Remember how great it felt to be a "regular" somewhere? No shopping experience is as fulfilling as supporting a company that knows who you are and what you like.
In the fast-paced digital era, this concept feels like a thing of the past. However, the truth is, it's not gone: it’s just changed shape.
Stand-out customer experiences still rely on creating that sense of familiarity and personalization but instead of knowing your breakfast order as you step through the door, marketers use messaging tools, like WhatsApp, to know how everyone in the area likes their eggs.
WhatsApp marketing taps into the preferences of today’s always-on, digital-first consumer. As of 2021, WhatsApp is the most popular global messenger app worldwide. With over two billion active users, it's more than likely how your customers connect with family, friends, and maybe even your competitors across the globe.
Marketing with WhatsApp can modernize your approach to customer care, helping you create stellar experiences that people remember and repeat.
Why you should include WhatsApp marketing in your social strategy
Have you experienced the frustration of looking for an impossible-to-find call centre hotline, or the boredom brought on by seemingly endless customer service wait times?
These customer complaints used to seem inevitable but now they're easy to avoid.
Your customers want to connect with businesses the same way they connect with their friends and family. No special hotlines or single-use platforms. Just fast, simple, and convenient messaging.
WhatsApp marketing supports seamless customer experiences, encouraging retention and promotion. If you’re still on the fence, here are three prime reasons you need to include marketing with WhatsApp in your social media strategy.
It’s how you’ll beat your competition
The average person can and will avoid disjointed customer experiences. The latest Sprout Social Index™ found that responding to customer service questions promptly is the easiest way to get customers to buy from one brand over a competitor.
With WhatsApp, your brand can secure a competitive edge that makes a measurable difference to your bottom line. A WhatsApp Business account allows you to set up messaging tools that guarantee quick response times with less effort.
When 77% of consumers expect a response in less than 24 hours, speed is the best way to stand out from the crowd.
It’s where your customers are most responsive
WhatsApp marketing open rates are much higher than traditional email open rates. In fact, it's estimated that they’re on par with SMS marketing open rates, hovering somewhere around 90%.
This responsiveness opens the door for more meaningful interactions that go beyond support requests. These days customers are using social messaging to ask questions about products, provide feedback, and give shout-outs.
These behaviours empower your social media and customer care teams to act as digital sales floor associates, giving them real-time influence on purchasing behaviours.
It’s the future of commerce
According to Meta’s Head of Messaging Developer Partnerships, Martha O’Byrne-O’Reilly, messaging is here to stay. She believes this influx of 1:1 messaging, combined with social commerce, is creating a new wave of what’s known as conversational commerce.
“[Conversational commerce] encapsulates the full range of reasons people chat with businesses, from asking about store hours to booking appointments, tracking deliveries, and resolving issues,” says O’Byrne-O’Reilly. “And it’s happening in all the places where people are spending time online, which is predominantly social and messaging platforms.”
New technologies, like machine learning, chatbots and messaging, are ushering in a new era of customer experience. In fact, 77% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand if they could browse or get questions answered via messaging. Building WhatsApp marketing into your social strategy today can help future-proof your marketing strategy for tomorrow.
The 3 best WhatsApp marketing examples we’ve seen (so far)
A quarter of the world’s population, mainly in Latin America, Asia and Europe, use WhatsApp. It’s no wonder brands from those regions lead the pack when it comes to stand-out WhatsApp marketing strategies.
If you’re planning to roll WhatsApp into your social marketing strategy, here are three brands you can look to for inspiration:
1. World Health Organization
In March 2020, the World Health Organization launched dedicated COVID-19 WhatsApp hotlines to service users in seven languages.
Users can access the hotline by messaging a location-specific number via WhatsApp. They’re then given several prompts to pick from for more information on the disease, vaccines and more.
This automated chatbot provides users with a solid middle ground between self-service and live support.
Lidl, an international food retailer specializing in discount goods, has been riding the WhatsApp train since May 2020.
