How to Grow Your WhatsApp Community
Another new channel with an empty list of subscribers is just as intimidating as a blank page at the beginning of a blog post or a blank slide when starting a new presentation. Similar to how you’ve started many other projects and other channels from scratch and watched them flourish, growing your WhatsApp community is no different. Those previous experiences provide great inspiration for growing your WhatsApp audience with ease. By the end of this post, your list of WhatsApp subscribers won’t be empty for long.
In this post, we're covering the strategies, tactics, and best practices to consider when acquiring new subscribers for your WhatsApp community. For you to get this far and send your first message, you'll need to have set up a WhatsApp business account. The initial WhatsApp Business setup and getting started on WhatsApp topics aren't covered in detail in this post, but we share all that you need to know in our Getting Started with WhatsApp guide.
So now that you have a fresh WhatsApp business account created, how do you actually start gathering subscribers? Build it, and (with a little marketing) they will come!
How to Grow Your WhatsApp Community
There are 3 main tools for capturing a subscriber's phone number and adding them to your WhatsApp community so you can message them now and in the future.
Through Tildei, you'll be able to generate a link (you can also do this via the WhatsApp Business portal). When a customer clicks the link, it opens WhatsApp with a conversation window started with your brand. The message in the window can be pre-populated based on the link they click, or it can be a basic chat window allowing the customer to type their own request. Once the customer sends that message, the conversation has started, and they’ve opted-in.
Benefits to using a link: pre-populated messages, easy one-click experience, campaigns can be associated with a custom link
Similar to the link, through Tildei you'll be able to generate a QR Code (or you can also do so via the WhatsApp Business portal). When a customer scans the code, it opens WhatsApp with a conversation window started with your brand. The message in the window can also be pre-populated based on the QR code that was scanned.
Benefits to using a QR code: pre-populated messages, used for offline acquisition, campaigns can be associated with custom QR codes
Similar to opt-in forms for email or sms capture, WhatsApp capture forms most often live on your website (i.e. homepage, pop-up, purchase). With the form, you ask the prospect or customer to share their information and confirm their intent to opt-in to join your WhatsApp community and receive messages from your brand. Once you have their number and their opt-in, you're ready to start messaging them in Tildei.
Benefits to using a capture form: subscribers are familiar with this opt-in experience; easier to capture additional profile data at sign-up
Choosing the Right Opt-in Tool for the Strategy
We recommend using a combination of all three methods. Depending on your strategy and your business goals, which you use and where you place them will vary. In the tactics below, we’ve paired acquisition channels with the recommended method.
No matter which you use and where you use them, the two most important elements are to ask for explicit opt-in from your subscribers and include information on how you intend to use the channel. Share how many messages you plan to send and the types of messages the subscriber should expect to see from you. Both of these actions will help prevent your account from being blocked and also foster engagement with your audience.
Strategies for Growing Your WhatsApp Community
Acquiring WhatsApp subscribers is fairly similar to how you acquire subscribers for your other messaging channels. If you already have some of those processes in place, you don't have to recreate the wheel. You can repurpose those methods and use them for your WhatsApp audience.
That said, WhatsApp does provide new and different ways for communicating with your customers thanks to its quicker reply experience and the potential to chat in a dynamic way.
The tactics below play on both the tried-and-true tactics as well as the newer ways to communicate in messaging channels. Each tactic is centered around an acquisition channel and has one or two recommended methods.
Grow Your WhatsApp Subscriber List through Your Website
Best method is through the capture form or link
Your website is your digital property, so it usually has the most flexibility with when and where you capture WhatsApp opt-ins. There are many opportunities to acquire new WhatsApp subscribers on your website, and here are a few to get you started:
- Homepage - This is the most straightforward and expected place to ask for opt-in by using a a link or a form. The form or a link to the conversation may be in the header or footer of your homepage, right in the middle of the page, a pop-up, or all of these. You may already have this in place for other channels like email or sms. You have the option to repurpose one of those acquisition methods or add a new one. For example, you can ask for email in the header and WhatsApp in the footer or vice versa.
- Contact page - The contact page is a great place to try out the link option. If a customer navigates to this page, they’re most likely hoping to have a quicker response. By including the link, they will be entered into a chat with your brand from the moment they click.
