Since the launch of WhatsApp, We have tried to go around the limited marketing features it provides to engage with customers. Using Groups, building contacts lists, and broadcasting messages to promote our products. These tools were overwhelming, but we didn't stop using them, the ROI was too high to let go!
WhatsApp launched its API product to fulfill the high demand from brands to engage effectively with customers on WhatsApp. The first step was to open it for the customer service use cases, focusing heavily on keeping WhatsApp spam-free. Each business-initiated message needs to be approved manually by the WhatsApp team using the WhatsApp template message feature.
In June 2021, WhatsApp announced that they will allow businesses to use marketing templates to start expected, relevant and timely conversations.
As businesses, We need to respond to this change quickly and effectively. We have under our disposable an excellent marketing tool that is more personal than email and more effective than SMS.
This guide will show you how to make the most out of WhatsApp as a marketing channel and how to use it to build sustaining relationships with your customers.
Why use WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is the dominant messaging channel by far, with over 2 Billion users and over 100 billion messages sent every day. For most people, WhatsApp is their favorite channel to engage with family and friends.
Those customers prefer to use WhatsApp and other messaging channels to communicate with brands too. According to WhatsApp research, 61% of people would choose to message a business over picking up the phone. And 59% would choose it over sending an email.
WhatsApp, the disruptive direct response marketing channel
Direct Response Marketing is a technique designed to encourage customers to take action to business offerings, focusing on ROI over brand awareness.
Email and SMS marketing are the dominant direct marketing channels. That was true until WhatsApp made its move, and you need to revisit your channel strategy accordingly.
WhatsApp vs. Email
Phone messaging channels (like SMS) have a 98% open rate compared to an average of 25% that emails have. It is much easier for customers to share their number with the brand than their email. Also, it is much more convenient to have a 2-way conversation with a business on WhatsApp rather than on email.
WhatsApp offers similar abilities to those of the email channel, rich media, Open, read, and call-to-action tracking from a business perspective. In addition to the ability to have a two-way conversation.
The spam restrictions that apply to email are even stricter on Whatsapp (we will go into detail later), but who wants to spam people anyway!
The only advantage that email has over WhatsApp is the price. The ROI of the WhatsApp channel should answer that.
WhatsApp vs. SMS
Despite the SMS's high reach and high open rate, Text messages lack many features: Lack of rich media, text length limitations, and limited sender branding. In addition, the channel offers no ability to track message read statistics.
SMS sending is subject to country-specific regulations adding an extra layer of complication. WhatsApp is a clear winner over traditional SMS.
WhatsApp direct marketing campaigns examples
A direct marketing campaign should drive action. The content of your WhatsApp messages must be appealing to drive conversions. Here are some examples of WhatsApp campaigns that will encourage your customers to start a conversation.
Share relevant new product introductions: like sending new collections to repeated customers.
Provide product recommendations: based on recent activity or purchases.
Share relevant offers and deals: share offers with customers based on their purchase behavior.
Trigger price alerts: Send customer alerts for prices they are following, like flight price tracking.
Enable sales engagements: Empower your sales team to connect with their contacts on WhatsApp, providing relevant offers, special discounts, and back-in-stock items.
Upsell campaigns: Asking customers to upgrade to a higher tier.
Cross-sell campaigns: recommending relevant products to current customers, like offering a credit card to a banking customer.
Renewals: reminding customers to renew their subscriptions.
To prompt repeated purchase: understanding customer behavior and sending them reminders about repeated purchases, such as grocery.
Cart abandonment: reminders for products not yet purchased
Trigger back-in-stock notifications: keeping track of out-off-stock requests and notifying customers once available.
Kicking-off Your WhatsApp Marketing Channel
You need to have two programs working side by side, your opt-in program, focusing on adding subscribers of people who want to receive information from your business. And your data enrichment program, focusing on understanding the customer preferences so you can send them relevant and timely offers.
Your opt-in program
Regardless of the WhatsApp opt-in condition, We want to send offers to customers that appreciate and enjoy them and not spam people. Consider the following:
Execute an Opt-in campaign
The opt-in campaign should be part of every engagement a customer has with your brand. Here are several ideas to consider:
During their WhatsApp conversation:
Contacting you for the first time on WhatsApp.
While they are having a conversation with your WhatsApp chatbot.
While they are waiting for an agent to respond to their query.
The agent can trigger the opt-in action during their conversation with the customer.
Your activity on other social media channels:
Ads that click to WhatsApp, like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram ads.
Posts on your social media channels to include the opt-in link.
Conversations on other messaging platforms.
