Did you know there were over 1 billion active users on WhatsApp as of February 2016? And over 1 million new users registering daily?
It may be time to consider marketing on WhatsApp!
As marketers, we like to engage in platforms where our customers are active and we can stand out. With numbers like this, it’s clear that WhatsApp is a contender.
As it stands, WhatsApp hasn’t given businesses many obvious ways to use their powerful platform for sales and marketing. However, this will soon change. In early 2016, Whatsapp announced they will be testing tools to help business and organizations communicate with users.
In the meantime, you can take full advantage of the platform. You just have to be creative in order to leverage WhatsApp as a business tool.
Reasons to Use WhatsApp in Your Marketing
Marketing on WhatsApp may not be getting a lot of attention now, but you have good reason to explore the possibilities.
- It’s free.
- It lets you send images, ebooks, brochures, and catalogs.
- Survey tool! Ask for feedback directly from customers.
- You can use it for group discussions and meetings.
- As a messaging app, it lets you send alerts about new events and sales.
- Messages won’t be lost: offline message alerts ensure users know when a message is waiting.
The WhatsApp homepage features a description written by a co-founder Jan Koum titled, “Why We Don’t Sell Ads.” What he means is there are no branded profile pages. In order for your audience to be aware of you on WhatsApp, you need to tell them.
As Koum says, “…you the user are the product.”
It’s for this reason that the lines between private user and corporation become blurred, making them interchangeable. Smart advertisers are seeing opportunities to capitalize on this unique attribute.
Now let’s look at smart ways to optimize WhatsApp.
14 Tips for Marketing on WhatsApp
It’s time to consider marketing on WhatsApp.
1. Capitalize on the Cross-Platform Advantage
When an app is cross-platform, it reaches social networks (and people) that aren’t currently in your social media wheelhouse. That’s great news all by itself! What makes it even better is the traffic analytics that give you insight into which networks are popular within your target audience.
Whatsapp traffic analytics are abundantly available from many third-party sources, probably because it’s been developed from the early days using open source software. This offers data that can help you tweak your social media strategy and adjust your priorities as you look for the ideal target audience.
2. Create Broadcast Lists
Create lists related to specific topics, then blast one-way communications designed to increase engagement, much like you do on Twitter. For example, include links or invitations in your messages.
3. Take Advantage of Group Chat
Group messages are shared among all members of a group, including responses from any participant of the group. Think “interactive.” This is especially useful when conducting focus groups. Or performing market studies prior to a product launch.
4. Enjoy Cost-Free Messaging
With WhatsApp, you can exchange messages without SMS costs. It’s available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, and Nokia. They can all message each other because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing.
For added value, users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video, and audio media messages. This simple advantage has big benefits for both users and marketers. If you are trying to reach an international audience, WhatsApp can easily breach international borders.
5. Take Customer Support to a New Level
Although WhatsApp was designed for mobile devices, it’s compatible with desktop devices. So you can use it along with the other desktop applications for powerful customer support—your customers can reach you directly and you can provide instant answers.
The process is unique but very straight forward. Simply go to the web app site and scan the QR code on your screen. With a few simple instructions, you’re in!
6. Make Creative Offers and Promotions
Looking for a creative way to make new offers? WhatsApp may be just what you’re looking for. Here’s how companies like Homeshop 18 and Absolut Vodka use it to direct people to promotions on Youtube.
7. Build User Loyalty
Collectively, the group lists in WhatsApp have exhibited more brand loyalty than other social media groups. Similarly, brand personas seem to have developed a good rapport with their followers. This is reinforced with the tools mentioned above, like push notifications, group chats, and broadcast lists.
8. Engage Directly with Phone Calls
You have the option of using WhatsApp to make sales calls through their own built-in version of VOIP. So when you get a customer request—as when someone asks for more information or wants to talk with a salesperson—WhatsApp allows you to respond right away.
9. Maintain Quality Content, Even in a Message App
Since WhatsApp’s core purpose is messaging, make your messages short and powerful. But don’t worry too much about length. Unlike Twitter, you’re not limited to 140 characters.
10. Incorporate Curated Content
As with your other social channels, you can send curated as well as original content. Keep in mind, although the format is different than Facebook, the general philosophy about content should apply. That includes ratios between curated versus created content.
11. Know Your Audience
Make every word count. If your writing style and word choices don’t resonate with your audience, you’ll see little if any engagement.
12. Remember, It’s Not Always About You
Apply the dinner party analogy. How many times have you been to one (in mixed company) where you encounter people stroking their own ego and only talking about themselves? Remember the big crowd of people around them? Enough said.
13. Mind the Opt-Out Option
Keep in mind how easy it is for users to opt out of notifications:
|Settings > Account > Privacy and uncheck Read Receipts.
Note: This will not disable the Read Receipts for Group Chats or Play Receipts for Voice Messages. There is no way to turn off these features.
You can be a distant memory in no time. So make sure you stay relevant and engaging.
14. Develop Rapport with Your Customers
Share your WhatsApp Contact details on your website and other social media networks. This will let your customers know they can reach your mobile directly. Although it’s not a requirement, try to use WhatsApp after you’ve developed a rapport with your customers.
That’s It: 14 Smart Tips for Marketing on WhatsApp
Of course, as with all marketing channels, you need to be strategic. Understand how the platform works and what people’s expectations are before you dive in.
But once you have a good feel for how it works, you can use these best practices as a roadmap for success and avoid the most common mistakes.
That said, give it a try. You’ll engage your followers in a whole new way. Good luck!
About the Author: Jonathon Ohayon is COO of Brilliance.com, a leading online retailer of loose diamonds, engagement rings, and fine jewelry. A graduate gemologist, he is involved in every aspect of Brilliance.com, from jewelry production to site development initiatives. Follow him on Twitter @brilliancecorp.