Marketers are always looking for ways to connect with customers on a more intimate basis. And there’s nothing quite as personal as receiving a message on your phone.
As messaging apps have gained in popularity, so marketers have spotted an opportunity to add another weapon to their war chest.
In this quick-start guide, we explore how you can use WhatsApp to connect with your customers and the brands that are already employing it.
Exponential Growth = Marketing Opportunity
It’s common knowledge that texts are out and messaging services are in. And, as the purple line in the graph below shows, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber have also caught up with social networks.
They now have the same number of users as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram with2.125 billionaccessing their app at least once in every 30-day period.
Source: Business Insider UK
Another benefit of messaging apps over social platforms is that all their users are mobile whereas the social network stats include millions of computer-only users. This places messaging apps on the front foot when it comes to exploiting what’s predicted to be a predominantly mobile future.
Of all the messaging apps, WhatsApp has the greatest reach with 1.5 billion monthly active users globally. Which makes it ripe for use as a marketing tool.
How Does it Work?
WhatsApp doesn’t allow business accounts, so you’ll need to set up as a personal user. However, there is a free business app that is aimed at helping small business owners to:
Automate their messaging
Sort and respond quickly to messages
Save and reuse messages that are frequently sent
Use these ‘quick replies’ to answer FAQs
Set an out-of-office style message
Add a greeting message to welcome users to your business
As with all accounts, your WhatsApp account will be linked to the individual phone you set it up on and you will only be able to message 250 people at any time.
To start connecting with customers you need to get them to add your phone number to their contact list. You can do this by adding a click-to-chat link to places your customers or prospects are likely to see it, like your email signature, website or social media pages.
In a similar way to social, people expect almost-instant responses so you’ll need to add the task of replying to WhatsApp messages to someone’s role.
No Ad Space – WhatsApp With That?
That’s right: WhatsApp doesn’t currently sell ad space. And with no Application Programming Interface (API) it doesn’t have the functionality to connect with an operating system or any other app. This means its uses are limited so you’ll need to be inventive with your marketing tactics.
As with all things marketing, understanding your audience is key. Many of the people who will gravitate towards using this service will be from Generation Y. They’re looking for a more personal, individualised online experience and they’re used to building relationships online right from the get-go.
Which Campaigns Will Work Best With WhatsApp?
Have you ever been to a really old-fashioned local shop? The sort where the owner knows everyone by name and has in-depth knowledge about each item they sell, its provenance and history. The kind of place where you’re made to feel special with a blend of highly personalised customer service and sales. It’s this kind of experience you need to distil into a WhatsApp marketing campaign.
Like a small shop, WhatsApp does not deliver large-scale marketing. But it’s this very limitation that makes it such an advantageous platform to work with. Here’s how some brands have exploited the benefits of intimate marketing.
Agent Provocateur – Providing Delicate Advice and High-End Service
This luxury lingerie brand has been using WhatsApp to advise their top clients of new products and in-store events. The privacy of the messaging function also presented an opportunity for the underwear experts to become an integral part of its VIP’s Christmas shopping experience.
By connecting a personal shopper with the customer, and inviting their partner to join the conversation, Agent Provocateur could provide advice, service and of course up-sell the perfect Christmas present. In a sector where men are often at a loss, this was a savvy way to help people buy more of the right products without the discomfort of stepping foot in a store.
This campaign was highly successful resulting in 112 conversations: 31% led to store visits and 61% website conversions.
Clarks – Promoting Products Through Storytelling
Desert boots have a long, interesting and powerful history. So Clarks decided to let its customers know all about it while aiming to give desert boot sales a boost. Using an interactive messaging campaign they connected customers with three characters from subcultures around the world over the past 65 years.
WhatsApp connected customers with characters from the Mod era, the Reggae generation Jamaica and 1960s Paris with a series of live chats. By weaving stories of how how the desert boot was a staple fashion item of different eras, Clarks used this retrospective to bring modern consumers closer to the brand.
Hellman’s – More Than a Spread
Known as the perfect sandwich spread or salad accompaniment, Hellman’s wanted to expand the use of their mayonnaise. By inviting website visitors to submit their phone number with a photo of their refrigerator contents, they were connected via WhatsApp with a professional chef.
Using videos, photos and other WhatsApp features, the chefs taught each individual how to develop a recipe using Hellman’s mayonnaise and cook the meal too.
13,000 people took part and spent, on average, over an hour each interacting with the brand and resulting in an astonishing campaign approval rating of 99.5%.
It’s clear from these case studies that WhatsApp can be applied in many different ways. Using such a personal method of communication means understanding your customer will be key. Get it right and you’ll produce campaigns that resonate with customers and generate great results.