Make the opt-in link available on your website.
In live-chat sessions with the customers, add the opt-in option during the conversion.
After completion of an online purchase.
Make the opt-in option available in your mobile App.
Calls that you receive:
Avail of the opt-in option in your IVR
Customer service team to have the option available to them during the customer call
Utilize your SMS campaigns to convert customers to WhatsApp
When the customer visits one of your shops, the shop rep can ask him to opt-in.
Self-service counters include the option of opt-in to WhatsApp.
Offline and outdoor ads to include an opt-in QR code.
Employees' business cards.
Packaging of items.
Promo QR codes combined with WhatsApp opt-in.
Referral QR codes combined with WhatsApp opt-in.
Users should expect the messages they receive. Ensure that customers understand what they are signing up to and explicitly agree to get these messages from you.
Provide a clear opt-out path
Keep in mind that notifications should enhance rather than hinder the user's experience. You must offer clear information on how to opt-out of getting messages from your company and fulfill these requests.
Make sure that your opt-out flows as clear and straightforward as possible.
Your Data-enrichment program
The more relevant your campaign is, the more conversion you have. Your data program should focus on enriching your customers' profiles with data about their demographics, behaviors, and preferences. Consider the following:
Adding qualification questions to your chatbots
Encourage your agents to update customers' profiles.
Track customer's behavior on your website and your App and connect this data with their profile.
Track their engagements with your campaigns
Ask customers to sign-up with their social profiles.
Include preferences in your opt-in flow. For example, give the customer the option to select the category and frequency of messaging.
Apply sentiment and AI analysis to your conversations with the customers.
Track their purchases and connect them to their profile
Track their engagement with your social media content
How do they respond to your offers and promotions?
How did they know about you?
Design and Execute your WhatsApp marketing campaign
The essence of a good marketing campaign is a cannot-say-no-to offer, tailored to a specific segment, executed at the right timing. Now that we have enough data about our customers, it is time to run our campaign.
Start with a goal
Think about the goals you want to achieve from your campaign. Since it is a direct response marketing campaign, the goal should have a direct impact on ROI. For example, do you want to promote a new product, do you have excess inventory, are you opening a new branch? A clear goal will help you in crafting every aspect of your campaign.
Select the Segment and define the Persona
Based on your goal, dig down on your customers' data. The data should answer the following question:
If I am a customer and receive this message, will I feel that it is relevant to me or be annoyed?
Try to look for the data points that give you that confidence.
Design your offer
Offers need to appeal to people's emotions, desires, frustrations, and fears. Think about your goal and your target segment, what will incentify them to make an action?
Articulate your message
On average, we have 4 seconds to grab customers' attention. Therefore, the message should provide enough context, value, and reasons to prompt action.
Make sure to A/B test your message on a sample of your target audience before executing the campaign.
Design your call to action
Every direct response campaign includes a clear call to action, asking customers to do something specific. A few common examples are:
Book an appointment
Fill a form
Use a coupon code
Inquire about a product
Take into account WhatsApp conversational nurture when designing your call to action. The customer could engage with a chatbot or a sales rep once they reply to your message.
You need to evaluate your campaign against the number of customers that take action. Also, don't forget to A/B test your call to action before committing to the final shape of your campaign.
Submit your Message Template for Review
You need to get WhatsApp approval on your message template. Plan for five days ahead of your campaign time. After the approval of the template, you can execute your campaign.
Execute the Campaign
Use your WhatsApp business solution to set up and execute your campaign.
WhatsApp is not free. Such as all other direct marketing campaigns, you need to measure the cost against the revenue (or the goal) you have achieved.
Simply divide the total cost of your WhatsApp campaign by the number you have achieved (Whatever number you are measuring against). let’s assume that you have used $1,000 of WhatsApp templates cost to get 4,000 downloads of your mobile app, your ROI will be
$1,000/4,000 = $0.25 per download
What is excellent about the WhatsApp channel is the ease of correlation between your campaign and customer action. In most cases, you can measure your campaign ROI with confidence.
How often should you send WhatsApp marketing messages to a customer?
How frequently you send your notifications will depend on your marketing goals, customer behavior, and the type of content you're sending. let me explain:
Daily: Be very cautious about engaging daily with a customer. If you must, make sure to limit it to a short period, and for an apparent reason that is obvious to the customer (they just bought a product from you, and you want to onboard them with the best uses of the product).
Customers could explicitly opt-in to a daily message about brands they are interested in, especially in the FMCG industry.
Weekly: Weekly engagements are perfect for engaging with existing customers, like gym members and dietitian patients.
