This is the one we’ve all been waiting for, WhatsApp for Business. Thousands of people & companies out there are already using their personal WhatsApp accounts for business. They're using WhatsApp for lead generation, relationship management and customer service. Isn't it time we take all these WhatsApp conversations out of our personal accounts and create WhatsApp Business Accounts?
This post is designed to help you with your research, we're going to be answering questions like:
- What is WhatsApp?
- Why use WhatsApp for business?
- Where is WhatsApp popular?
- Should I use WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp Business API?
- How can I get started with WhatsApp Business App?
- How to generate leads using WhatsApp?
- How do I send a WhatsApp broadcast?
- Can I use WhatsApp for Customer Service?
- How does the WhatsApp Business API work?
- How do I create a WhatsApp Chatbot?
What is WhatsApp?
We're not going to go into great depth on explaining WhatsApp as there is a high likelihood that you're already familiar with it. WhatsApp is composed of three main panels, chats, status & calls.
The curious thing about the interface of this extremely popular app is that 2/3rds of it is almost useless. The chats panel helps you find your current chats and start new ones. The status panel allows you to see other peoples stories, but it is rarely used. The calls panels show a history of your calls, also rarely used.
Overall WhatsApp is a straightforward messaging app mostly without gimmicks.
Why Use WhatsApp for Business?
The reasons for adding WhatsApp are very similar to the reasons for adding Facebook Messenger. There are so many users on WhatsApp that the platform is somewhat hard to ignore. In a Q4 2017 earnings call it was announced that WhatsApp had 1.5 billion users compared to Facebooks 1.3 Billion. This is an amazing feat considering just 3 years before WhatsApp had only 450 million users.
It's not just about the massive number of users though, it's about engagement. WhatsApp users send about 65 billion messages per day, that is about 750,000 messages per second! Even WhatsApp Status, which was seen as a joke when it came out already has 450 million daily active users. Compare that to Snapchats 191 million, and you can begin to understand the magnitude of WhatsApps dominance.
WhatsApp user engagement is high, averaging out the 65 billion messages means users are sending 43 messages per day on average. In addition, with read and receipt indicators WhatsApp users have a lot of psychological pressure to respond to people who are messaging them. Although it's a bit early to know definitively if this effect transfers over to chatting with businesses, there is some evidence to suggest it has.
According to Tech Crunch, over 3 million businesses have already taken the leap by using the WhatsApp for Business app. This data is supported by the fact that the app has over 10 million downloads on Google's Play Store. In addition, some have reported that messages have a 99% open rate & 40%+ response rate in use cases where WhatsApp for Business is used by universities.
All this sounds great for connecting with existing customers or even acquiring users. But what if customers could pay you through WhatsApp directly? It's coming soon.
In early 2018, WhatsApp launched Payments in Beta in India. By August, WhatsApp had recruited a WhatsApp India CEO and created a local office to comply with local data regulation and by the end of 2018, it had applied formally to the Indian Central Bank to request approval to run their payments nationwide. Although it may take months or even years for WhatsApp to bring payments to your region it's going to be too little too late if that is when you start your WhatsApp for Business efforts.
Where is WhatsApp Popular?
With 1.5 Billion users worldwide we know that WhatsApp is a great way to build relationships with your customers, but which regions stand to benefit the most from being able to communicate with customers over WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in 104 countries. Without going through the whole list here is a simple rule of thumb. For Europe, Africa and Latin America you can expect WhatsApp is either a leader or has significant enough penetration that you should be targeting WhatsApp users in those countries. The most notable exceptions are the United States, China and Australia. In China specifically, WhatsApp has been blocked since 2017 and we don't expect this block to be lifted anytime soon.
WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API
Before we talk about getting started with WhatsApp for Business it's important to note that WhatsApp currently allows two distinct ways of doing so. The difference between these two options is the types of companies they are designed for.
The WhatsApp Business App is designed to cater to small businesses. In Hong Kong, this is quite a popular option for computer vendors. As consumers in Hong Kong are often looking for obscure computer parts and with stiff competition on prices, often the chief questions are about existing stock. Seeing as these businesses are too small to keep electronic inventory and usually only have 1 or 2 employees, the WhatsApp Business App is the perfect solution to respond to these messages quickly and efficiently.
