November 27, 2023

Top of Funnel Marketing with WhatsApp

“Can I use WhatsApp for top of funnel marketing?” We hear this from marketers of all kinds, but particularly from direct-to-consumer brands working on awareness and bringing new people into their brand. In a nutshell: yes. And we’d go as far as saying WhatsApp is‌ actually uniquely positioned to help brands at the top of the funnel vs. other channels.

Let’s get into WHY you should be including WhatsApp in your top of the funnel marketing strategy.

A purple funnel on an orange background, the top of the funnel is labeled the Awareness stage of the funnel. There are three icons entering the top of funnel symbolizing QR codes, Links, and forms.

Defining the Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel describes the ways a customer is obtained, nurtured, and converted. It’s a cycle that not only guides a customer to a transaction but also helps you segment your audience based on data gathered at different stages.

The Three Stages of the Marketing Funnel

Top of Funnel (TOFU) - The awareness stage

Customers discover your brand for the first time and experience their initial interactions.

Middle of Funnel (MOFU) - The education and consideration stage

Customers learn more about your product and your company. They begin weighing their need to make a purchase and commitment to a brand.

Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) - The conversion and re-engagement stage

Customers complete a transaction or their commitment is secured. It is also one of the most important phases to consider re-engagement.

Top of Funnel Marketing

The top of funnel is the beginning of the cycle. It is the stage where a brand focuses on two main strategies:

  1. To acquire opt-in and gain interest from new or returning customers.
  2. To build awareness, nurturing the relationship between brand and customer as they get to know each other better.

This first phase of the funnel can be the most challenging because of the focus on generating net new interest. Marketers have to turn to innovative and engaging ways as they tune into meeting their customers where they are and recognizing their needs.

Why WhatsApp is Primed for the Top of Funnel

For the top of the funnel, WhatsApp can’t be beat. The conversational nature and interactive experience is engaging by design, and perfect for both nurturing new customer relationships and reinvigorating old ones. Let’s see how:

WhatsApp Offers Unique, Real-Time Entry Points into Marketing Conversations

A key difference with conversational marketing is that customers are not simply opting in to receive pushed marketing messages. They are being invited into conversations. And even more, they can also initiate conversations with you. When we talk about the right message, at the right time - what could be more right than a customer telling you what they want to talk about and when?

To that end, customers can opt-in to conversations on WhatsApp in the same way they can in other channels. But there are also unique-to-WhatsApp features for opting in, both online and in the real world. From the moment a customer clicks a link or scans a QR code, they’re instantly entered into a chat with your brand, with no wait time. Some of the main tools you can use to acquire new customers include:

  • WhatsApp conversation links placed on website pages, in email campaigns, or any marketing
  • QR Codes on product packaging, receipts, in-store, at POS, and any advertising
  • Instagram and Facebook ads with the ‘Send Message’ on WhatsApp call-to-action
  • Links from social media stories

Each of these tools can be used in countless ways, and each opt-in experience can be tailored based on the entry point. You can check out our post on growing your WhatsApp community for more ideas.

WhatsApp is Directly Integrated into Instagram and Facebook Ads

Meta Ads are a common strategy for top-of-funnel marketing. But what happens after a customer clicks from the ad to your website? Unless you capture them in another channel, you don’t “own” that contact. You can re-target them in ads, but you can’t capture them, create a customer profile, or start your relationship. It’s entirely dependent on finding them again in the ad space.

American Dream partnered with Tildei to promote their Holiday Dreamland. Ads on Facebook and Instagram initiated a WhatsApp conversation that drove ticket sales.
An Instagram Ad driving to chat on WhatsApp

Enter the new call-to-action from Meta - click-to-WhatsApp. When a customer seeing your ad clicks, WhatsApp opens with a pre-populated message of your choosing. They hit send, and voila, you are in a conversation! One that Tildei and WhatsApp makes easy to make engaging. If a conversation is the start of a relationship, what better way to approach top-of-funnel marketing? Use Tildei to create easy conversation flows where you learn about your customer, create a profile in real-time, and capture the contact for future, equally engaging marketing. Check out best practices for this first conversation and beyond.

WhatsApp Cultivates Engaging and Interactive Early-Stage Awareness

71% of customers want to speak with companies in real-time. This is not only an important data point; it's also something that probably wasn’t true a few years ago. Consumer technology has evolved, and our behavior has changed alongside it. As apps become more social in nature, and take up more of our time and headspace, our expectations have shifted too. We are quickly getting used to a world of near-instant responses, whether via chatbots on sites or from our friends and family on messaging apps.

A purple pie chart reflecting the 71% of customers who want to speak with customers in real-time

WhatsApp is inherently a conversational channel, which allows companies to communicate and engage with their audiences in the ways they want.  And these conversations carry a deeper meaning than a one-off message in an inbox. When an interaction becomes a conversation, the customer instantly has more investment in the relationship. It’s simply a better experience.

