a person on a phone surrounded by whatsapp messages

WhatsApp


The Complete Guide to WhatsApp Marketing

Team Braze By Team Braze Feb 13, 2024

WhatsApp marketing is a type of marketing that brands leverage in order to build 1:1 connections at scale and power conversations with customers by harnessing the strengths and capabilities of the world’s most popular mobile messaging app, WhatsApp. Considering adding WhatsApp to your marketing mix alongside other digital channels like email, mobile (e.g. push notifications, in-app messages, and social?

You’re not alone. The platform is not only a go-to for the 2 billion customers who use WhatsApp every month, but also for millions of business users, too. Hundreds of millions, in fact. The WhatsApp Business arm of WhatsApp has grown to include more than 200 million business users, a 4X increase since 2020.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting started with WhatsApp marketing.

Table of Contents:

What Is WhatsApp Marketing?

WhatsApp marketing is a type of marketing that involves using this powerful communication channel to engage audiences with rich, two-way messaging experiences. While the WhatsApp channel was initially used by brands primarily for customer support interactions, brands have been significantly broadening the scope of how it’s used in recent years. Think outbound marketing communications like welcome messages to new users, onboarding campaigns, promotions and sales, abandoned cart campaigns, customer feedback surveys, and more. Meta, who owns WhatsApp, is also placing significant investments in the channel, with Mark Zuckerberg calling it the “next chapter” for Meta. This means marketers can look forward to even more frictionless and engaging ways to connect with their customers in the coming years.

Getting Started With WhatsApp Marketing

To get started with WhatsApp marketing, brands first need to create a WhatsApp Business Account. Similar to business profiles available on other messaging platforms and online listings directories, your WhatsApp Business Account can include:

  • Your business name and address

  • Your business category and description

  • Your brand’s email address and a link to its website

Owned WhatsApp Marketing

As with other owned digital marketing channels (e.g. email, SMS), brands can use WhatsApp organically for inbound and outbound communications. That means creating and deploying outbound WhatsApp messaging campaigns to engage audiences at scale; WhatsApp refers to these as business-initiated messages.

As with other channels, WhatsApp users must opt into receiving these campaigns before companies can send outreach and these messages can include text-based and media-based interactive content. Brands often use these to announce promotions, deploy special offers, send order confirmations and appointment reminders, and share product updates.

Paid WhatsApp Marketing

Click-to-WhatsApp ads are also available to promote your company’s WhatsApp account via Facebook and Instagram ads. Ad campaigns can be set up to support your efforts to boost brand awareness, customer consideration, sales, and the post-purchase experience. Click-to-WhatsApp ads drive customers directly into a WhatsApp thread, where you can collect opt-in for the channel and help customers to learn more about your products and services.

5 Reasons Why WhatsApp Marketing Is Important

Some of the key advantages of WhatsApp for marketers include being able to reach customers where they are, developing deeper customer relationships, reaching global audiences at scale, and improving marketing KPIs like conversions, and customer lifetime value.

1. Reach Users Where They Are

As marketers, our #1 priority is to acquire and retain customers—after all, without active customers, no company can stay in business. And one of the best ways to engage with customers to keep them retained over time is to meet them where they are. Increasingly, where customers are is on WhatsApp. With over 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp is the #1 messaging app and the #3 social media app worldwide. Not only that, Meta reports that over 1 billion WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct users interact with businesses via these messaging apps every week, such as by sending companies DMs, browsing their business profiles, or getting support.

2. Spark Conversations

As with SMS marketing, email marketing, push notifications, and in-app and in-browser messaging, effective WhatsApp marketing can help your company get to know your audience and meet the needs of your customers better. WhatsApp is particularly well-suited for engaging your customers on a deeper level because of the channel’s dynamic two-way messaging capabilities. Savvy brands use this functionality to add to their overall customer engagement strategy by collecting information from their customers within the messaging flow and facilitating conversational experiences.

3. Scale Your Global Marketing

Marketers at the helm of global brands have the challenge of choosing which channels to invest in for maximum impact and reach across regions. With certain channels offering less accessibility or achieving lower penetration levels in some parts of the globe, not all outreach types can offer the same potential worldwide. That’s why global platforms like WhatsApp, which has achieved a penetration rate of over 85% in parts of Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and Latin America, are appealing to brands looking for a universally popular choices for engagement.

4. Increase Conversions and Customer Lifetime Value

WhatsApp offers marketers richer functionality than many other digital channels. Brands can leverage rich media, quick reply buttons, and calls-to-action to build campaigns that capture attention and motivate their customers to take action. Paired with advanced segmentation, content personalization, and predictive AI to send the right message to the right customers at the right time, brands can deploy WhatsApp campaigns designed to strengthen conversions and customer lifetime value. WhatsApp is ripe for use cases such as onboarding campaigns, abandoned cart messages, promotions, referral campaigns, loyalty program updates, and user feedback via surveys.

