During a recent webinar, Masaafa Massafa, CEO of BusinessChat, gave an overview of the available communication channels for e-commerce businesses to deal with customers in Saudi Arabia while assessing its effectiveness based on his experience in administrative roles with companies such as Unifonic and Huawei.
He also introduced WhatsApp and its essential features as today's most effective marketing channel.
Here's what you will discover:
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Communication channels in the Saudi market
Mr. Masaafa pointed out from the very start of the webinar that all statistics and market studies provided the same information on the state of customer outreach in Saudi Arabia. Marketers' biggest problem in e-commerce is that there is no effective communication channel.
First, he indicated that email is only helpful for B2B communication, whereas “ people tend to ignore personal emails, which are often fraught with ads. “
On the other hand, he highlighted that WhatsApp is a prominent channel in Saudi Arabia; indeed, 90% of people use it. Furthermore, he stated, " most of us spend at least one hour daily on WhatsApp connecting to family and friends. That’s why the open rate reaches 80%.”
He pointed out that companies suffer problems with this channel. He explains: “ using the WhatsApp business app, you can only reach 256 customers at a time, manually through the broadcast feature. Also, you can only reach customers registered in your phone directory.
He continues to explain that some illegal solutions might allow you to send messages to more than 3000 people daily. Still, these will ultimately be blocked.
As a business owner, you are forced to use SMS to send marketing campaigns. Open rates will be at most 5% in most cases. According to the speaker, this change is because Saudi citizens receive more than 600 hundred messages annually. Therefore, people ignore those messages, especially those with AD in the sender ID.
Still, as a business owner with 10 thousand customers or even more, you must use this channel to reach out to your customers with relevant Ramadan campaigns and offers.
Fortunately, there’s another alternative, according to our speaker. This alternative can grant you high ROI.
Why must you use WhatsApp API for your marketing campaigns?
The speaker introduced Meta’s latest product, WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business Platform. This API makes possible several features for companies, most notably the marketing capabilities, which will directly impact sales.
Thanks to this feature, you can send marketing campaigns to your whole customer database, regardless of the volume.
To better understand the difference between WhatsApp and SMS, the speaker suggested comparing the two channels to prove how WhatsApp can yield higher ROI.
For the comparison, let’s assume that you have 100.000 customers and want to send them relevant Ramadan marketing offers.
First: the campaign's text will be 165; hence SMS will divide it into 3 messages, but we will consider it one.
Second: the cost is 9000 SAR for SMS and 15000 for WhatsApp.
WhatsApp costs higher than SMS, but what truly matters more than the sending cost is the cost per visitor, i.e., how many people visited your website or online store and browsed through your products.
Open rates: 80.000 people on WhatsApp, compared to 10.000 on SMS. WhatsApp has a higher open rate of 80% because people spend at least 70 minutes daily on the app connecting to family and friends while receiving only around 12 marketing messages annually. In contrast, the open rate for SMS won’t exceed 10% due to the overwhelming number of advertising messages.
Conversion rates: suppose we sent the same campaign on both channels. The result will be 16000 website visitors from WhatsApp, with a 20% conversion rate. On the other hand, there will be only 1000 website visitors from the SMS campaign, with a 10% conversion rate.
To count the cost per visitor on WhatsApp, divide the total cost by the number of visitors.
In this case, the result is 93 hellelah for WhatsApp and 9 SAR for SMS.
Of course, the speaker presents this scenario and results based on five years of experience in administrative roles with companies sending billions of messages annually.
Now that the speaker has established WhatsApp as the best marketing channel compared to email and SMS, he proceeds to introduce the right way to market your products to thousands of customers simultaneously, which is the WhatsApp business platform.
However, you won’t be able to use WhatsApp API without a conversation management platform. You must hire web developers to create a platform or buy a fully-fledged platform. The second option will save you trouble and money.
The speaker introduced BusinessChat as the first platform in Saudi Arabia since 2020 and the official Meta partner. The company now serves more than 300 companies in Saudi Arabia, including Dkhil Oud, Tamimi Fabrics, Aljazira stores, etc.
You can send unlimited marketing campaigns to your customer database through this platform, regardless of volume. You can include multimedia messages as well.
How to send a marketing campaign from the BusinessChat platform?
You can follow Mr. Masaafa as he introduces how to send a marketing campaign from the BusinessChat platform step by step.
Tracking campaign performance
The BusinessChat platform can help you track your marketing campaigns. The speaker said that when you choose a marketing message template, the platform will automatically generate UTMs to allow you to track the number of website visitors and conversions from that specific campaign.
Also, to ensure that you put the convenience of your customers first, all marketing message templates will include a path to opt out in case customers don’t want to receive messages anymore. This will save your number from being blocked.
The speaker also introduced the reports feature. Thanks to the reports, you will be able to track and understand the performance of your campaign. For example, you can discover how many people received the campaign and the number of those who opened it, which will reach 90% if you have a clean database.
Lastly, you can track the number of people who visited your website as a result of the campaign and shopping behaviors from Google Analytics.
The BusinessChat platform has many other features, according to the speaker. For example, it integrates with your online store to facilitate sending notifications such as cart abandonment and order status.
It also offers a chatbot and a shared inbox for better customer service, especially since the shared inbox will allow all your team numbers to work together smoothly.
Businesschat chatbot, however, clarifies the speaker is not the regular chatbot you might be familiar with. Instead, it’s designed specifically for e-commerce businesses.
After explaining the most important features of WhatsApp API and the BusinessChat platform, the speaker explains WhatsApp prices. He divides them into two sections: the first section concerns BusinessChat prices. There is a fixed monthly payment of 399 SAR and a consumption-based payment of 4 hellehal per conversation.
There is an activation cost of 500 SAR because, as he explains, activating your WhatsApp API account takes time and effort.
The second section concerns WhatsApp costs, which is 12 hellelah per conversation. Again, it’s paid directly to Meta, as you pay for Instagram and Facebook ads.
If you wish to understand WhatsApp prices better, you can contact the BusinessChat team, which is more than willing to help you.
Finally, the speaker answered a few questions from the attendees, which he said were reasonably expected.
Do you provide a database?
"BusinessChat does not provide customer databases because it is not in line neither with the company's nor with WhatsApp policies," says the speaker. It’s better to build a genuine database to ensure the success of your campaigns. The customer database bears the standard of success of the company or store.
Can WhatsApp API be used directly without an intermediate platform?
Mr. Masaafa says that using WhatsApp API directly without an intermediate platform "is not possible because WhatsApp API is a collection of codes." So you have two options, either you subscribe to a platform, or you hire software engineers, and you build a platform that is expensive and complicated and will face several problems and need constant modifications. So he doesn't recommend it because it's an impractical solution, and it can be more expensive than subscribing to a ready platform.
The speaker presents the example of BusinessChat, which employs more than 50 customers to offer the platform with all the advantages that the customer needs, especially with high quality and affordable prices.
How do I get the green badge?
Mr. Masaafa says: "During our work with many companies on this subject and a significant proportion of them got the badge, I will share with you two important things. First, WhatsApp has the sole authority to decide whether you get the badge. We can help you with your application, advice, and support, but the final decision comes down to WhatsApp. The second is that WhatsApp only wants to give the badge to known companies based on some details that determine the size of the company and whether it is recognized. But more importantly, it must have a WhatsApp Business API account and have a high number of conversations.