The customer's engagement in a conversation also becomes a brand’s opportunity; to learn about your customer, to invite them into your brand, to educate them, and more. Listen, ask questions, and provide answers to keep the conversation flowing in the right direction while building profiles and filling your funnel.

WhatsApp Supports Different Types of Awareness Goals

Awareness is a key goal for the top of the funnel, but awareness can mean different things for different objectives. For some, the objective may be to share the brand with a wider audience. For others, the objective might focus on growing interest in a new product or category launch.

How WhatsApp Supports Company Awareness:

  • Conversations support the initial stages of customers and brands getting to know each other
  • Brands can ask about customer preferences in interactive ways
  • Brands can share multimedia content (videos, images) to immerse customers into the brand

How WhatsApp Supports Category Awareness:

  • Conversations can create excitement around new offerings
  • Brands can use quizzes or message-based games to launch products
  • Brands can use the channel to ask for feedback or input to shape new products

WhatsApp Marketing Top of Funnel Campaign Ideas

To get started, here are two top of funnel marketing campaigns using WhatsApp. We chose these two based on their ease and speed to get up and running quickly while making a meaningful impact.

Product Recommendation Quizzes

Goal: Acquire new customers

A quiz is a low-commitment, low-effort way to pique your customers’ interests. It gives them a reason to start a conversation, to opt in to your brand, and to begin building a better understanding of your offering. Depending on your product or industry, the output of the quiz can be a specific product recommendation, a set of products, a segment of your business, or information for them to learn more about your processes.

The opt-in moment can start with a link placed on your website homepage or email, or it can be a QR code on your in-store signage. Once clicked or scanned, the quiz commences. Each question can have a variety of options that gently guide the customer on the right path. This quiz is a win-win. Your customers find the right products and it helps your brand acquire new subscribers. As a brand you can also save customer preferences to customize any future interactions.

Two phone shapes on an orange background, the left phone is a pop-up on a website asking to begin a WhatsApp conversation, and the right phone is inside a WhatsApp conversation where the Accent brand shares a quiz and a direct link to what products are recommended.]

New product launch campaign

Goal: Drive Awareness

A new product launch is an exciting moment for both the customer and the company. It’s also the perfect opportunity to gain new opt-ins, foster engagement, and re-engage with returning customers. Give your customers a reason to engage with this new launch. Offer them something unique like a countdown to the product launch so they don’t miss out, early access to purchasing, or a limited edition version.

Opt-in to this experience can happen through a QR code in-store, on packaging or a link on a product landing page. For your current subscribers, you can make it a special campaign for them to sign up to or you can automatically include them in these VIP-like messages. Leading up to the launch, you can provide further information about the product's benefits and provide behind the scenes insights with engaging content like photos and videos.

Additional WhatsApp Marketing Campaign Ideas

Looking for more WhatsApp marketing campaign inspiration? Get started here:

Top of Funnel WhatsApp Best Practices and Challenges

First things first, while WhatsApp has specific rules and regulations, none of this needs to be complicated. Working with a WhatsApp Business Service Provider, like Tildei, streamlines this and removes the complexity. If you want to learn more, contact us any time.

Regulatory Compliance and Top of Funnel WhatsApp Campaigns

Different channels for marketing have regulations on customer opt-in and how a business interacts with its customers. With WhatsApp, it’s important to clearly gather customer opt-in to enable further messaging. You can achieve this through an early statement in the messaging explicitly asking for opt in. More ideas on opt-in can be found in our How to Grow Your WhatsApp Audience post.

Strategies to Avoid Spam and Maintain a Positive Reputation

WhatsApp has an emphasis on quality messaging. Prepare your content and strategies with customer-focused outcomes to avoid being flagged as spam. You want to maintain a positive reputation with customers in WhatsApp and a high message quality rating. Make sure any messaging is relevant to what a customer has initially signed up for, and don’t over-send messages.

Continuous Optimization for Top of Funnel Success

The marketing funnel is a cycle, so continuous optimization is crucial for top of funnel success. Remember to nurture your customer conversations. When bringing a customer back to the top of funnel consider their previous conversations and any other data points for a more customized experience.

WhatsApp Top of Funnel Best Practices Checklist:

  • The top of funnel is about acquisition, so make sure your opt-in processes are clear and meet WhatsApp requirements.
  • Make sure customers know what they’re signing up for. Remember opt-out options are better than low-quality ratings.
  • Keep an eye on performance and nurture those returning opportunities.

For additional WhatsApp best practices, check out this post on WhatsApp template best practices.

WhatsApp’s Value in Top of Funnel Marketing

WhatsApp is already proving to be a valuable and multifaceted conversational tool for acquiring customers and driving awareness at the top of the funnel. By using QR codes, links, and capture forms, customers can easily and directly begin a conversation with your brand that both increases their satisfaction with and their awareness of your company.

Consumers are choosing WhatsApp as the trusted, preferred messaging channel to interact with businesses. This provides a large audience of prospective new customers for companies and interesting conversations to be had for both the company and the customer.

To start your top of funnel marketing on WhatsApp sign up to the Tildei platform.

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