WhatsApp Business API is a product designed for enterprise. It allows large companies to connect their Customer Relationship Management tools to WhatsApp in order to take actions programmatically. This can be anything as simple as providing shipping notifications through WhatsApp to having WhatsApp connected to their customer contact centre in order to provide real-time support.
If you're looking to build a WhatsApp bot or to connect WhatsApp marketing software you'll need to use the WhatsApp API.
Next we're going to describe the WhatsApp Business App in depth, if you're only interested in the WhatsApp Business API you can read about it here.
Getting Started With the WhatsApp Business App
Let's start with the basics. In order to use the WhatsApp Business App, you will need a spare phone number and an Android phone. Just like the regular WhatsApp, your account is tied to your phone number. Therefore you'll likely need to pick up an extra sim card and perhaps even an Android phone if you don't have one already.
Luckily at Rocketbots many of us are using dual sim android devices so this wasn't an issue. And no, for those of you asking, you will not be able to use the same number for your WhatsApp account and your WhatsApp Business account.
Once you're ready, go ahead and download the WhatsApp Business App on the Google Play store to get started. Much like regular WhatsApp, the first thing you will be asked to do is to verify your phone number.
If you already had WhatsApp installed on your phone you'll have the opportunity to move your media and messages to your new WhatsApp Business Account. If you've been using a personal WhatsApp account for business reasons this is your opportunity to move all the information to your WhatsApp for Business account. Think hard because you only have the opportunity to do this once.
Next, you'll need to let users know who you are using the Business Profile. This is a set of basic information much like on Google Maps. You'll need a profile picture, the name of your business, a category, a description and an address. Above, you can see how we've set it up and what a user sees. Everything looks good except for verification.
Although, our account is listed as a business account, when a person clicks on Business Account they will see that prompt that states, "WhatsApp hasn't verified that this is a business." We'd like to be verified and receive our checkmark but according to WhatsApp, this is not something you can actively ask for. WhatsApps FAQ simply states that notable brands will be verified by WhatsApp. There is no request for verification that we were able to find.
How To Benefit From The WhatsApp Business App
In the next section, we're talking about the use cases possible with the default features of the WhatsApp Business App. However, companies have actually been using WhatsApp for marketing campaigns among other uses for quite a while and some of them have even been using personal WhatsApp to do so. If you're interested in those we have an article about interesting WhatsApp Campaigns that we are constantly updating.
Generating Leads Using The WhatsApp Business App
One of the reasons you might be interested in the WhatsApp Business App is marketing, from spreading awareness about your brand or business all the way to pushing out messaging about your latest offers. We're going to start our guide at the very top of the funnel. How can we reach out and create awareness of our WhatsApp Business Account?
WhatsApp Lead Generations Using Links
If you're looking to create awareness amongst a completely new audience, Facebook ads are always a good place to start. But what if you already have access to a large audience on your website or even through your customer email list. How can you take that audience and give them the option to communicate with you through your WhatsApp Business Account?
Much like Facebook Messenger reference codes you can create a link that allows people to send messages to your WhatsApp Business Account. To do so enter WhatsApp Business App settings, navigate to Business Settings and go to Short Link. In the Short Link screen, you can customize the default message.
Once the user clicks the link they will be directed to a confirmation page and when they click send, their WhatsApp will open and the message will appear in the text field. Once the user hits send you will receive the message, as shown in the last screenshot.
It's interesting to note that the default message gets added as a reference to the link. This means that you can create a bunch of different messages for different use cases and based on the first message that the user sends you can attribute them to an email that you sent or a website that the user had visited. For example, we've set up a Click to Chat Link just for you, why do you give it a try?
Facebook Click to WhatsApp Ads
These work almost exactly like Facebook Send to Messenger Ads. If you haven't had a chance to learn about those you can do so in our Ultimate Guide to Facebook Messenger for Business. The biggest difference is that you'll need to connect your WhatsApp Business Account to your Business Page on Facebook. To do so, go into your Facebook Ad account and start setting up a new campaign.
Once you've selected a messaging campaign, hit continue. At the Ad Set level, Facebook will ask you to choose the Message Destination. If this is your first time setting up a Click to WhatsApp campaign you'll be asked to connect your WhatsApp Business Account to your Facebook Business page.
Once you've entered your WhatsApp Business Account number Facebook will send you a verification through the WhatsApp Business App. After you've successfully entered your verification code inside Facebooks Ad manager you'll be able to set up the rest of your ad in the same way as you would a Send to Messenger ad.
