Is Your Business on WhatsApp?

WhatsApp started back in 2009 as a simple iPhone app that supported free text messages along with status updates over the internet. The features kept on updating, and in no time, the app blew up and became one of the most used mobile apps in the world. Being very similar to other social media apps, WhatsApp also has the potential to enable business communications. Yet, due to the lack of conventional marketing capabilities such as paid ads, firms are still unsure of developing a WhatsApp presence. Read on to find out if WhatsApp is, in fact, the right platform for businesses and if your business needs a WhatsApp presence or not.

How Big is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is massive. With more than 1.5 billion unique users from 180 countries across the globe, WhatsApp ranks number one on the most used messaging apps in the world. Around 65 billion WhatsApp messages are exchanged per day, with over 29 million of them sent every minute. The use of WhatsApp for businesses is somewhat limited, yet stands at approximately 3 million business accounts registered on the app.

These statistics are remarkably impressive because, despite its more than a decade presence,  it has managed to stay on top for most of the years. Considering numbers this large, if your business isn’t already on WhatsApp, you’re losing out on more than you can even imagine.

Does WhatsApp Have a Business Interface?

WhatsApp has a set of APIs (Application Programme Interface) for businesses of all types to create their business profiles. API is a set of protocols, routines, and tools used for building software applications, and it specifies how software components should interact. They can easily communicate with customers from around the world in a completely secure digital environment. Through the WhatsApp Business API, you can dive into WhatsApp’s code to get deeper insights and add any features you like.

For small businesses, however, WhatsApp has a dedicated platform by the name of WhatsApp Business. This platform can be accessed through both smartphones and personal computers and provides most of the features of the regular WhatsApp API.

Features provided by WhatsApp Business and How to Use Them

WhatsApp Business Features

Here is a quick overview of all the features provided by WhatsApp Business.

  • Business Profiles

WhatsApp allows you to create detailed business profiles through phone numbers. Your business profile can contain your contact information, address, website, email addresses, and a lot more. Doing so helps your customers stay firmly in touch with you not only on WhatsApp but also through other channels.

  • Smart Messaging Tools

Besides standard text and media messages to personal accounts, there are some options WhatsApp offers for businesses to use instead of normal messaging. Here are some of them:

  • Quick Replies

This feature allows you to save and reuse responses you commonly use so that you can quickly reply to common customer queries. You could use these to answer general questions on product prices, delivery times, etc.

  • Automated Messages

This option allows businesses to set an automated response to customer messages. You can use this to reply to customer queries when you’re away, and then you can get back later. This option dramatically increases customer engagement and improves your response rate.

  • Catalogs

Catalogs allow you to put pictures and messages on display so that multiple people can view them. Through the use of the catalogs, you don’t have to send product photos or information individually to customers.

  • Status Updates

Status updates let you post images, videos, and text that disappears after 24 hours. This process follows the pattern of Instagram and Snapchat stories and helps improve brand engagement.

  • Performance Metrics

WhatsApp provides some basic analytics and performance metrics on your messaging and status updates so you can see how effective your efforts have been. You can see how many of your messages were sent, delivered, read, and replied to by customers.

  • End-to-End Encryption

The end-to-end encryption offered by WhatsApp ensures that all the conversation is strictly between you and the intended receiver. This makes the conversations completely safe, secure, and prone to breaches.

WhatsApp Business Success Stories

Incorporating WhatsApp into their marketing plans has helped both small and large businesses across the world. Its unique way of sending personalized messages improves customer response rate and hence increases their engagement with the brand. Here are some success stories which will inspire you to start using WhatsApp for your own business as well.

Large Enterprises

A lot of market giants and billion-dollar corporations have been using WhatsApp for their benefits. Some of the highlights include:

  • UBER is using WhatsApp Business to connect its drivers with the management team to ensure smooth communications, and clearing out any queries as fast as possible.
  • Booking.com uses WhatsApp to confirm bookings from its customers, speeding up the whole process a lot.
  • Singapore Airlines is the first airline company to partner with WhatsApp Business API. This will help bring them closer to their customers and speed up communications.
  • Bank Rakyat Indonesia runs its virtual personal assistant through WhatsApp Business. WhatsApp has also allowed them to implement conversational banking.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Small businesses across the world have been using WhatsApp to inform, communicate, and market to their customers adequately. Some highlights include,

  • Khatabook, a financial management app in India, employs WhatsApp in its business model to speed up transactions, send payment reminders, and verify ledger entries. A significant part of their success is due to the convenience they have provided to their customers via WhatsApp.
  • Marta Cerámica, a local ceramics manufacturing company in Spain, uses WhatsApp Business to book customer orders and connect with them on a personal level.
  • OgoLord International Limited, a food company in Nigeria, uses WhatsApp Business to coordinate operations across its vast supply chain across the country.

Pros and Cons of Using WhatsApp for Business

Advantages

  • Since every contact is treated individually on WhatsApp, the level of personalization, it can help businesses achieve is unmatchable.
  • With a broad reach to over 180 countries worldwide, WhatsApp is the ideal platform to connect with international customers free of cost.
  • The conversations are always two-sided so that the customers can convey their requirements, queries, complaints clearly, and efficiently.
  • It works on both phone and desktop platforms and hence allows devices to integrate much easily.

Disadvantages

  • While WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption for conversations, it does not provide enterprise-grade encryption, which covers metadata, device storage, and server storage. Thus, there is always a possibility of a data breach.
  • It does not support paid ads like other social media platforms, which makes it challenging to reach wider audiences. The marketing is mostly personalized.
  • Due to a relatively lesser number of companies using WhatsApp Business, the customers sometimes consider it as a private platform and do not appreciate businesses marketing to them through WhatsApp.

Businesses, in any sense, are followers. They get followed consumers from websites (with banner ads) to online videos (YouTube ads), to social media (Ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat). WhatsApp is no different. The business platform, with its unique features, is a boon to small and medium businesses. On-time updates, better interaction, limited resources, worldwide connection, all make it one of the best platforms for your business. As long as customers keep adopting new platforms, companies that wish to be front and center will have to port their infrastructure and capabilities to these new mediums.

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