What is WhatsApp all about?

WhatsApp might not be your first choice when listing possible marketing channels but user numbers are growing as is using WhatsApp for your business.

Around the world WhatsApp has more that 2 billion monthly users, so it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore it.

But do people want to be marketed to this way and if so, how can businesses use it in reality?

If WhatsApp is new to you, read all about it below then find out why you should be using it to help grow your small business.

WhatsApp? What the …. is it?

WhatsApp is a free messaging service which uses your phone’s internet connection. You can message other WhatsApp users and send images and files free of charge. The most critical thing about WhatsApp is that you can’t send messages to consumers you do not know. You need to get invited by them to become their contact.

Acquired by Facebook in 2014, it’s particularly popular in countries 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 (that’s more than half).

Why should you use WhatsApp for your business?

WhatsApp has an incredible engagement rate..

For starters, many of your customers will already be using WhatsApp. If your target audience is aged between 18 and 29, 42% of smartphone users are likely to be using private messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

That drops to only 19% for those aged 50 and over. So, the message here is know your audience.

Users of WhatsApp and similar services are certainly willing to engage with businesses.

According to a survey for Facebook, 53% of respondents said they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.

Plus, WhatsApp has an incredible engagement rate: 98% of mobile messages are opened and read, with 90% of them getting opened within three seconds of being received! Now that’s fast.

How do I start using WhatsApp for business?

First things first, download the WhatsApp Business app. There are a number of extras compared to the WhatsApp you use for your personal messages.

The business app allows you to:

  • Display your working hours
  • Set up automatic message responses when you can’t reply straight away
  • Sort clients, such as ‘special offers’ or ‘pending order’

Marketing opportunities with WhatsApp

  • Create a persona

People want to feel they know you and aren’t speaking to a faceless business.

You can use a real person or create a fictional character.

Absolut Vodka created a fictional doorman called Sven to help promote a limited-edition vodka to younger consumers in South America. The WhatsApp number was released in all the Absolut media and advertising and people were asked to convince Sven that they should win the only available tickets to an exclusive launch party. Users started sending messages, songs and even indecent proposals to Sven in order to get in.

Share useful information

Customers want to know that you understand your products and services and that you can offer advice that perhaps the competition can’t such as:-

  • New uses for a product – Hellmann’s in Brazil wanted to inspire people to think of mayonnaise as a cooking ingredient, not just a condiment. So, they invited visitors to their website to submit their phone numbers along with a picture of the contents of their fridge. They were then connected through WhatsApp with real chefs, who came up with a recipe using Hellmann’s and the other ingredients in their fridge. The chefs even taught the users how to cook the meal through pictures and videos.

A total of 13,000 participants spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with the brand, and 99.5% of them approved of the service. Is there a way you can show customers other uses for your products?

  • Promotion – You can use WhatsApp to tell clients about new products, give them promo codes and incentivise people with competitions and free giveaways. It’s a great way to get more people to connect on WhatsApp.
  • Updates – WhatsApp can also be used to let customers know about the status of their order or for appointment reminders.

If you use WhatsApp for your business you need to respond quickly

Ensure you are adequately resourced to handle customer queries. The worst thing you can do is to get a WhatsApp but not respond for hours.

A Facebook survey asked users what they expect from messaging and 54% of users in the UK expect a faster response than if they had used a more traditional mode of communication.

It’s a customer research opportunity

Once you have an engaged WhatsApp audience, you can use it to get some customer feedback. For example, a confectioner might ask people if they would prefer to see a new strawberry or mango flavour chocolate.

If you offer training courses, you could find out if a course on using social media would likely be well received.

More support for your business

It can take time to grow your business and sales and marketing is an important part of the process.

Despite this, it’s often left on the to-do list or put down as a focus for next year.

Let’s face it, it can be hard to find the time.

An accountant will be able to look after your accounts, payroll and bookkeeping, leaving you time to plan your next WhatsApp campaign. Plus, a good accountant will look at your accounts and see if there are areas you could save money or a market segment that you could target in the future to increase sales.

We love to help businesses grow, so when you need some help or advice please give us a call or come and visit us at one of our THP offices located in SuttonChelmsfordWanstead, and Saffron Walden.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
    About Jon Pryse-Jones

    Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

    An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

    Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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