With its versatile and user-friendly features of instant messaging, multimedia sharing, contact addition and chat group creation, WhatsApp is probably the most popular messaging application across the globe, boasting 700 million active monthly users. As a networking platform, WhatsApp has opened doorways for communities and interest groups to connect with members with ease and share ideas.
But what about businesses and brands?
WhatsApp is a fantastic tool for small and medium sized businesses as well as established brands to reach target audiences and engage proactively with users. Startups have leveraged WhatsApp as part of their awareness and brand building exercises, while luxury brands such as Cartier and Armani have integrated the app into their marketing strategy for India. Here are a few ways to use this strictly ‘No Ads’ app to market your products and services, generate leads, interact with consumers and close sales deals.
#1 Share news on new product launches
Leverage features such as multimedia sharing and instant messaging to share news and updates about new product launches to your customers. Using contact information from your customer database, tailor your messages so as to entice your audience to seek more information about your new products or services. Share attractive e-brochures, product images and good-to-know details about the value proposition and purchase details of your new and even existing products. Absolut Vodka devised a unique WhatsApp based launch campaign for their limited edition bottles that required users to interact with a virtual brand persona via WhatsApp.
#2 Create contests and campaigns
Due to its instant messaging feature, WhatsApp works wonders as a platform for brand-related contests and campaigns. The key is to encourage your audience to respond to the required call-for action. Since WhatsApp usage is free, you can focus your resources on creating a great campaign, instead of channelizing a great portion of your funds towards sourcing a response platform. Colgate created a contest-based campaign wherein people were invited to send selfies of their smiles to a phone number displayed on the toothpaste packaging, through WhatsApp, to win a makeover by the celebrity brand ambassador’s stylist.
#3 Be on top of your Customer Service game!
Incorporating WhatsApp into your customer service program can help you effectively communicate with your customers by responding swiftly to their queries, feedback or inputs as compared to other forms of customer service platforms. You can also enhance your relationship with your customers by sharing images and videos that are relevant to the topic at hand. Pipa+Bella, a social – selling based jewellery brand, uses WhatsApp to respond to customer feedback and queries regarding product information, availability, prices, offers, sales and so on.
#4 Create and strengthen brand communities
One of the latest updates that WhatsApp has presented to its users is the ability to create chat groups that can have as many as 100 members. As a brand, you can create chat groups comprising of loyal or influential consumers, thereby establishing a forum for the discussion of brand-related news, trends in the industry, vital feedback and curated content. Such brand communities will give you an insight into what your customers really want, where they seek solutions and how they utilise your products. Moreover, it gives your brand a platform to directly interact with your loyal customers, thus building credibility for your brand. Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, uses WhatsApp groups to connect with programmers, developers and app enthusiasts to discuss new product development ideas, identify bugs in their software and make important changes to their phones.
#5 Use plugins to share brand blogs
If you have a blog for your business, then wait no longer to incorporate the WhatsApp share button! Using this plugin, your online audience and blog followers can share their favourite posts and content pieces from your blog with their network of friends and family on WhatsApp. This share button is all the rage now, and is widely used by community blogs such as Buzzfeed.com.
With technology being an ever-evolving field, it is prudent for businesses, irrespective of their scale of operations, to hop onto the WhatsApp bandwagon. However, there is a fine line between marketing to your customers, and spamming them. Adequate measures must be taken to avoid over-usage of WhatsApp to send messages and other content to customers, lest they block your number altogether!