Every brand and agency at some point in time has thought of implementing a WhatsApp Marketing Strategy. Let us begin with some key statistics that make WhatsApp a platform, which should not be ignored by brands and agencies-
- There are more than 1.5 billion active users on WhatsApp.
- The service is present in more than 100+ countries all over the world.
- There are over 450 million WhatsApp Status stories shared. This is more than even Snapchat stories or Instagram stories.
- People in 100+ countries send over 65 billion WhatsApp messages per day. This translates into 29 million messages per minute.
- Facebook is looking to monetize WhatsApp Status through advertising in the coming months.
This list of statistics is powerful and thought-provoking to say the least. In spite of being a relatively simple platform, most brands are not being able to push accessibility. If you are looking for an innovative digital marketing strategy, you should definitely try WhatsApp Marketing.
WhatsApp Marketing- History and Basics:
Two ex-Yahoo employees, Brian Acton, and Jan Koum started WhatsApp in 2009. They saw the infinite power of free messaging that cut across telecom providers, countries and continents.
The current rage at the time, BBM, was a paid service, restricted to users of a particular cell device. Over the course of its history, WhatsApp continued to build itself with small investments from some major players in the tech industry.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for a record-shattering $19 Billion USD. This remains the largest acquisition made by Facebook. It is, in fact, one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech space ever.
To many observers and commentators, WhatsApp is a far potent platform than Facebook’s Messenger. In order to curb WhatsApp’s growing influence, Mark Zuckerberg had to make the acquisition.
This means that the monetizing capabilities of WhatsApp are something that Facebook will always look to exploit.
In 2019, you can share different content mediums on WhatsApp like-
- Text (native as well as vernacular languages)
- Audio Files
- Video Files
- Contact Details
- Real-Time Location
This means as a platform, it is capable of catering to different forms of content types. Traditional social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram or others do not offer half the sharing capabilities.
What makes WhatsApp great as a digital marketing platform is the unending level of personalization. Personalization, along with customization helps brands establish a direct relationship with clients and consumers.
Why WhatsApp Marketing is great for Businesses?
In the last section, I have already discussed very briefly about some of the advantages of WhatsApp. In this section, I would like to list some actionable ways in which brands can benefit from WhatsApp Marketing.
1. WhatsApp Marketing helps in Repeat Customers:
Most brands try to ensure long-lasting relationships with their customers. Almost all points of sale ask you for your cell number when making purchases. Be it small groceries, departmental stores, or even car dealerships.
The key is to engage your customers through WhatsApp messages on a regular basis. Some of the forms of communications can be about-
- New offers, discounts, and the announcement of ‘Sale’ Period
- Invitations to Events, Product Launches or get-togethers
- A simple Thank-You message for being a gracious and valued consumer
- Holiday messages and greetings
- Distribution of Freebies and add-on services.
I have just listed five forms of communications. Brands and agencies can also explore other forms according to their KPIs.
By staying in the headspace of the consumer even after s/he has made the purchase, you can rest assured of closing a sale in the near future.
2. WhatsApp Marketing is more effective than SMS Campaigns:
When was the last time, you checked your SMS messages if it was not an OTP? I guess that there are over 500+ unread SMS messages in your folder.
Can I ask you a question? How many unread messages are there on your WhatsApp?
If you are being honest, I am assuming that the figure would be far less than your SMS folder. This is because the usability and engaging nature of WhatsApp makes it a tool to be used more often.
According to stats, 95% of all WhatsApp messages are opened within two days of receiving. This number is over 60% higher than traditional forms of messaging.
In terms of ROIs, WhatsApp has far greater effects than any social media marketing channel. The nature of the platform makes it appealing, engaging, entertaining and productive. It not only helps brands but also great for users and consumers.
3. The Best Customer Response Tool or Software in the Market:
Is it better to invest thousands of dollars in a complicated Customer Relationship Software, or do one free? I believe that WhatsApp Marketing is the next evolution of customer relationship management.
It is simple, uncomplicated and free. By engaging and reaching out to consumers directly, brands can offer unlimited value to their users. Of late, many flights and ticketing platforms have started using WhatsApp to pass notifications.
Rather than going to your email and opening your flight ticket, opening one on WhatsApp is far more convenient. For brands looking to undertake a massive image rebuilding exercise, WhatsApp Marketing is the platform of choice.
You can add a maximum of 256 members to one group. This also helps in segmenting consumers according to zones, areas and pin code. This helps you cover a wide geographical area and touch as many consumers as possible.
4. The Fastest Turnaround Time and Decision Making Software:
If you talk to any digital marketing expert, the first business advantage of WhatsApp Marketing is immediacy. In other words, no other platform offers such quick turnaround times than WhatsApp does.