Once you've set up the rest of the ad the final product will resemble what you see below.
Segmenting Contacts and Broadcasting on the WhatsApp Business App
Now that you've got WhatsApp Business App contacts, what can you actually do with them? So far, not so much. At the moment you can group them and send them WhatsApp messages en masse, also known as a WhatsApp broadcast.
There are two ways of sending broadcasts. First the hard way. Go to your chats, open the actions menu and select new broadcast. The app will then prompt you to select your contacts, you can select up to 256 of them just like regular WhatsApp groups. Once you're done hit the checkmark on the bottom right and the WhatsApp Business app will create a broadcast group. This is very much like a WhatsApp group except for one key difference.
If people reply to your broadcast message, they will not appear in the broadcast group, they will only be shown in that contacts chat. Once you have created the broadcast group it will always be available in your chat list and you can continue sending broadcasts without any limitations.
Going in and selecting 256 contacts manually is quite the process and very much prone to error, but you can also set up broadcasts using labels. Within each chat, you have the option to add or remove labels from that contact. Once you've labelled all your contacts go back out to all your chats and select labels from the action menu. This will take you to a list of all your labels and clicking one will take you to the list of contacts who have that label. From this screen, you can use the action menu to create a broadcast group using the Message Customers button.
WhatsApp Customer Service on the WhatsApp Business App
Using the WhatsApp Business App for customer service could potentially become an overwhelming experience. The primary reason is that there is no way to leverage any of your team members to respond to any of the chats. By design, the WhatsApp Business App works exactly like regular WhatsApp. This means that you are only allowed to have one account per phone. So unless you have a special office mobile phone and you pass it around the office you are mostly on your own. Luckily the app has some built-in tools that make your job a little bit easier.
Onboarding Contacts on WhatsApp Business App
When working with messaging apps, one of the most important things to get it right is contact onboarding. When someone messages you for the first time it is the same as a first impression in real life. You want to do as much as possible to make sure that interaction is successful because it sets the tone for the future.
Greeting Message on WhatsApp Business App
One of the most important aspects of the first interaction is the speed of the response. The WhatsApp Business App Greeting Message is perfectly set up to handle this interaction.
To set up the Greeting Message, go to your Business Settings and select Greeting Message. Here you will be able to enter the message that people receive and the conditions under which they receive it. In our experience, some of the settings are somewhat useless. For example, being able to select individuals that you want to include or exclude is strange, especially if you do not have them in your address book.
Realistically, you are creating this message to handle contacts that are completely new to you. That is why we choose everyone. In practice, this works based on chats. If there is no chat open for a contact they will receive the greeting upon the first message they. If you delete the contacts chat and they message you again, they will be sent the greeting message again. But if you archive their chat and they message you again, they will not receive the greeting message.
Away Message on WhatsApp Business App
Another important aspect of messaging app interactions is setting expectations for response time at different times of day. To help with this use the WhatsApp Business App Away Message.
The away message can be set to send all the time, on a custom schedule or outside your business hours. We have tried the always send setting and we have not yet found a true purpose for it. In this setting it functions exactly like the greeting message. However, custom schedule and outside business hours settings are quite useful.
The custom schedule setting uses fixed dates and times, we find this useful if you intend to go on a vacation or plan to be unreachable for a few hours. You'll be able to have the away message triggered for that period of time. Otherwise we recommend keeping the setting to outside business hours. Set your business hours in your profile and your away message will be sent around those hours.
One curious aspect of the away message is that if used in conjunction with the greeting message, the away message will be sent directly after the greeting when you are outside business hours. This means you should be careful in crafting these two messages as they will often be delivered together.
Responding to Contacts on the WhatsApp Business App
If you are the person that has access to your WhatsApp Business App and your WhatsApp Business Account becomes even mildly successful, you'll have quite the job on your hands answering all those messages. Luckily, the WhatsApp Business App does have several tools that are designed to ease your plight.
Quick Replies on the WhatsApp Business App
The Quick Replies designed by WhatsApp are a lifesaver. You can create up to 50 quick replies to use in various conversations. To do so navigate to Business Settings and select Quick Replies. Here you'll find a list of all your current quick replies and a plus that will let you add new ones.
When adding a new quick reply you'll be able to add the message, the shortcut and up to 3 keywords. Once you're in a chat and you bring up your quick replies by typing '/', keywords will help you to get to the most relevant quick replies quickly. If the keyword you've added to your quick replies is present in the message you're replying to, it will be automatically shown at the top of your quick reply list.
