Move over SMS as WhatsApp holds the prime position amongst marketers as the chief tool for promotions and marketing. There are no surprises on this move, especially when statistics shows nearly half a billion people worldwide are actively using WhatsApp and the number continues to grow.

Small Business and One-to-one Contact

Many start-ups and small, local businesses actively use WhatsApp to communicate with regular customers who sign-up for being added onto their contact list. Local businesses and start-ups have the advantage of being intimate with customers who will willingly share their mobile numbers for services such as home deliveries, fresh offers or relevant communication on product availability and other such services. Lately, customers appreciate a WhatsApp message over a direct phone call as it is discreet, especially when they are working professionals. Even for homemakers, it means they can address the message at their leisure rather than drop their chore.
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WhatsApp for mCommerce

In a recent trend, quite a few start-ups prefer WhatsApp as the platform for selling their merchandise or services over building a full-fledged eCommerce website of the mobile application. Since these businesses start small, they simply create a group of prospective customers, which can be built upon up to 100 members and merchandise details can be shared on the group. WhatsApp has provision for sharing images, videos, contacts and audio clips, that is all the tools for marketing a product, just as well as it is done on any eCommerce platform.

How is WhatsApp being used?

  • Sales Follow-ups

Sales teams are increasingly finding that customers are more responsive towards follow-ups on WhatsApp than direct phone calls. As many will relate, most prospective customers are irked by calls from unknown numbers. WhatsApp is discreet and allows customers to respond at their own pace without committing, this assurance leads to greater engagement and better response. Also, there is scope for being informal and getting a quicker response from a short message asking about their status.

  • Offers & Promotions

Once the customers have shared their mobile phone number, promotion and offer details can be messaged to them via WhatsApp. This is the mode of promotions is popularly opted for by small businesses. Using the tools for sharing digital media, e-brochures, audio and video advertisements and internet links can be shared on WhatsApp. The business status message and display picture can be edited to create a highlight for the promotion and gain customer attention.

  • Enhancing customer experience in-store

WhatsApp can be used as a customer relationship management tool by communicating queries and addressing grievances on the platform. A survey can be conducted to gauge the in-store experience and improvements can be made accordingly. WhatsApp gives a discreet platform for discussing issues that the customers may not be willing to open up about or may not have the time to speak of. Often, staying in contact with customers leads to useful feedbacks and suggestions that can be implemented for a better experience.

No Ads Policy

Even after being acquired by Facebook last year, the application continues to operate Ad-free and it may baffle marketers as to how they can tap this huge pool of prospective and existing customers on the application? Social media plays a vital role for brand building, and presence on Facebook is a must for businesses aiming for a larger reach. WhatsApp is figuring in the social media marketing plan for business in a different manner. Many companies are displaying their WhatsApp contact details for customers to add in their contact list, this can be spotted largely on the Facebook page of the business.

Content and WhatsApp

The advantage of direct communication with customers on WhatsApp is that as is applicable in most social media websites, content does not have to be updated very frequently. The cost of operating it is also negligible. With voice call functionality and desktop version, it will soon take over Skype. Even though mass messaging is capped at 50 recipients, third-party services can be used to send more messages at an additional cost.

WhatsApp may not reign the markets as the mainstream marketing platform, but a $0.99 a year, it does offer a cost-effective means for communicating with customers and play a small but vital role in that.

Author Bio: Vaishnavi Agrawal loves pursuing excellence through writing and have a passion for technology. She has successfully managed and run personal technology magazines and websites. She currently writes for intellipaat.com, a global training company that provides e-learning and professional certification training.