In this insight, we look at some of the many ways you can use ‘WhatsApp Business’ to boost your marketing and connect with customers to provide a more personalised service.
What Is WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is a version of the popular encrypted app that was introduced in January 2018 which is specifically focused on the needs of business and is designed for small and medium business owners. It’s free to download use the app but if you want the free WhatsApp Messenger app (which many businesspeople already use) and the Business version on the same phone, you will need to use and verify a separate phone number, e.g. a virtual number.
For larger businesses (50+ users) WhatsApp offers a premium, paid-for Enterprise version – WhatsApp Cloud.
The Key Benefits of Using WhatsApp Business For Your Business Communications
Some of the key benefits of using WhatsApp Business for business communications include:
– It’s cost-effective, i.e. it’s free for small businesses to use and therefore reduces costs related to customer service phone calls and traditional SMS.
– It offers businesses a platform to have real-time, direct conversations with customers and has global reach (180+ countries).
– It has end-to-end encryption, meaning it’s secure and private between the business and the customer.
– You can share many different kinds of media (rich media), e.g. images, videos, documents, and other media to provide product details, answer queries, or offer support.
– Conversations with customers (and other stakeholders) are organised in chats that can be easily categorised and filtered.
– It enables automated greetings, away messages, and quick replies, thereby allowing businesses to respond promptly, even when not actively managing the account.
– A dedicated business profile provides customers with essential details such as business hours, location, and website.
– Businesses can receive a green verified badge, assuring customers they’re communicating with a genuine business.
– It can be integrated with CRM tools and other business systems to streamline your operations.
Personalised Service Is Valued By Customers
WhatsApp Business enables a more personalised services and there are many studies showing that consumers / customers value a more personalised service. For example:
– Epsilon’s “The Power of Me” Study (2018) revealed that 80 per cent of customers said they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalised experiences.
– SmarterHQ’s Privacy & Personalisation Report (2019) showed that 72 per cent of consumers said they only engage with marketing messages that are tailored to their interests, i.e. people may be concerned about privacy but they still value personalisation.
– Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” Report (2020/2021) where 66 per cent of customers said they expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 52 per cent said they expect offers to always be personalised.
What’s Different About WhatsApp Business?
Some of the key features and their benefits that WhatsApp Business offers that the normal free version doesn’t include:
– A Business Profile that allows companies to present professional information such as business name, description, address, phone number, and website, enhancing trust and credibility.
– Automated messages, which enable timely communication with customers by scheduling greetings or responses, enhancing customer experience and reducing manual work.
– Quick replies, thereby facilitating faster response times for common queries, (enhancing customer service efficiency).
– WhatsApp Web with landline phone number, thereby offering the flexibility to communicate from a desktop even without a mobile phone (catering to businesses’ varied communication needs).
– Chatbot integration. With AI now playing a key role in many businesses, this feature enables businesses to instantly respond even outside business hours or during peak times, effectively allowing continuous customer support.
– Label conversation, which, as previously mentioned, assists in organising and segmenting contacts for better tracking and targeted communication.
– QR Codes and short links. QR codes are now so useful and widely used that most of us have a QR code app on our phone, and they’re tipped to totally replace bar codes in retail. This feature simplifies the customer’s process of initiating contact, promoting ease of access.
– The Broadcast feature gives businesses the ability to send out mass messages for updates or promotions, thereby facilitating efficient communication with larger audiences.
– Catalog provides a way to showcase products and services directly within the app, streamlining the purchase process and providing detailed information.
– The WhatsApp Business API allows larger businesses to integrate WhatsApp with their existing systems, thereby offering personalised messaging, chatbots, and analytics.
Examples of Ways To Use WhatsApp Business For Your Business
Here are a few simple examples of ways you can use the various WhatsApp Business features to improve your relationship with customers (and other stakeholders) with a view to boosting profits:
– With Group Chat you can facilitate team discussions, event organisation, and information dissemination.
– Making good use of One-to-One Chat can be a way to help build and maintain strong relationships with individual clients or customers.
– As mentioned previously, using the Broadcast Message feature can allow you to efficiently send news or announcements to a broad audience without recipients knowing who else received it.
– Videos and voice calls offer cost-effective real-time communication and are especially beneficial for international business relations.
– Being able to present a complete business profile can enhance your business credibility and trust.
– Using QR codes or clickable links can be a way to direct customers to the business’s WhatsApp.
– Auto-response enables you to address customer queries even when offline, preventing long waiting times.
– WhatsApp Business enable you to engage after a sale and foster loyalty by sending personalised product recommendations.
– The CRM Integration allows you to provide even more highly personalised services (which are valued by customers) by understanding the customer better.
– Collecting feedback through WhatsApp can provide valuable insights which can help businesses improve and grow.
– Promptly addressing customer concerns and handling questions establishes professionalism for your business in the minds of customers.
– Using notifications can keep customers updated on promotions and offers.
– By sharing content, you can establish authority in the industry, e.g. by sharing insightful content, thereby fostering trust.
Using the WhatsApp Business API
Using the WhatsApp API, which is essentially a tool for large-scale business communication using automated messages, chatbots, and templates can bring the benefits of cost-effective communication, the use of pre-approved templates, automated responses through chatbots, and enhanced customer engagement.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
In essence, WhatsApp Business offers various tools that businesses can leverage to enhance their communication, foster relationships, and personalise customer interactions, which in turn can lead to improved customer satisfaction and business growth.
WhatsApp Business is more than just another communication tool, it’s a paradigm shift for small businesses. Customers today want to feel valued, not just as a transaction, but as partners in a shared ‘journey’ so by offering real-time interactions, businesses can create experiences that are more genuine and resonant.
One of the platform’s most important implications is in its democratisation of marketing. For example, traditional advertising avenues can be costly and often out of reach for smaller businesses. WhatsApp Business provides an avenue for these businesses to connect directly with their customer base.
In a digital environment full of risks and scams, trust has become a pivotal currency in today’s market and because businesses and customers are now often separated by screens, establishing genuine trust, therefore, can be challenging. WhatsApp Business, with its direct communication and verification features, can bridge this gap and signal to customers that behind the digital storefront is a genuine business, and one that listens, cares, and values the relationship.
WhatsApp Business, therefore, provides and effective and efficient way for small businesses approach communication, marketing, and relationship-building.