It’s official now!
After months of speculation, Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of WhatsApp ads from 2020.
Like Instagram stories, the WhatsApp ads will appear on the WhatsApp stories section, and you will be able to swipe up to visit the promotional page or the website of the brand. This essentially means you can send rich message formats, get discovered quickly, and drive business efficiently.
While WhatsApp had already launched the WhatsApp for business services in 2018 to help small businesses and large enterprises to serve the customers better, the ad services will be another ammunition for the marketers to engage and retain their customers. From promotional offers, contest alerts to new launches; you can use the rich multimedia options offered by WhatsApp to advertise your offerings.
What makes WhatsApp a lucrative platform for businesses?
- Widely used platform: In the last few years, WhatsApp has replaced SMS as the primary channel for messaging. Within a decade of developing this messaging platform, WhatsApp has managed to garner over 1.5 billion users across 180 countries. India is supposed to be its largest market with 200 million users (way more than the US that has 23 million users). As of May 2018, a total of 65 billion WhatsApp messages have been sent by the users daily.
- Easy to break through the noise: Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and other channels where the algorithm changes frequently, WhatsApp is as of now unaffected by it. It is a non-intrusive platform where a business cannot send messages to the customers unless they are granted explicit permission. This would make it easier for you to break the clutter and send one-to-one messages to the user.
- Easy to track reminders and payment confirmation to users: Companies like BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip have been using WhatsApp for business to send confirmation messages about the bookings done through their website. Considering that there is very less scope for spam messages to be posted on WhatsApp, it is easier for the users to track the reminders and confirmation updates sent by you. It also enables you to maintain transparency in your interaction with the customers.
- Better customer support: In the age of customer-centricity, quick resolution to customer queries is not an option. It’s a necessity. In times of need, a user may prefer to directly have a one-to-one chat with the customer support to resolve their problems instead of waiting on the call for the customer support team to connect with you or wait till the team responds to your query. WhatsApp allows your customer to have a one-to-one chat with the customer support and get their issues resolved immediately.
How can B2B Businesses Use WhatsApp for Marketing?
Unlike their B2C counterparts, B2B businesses are infamous for their lack of customer proximity and non-personalized approach to marketing. There are very few B2B companies that do one-to-one marketing with customers. WhatsApp can change the way B2B marketing is done currently. Here are a few recommendations from us on you can try to leverage the strengths of WhatsApp for marketing.
- Product demos: Considering that your customers might be too busy to schedule an appointment with you for a product demo in office or on Skype, you can offer on-the-go demo using WhatsApp’s multimedia facilities or via video call. This will save your prospect's time and accelerate the decision-making process.
- Content distribution: Let’s face it, once your customer purchases your product, it is unlikely that they will return to your website to read your content. It is also unlikely that they will notice your emails or social media postings amidst the clutter in their inbox and news feed. WhatsApp enables you to directly share your content such as blogs and industry news with your customers leading to easy consumption of content. Sometimes, sending direct content can also rekindle the interest of the customer to engage with you more.
- Send easy invites to webinars, events, and conferences: As with content distribution techniques, there are high chances that your customer might miss the invite that you send them for webinars, events, and conferences. You can send invites directly on WhatsApp to ensure that your customer does not miss the important updates from your company.
- Easy cross-promotions: Launched a new product or a service that you think will be useful to your existing customer? Instead of sending emails or calling them at an odd time, you can use WhatsApp to inform them about it. You can schedule a call or a product demo or even send introductory videos and document to give them a preview of how it works. This will help in reducing any potential gap in communication.
The challenges in using WhatsApp Ads
- Ad Fatigue: Your customer might see the same promotional ad that you put up on their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram feed. This could lead to ad fatigue. Considering that WhatsApp is more personalized than other social media platforms, it’s important to make your WhatsApp promotions more interactive and one-to-one to prompt the users to engage with your business.
- Non-compliance to GDPR: As WhatsApp cannot adequately protect corporate data, companies such as Deutsche Bank had banned the use of WhatsApp for business communication. However, theoretically, it is compliant as it is a product of Facebook, and Facebook is certified under the US-EU privacy shield. Considering that it is a grey area, we would recommend you to take advice from your legal team before planning a WhatsApp marketing campaign.
- Risk of being marked as spam: Although WhatsApp is a great way to have one-to-one communication with your customers, it is crucial to be as non-intrusive as possible. Frequent and irrelevant messaging or ads could result in blocking your contact number, and that would prevent you from contacting your customer in the future. The best tactic is to restrict your marketing to one relevant message or ad per day unless there is an important update that you want your customer to know immediately.
While we await a formal announcement from Facebook on how to create ads on WhatsApp stories, we would recommend you to start thinking about how you will include this messaging platform into your existing marketing mix and seek advice about GDPR compliance so you can begin marketing as soon as Facebook announces the launch. Of course, the true-blue fans of WhatsApp are unhappy with the commercialization of their favorite messaging platform and the lack of privacy that would follow. However, from the marketer’s perspective, WhatsApp is a channel that you must utilize to build a deeper connection with your users.
What are your thoughts on WhatsApp marketing? Let us know.