5. Optimize Marketing Spend

By leveraging WhatsApp marketing as part of a cross-channel customer engagement strategy, your company has the potential to unify your marketing efforts, reach customers more efficiently using the most cost-effective owned channels. That can reduce wasted spend and boost the overall ROI of your customer engagement efforts.

How to Grow a Highly Engaged WhatsApp Audience

Follow these steps to build and strengthen your WhatsApp strategy from the ground up.

1. Acquire New WhatsApp Subscribers

A QR code for a brand called Sandwich Emperor

WhatsApp requires brands to collect opt-ins before they can send any marketing messages to users. As a result, developing tactics for growing your WhatsApp subscriber list should be one of the first steps you take when planning your overall WhatsApp marketing strategy.

  • Promote your WhatsApp presence to your customers. WhatsApp offers QR codes and short links that you can use to promote your WhatsApp presence via owned digital channels and in-person touchpoints. In addition, action buttons promoting your WhatsApp account can be added to your company’s Facebook and Instagram profiles and shops. Brands may also consider adding paid efforts, such as Click-to-WhatsApp ads, to acquire new WhatsApp subscribers, including existing customers who haven’t opted-in yet and consumers new to your brand.

  • Tell customers what to expect and describe the benefits of opting into receiving messages from your brand on WhatsApp, such as being among the first to receive exclusive offers, getting order updates and transactional messages, and staying in the loop when major announcements are made.

  • Offer incentives for signing up, such as a discount or free trial, product, or service.

  • Position opting into receiving WhatsApp campaigns as an exclusive VIP experience: For instance, perhaps your WhatsApp audience has the chance to receive insider updates, loyalty perks, or other offers only available for WhatsApp subscribers.

2. Adhere to WhatsApp’s Opt-In Requirements

A pop up message asking a user to opt-in to whatsapp

Follow WhatsApp’s requirements for obtaining opt-ins by getting explicit consent from users before sending any marketing outreach via WhatsApp. These include:

  • Clearly stating that a subscriber is opting in to receive messages from the company via WhatsApp

  • Clearly stating the name of the business that the subscriber is opting in to receive messages from

  • Complying with applicable laws

3. Maximize Your Sending Potential

WhatsApp has established set messaging limits that spell out the maximum number of business-initiated conversations a business can send within a 24-hour timeframe.

Brands typically start at a lower messaging limit and go through a short “warming period” so WhatsApp can determine their sending reputation before the company is allowed to send at full scale. During the initial warming period, brands can increase their sending tier going from a 1K messaging limit to 10K, to 100K, and finally, being able to send an unlimited number of business-initiated conversations.

WhatsApp has specific steps companies need to follow to be able to increase their messaging limits. These steps include:

  • Completing the Meta business verification process. This allows WhatsApp to confirm that the company is a legitimate business. Without completing this step, brands cannot scale their messaging and are limited to a much lower number of conversations per 24-hour period.

  • Maintaining a strong phone number quality rating. WhatsApp gives brands a phone number quality rating of “Low”, “Medium” or “High” based on the quality of their messaging on the platform. A brand’s quality rating can go down if recipients block or report the brand. In order to increase their messaging limits, a brand must have a rating of “Medium” or “High”. If the rating drops to “Low” and isn’t remedied within a certain amount of time, the brand’s messaging limit tier may be downgraded.

  • Ensuring a phone number status of “Connected.” If a brand’s phone number quality is Low and on track to be downgraded to a lower message tier, the phone number status changes to Flagged. Brands cannot increase their messaging limits when their phone number is Flagged.

For more on best practices, check out the WhatsApp Business Messaging Policy or download the Getting Started with WhatsApp guide.

4. Use WhatsApp Marketing as Part of a Cross-Channel Strategy

A person with a phone surrounded by bubbles with the names of messaging channels

Similar to what brands see with SMS marketing, email marketing, and app and web messaging efforts, WhatsApp marketing is most effective when it’s incorporated into a broader cross-channel customer engagement strategy and used alongside other effective channels to foster long-term relationships. This approach can extend the reach of your customer engagement efforts and allow you to engage customers you might miss or fail to convert on a single channel.

5. Personalize Your WhatsApp Marketing Campaigns

Marketers are more likely to achieve stronger outcomes when they personalize WhatsApp campaigns for each individual to maximize relevance at every stage of the customer journey. Marketers should make sure their messages reflect their customers’ preferences, behaviors, and cross-channel interactions. Using a customer engagement platform that will allow them to harness their rich first-party data, like Braze, is essential is being able to send dynamic campaigns that convert.

3 High-Impact WhatsApp Marketing Use Cases

Savvy brands are leveraging the best of WhatsApp’s capabilities to engage customers across the entire lifecycle in order to drive high-value actions, like encouraging account sign-ups and app downloads to transactions, customer reviews, and referrals.

