How B2C Businesses Can Reach Customers Better Through WhatsApp
By Tharika Tellicherry.05 Nov 2019 .
10 min read
Success in business is all about connecting with the right customers at the right time. Hand-held communication devices and instant messaging apps have changed the way customers interact with brands. Consumers today prefer communication that is fast, relevant, and personalized. With access to multiple devices and mobile apps, getting the attention of the millennial customer is not easy.
On the bright side, many of these mobile apps also allow brands to connect with their users anytime, anywhere. WhatsApp is one such free interactive messaging app that enables brands to have personalized interactions with customers. You can use WhatsApp to share location details in real-time, contact information, documents, and media files like images, videos, and GIFs. With end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication (2FA), WhatsApp is a secure platform for two-way communication.
Who needs WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp is the most significant messaging app in the world, with 1.6+ billion users in over 180 countries. WhatsApp is also the most downloaded app in Q1 2019. Such popularity is hard to ignore, especially if you are a B2C brand that caters to the smartphone generation.
With WhatsApp, users can share different file formats, video call, and have group conversations. The free to download app drives a record-breaking engagement rate of up to 70%. You can capitalize on this high engagement rate to have one-on-one interactions with your customers and deliver rich, useful brand experiences. Apart from driving more personalized communication, WhatsApp Business API provides other vital advantages such as instant access to analytics, including stats on messages sent and open rates, making it easy to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Not sure if WhatsApp is the right communication channel for you? Start by analyzing your customer demographics. Do you conduct business in countries where WhatsApp is popular? Barring a few countries like China, where the app is banned, WhatsApp is widely used as an alternative to SMS in 109 countries. Countries that have the highest number of WhatsApp users have some of the most successful WhatsApp campaigns. India, for example, is home to the largest number of WhatsApp users. Many B2C brands in India, including BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip, and OYO Rooms have successfully integrated WhatsApp into their communication system to deliver better customer service. If your customers reside in countries where WhatsApp is popular, they are probably using the app and are more likely to engage with you on WhatsApp.
How to get started with WhatsApp Business?
Now that you have decided to create a WhatsApp Business profile, depending on your requirement, you can either go for the WhatsApp Business app for small business owners or the WhatsApp Business API for large enterprises.
If you are a local business that plans to interact with less than 1000 unique customers, you can use the WhatsApp Business App for small business owners to share timely updates and offer one-on-one customer support. Over 5 million small business owners also use WhatsApp Business to connect with their customers. While it is not possible to integrate the WhatsApp Business app with other existing systems, business owners can download the app for free and use the basic features like quick replies, messaging stats, and labels. To build your initial contact list, you can share your WhatsApp number to customers in a text message, email, or Tweet and ask them to interact with you on WhatsApp. This step allows them to receive notifications from you.
For large enterprises that want to integrate WhatsApp with their existing systems, there is the WhatsApp Business API For medium and large businesses. The API access is available exclusively through official service providers like Kaleyra. To get started, you have to create a verified WhatsApp Business profile. A verified business profile helps customers quickly identify your brand and reduces the likelihood of fraud.
The next step is to build your WhatsApp contact list. You can connect with your customers on WhatsApp only if they explicitly permit you to do so. To acquire new users for your contact list on WhatsApp, you can share a link requesting your users to opt-in for WhatsApp messages from you. You can share this link via your existing communication channels like Twitter, SMS, email, or on your application itself. You can also get Ad-based opt-ins by running Ads on platforms like Google or Facebook.
As a one-on-one communication channel, customers expect relevant and conversational messages on WhatsApp. Brands should avoid spamming users on WhatsApp with generic promotional content.
How to reach customers through WhatsApp?
From answering customer queries in the awareness stage to providing relevant information during the consideration stage, B2C businesses can use WhatsApp in multiple ways to interact with consumers at all stages of the buyer’s journey.
WhatsApp comes with pre-defined templates for various business use cases like sending updates for reservations, payments, shipping, appointments, alerts, and issue resolution. Besides templates, companies can also use the WhatsApp Chatbot to automate common customer inquiries, thereby reaching out instantly to more users with minimal resources.
Here are some proven strategies with examples to promote your business through WhatsApp:
1. Real-time notifications to enhance customer service
Customers often find it difficult to find the right information they need to use a product or service. Bridge this gap by delivering time-sensitive information instantly to your customers on WhatsApp. Send alerts, recommendations, notifications, and reminders to give your customers a better brand experience.
KLM Airlines, for instance, uses WhatsApp to share booking confirmation, check-in notifications, boarding pass, and flight status updates, making it easy for customers to access all the information they need in one place. Moreover, KLM passengers can contact the airline’s service agents through WhatsApp to resolve queries.
2. Interactive two-way communication
Unlike other channels, there are no restrictions in terms of file formats on WhatsApp. You can send non-promotional, personalized messages using rich media formats such as images, audio, video, and GIFs. It’s a great way to start a conversation with your users.
In their creative WhatsApp campaign, HellMann’s used WhatsApp to connect their customers with real-life chefs. Users just had to Opt-in to the WhatsApp campaign by submitting their phone number on the website set up by HellMann’s. Once they sign in, a chef would contact the customer on WhatsApp. Customers were then encouraged to share pictures of the ingredients available in their fridge to get a full-fledged recipe from the chef to cook a meal. The campaign helped in driving engagement and gaining over 13,000 registrations on the company’s website.
3. Personalized recommendations to drive engagement
You can set up automated messages through WhatsApp to send relevant recommendations and reminders to drive the attention of your users back to your app. Your customers, on the other hand, get the choice to opt-in for updates and alerts that they are interested in on a channel that they regularly use. Netflix, for example, uses WhatsApp to send recommendations about movies and TV series. WhatsApp’s latest feature even allows new users to view Netflix trailers directly on WhatsApp.
4. Offer instant customer support
Want to deliver fast customer support? Use WhatsApp for real-time chats with customers. The best feature of WhatsApp is the option to instantly connect with anyone, anywhere via features like chat, voice calls, and video calls. This works well when you want to offer real-time customer support. You can also share relevant contact information, location details, product images, and delivery instructions.
With WhatsApp Business API, B2C brands can integrate WhatsApp to offer faster customer support. In India, OYO Rooms uses WhatsApp to deliver an excellent post-booking experience. Customers have the option to use WhatsApp to receive the booking confirmation, the location details, and even cancel a booking.
5. Collect quick feedback
B2C companies can also use WhatsApp to get timely feedback from customers. Messaging apps like WhatsApp have an incredible open rate of up to 98%. There are more chances of customers opening your messages on WhatsApp and responding to your feedback requests in comparison to other channels like email. You can use WhatsApp to get relevant information from clients around the globe to improve your product or service. Many brands use WhatsApp to encourage feedback from their users post-service.
As a B2C business, you can use WhatsApp in many creative ways to interact with your customers. The more useful and relevant these interactions are, the more likely your customers are to make a purchase or recommend your brand.
For more information on WhatsApp Business API, check out this eBook on how brands can create a seamless customer experience through WhatsApp, or visit this page to find out how brands use Kaleyra’s WhatsApp Business API to connect with their customers.
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