Leveraging WhatsApp to Boost Your ROI

Team Braze By Team Braze May 11, 2023

Do you know the phrase, “This week was a whole year?” It’s safe to say 2022 was a decade rolled into 12 months. From sharply spiking interest rates and quickly changing consumer sentiments, to the looming end of third-party cookies and the launch of ChatGPT, marketing in today’s rapidly changing landscape looks unrecognizable from just a few years ago. But despite all the uncertainty in the air, there’s still plenty to be excited about. These changes create an opportunity: To adopt innovative new strategies, get laser-focused on the ROI of your marketing channels, and embrace what’s next for customer engagement. Now’s the time to engage with your customers on the channels they are using most, and for many businesses, that means doubling down on WhatsApp.

This powerful emerging channel has everything brands need to supercharge their marketing strategies with highly interactive, relevant, and personalized campaigns. Even better, it’s a trusted channel your customers are likely clamoring to use when it comes to transactional and promotional purposes. With over 2 billion users worldwide, global businesses are turning to this two-way messaging channel to help engage more users, increase customer lifetime value (LTV), and retain their customers over the long haul.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), Jon Hyman, Cofounder and CTO at Braze, spoke with Kyle Jenke, Senior Director, Partnerships at Meta, about the future of customer engagement on WhatsApp, what differentiates it from other channels, and which key messaging trends businesses should keep an eye on in the coming years.

3 Standout Reasons WhatsApp Should Be In Your Marketing Mix

1. WhatsApp is where most of your customers already are.

Twenty years ago, ensuring that your marketing reached a mass audience meant forking over hefty spend for billboards and commercials. Nowadays, it’s more cost-effective to put those precious marketing dollars toward digital platforms with widespread usage and high engagement. WhatsApp is an ideal channel to reach your current and potential customers due to its massive scale, global reach, and high engagement.

2. WhatsApp is built to keep the conversation going.

Increasingly, consumers want to feel like they’re conversing with the brands they love with two-way messaging experiences. Thankfully, WhatsApp’s two-way messaging capabilities can fill that gap and offer businesses that engage users across multiple channels a competitive edge.

“We view WhatsApp as a conversational channel,” said Kyle. “It's also personal. It's trusted. It's familiar. Your grandma probably knows how to use WhatsApp because she trusts it to talk with her friends and his family. Those are the types of conversations we want you to have over WhatsApp—we want them to be very customer-centric.” From promotional campaigns like abandoned cart or order again to transactional campaigns like reminders and shipping status updates, this channel is the ideal conduit for a better customer experience that leads to higher customer retention.

3. WhatsApp makes it easy to craft richer experiences that drive more business value.

Versatility unlocks another added benefit: A richer end-to-end experience for the consumer. While push notifications, email, SMS, and in-app messages remain cornerstones of the cross-channel experience, WhatsApp is like a Swiss army knife. “What's exciting about WhatsApp is that you get the best of the benefits of email and mobile-based messaging,” shared Jon.

Kyle elaborated, “Our customers will have very rich commerce conversations inside of WhatsApp.” You might send a low-urgency message with rich content over email or drive a conversion event using an in-app notification. At the same time, WhatsApp enables you to pull customers back into your products or drive 1:1 conversations that can boost sales and customer lifetime value.

All that sophistication doesn’t mean execution has to be a time-consuming slog. Using Braze Canvas Flow, our customer journey orchestration tool, you can easily craft interactive campaigns filled with eye-catching images, buttons, and calls-to-action. Behind the scenes, your team can access in-dashboard reporting for WhatsApp, meaning you can track the real-time performance of metrics around reads, deliveries, sends, and more. Once you’ve composed your messages and your user journeys are up and running, you’ll want to optimize them as you go to get even better results.

Applying WhatsApp to the 3 Customer Engagement Pillars

While creating your first campaigns on a new channel can be daunting, the good news is you can start simple and advance quickly. Now that we’ve outlined what WhatsApp can do for your business, let’s look at examples of how this channel plays with the three core pillars of customer engagement: Activation, monetization, and retention. Focus on these three areas below to get up and running quickly and see business results faster.

