5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Many social networks started off focusing on personal relationships and connections centering around lifestyles. However, companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat realized the value of inviting businesses and brands to participate in their social networks to connect them with consumers.
WhatsApp has joined in by offering WhatsApp Business, a free app for small business owners and startup founders that can be used on Android and iOS mobile devices. The app offers a way to interact and engage with customers in a direct, personal and targeted way.
WhatsApp Business provides two types of accounts for companies that suit different needs. The regular business account helps separate personal and work messages while providing a convenient way to be responsive to customers. Options also include automated greeting and away messages. The app does require a separate SIM or phone number if you want to have both a personal and WhatsApp Business account.
Growing companies might want to consider the WhatsApp Business API account designed for larger enterprises. This pay-to-use platform allows for multiple users, providing opportunities for both sales and customer service teams to interact with customers.
Messaging tools for engagement
One of the most important aspects of WhatsApp Business is its messaging capability, which connects a brand to its audience and customer base. With open messaging options, a company can send unlimited free messages in multiple formats. Automation features also provide a way to deliver timely responses.
The messaging system encourages proactive contact with your audience. If you have a customer or lead’s phone number, you can use WhatsApp Business to send an initial welcome message to each contact. While you won’t want to overdo it by sending too many messages, this channel becomes an alternative or additional channel to connect with your target audience or existing customers.
There is also a broadcast tool, which allows you to send any type of content to up to 256 people on each broadcast list you have created. Although contacts will only receive the broadcast if they have saved your number, this is an efficient way to send out a campaign quickly. You can also segment your contacts and then create broadcast campaigns related to appointments, shipping information and booking requests that match those groups or personas.
Group messaging is another engagement and collaboration tool. Similar to broadcasting, this tool offers group chat capability so that everyone can interact and see contact details. Available for up to 256 contacts in one group, the tool is effective for networking, beta testing, focus groups and service meetings.
Business presence and awareness
Multiple statistics point to the benefits of using WhatsApp Business. According to WhatsApp, there are 2 billion WhatsApp users around the world as of 2020. The number of users has been increasing at the extraordinary rate of half a billion every two years. Of this audience, Statista noted that 1.6 billion users access the messaging app each month (Statista, 2019), which is 23 percent more than its closest competitor, Facebook Messenger.
As part of the Facebook family of companies, you can use WhatsApp Business to further grow your online presence and reach an even wider audience. One appealing option is to link the app to a Facebook Page. Doing so can help you funnel traffic through various tools like a WhatsApp Send Message Button, Facebook Ads, or a WhatsApp number listed on your Facebook page.
A showcase for your products and services
WhatsApp Business provides ways to market and sell your products or services through features like the WhatsApp Business Catalog and WhatsApp Cart. The catalog feature provides a way to share product and service listings with customers. You can spotlight what you offer with photos, descriptions and pricing information. Links from your catalog or even each item within it can be shared across all your other channels.
Customers can also add items to their cart after viewing them in the catalog as well as use the messaging tools to confirm a transaction with your business. The app also works well for those companies that have physical storefronts. For example, you can physically display your WhatsApp Business QR code so customers can scan it in the store, easily adding you so they may interact with your business online.
Analytics to help understand your customers
There are some options that provide a way to track key metrics about customers. The WhatsApp Business API product delivers analytics on the number of messages sent and delivered from certain phone numbers. Other metrics include the number of messages that selected phone numbers received from recipients. You will also be able to stay on top of the total estimated amount spent on messages. The metrics are stored in the Insights tab, but the data can also be exported and segmented by phone number, message type and country.
Expanding channel connections
WhatsApp Business provides another channel to make connections with your target audience and engage with customers. Start by researching and understanding how to use it, and then assess if it makes sense for your business. If you are looking for new ways to interact with customers, work across offline and online channels, and access additional metrics about your customers, then WhatsApp Business might be a good addition to your marketing tactics.