What is WhatsApp Business? How an e-commerce shop can use WhatsApp to increase its sales (and foster client loyalty)

Whatsapp-business

Here’s some raw data to start with.

Back in February this year, WhatsApp announced they had reached 2 billion users.

And at least 30 million of those 2 billion are Spanish (article in Spanish), which means the vast majority of the Spanish already population has this app on their phone.

This raises the question: have you already figured out a strategy to capture clients through WhatsApp?

Because if you haven’t, you’re missing out on opportunities to sell. ;)

That’s why this post will tell you what WhatsApp Business brings to the table and how you can use it as part of your e-commerce strategy.

You’d better get a tight grip on your phone now since you’ll never let it go once you’re done reading this. ;)

👉 What WhatsApp Business is and how it works

The first thing you should know is that WhatsApp Business is not an extension of WhatsApp Messenger (the texting app you probably have on your phone).

It’s actually a very different app with business-specific functionality.

To get started, you need to download it (as with any other app) and add your phone number, just like with WhatsApp Messenger.

The similarities end there, however.

Once you’re in, the app will ask you to configure your company profile, including: 

  • Your business’ name
  • An image (your company logo or something representing you)
  • Information about your company (contact details, your shop’s bio, website, your social media profiles, etc.).

If you own a physical shop, you can also add its location and opening hours.

👉 Pros and cons of using WhatsApp Business

Since launching back in early 2018, WhatApp Business’s capabilities have seen continuous expansion.

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s CEO and current WhatsApp’s owner) announced that he would be implementing WhatsApp Pay, a system that allows users to make in-app payments and purchases, in different countries throughout the year.

Despite the payment option not yet being available, WhatsApp Business offers plenty of advantages for e-commerce shops willing to throw themselves into phone marketing (although there are also some drawbacks you should be aware of).

Let’s take a look at them.

✅ 1. Advantages of WhatsApp Business

Here are some of the app’s most interesting functions:

  • You can publish your catalog: There’s a section in your company profile for you to load your products and some related info, such as prices, photos, brief descriptions, and a link to the product card on your website
  • Save preset responses: Just like on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Business allows you to create predetermined messages to answer some of your users’ FAQs. 
  • It allows you to classify your customers: The app’s system to segment your users with labels is perhaps one of its most useful assets. We’ll see how to make the most of this function later on. 
  • You can create distribution lists: Besides groups and channels, WhatsApp allows you to create broadcast lists to send the same message to many users once. 
  • It shows you some stats: The app itself generates reports featuring basic metrics, such as the number of sent, delivered, and read messages.

That said, we have to keep in mind some of the “less good” aspects.

✅ 2. Disadvantages of WhatsApp Business

Although WhatsApp Business has some really useful features, there’s still some room for improvement.

These are its two weakest points:

  1. Very basic automations: You can set a welcome and away message from within the app, which is quite useful. However, if you’d like to have a chatbot to have more complex interactions with your clients, you’ll need to get hold of WhatsApp Business’s API (which is geared more toward large international companies). 
  2. Exclusive number: If you want to use WhatsApp Business, you need to have a separate phone number for it (or turn your personal account into a business account, alternatively). This can be a drawback if you were going to grant access to other people on your team. 

So, in terms of both chatbots and in-app payments, WhatsApp is still behind its direct competitor, Telegram.

But considering how much your e-commerce shop can benefit from this app, these cons are not the end of the world in the slightest. ;)

👉 6 tips to turn WhatsApp Business into a marketing tool (+1 bonus)

If you’re still with me, it’s because you’re at least a bit curious about learning how to use WhatsApp as a sales channel.

But before you continue reading, you should know something:

The main point of being on WhatsApp Business is to establish a community of loyal users and to enhance your brand image.

Remember, most users on your list are still in the first stages of your conversion funnel, so bombarding them with offers may not be the best strategy. ;)

But don’t worry – these tricks will not only help you get them to buy but also extend their customer lifetime value as much as possible.

✅ 1. Attract users

Your first goal should be to find users willing to receive your messages.

How? There are plenty of ways, but using Facebook Ads is one of the most effective ones.

You must create a CPC campaign synchronized with your WhatsApp Business account. After users clicks on the ad, a WhatsApp chat box opens automatically.

To make things easier for them, you can create a default message so they can, for example:

Mind you, the user must give you their consent (on a form, for instance) before you start sending them promotional messages.

✅ 2. Turn it into a customer service channel

WhatsApp allows you to maintain a quick and direct communication channel with your users. This makes it the perfect tool for customer service.

For example, BMW Germany put this idea into practice and got up to 3,800 messages every month as well as 60% fewer calls (proof that their clients were satisfied with the chat assistance). 

If you want your service to be pristine, try to get at least one person to be in charge of monitoring and replying to those messages as quickly as possible.

Just so you realize how important this is, a study by Harvard Business Review found that clients who get a response after less than an hour are willing to pay more for a given product. ;)

✅ 3. Share relevant information

We’ve already talked about customer service through private chats.

But what kind of content that’s suitable to be published in groups and channels might your users find interesting? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Your blog’s latest posts.
  • Your YouTube uploads (if you still don’t use this site as part of your marketing strategy, here are some reasons you should).
  • Some exclusive offers.

If you’d also like to give your clients another reason to follow you on WhatsApp, you can create a differentiated content strategy for your groups and channels or launch offers that are exclusive to them. 

✅ 4. Use your status to spread news and updates

WhatsApp statuses have been around for a while. 

They’re posts that pop up in a separate area that last 24 hours (very similar to Instagram stories).

You can share interesting updates about your business through these statuses, such as the latest products added to your catalog or special offers you want to let your customers know about.

Don’t forget to offer varied content and upload a video every now and then (if you’re not good at videos, here’s a useful guide to learn to create and edit them).

✅ 5. Segment your users

Labels allow you to differentiate your users and send them specific messages according to different criteria. 

For example:

  • The kind of products they’re interested in: This is very useful if your online shop works with different buyer personas.
  • How close they are to a purchase: Users at different stages of the customer journey need different content. For example, you could send testimonials or product comparisons to those in the decision process, while existing clients could be incorporated into a loyalty program

The simplest way to take advantage of this functionality is to create a broadcast list for each label.

✅ 6. Focus on your star products

Be careful not to overload your WhatsApp Business profile with products.

You can’t create categories or separate lists, so transferring your whole catalog is not an option. 

Instead, we suggest including only the most popular products or those with larger profit margins.

If you have complementary items, you could try offering them as a pack.

✅ Bonus: Focus on user experience

As mentioned above, it’s still not possible to make in-app purchases via WhatsApp.

Until it becomes available (and even then), users who have decided to buy your products will keep using your website.

But what if this entire strategy you put together to get clients through WhatsApp is in vain because of your website’s dreadful user experience?

What a waste, right?

To avoid this, you need to make sure every detail affecting your website is in good shape, for example: 

This will ensure that your conversion rate remains high. ;)

👉 Get started on WhatsApp Business today

And don’t let your competitors gain the edge. ;)

More and more companies are realizing the amazing potential of WhatsApp as a sales tool, and there’ll be fierce competition very soon.

So download this app and put these tips into practice before everyone else does.