Initially, in response to the pandemic, the brand created a “Quiet Time” chatbot that allowed shoppers to check store capacity before heading over to shop. Now, Lidl has rolled out a full-scale customer care strategy on the platform to provide a seamless support experience to their shoppers.
The company uses the platform to provide instantaneous support with automated greeting messages. When a customer sends a question or request, they get a message thanking them for their business. The message also shares that a live support agent will be with them shortly.
3. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Flight information typically lives in two different places: in a password-protected account or somewhere in an email. Neither of these options is particularly helpful when you’re speeding to the airport, trying to catch a flight. KLM is using WhatsApp to provide their passengers with something better.
When a person books a flight with KLM, they can opt into WhatsApp communications. This allows them to centralize their booking, baggage, and flight status information in a single, searchable conversation thread.
Blending WhatsApp into your social media strategy
WhatsApp marketing isn’t a magical solution to connecting with your customers. A poor messaging conversation will drive a customer away just as quickly as a poor in-person experience would. Like all marketing strategies, you get what you put into it.
If you’re ready to start marketing with WhatsApp, here’s everything you need to do before jumping in.
Decide on your team goals and operating norms
Your WhatsApp marketing goals will be different from your goals for traditional social media networks. Instead of engagements and impressions, you’ll want to start by tracking customer care metrics.
KPIs like average reply time and total response volume can help you benchmark your initial WhatsApp marketing efforts. Eventually, you’ll be able to use that data to inform more commerce-driven channel decisions.
You’ll also want to use this time to decide on operating norms. WhatsApp Business accounts only allow for one active user at a time, so creating a clear channel management schedule is imperative.
Luckily, you won’t have to experience this issue for long. Sprout brought WhatsApp messaging into its product suite in 2022.
Sign up for WhatsApp Business
You won’t run your business account on the general WhatsApp app. Instead, you have to use WhatsApp Business.
WhatsApp Business is available for both iOS and Android devices. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll see the account setup is pretty simple. All you have to do is verify your phone number and update your business information. For a full walkthrough, check out the video below.
Craft templated messages
WhatsApp Business offers several messaging tools to streamline your workload and customer response times. All you have to do is craft your message.
These templated responses are designed to help you act on important conversations in advance. WhatsApp’s messaging tools include:
Away message: When an away message is enabled, customers who message you will automatically receive a reply indicating that you’re busy or offline for the day.
Greeting message: Your greeting message automatically sends out a warm welcome when customers interact with you for the first time or after 14 days of no activity.
Quick replies: These canned responses can be used to quickly reply to frequently asked questions. They can be accessed in message conversations using specific shortcuts and you can save up to 50 at a time.
Build out a product catalog
The catalog is a powerful WhatsApp marketing feature that allows customers to browse through your products or services directly within the app. Once a product is in your catalog, you can share its link anywhere for more discoverability.
If you offer several products, try starting with your most popular items. As you continue to build out your product offerings on the app, you can sort them into collections for easy browsing.
Promote your presence on other channels
WhatsApp isn’t an “if you build it, they will come” platform. Customers need to know your WhatsApp number to reach out.
Once your business profile is all set up, run a lightweight awareness campaign to let people know you’ll offer customer care through the platform. This might include an email to existing customers, promotions across other social media networks, and a quick update to your website’s “Contact Us” page.
Say “what’s up?” to WhatsApp marketing
Marketing with WhatsApp sits at the intersection of marketing and customer care, opening up new ways for brands to connect with fans and prospects alike. If your approach to messaging is more reactive than strategic, now is the time to use WhatsApp Business to step into the new normal.
If you want to learn more about messaging as a channel, then check out this guide Sproutsocial created in partnership with Zendesk. Use it to learn how to effectively integrate social messaging into your customer experience so you can prepare for the future of customer experience.
This article was written by Ronnie Gomez for Sproutsocial and adapted for the V5 Digital Audience.