You can respond to customers on the go, finalize deals, display a new product, and take orders. All in one cab ride! When it comes to responding to complaints, most brands try to use a WhatsApp first approach. This helps them respond to their consumers within minutes.
The faster the response, the better will be your credibility and lesser chances of escalations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a WhatsApp Marketing executive of a big fashion brand enjoyed six-figure salaries. When I asked her why she said that she was making more than thousands of dollars in sales every day!
5. Facebook’s plan for WhatsApp in the coming months:
If you have been following news from the tech world, you will know that Facebook has big plans for WhatsApp. The first amongst which is monetizing the platform with ads in ‘Status’.
I have already mentioned that there are over 450 Million WhatsApp Status Stories that are posted. This means that there is a phenomenal opportunity for brands to explore this new avenue for digital marketing.
As with most digital marketing strategies, the first mover’s advantage will be critical for brands. I am certain that some of the biggest brands are already working on a robust and high ROI driven WhatsApp Marketing strategy in line with the new announcements.
Whenever something new is launched, it is cheap, inexpensive and offers great returns. The new proposed changes by Facebook in status is going to be the same. Brands and agencies should adapt to this change and explore WhatsApp Marketing.
Best Practices of WhatsApp as a Digital Marketing Strategy:
Every digital platform comes with its own set of challenges. In the case of WhatsApp, it is its intrusive nature. There is a feeling that WhatsApp has the danger of converting itself into a spammy platform.
In order to avoid this, brands and agencies can follow the following best practices. These best practices will help carve your identity, appear as an attractive proposition and build credibility.
1 Build your Online Persona:
Always remember that adding consumers on WhatsApp groups should be done at their behest. Meaning, as a brand, you should not go about adding people and messaging them. This is where brands need to be innovative and offer something of value to consumers.
By offering some special benefits to consumers, brands can win over their WhatsApp numbers. For example, some years back Delhi Police started an anti-corruption drive against errant police officers. They asked users to report instances on Delhi Police’s Official WhatsApp Number.
More than 23000 users reported some instance or the other on their own. Delhi Police had more than 23000 WhatsApp numbers of citizens. Likewise, brands too can announce some exclusive invitation party or product launch.
By encouraging users to send in their numbers or engage with you on their will, you will never assume a spammy character.
2. Offer Great Content and Service for Free:
Before you want to start a WhatsApp Marketing strategy, ask yourself one crucial question- why would anyone want to respond to your communication?
In order to answer this, you need to think of your communication as a form of value addition for someone. If your consumers or prospects are benefitting from your communication, congratulate yourself. If they are blocking you, or leaving the group, rethink the strategy.
What kind of content would encourage a response? A great Sale announcement, a new product launch, a meet-and-greet with a celebrity and similar events are great value attractions.
This will help ensure a certain level of attention and engagement. Whenever consumers get your message, they will always pay attention to it, as you are offering definite value.
My tip- send a message across with communication like- the first 100 people to respond get 50% off, or an irresistible freebie!
3. Create an Exclusive Club and Engage continuously:
Most brands fail to understand the difference between clients and patrons. If any brand wants to succeed, it needs to have its patrons. No matter how big or small you are, patrons are the key in terms of growing your brand, getting feedback and ensuring quality.
For a brand like Nike, its sports stars and movie stars are its patrons. They contribute heavily to product development, style, new launches, themes, collaborations and the like, Likewise, for small brands, the neighborhood influential family can be your patron.
You can create a WhatsApp group with 100 close members and engage with them continuously. They will be the first ring of your customer circle. These are regular customers, which take great interest in your brand.
Ask them for feedback, invite them to new launches, make them feel special. A brand needs just 100 top consumers to grow to a certain stage.
There is an inside joke in digital marketing circles. You can say it is a sort of a prediction. People say that once Instagram loses its sheen, organic reach, and attraction, Mark Zuckerberg is going to turn his attention to WhatsApp.
In the last few months, Instagram has been rocked with allegations of limited organic reach, fake social media influencers, and hour-long blackouts. Simultaneously, news about monetizing ad space on WhatsApp status was announced by the parent, Facebook.
I have always been a firm believer of not playing catch-up, especially when the risks are less. When it comes to WhatsApp Marketing, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Getting a head start on your competitors will always hold you in good stead when WhatsApp Marketing blows up.
By being creative innovative and authentic on WhatsApp, you can win over your audiences. You can also create a sales funnel for repeat customers through tracking sheets. In terms of bumping sales through activations, WhatsApp is the preferred medium of choice.
When Mark Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp for $19 Billion USD, he was asked a question. This question was asked at the World Mobile Conference in Barcelona in 2014. They asked him as to why he paid so much money for a platform that does not generate any money at all. He answered-
“We see WhatsApp on a path to connecting more than 1 billion people. There are very few services that can reach that many and they are all incredibly valuable.”