engage with businesses. According to Nielsen’s Facebook Messaging Survey, 67 percent of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years. WhatsApp marketing tools WhatsApp has launched a Business App they say was “built with the small business owner in mind.” The app is free to download, and currently only available for Android devices. While WhatsApp isn’t as feature-rich as Facebook Messenger for marketing, it is moving in that direction.

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Image via Daria Nepriakhina under CC0 1.0

When you think of social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter probably come to mind immediately. But messenger apps have actually caught up to social networks in terms of users. And increasingly messenger apps are being used for marketing.

The leader in most of the world is WhatsApp (a pun on the phrase “what’s up”), with 1.5 billion monthly active users around the world.

That kind of market penetration can’t be ignored. But how can you effectively use WhatsApp for marketing? Like all relatively unexplored frontiers, there are equal measures of risk and reward for early adopters. Here’s our marketer’s guide to WhatsApp.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a free mobile app that uses your phone’s internet connection to let you chat with other WhatsApp users, without SMS text message charges. The app also lets you share files and images, and supports free voice and video calls.

Its support for a wide range of phones has made it especially popular in areas with high SMS charges, including Brazil, Mexico, and Malaysia—where 60 percent of the population uses WhatsApp. In fact, it’s the most popular alternative to SMS in 109 countries, or 55.6 percent of the world.

While Facebook acquired WhatsApp for US$19 billion in February 2014, it’s been operating as a separate entity since then, and hasn’t yet seen the same marketing-friendly features as Facebook Messenger.

How to use WhatsApp

WhatsApp has versions for iPhone, Android, Windows phone, and the Nokia S40. There’s also a web app and desktop versions for Mac or Windows PCs, but you need to have it installed on your mobile phone first, since each WhatsApp account is tied directly to a single phone number.

Once you download and install the app, you need to confirm your country and enter your telephone number. To set up your profile, you can either import your Facebook information with a single click, or manually add an image and add a profile name (which you can change later).

WhatsApp uses the phone numbers from your phone’s contact list to show you an up-to-date directory of WhatsApp users who you already know. Anyone who has your phone number in their phone’s address book will automatically see your listing, too, unless you change your privacy settings.

There are three basic ways to share messages, photos, and videos using WhatsApp.

One-to-one chat

Like other chat programs, you can chat directly with another user who is in your phone’s contact list. You can also call or video call them, or even record snippets of audio to text to them.

Broadcast lists

When you send a message to a broadcast list, it will go to anyone in the list who has your number saved in their phones’ address book. They’ll see the message as a normal message, similar to the BCC (blind carbon copy) function in email. If they reply, it will appear as a normal, one-to-one message in your chats screen, and their reply won’t be sent to anyone else in that broadcast list. Broadcast lists are limited to 256 contacts.

Groups

Group chats let you message with up to 256 people at once, sharing messages, photos, and videos. Everyone in the group chat can chime in and also see everyone else’s responses.

Why should you use WhatsApp for business?

The best reason to use WhatsApp for business is that many of your customers are probably already using it. More than 60 billion messages are sent through WhatsApp every single day.

Surprisingly, users of WhatsApp and similar services are willing to engage with businesses. According to Nielsen’s Facebook Messaging Survey, 67 percent of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years. What’s more, 53 percent of respondents say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.

If your customers and prospects are young, they’re more likely to be comfortable using messaging apps for their day-to-day communication. A study by Pew Research Center shows that 42 percent of smartphone owners between 18 and 29 years old use messaging apps like WhatsApp, compared with only 19 percent of smartphone owners who are 50 or older.

Plus, messaging apps like WhatsApp have incredible engagement rates: 98 percent of mobile messages are opened and read, with…

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