WhatsApp Marketing 2024: Ultimate Guide to Best Practices, Strategies, and Examples
In today's fast-paced digital landscape, leveraging WhatsApp for marketing has become a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Whether you're a seasoned marketer looking to expand your outreach or a beginner eager to explore new avenues, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to tap into the immense possibilities of WhatsApp marketing. WhatsApp marketing can boost brand visibility, increase engagement with your audience, and drive conversions.
What is WhatsApp Marketing?
WhatsApp is a fast-growing, versatile messaging channel. With 2 billion users actively worldwide, it’s becoming the preferred channel for people to communicate with family and friends as well as brands. It has messaging, voice, image, and video capabilities allowing for more dynamic conversations.
In terms of WhatsApp messaging between brands and customers, businesses can reply to customers who contact them directly and initiate conversations once a customer has opted into receiving marketing messages.
What are the Benefits of WhatsApp Marketing?
There are many benefits to why you should be marketing on WhatsApp. With approximately 2.78 billion unique active users worldwide, there’s a good chance your customers are already using it. Even more, the number of WhatsApp users is growing. Worldwide, WhatsApp monthly users increased by 12% between June 2022 and June 2023, and it’s predicted to keep growing.
Let us take a look at other WhatsApp-based statistics:
- 98 million people in the US now using WhatsApp, growing at a whopping 10% year-over-year.
- Over 25% of 35-44 year olds in the US own a WhatsApp account while 33% of 18-34 year olds have one.
- 80% of customers want to have conversations with brands in apps.
- Globally, 66% of online adults surveyed agree that messaging is their preferred way of communicating with a business, with that number growing to 72% among 18-34-year-olds.
Early Marketing Advantage
Right now is the perfect opportunity to gain an early marketing advantage on WhatsApp. WhatsApp didn’t launch a business part of the app until 2018, making it a less saturated conversation channel when compared to the busy email inbox or the noisy SMS space. Companies using WhatsApp messaging can stand out, easily connect with their customers, and get the benefits of a first mover.
Conversational Marketing Messaging
The interaction between brand and customer is now expected or preferred to be a conversational experience. WhatsApp is a conversation-first channel, so building a dialogue is inherent in the technology. With an average 98% open rate of WhatsApp messages, it has one of the highest engagement rates of any channel. This almost guarantees your messages will be viewed and exponentially increases the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
How Does WhatsApp Support the Marketing Funnel?
Full Funnel Marketing
WhatsApp views the marketing funnel from a full-funnel perspective. They’ve built their product with the three main stages of the funnel cycle in mind:
Top of Funnel (TOFU) - send media-rich messages to customers to help engage and drive product awareness.
Middle of Funnel (MOFU) - message customers with unique offers and personalized messages to nurture and convert.
Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) - send helpful reminders when a customer has abandoned their cart and create re-marketing ads that send customers to a WhatsApp conversation.
Similar to how marketers are solving for their own funnels, WhatsApp has built a comprehensive tool addressing all phases of the customer lifecycle. Collecting opt-ins, driving customer awareness, newsletters, new product launches, returning to abandoned carts, and other marketing campaigns can all be done via WhatsApp marketing.
Top of Funnel WhatsApp Marketing and Its Importance
The top of the funnel is the beginning of the cycle. It is the stage where brands focus on two main strategies:
- To acquire opt-in and gain interest from new or returning customers.
- To build awareness, nurturing the relationship between brand and customer as they get to know each other better.
Historically the top of the funnel has been one of the most important and challenging stages of the funnel cycle. Marketers must turn to innovative and engaging ways to meet their customers where they are and recognize their needs.
WhatsApp supports marketers in feeding the top of funnel with intuitive opt-in tools and strategies at key moments in the customer lifecycle. Additionally, WhatsApp provides a platform for marketers to meet those needs and for marketers to provide their customers, new and returning, with meaningful interactions.
How Do You Get Started with WhatsApp Marketing?
Establish a WhatsApp Business Account
To communicate with your customers on WhatsApp, you need to establish a business account. WhatsApp has different tools for different types of businesses. The WhatsApp Business App caters to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), while the WhatsApp Business Platform is for mid-sized to enterprise businesses. Tildei facilitates companies sending messages via the WhatsApp Business Platform.