The wheel of the customer lifecycle
A phone showing WhatsApps conversation with brands asking customers to sign up

With its potential for a range of interactive messaging capabilities, WhatsApp is an ideal vehicle for encouraging customer activation. Some of the steps it can help to nudge users to complete include:

  • Registering for an account

  • Finishing an account sign-up process that’s been initiated

  • Downloading an app

  • Taking an initial high-value action (as determined by your business) after successfully completing account sign-up

2. Customer Monetization Campaigns

A WhatsApp conversation with brands asking customers to make a purchase

Monetization campaigns seamlessly encourage incremental purchases and higher average order values. With the ability to send highly relevant and personalized messages to wide audiences of engaged users, WhatsApp is well-suited for driving purchases and repurchases, including via:

  • Sales, discounts, and promo codes

  • Abandoned cart campaigns

  • Buy it again/re-order campaigns

  • Back-in-stock reminders

  • Low stock alerts

  • Price drop notifications

  • Upsell and cross-sell campaigns

3. Customer Retention Campaigns

WhatsApp conversations with brands messaging customers to come back

Because it’s a go-to channel for interacting with friends and family throughout the day, WhatsApp can be a powerful platform for staying top of mind with customers and encouraging them to stick with your business over the long haul. Impactful WhatsApp customer retention campaigns include:

  • Exclusive offers (as part of a loyalty program or for WhatsApp-subscribed customers only)

  • Major announcements

  • Milestones and special occasions

  • Product education

  • Customer feedback and surveys

  • Transactional updates like order status updates and account updates

2 Real-Life Examples of WhatsApp Marketing in Action

How Rappi Reactivated Lapsed Users with WhatsApp

In the past, digital commerce platform Rappi has used WhatsApp for customer acquisition and membership efforts. Recently, however, the brand saw an opportunity to expand their WhatsApp marketing efforts to include activation and reactivation campaigns, something that led to impressive results.

By using Braze to send personalized, targeted deals to both lapsed and active users via a cross-channel campaign that included WhatsApp, the company drove an 80% uplift in purchases compared to a test group that only received deals via push notifications and email. See the full case study here.

A WhatsApp conversation with the brand Rappi

How Styli Increased ROI with Personalized Cross-Channel Messaging

eCommerce platform Styli used to send the company’s customer engagement campaigns on one channel at a time. When the brand made the switch to using the Braze customer engagement platform, they were able to expand their channel mix to include WhatsApp, provide customers with more frequent, relevant campaigns enriched with Braze Catalogs, and automate more of their customer engagement program in scalable ways These changes drove stronger overall results, including a 50% boost in ROI, a 15% increase in user activation, and a 21% uplift in sign-ups. See the full case study here.

WhatsApp messages with the brand Styli

3 Ways a Customer Engagement Platform Can Support WhatsApp Marketing

The Braze platform’s native support for Whatsapp makes it possible to:

1. Launch automated WhatsApp campaigns and easily orchestrate dynamic, two-way messaging flows.

2. Create, deploy, and optimize cross-channel campaigns inclusive of WhatsApp and other key channels like email, SMS, mobile, and web messaging, and other popular channels.

3. Deliver rich, personalized WhatsApp messages, leveraging the Braze customer engagement platform’s personalization capabilities to ensure relevant outreach for every stage of the customer journey.

    Final Thoughts

    Marketers that launch WhatsApp marketing campaigns leveraging the latest best practices have the potential to better activate, monetize, and retain their customers, and, ultimately, develop the kinds of relationships that foster brand loyalty and advocacy over time.

    Brands that harness the power of the Braze customer engagement platform for their WhatsApp marketing efforts can save time getting started and also reduce the effort involved in launching and optimizing campaigns on an ongoing basis.

    See how WhatsApp and Braze can help your brand drive deeper engagement and higher conversion. Learn about our WhatsApp customer engagement capabilities.

    WhatsApp Marketing FAQs

    What Are the Benefits of WhatsApp for Marketers?

    Some of the key benefits of WhatsApp for marketers include reaching customers at a massive scale (2B+ active users around the globe) on a channel built for two-way messaging.

    What Are WhatsApp Messaging Limits?

    WhatsApp defines messaging limits as the maximum number of business-initiated conversations each account can deliver within a 24-hour period. These levels vary based on a brand’s phone number quality rating and status, which is informed by blocks and reports from consumers.

    Are Opt-Ins Required to Send WhatsApp Messages?

    Yes. Businesses are required to obtain opt-ins before they can send business-initiated WhatsApp messages to customers.

    What Are Some Common Examples of Using WhatsApp for Marketing?

    Brands can use WhatsApp to engage customers across the customer lifecycle, including customer activation, monetization, retention, reactivation, and advocacy campaigns. The channel is well-suited for interactive campaigns that require back-and-forth interactions between consumers and brands.


    Team Braze

    Team Braze

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