1. Activate new customers to improve your top of funnel performance

Your marketing team has worked hard to win new customers over (and even spent a significant chunk of their budget), but those customers’ journeys with your brand are just beginning. In the activation stage, companies should aim to make their first impression seamless, personally relevant, and cohesive.

How do you do that in practice? First, identify the high-value actions that you want your new customers to take. For instance, getting a new customer to complete their registration or download your app. With a message in WhatsApp, you can easily nudge a customer back into your mobile app or website, where they can enter their email, invite friends, or complete their profile. Alternatively, you can use WhatsApp’s quick reply buttons to collect information directly within the WhatsApp thread.

2. Monetize your customers to drive higher lifetime value

Once the customer is activated, it’s time to help them find ways to get the value of your product. Leading companies know the importance of creating seamless commerce experiences. Luckily, businesses can now send abandoned cart notifications or surface exclusive promotions on WhatsApp. For instance, if a customer places an order from their favorite QSR restaurant without checking out, they can leverage a customer engagement platform like Braze to send an abandoned cart message to those users, nudging them to complete their purchase.

Additionally, one of the significant benefits of WhatsApp is the robust analytics, which enables brands more visibility into what’s moving the needle. Using the reporting features, teams can get more granular with their experimentation. For instance, they can monitor metrics like read rate and conversion rate to gain deeper insight into how their campaigns are being received and what messages are resonating with each customer.

3. Retention

Retaining your customers is paramount in today’s competitive landscape—and brands can use WhatsApp to engage customers in between purchases with experiences that feel more like a conversation than a campaign.

Instead of sending an email to ask customers how they like their purchase or to rate it, WhatsApp may be a more efficient way to close the customer feedback loop using short, post-purchase customer surveys. “[Email] may have a low click-through rate because it's a channel that isn't going to get a lot of urgency,” Jon explained. “People may not want to open it, click through, open up a web browser, versus a straightforward button in a WhatsApp message.” The higher engagement on WhatsApp gives brands more insight to inform their retention strategies and deliver more value to their customers overall.

With WhatsApp, you can start simple and then expand into more sophisticated use cases to wow your customers with media-rich experiences. From images to quick reply buttons to links, it’s easy to make every message within WhatsApp pop for each user. One example of this, according to Kyle, is an approach taken by the largest bank in Indonesia. “If you pay for something over a certain dollar limit, you get a WhatsApp message asking if you'd like to split that into multiple payments. Customers love that they can spread that over multiple months or payment periods.” This campaign is just the tip of the iceberg for what brands can do to make the end-to-end experience within this channel feel cohesive and smooth.

WhatsApp Trends to Watch For

What’s next when it comes to WhatsApp? First of all, you can likely expect to see more end-to-end commerce experiences take place within WhatsApp. For companies struggling to get customers to download their app, this trusted and familiar channel offers an exciting alternative to the traditional shopping experience: Consider checkout, payment flexibility options, shipping confirmation, and feedback surveys.

Meanwhile, richer in-product experiences will likely continue to elevate marketing campaigns. We’ve all been on the receiving end of clunky, disconnected experiences that fall short of expectations. Remember when you ordered an online grocery delivery, and the peanut butter you wanted was out of stock? But instead of being able to communicate back to the grocery platform to tell them what to replace it with, you were given one second to approve their substitution. Or, let’s say you went to re-order your favorite mascara—only to find out it was back-ordered for the next four weeks; that’s pretty frustrating, especially when you could have an automated replenishment flow built based on your preferences instead. What can WhatsApp do for your business?

As more and more consumers rely on mobile devices, brands must increasingly adopt strategies to support the seamless cross-channel experiences they crave. To learn how to activate, monetize, and retain your customers on this powerful channel, be sure to check out the Braze WhatsApp Inspiration Guide.

Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

Team Braze

Team Braze

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