The WhatsApp Business Platform
The WhatsApp Business Platform unlocks the WhatsApp API. Through it, brands can connect with their customers at scale, send a variety of message types, and leverage the full power of WhatsApp. It can be accessed in 1 of 2 ways: you can build an in-house solution or you can work with a WhatsApp Business Partner (like Tildei!).
To start you will need to do the following:
- Get a phone number: You will need to own the phone number, and it can’t be tied to another WhatsApp account. If you need help with this step, let Tildei know!
- Get Meta Business Manager: If you have a company Facebook Page you should already have this. If not, it’s easy to get set up!
- Set up your WhatsApp Business profile: This is your business name, business description, address, website, and image (logo). Bonus: if you are in a country that supports WhatsApp directory, it will also let customers find you there.
- Integrate with your WhatsApp provider: If that’s Tildei, we will take you the rest of the way and give you access to the Tildei Platform!
For a step-by-step guide on getting started, we recommend you go to our Getting Started on WhatsApp blog and follow the helpful instructions we made for you there.
Initial WhatsApp Marketing Campaigns
For your initial campaigns, we recommend having 3 essential WhatsApp campaigns that will get you started. Here are the three campaigns that top our list:
- Welcome Campaign: The perfect start to the conversation
- Conversational Newsletter Campaign: A reason to continue the conversation
- Post-Experience Campaign: A moment to listen to the customer
5 WhatsApp Marketing Best Practices
1. Maintain a Conversational Mentality
Conversational marketing is at the forefront of modern marketing strategy, and WhatsApp provides the perfect channel to communicate with your customers in that way. Subsequently, a shift in marketing strategy also requires a shift in how you think about the messages to send.
No more should marketing be thought of as a one-off message sent for the customer to consume. Instead, conversational marketing requires thinking through your marketing messages and campaigns in a dialogue form, or simply put, rethinking your campaigns as conversations.
Questions to ask to ensure you’re taking a conversation-focused approach:
- Does this sound like how customers would have a conversation with a friend or with an associate in a store?
- What opportunities are there for customers to engage and respond?
- What questions might the customer ask in relation to the campaign?
- What are ways to respond to a customer’s reply to make them sound heard?
If you find yourself directly copying and pasting the same content from an email or an SMS message, that’s your signal to rethink your campaigns as conversations. Use your existing campaigns as inspiration for creating new conversations.
Need more ideas? Scroll down to the Use Cases and Examples section below.
2. Follow Healthy WhatsApp Opt-In Practices
Similar to other digital marketing channels, WhatsApp requires brands to follow specific rules around opting in new subscribers:
- Businesses must clearly state that a person is opting in to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp
- Businesses must clearly state the business name that a person is opting in to receive messages from
- Businesses must comply with applicable law
Beyond the WhatsApp requirements, we recommend brands follow additional best practices to provide the best customer experience.
WhatsApp Opt-In Best Practices Checklist
- Users should expect the opt-in message
- Communicate the value of receiving this information over WhatsApp
- Provide clear opt-out instructions
- Monitor the Quality Rating
3. Send WhatsApp Messages Your Customers Are Expecting
An important part of any successful marketing campaign is sending the right message to the right customer. At opt-in opportunities, clearly state what the customer should expect and the types of messages and frequency at which you plan to send.
Ensure any messages sent to the customer are what they’ve opted in to receive. Additionally, don’t over-send messages to customers. Keep campaign messages relevant, targeted, informative, and conversational.
4. Offer Customers Opt-Out Instead of Customers Blocking Your Messages
If you’re sending a marketing message to your customers, it's a good idea to add an opt-out button on marketing messages. Although it’s a sad moment when your customers choose to opt out of receiving messages from you, it does help keep a healthy, high-quality rating on your templates as well as an engaged audience. The opt out helps avoid them reporting or blocking your brand which could impact your quality rating.
5. Become Familiar with WhatsApp Policies
WhatsApp has two policies that govern how businesses can use the channel: a Business Policy and a Commerce Policy. These policies essentially outline the kinds of messages brands can send and the types of products brands can advertise. Ultimately, their policies are focused on keeping the channel valuable for their users. It started as a channel for users to communicate with family and friends, and they want to ensure that remains the top priority. To show how important the user experience is, “Create a Quality Experience” is one of their top policies.