- Product page - A product page or a page that shares more information on your offering is perfect for applying the new conversation-forward approach. Share a link on product pages to encourage a customer to reach out if they have questions about the product or its features. This is a big step towards making sure you’re there for your customer in the moment they need something from you. At opt-in, you can ask for additional profile data to help tailor product recommendations or product information for them.
- Checkout - Similar to how email is often captured at checkout, it’s also a great opportunity to use the number capture form option. It can be used for purchase updates as well as providing recommendations and helpful tips after purchase.
Grow Your WhatsApp Subscriber List through Email
Best method is the link
The tried and true digital marketing channel, email marketing, is one of the best places to announce and advertise your other communication channels. Those who are already signed up to receive emails from you, especially those who regularly engage, are some of your most loyal customers and often those most likely to connect with you on other channels. Leverage your engaged email audience to acquire your first WhatsApp subscribers through a variety of ways:
- Send a dedicated email announcing the new channel - In the email, share the types of content you plan to send in WhatsApp and provide examples of how your customers can use it to get quick answers. Include the link to opt in in multiple areas of the email. You can create a custom opt-in link for the email campaigns to know that these are your email + WhatsApp subscribers.
- Include the WhatsApp link in the header or footer of the email - Similar to how you link to other channels through icons, include the WhatsApp icon in your boilerplate email content and link out to your WhatsApp opt-in.
- Add it to your welcome campaign - When someone signs up to your email program, it’s a great opportunity to give them a quick overview to your brand. At the very least, use the initial welcome email to share a link to opt in to your WhatsApp program. Go further by including an email in the welcome series solely dedicated to your WhatsApp communication option (and save time by repurposing the content from your initial announcement email).
Grow Your WhatsApp Subscriber List through Your Social Channels
Best method is the link
There are two main ways to grow your WhatsApp community through social channels. One is more straightforward by utilizing the link option and one is more advanced by adopting a newly released approach built into Facebook ads.
Grow Your WhatsApp Subscriber List Offline
Best method is using the QR Code
The QR code option is perfect for acquiring WhatsApp subscribers offline. QR codes have become more ubiquitous over the past couple of years and customers are more comfortable using them. In this case, when the customer scans the code, they’ll be able to start interacting with your brand instantly. There are many opportunities to include the QR code, and it depends on your industry and your strategy.
Some example use cases we’re excited about:
- Include a flyer with the QR code in purchases delivered to your customers - When they scan, it opens a conversation so they can quickly leave a review or get assistance if needed.
- Add the QR code to your packaging - Once scanned, it can launch a message for them to get insider access, see behind-the-scenes content, or get a promotion code for a future purchase.
- Share the QR code in physical spaces - Different from the online, digital examples mentioned earlier, QR codes can be placed outside on posters or ads or in store next to products, all moments that would open a chat with your brand.
Will Growing Your WhatsApp Community Take Away from Other Channels?
This a question on every marketing team’s mind whenever a new channel comes onto the scene. When SMS and push messaging became more popular for marketing and driving connections between brands and customers, the concern was that it would take away from email. We can take the lessons learned from the SMS and email balance and apply them to adding WhatsApp to the marketing mix.
Ultimately, what we learned is that these channels don’t need to be competitive, but instead, they’re complimentary. One step is to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and lean into them for different use cases. The other step is to learn the preferences of your customers.
WhatsApp doesn’t ‘take away’ from other channels if that’s how your customers want to engage with you. You’re ultimately giving them another means of communicating, and by having options for different channels, you allow them to pick the path that fits best for them.
In terms of the time and effort of you and your team and the real estate on your website, yes you may need to re-prioritize to make room for this new channel. This is the time to see what elements in other channels you can automate, which elements aren’t doing well that you can remove, and which elements you might want to prioritize in one channel over another.
How to Get Started with your WhatsApp Acquisition Strategy
Growing your WhatsApp program doesn’t have to become another overwhelming project to start. Here are a few tips to get going:
- First and foremost, take it one step at time.
- List out the requirements specific for your team to get started and come up with a few goals to keep you focused.
- You can also play off of your hard work in other areas. Ask yourself, how are we capturing other contact points and can we use something similar for WhatsApp?
- Last but not least, you don’t have to embark on this challenge on your own. We’re here to help.
Get started with Tildei today!