When users are active, advertising will thrive. And user numbers are big and only growing on chat platforms like WhatsApp – which counts 1.6 billion users over 180 nations.
So, while advertising on an ad-free platform might sound counterintuitive, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to WhatsApp.
Messaging apps are the hottest communication channel and WhatsApp is planning to become more open to businesses in the coming years. This means the trend is likely to grow and turn from a marketing trend to a veteran strategy. Therefore, right now, brands have a great opportunity to be some of the first in their industries to tap into WhatsApp. The key is to get in on it while it’s still young and many other businesses ignore the opportunity.
Let’s discuss how this can be done today for a better tomorrow.
The face of one of the world’s favourite chat apps is about to change – drastically. WhatsApp will be introducing adverts to its messaging app next year, Facebook has confirmed. The technology giant revealed the ads will appear within WhatsApp statuses similar to Instagram stories. The ads would take up the entire screen of a smartphone and allow users to find out more information about the advertiser by swiping up.
This presents a significant move for the platform which had famously denied advertising up until this point. Nonetheless, the announcement makes complete sense with one look at the numbers – with WhatsApp laying claim to more monthly active users than Facebook Messenger.
Before ads are official, marketers have found ways to utilize WhatsApp’s own functions for small-scale marketing initiatives. And the results speak for themselves with WhatsApp campaigns improving upon email and phone. One case, for example, resulted in a 90% decrease in lapsed subscribers; a 40% increase in message open rate, a 66% decrease in the time it took to reactivate lapsed subscriptions.
In the meantime…
Even though ads are not yet enabled, now is the perfect time to attempt marketing on WhatsApp. Digital consumers are more demanding than ever and the speediness and instant messaging available on the platform presents an opportunity that is too good to pass up. This means, for now, unlocking the platform’s own features to be used to get ahead of the curve before advertising officially debuts.
For instance, the platform has its own status feature, which allows users to upload posts as statuses that disappear after 24 hours. This can be handy for those who want to be less aggressive in their marketing, but the status feature can also be a great way to announce flash sales or offers to customers. For instance, users could be asked to take a screenshot of the QR code on the brand’s WhatsApp status and present it in store to receive a discount on purchases.
On top of the status feature, brands can also share their location with enquiring customers. If someone wants to know where the store is, the brand can directly send them the location in WhatsApp. The recipient will be then able to open it on their phones in Google Maps.
Small businesses are able to set up officially verified profiles on WhatsApp Business app. This means businesses have the ability to communicate directly with their customers, day or night. Further, brands can also apply for WhatsApp Business API. API integration enables the ability to create WhatsApp bots which offer unique potential for advertisers going forward. These are brand new possibilities for WhatsApp – and the best advice is to prepare for the shift before it is too late.
And this means…
Advertisers and businesses must start WhatsApp marketing today – even if it is not explicitly available just yet. This means taking full advantage of WhatsApp’s Business application and WhatsApp API before the market gets too crowded.
Enhancing communications in the customer experience era must be viewed as something much more than a public relations exercise. The WhatsApp API discourages direct “sales” advertising by monitoring what kind of template customers are sent. Therefore, businesses should think of getting WhatsApp API and using it correctly before direct marketing comes onto the scene sometime next year. Making inroads now will make a big difference once advertising becomes completely available.
Remember, customer experience is king. Marketers must be careful not to come across as overtly pushing products or services with their advertising on WhatsApp. Customers are not yet accustomed to advertising on the platform, so it is integral to start small and slow.
Starting using WhatsApp for business today either via the business app or API integration allows you to access vast audience on a channel that promises better open and response rates than emails and calls. The potential is already here – it just needs savvy businesses and marketers to make the most of it.