Creating Message Templates in WhatsApp
What are WhatsApp Templates?
Templates and their related rules and approvals are unique to WhatsApp. A template is a pre-built message that can include variable parameters, buttons, and quick replies. Templates are approved by Meta that allow brands to send business-initiated marketing messages to subscribers.
WhatsApp Template Approval
Any template a brand creates and wants to use must go through approval. Tildei can provide insights and guidance on helping build an approved template. WhatsApp will always have the final decision on the approval process. Once a template is approved, it continues to receive a quality rating that is monitored by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Template Categories
Message templates are required for messages sent to customers based on a trigger (opt-in/subscription) or sent to a group in a batch. There are four types of messages within WhatsApp, but you can only categorize templates as one of these three:
- Marketing - A conversation that relates to your business, products, or services. These conversations can include offers and promotions, product suggestions, and abandoned cart message follow-ups.
- Utility - A conversation that is directly related to a transaction your customers have made. This commonly can include a post-purchase notification and a recurring billing statement.
- Authentication - A conversation that provides users with one-time passcodes for authenticating their accounts during registration, account recovery, or if they’re experiencing any other challenges.
The final categorized message is a Service message, but you cannot label a Template as a Service message. Service messages are generally considered within the user-initiated category. Service messages are intended to be a one-off conversation, and follow a standard 24-hour response window.
Quality Ratings and Reviews
Quality ratings are one of the key ways WhatsApp monitors the messages sent by businesses to customers. The customer who receives a business-generated message can rate a message they’ve received. If a quality rating drops to a low quality, then those messages are stopped from being sent and come under review by WhatsApp. Because of this, brands must monitor their ongoing messaging and create relevant conversational content.
Adding Message Samples
WhatsApp refers to additional visual files that are included with your template submission as Samples. They are highly recommended to be included when submitting to help the approvals team make a decision on your template. They help communicate a better understanding of the message and add context. Here are some Samples that Meta has provided.
WhatsApp Marketing Use Cases and Examples
WhatsApp is a new marketing approach, especially with its conversational focus. The best way to get up to speed is to immerse yourself in WhatsApp conversations. It can be as simple as reading about and viewing WhatsApp marketing campaign examples or interacting with brands on WhatsApp yourself.
WhatsApp Marketing Campaign Strategy and Ideas
WhatsApp marketing has the capability to support similar campaigns you may already be sending in other channels. It also provides a platform to go above and beyond what other channels offer. Start with what you’re already doing and see if WhatsApp can support or improve that experience. Consider your customer lifecycle and see if there are any gaps that you may be able to finally fill using WhatsApp.
There are countless use cases that we’re excited about, and we’re sharing a few here. If you’re just getting started with WhatsApp, we recommend you start with 3 essential WhatsApp campaigns. Looking to get more creative? Here are two campaigns that will help drive ROI:
Conversational Newsletter Campaign - A reason to continue a conversation
WhatsApp can help you innovate the newsletter and connect with your customers on the topics that matter most to them. The newsletter no longer has to be a push of information, but instead, it can be turned into a conversation that makes the experience more personal. Provide the subscriber with a list of categories to pick from, and let them choose the topics that interest them the most. Take your newsletter content and turn it into a dialogue.
Product launch / ‘drop’ campaign - A reason to begin a conversation
A new product launch is an exciting time for you and for your customers. Use the product launch as an opportunity to grow your WhatsApp subscriber list. Incentivize WhatsApp opt-in with countdown messaging, early access, or subscriber-only discounts. Leading up to the launch you can share more about the product and behind-the-scenes content.
Re-imagine Campaigns as WhatsApp Conversations
After spending some time thinking about conversational marketing, you may find yourself saying, “Wow this message would have been so much better as a conversation.” That thought happened to us a few times, and we felt inspired to show how email and SMS campaigns could be turned into conversations.
