How to Use WhatsApp for Your Marketing Strategy- Vol. 2

Thursday 24th, March 2016
WhatsApp photo

Photo by Alvy 

In the previous post, we learnt how WhatsApp, with its huge consumer base, presents a great potential for your marketing strategy.

Unfortunately, WhatsApp, with its clean UX and secure interface hardly leaves any area for marketers to promote themselves. No ads, no media to buy and users blocking any intrusive spam messages push marketers to the edge.

The most critical thing to focus is that you CANNOT push messages to people whom you don’t know. You need to get invited by people to become their contact – a juggernaut which needed to be tackled.

Let’s see some ways in which WhatsApp can be leveraged:

Provide Great Value to Build a Database

WhatsApp is going to remain ad free. Always!

So if you want the phone numbers of your customers, you’ll have to give something valuable in return. It can be a promo offer, a free service coupon, freebies or valuable information.

The trick here is to develop an attractive promotion to get the users to provide their phone numbers. Once you’ve been added as a contact, send the promo/offer as promised and you can start your relationship with them.

Case study: A good example would be Delhi police. Realizing the popularity of WhatsApp and the kind of penetration, they decided to create an anti-corruption WhatsApp number, wherein people can send images and videos of policemen not doing their jobs and taking bribes. This was widely circulated and publicized in print and outdoor messaging. On the day of launch, 23000 messages came in – surprising the police and it lead to booking of 6 policemen. In addition to that, they obtained a database of thousands of citizens’ phone numbers for free. Isn’t that great?

Provide Relevant Content For Free

The question is, ‘What do you do once you have started building your phone list?’

WhatsApp has a 70% engagement rate, much higher than that of Facebook. You should make proper use of the platform to provide great, useful content on relevant topics and ensure that they are retained with you.

Case study: Dr. Amrik Singh, Agricultural scientist in India, created a WhatsApp group called Young Progressive Farmers to educate farmers on modern methods of rice farming. This method was very effective and connected many farmers at a negligible cost.

Recently WhatsApp has increased the member count to 256, thereby more people can be added and can benefit from the discussions.

Consumer Research

As of now, WhatsApp has not been extensively used for any research purposes. But it offers an inexpensive, easy to use platform to run some quick research. Once you have your database, you can ask your customers about the flavors they like, services they’d like to use and the like.

It’s all about getting immediate feedback from the people who matter. WhatsApp will be an excellent platform to run quick internal discussions within your company.

Case study: Delhi police, for instance, with their huge database, can now ask the citizens to inform about the unsafe places in the city or teachers in the city can start answering questions and share notes in WhatsApp. For any quick research, WhatsApp is going to be the best platform.

Build an Engaging Brand Persona for WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a personal messaging platform where users talk to family members, connect with friends etc. if you’re a company that gets invited into this closed group, you better tread with caution.

People hate interacting with impersonal company names. They need individuals (real people) to solve their problems and queries. So if you are looking to market in this area, you individually need to put out information and address queries. Hence the first step towards building a brand persona is to humanize the character and provide an identity to the WhatsApp number. People need a friend to interact with- not bots.

The persona can also be a fictional character to pique the interest of your circle. It works wonderfully when implemented well.

Case study: RarePink, a Jeweller in the US, has a WhatsApp number that is managed by its customer service managers who are available round the clock to connect with the customers. Busy people find it really useful to engage with people exchanging pictures while buying ornaments. Since then, this brand has been selling a signification portion of its online sales through WhatsApp.

Deliver a Speedy Customer Service

WhatsApp has a near 70% opening rate, which means you are almost guaranteed that your message will be seen. This is a precarious position where you should exercise restraint in sending messages. Too few- less engagement; too many- spam.

While using WhatsApp services, make sure that you have enough resources to handle the queries. Nothing is worse than getting into WhatsApp and not responding for hours. Ensure that dedicated people are assigned for the job- only then can you achieve results.

Case study: Reliance, that manages luxury brands such as Diesel, Kenneth Cole and Zegna in India, offered customers to remain connected with the brand via WhatsApp. Customers jumped at the chance checking out the products and getting brand information through pictures and video. The conversion rate was superior to other channels and in some cases, it was as high as 80%.

This shows that when utilized properly, WhatsApp is a great marketing channel.

All’s said and done, keep in mind that spamming unknown people on WhatsApp is unacceptable, unethical and definitely not effective. You’ll have to work within the framework of persona, a great value exchange and customer service to generate leads and drive sales.

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