Monthly: No brand should take more than a month to engage with a contact. Make sure to find reasons to engage with customers once each month. Public occasions are a great excuse to give an offer.
Real-time: Notifications sent in real-time keep users informed or notify users of events directly related to them.
The bottom line is to put yourself in the customer's shoes; when he receives your message, he will report you as spam or take action.
What tools should I use to send WhatsApp marketing campaigns?
Such as email marketing tools and SMS marketing tools, your WhatsApp business solution, such as the BusinessChat platform, should have features to help you make the most of WhatsApp as a marketing channel.
The list of features include:
Contacts Module: A CRM-like tool where you can keep track of all customers and their information. The contact module should show opt-in customers and opt-out customers and allow customers to opt-out globally from all campaigns or specific campaigns. In addition, the tool should include methods to add customers to the list, like CSV import and CRM integration.
Tools to facilitate opt-in: QR code generators, opt-in URL generators, embed opt-in option in the chatbot, and include an opt-in message on agents' predefined quick replies.
Tools to enrich customer's data: qualifications forms, ability to edit customer's profiles and tag them, custom fields, campaign engagement behaviors, and integrations with 3rd party systems help you add more data to your customer profiles.
Offer segmentation capabilities: the ability to create segments based on data available in the customer's profiles. The tool should update the segments in real-time once a customer matches the criteria defined in the segmentation.
Quickstart templates: The tool should include samples of WhatsApp messages templates and designs that the marketing team can use to get inspired or modify. Templates are grouped by objective, like summer offers, new opt-in welcome message, announcing a new collection, etc.
WhatsApp template submission: the tool should include capabilities to submit a WhatsApp template, including variable text, call to action buttons, ability to submit examples, and track the approval status.
Content and design: integration with design tools such as Canva, the ability for the customer to upload his design and store it on the tool storage.
Campaign execution features: segment selection, A/B testing, campaign design, smart content (to replace data within the message with relevant customer info, such as his name), and scheduling.
Campaign analytics: Track campaign performance and ROI, store engagement data on the corresponding customer profile.
Offer automation capabilities: The ability to design an ongoing campaign that executes automatically when a customer matches specific criteria. For example: when an event customer subscription in Gym is about to expire, send him a renewal campaign. This automation helps you set up the campaign once and keep it going until you decide to stop it.
Conversational capabilities: WhatsApp is a conversational channel. The tool should facilitate the engagement between the customer and your team once the customer is interested in the offer.
Best practices for executing WhatsApp marketing campaigns
Let's talk about some best practices for designing, sending, and evaluating the efficacy of your WhatsApp marketing program.
1. Personalize your messages
Personalization is the key to improving engagement. Make sure to use accurate, person-level data in your campaigns. Language, interests, and context are all great ways to make sure your message is as personal and targeted as possible.
For example, customers are more likely to engage with your message by simply including their first name.
2. Make it Simple
A lot of us think that marketing is about creativity. Will, it is more about ROI than creativity. Don't take the unlimited WhatsApp message size to the extreme. Your message should be clear and straightforward to drive action.
3. Always A/B test
Before sending out mass campaigns, A/B test on a small percentage of your customers. A/B testing will help you identify what's working and what's not. Track open rate, click-through rate, opt-out rate, and conversion rate to craft the ideal campaign. Include the following factors in your test:
Your call to action:
4. Don't be spammy
Suppose consumers aren't reading your messages or are opting out of your alerts in large numbers. In that case, your communications are either irrelevant, being delivered too frequently, or reaching customers at the wrong time.
5. Understand your customer's mobile behavior
Schedule your campaigns based on your customers' behaviors. For instance, Andrew Chen indicates that the highest open rates are after 6 p.m. Understand your customers' culture and behaviors and schedule your campaigns accordingly.
6. Focus on ROI
Although it is great to monitor high-level campaign behavior (like open rate and click-through rate), your goal is to drive results, which are typically not shown in these high-level reports. Make sure to have a clear connection between your campaign and your goals. For example, even if the open rate is high, it is a failure if the campaign did not generate sales.
7. Capitalize on What's working
Once you find a winning recipe, automate it. Setup automation programs that execute the campaign over and over again to customers who match the profile.
WhatsApp's updated policy of accepting Marketing Templates could change everything about the way we engage with our customers. Direct marketing could change forever.
WhatsApp is the most personal and engaging channel to date. We don't want it to follow the track of the spammy email and SMS channels. We need to keep it clean. We need it to be a channel that provides value to customers and to help establish enjoyable experiences and long-term relationships with them.