Adding Labels to Messages on WhatsApp Business App
Once you've been using the WhatsApp Business App for a while you're going to have a ton of messages and you'll desire some way to sort through them them. Of course you'll always be able to use search after the fact. But if you do have some idea ahead of time of the messages that are useful, you can actually label individual messages.
To do so just highlight the message and hit the label icon at the top of the chat. You'll be greeted with the familiar label prompt. Once labelled you'll be able to find all the messages you've used that label on in the label menu.
WhatsApp Web for WhatsApp Business App
Last but certainly not least, WhatsApp Web works for WhatsApp Business Accounts just like it does for regular WhatsApp. Because what is going to help you answer questions faster than a desktop keyboard right?
WhatsApp Business API
If you're looking to build a WhatsApp bot or connect WhatsApp marketing software to your WhatsApp business account, you'll need to use the WhatsApp API. The trouble is that getting connected to the WhatsApp Business API is complicated.
Although the WhatsApp API was released in 2018, hardly anyone has access to it. However, at least we know how it works.
Getting Access To The WhatsApp Business API
Before you can even hope to create a WhatsApp API business account you're going to have to ask for early adopter access first because WhatsApp is rolling out this feature very slowly.
We've spoken to a representative at Twilio about getting early access, and we received a few pointers. Make sure that your business is such a size that you'll be sending at least 500,000 messages per month. However, even if you are that large, you'll wait at least 3 or 4 weeks to get approved to access the WhatsApp API.
Creating a WhatsApp API Business Account
Once you've received your access, you'll need to create an account. You can do this through Facebook Business Manager.
Once you're there, you need to open the Accounts drop down on the left, navigate to WhatsApp Accounts then Add.
Next, you'll need to create an account name. Select an account type. Here you select between managing your own WhatsApp API account or your clients.
Then you'll be able to assign management roles to your account. An admin can make any changes they want while a developer can edit account settings, select a payment method, create message templates and add a phone number.
Next, you'll need to add a phone number. The number you use must be fresh. It may not have been used for a WhatsApp number before. There are three types of phone numbers you can use landline numbers, mobile phone numbers, and 1-800 toll-free numbers.
Once you've done all this, you're still not finished. Because you can't just connect to the API and use it, you'll need to create some infrastructure first. You can either install the WhatsApp API client based on Docker in your own environment. Alternatively, you can pay AWS for a solution that is already set up to have the WhatsApp API client installed.
WhatsApp Business API Accounts
Once you've got early access, created an account, set up your infrastructure and tested it, it's time to take care of how your account looks to the public.
When you first create your account, it will come with a grey questions mark next to business account. For comparison, a WhatsApp Business App account doesn't have any badge next to business account.
Over time WhatsApp will be confirming accounts, there is nothing you need to apply for. All that WhatsApp does is check accounts to see if the phone number they list matched with their business name. Having a confirmed account makes it very easy for a user to add your business name to their contacts with one click.
To get a verified account, you'll need to apply to WhatsApp. However, so far only very very large companies have had the opportunity to be verified like the airline KLM. The significant part about being verified is that your users will not need to add you as a contact to see you listed by your business name.
WhatsApp API Rules, Restrictions & Pricing
If you haven't heard by now, WhatsApp Business API is how WhatsApp is going to be monetizing itself. To do so, WhatsApp is encouraging companies to answer all messages within 24 hours of a user contacting you. That means WhatsApp has two types of messaging: session messaging & template messaging.
WhatsApp API Session Messaging
Session messaging refers to the business account response coming within 24 hours. There is no fee or any limitation associated with messaging customers back within 24 hours.
WhatsApp API Template Messaging
If you'd like to contact a customer after the 24 hour is over things start to get quite complicated. The template messaging system is designed to allow businesses to send things like delivery notifications or booking reminders over WhatsApp API. In other words they don't expect humans to be sending template messages, just machines that are sending notifications.
Template messages must be pre approved by WhatsApp. We've heard from some sources who currently have early access that WhatsApp generally approves these within 48 hours. Template messages are not allowed to be promotional just informational. Sending each template message will cost you 0.065 cents per message, depending on the country of the recipient.
Is That Everything You Can Do With WhatsApp for Business?
We'll be updating this post with new information information regularly. If you'd like us to update you when the post has been updated, sign up with your WhatsApp account here.