Want to give it a try? Look at the messages you already send, and start to re-imagine them as WhatsApp conversations. Here’s how we think about turning common campaigns into conversations:
- Scrap the long, text-filled emails that probably aren’t getting read all of the way to the bottom
- In the conversation, allow your subscribers to choose the information they’re interested in. You can also use that data to tailor content to them in the future
- When gathering reviews via a conversation, simply ask one question at a time, making it easier for them to quickly tap through versus a long web survey
- Their answers can be stored to tailor future content your subscribers receive
- Overall, messages sent via WhatsApp have a high engagement rate, so you can generate more feedback responses
- A great opportunity to create some fun in the conversation, take the quizzes you’d have on a website and bring them to WhatsApp
- Each answer can be a simple tap for the customer, you can have planned responses to their selections, and provide links to the recommendations at the end
- Include rewards, discounts, and valuable product information to reward customer participation
Experience a WhatsApp Conversation for Yourself
Sometimes it is best to learn by experience. To better understand how WhatsApp marketing messaging works, test out an interactive Tildei campaign by clicking or scanning the QR code below.
How Does WhatsApp Marketing Compare to SMS Messaging?
WhatsApp’s motto is “Message privately.” They provide privacy and security in a variety of ways, most notably with their end-to-end encryption. Message encryption ensures only the sender and the receiver can see the message. That same level of security also extends into their business messaging.
An additional level of security built into business messaging is verification. Businesses can go through verification that proves they’ve been verified by Meta to be who they say they are. This gives customers the peace of mind that they’re speaking with the correct business.
Messages sent over SMS aren’t encrypted, and SMS doesn’t provide standardized business verification. When receiving messages from businesses on SMS customers can experience a level of uncertainty about the sender of the message as it’s becoming a popular scamming technique to spoof sending numbers. It’s a standard channel that millions use to communicate, but it’s fairly basic in what it offers for security.
Interactive Conversational Messaging
Another key feature of WhatsApp is to provide interactive elements for their users to express themselves. They support this goal by providing users with integrated media elements and interactive response methods. Those same interactive capabilities can be used by businesses as well. Businesses can send files, images, and locations. Additionally, businesses can send messages with List Messages or Reply Buttons to structure responses or provide a clear call-to-action that gives customers a set list of response options that are easy to tap.
Businesses have the ability to send files, images, gifs, and videos when sent as a multi-media message (MMS). When it comes to interactive elements, SMS (or even MMS) does not provide many options. To reply to messages, customers have to type specific keywords or reply to enumerated lists of options. It’s very simple and text-based. The most common reply brands receive over SMS is a customer sending ‘STOP’ to opt-out.
Networks for Sending and Receiving Messages
WhatsApp relies on an internet connection for users to send and receive messages. That means users can send or receive messages whether they're connected through data on their cellular plan or over Wi-Fi. This makes message sending more affordable for users, allows them to use it when traveling outside of their home country, and has no cost for sending or receiving messages from other users or brands globally. One challenge of WhatsApp is that it requires a smartphone or desktop device since it is app-based.
SMS has been around for decades, so it's a channel almost everyone with a mobile understands and is comfortable using. That said, sending or receiving SMS messages requires a phone plan that includes texting. The ability to communicate in general requires a cell signal, and the ability to communicate globally is limited by their network provider.
Deciding to use SMS or WhatsApp
The good news is that SMS and WhatsApp aren’t competing channels, they’re complimentary of each other. You can easily have both in your marketing mix and use them for different purposes. You can also decide to use them similarly and let your customers decide in which channel they want to speak with you.
Why is Tildei Focusing on WhatsApp?
The future of marketing is conversational, and we believe WhatsApp is the channel to bring those conversations to life. There are countless reasons why we’re big on WhatsApp, but the most obvious is the market size. With a whopping 2 billion monthly active users, it’s by far the most popular chat app in the world.
As we center the conversation between brands and their customers, we think there are even more compelling reasons for WhatsApp. Our favorites are the interactive elements native to the channel. WhatsApp has intuitive, interactive features like quick replies, lists, voice memos, images, PDFs, and videos that actively encourage conversations uniquely to the channel.
We’re sensing a big shift for both marketers and customers in the near future, changing how we all interact. 80% of customers report they want to talk to brands in a chat or social app. AI technology like Chat-GPT has captured our imaginations and spurred thousands of new companies to test the limits of what is possible. Brands are being challenged to have real conversations with their customers. They are being asked to send more than a highly personalized message. They are being asked to talk to customers in a genuine, authentic way, and we’re excited to see that happen in WhatsApp.