Small businesses may soon be able to communicate with their customers through a new version of Whatsapp called Whatsapp for Business. Whatsapp Co-founder Brian Acton recently announced that the Facebook-owned company is in the process of designing and testing a new platform specifically for the SME industry.
But what is Whatsapp For Business?
Till now, Facebook had not used Whatsapp to earn revenue but has recently begun to explore this. Whatsapp For Business is a new platform from the company that small businesses can download and use to reach out their customers. The new version is still in the designing and testing phase, and will only be released in India later this year. Currently, India accounts for more than 15% of Whatsapp’s total user base, or in other words, there are over 200 million active monthly users on Whatsapp. The company plans on releasing new platform in Brazil and Indonesia after gauging the response of the Indian market.
Whatsapp For Business is targeted at local shop owners and small merchants who already use Whatsapp. While the user experience will remain the same, it is aimed at making sending targeted messages and videos easier. Though there have been some concerns surrounding spamming of customers through this new platform, the company has confirmed that the user will retain the right to decide who they want to or do not want to contact like in the regular Whatsapp version.
The business model is expected to be a mix of subscription fee and ad revenue. Though the new Whatsapp platform may seem similar to Facebook at Work, the social networking giant has maintained that both are very different products with the Facebook product being built for businesses with thousand or more employees whereas Whatsapp For Business is for businesses with ten employees or lesser.
So, can I use regular Whatsapp for my business till then? How can I use it?
The opportunities with Whatsapp for Business are plenty! Here we’ll introduce you to some of the avenues that you can explore with this new platform.
Real-time customer support is not luxury most small businesses can afford. This is where Whatsapp can help. It offers a cheap and quick way to stay in touch with customers and solve customer queries on the fly.
A quick, short Whatsapp message often works better than hounding the customer with calls as a means of following up. There’s a 40% higher probability that you’ll get a response to you Whatsapp message than to a call. And better still? Your customer will remember you as being hassle-free entirely.
With Whatsapp’s message open rate at 70%, this is a proven and better way to get customer feedback than calls. You can send out a simple questionnaire to your groups and remember, to make it entertaining for your customers to actually answer. Thank them for their time with special offers and coupons that also ensures customer retention and loyalty.
Whatsapp is a great avenue to send images, audio files, videos and regular text messages to your customer base to keep them in the know and have them excited about your product. You can market and promote your new product, announce contests and have your customers excited about giveaways. However, never spam your customers! Marketing through Whatsapp is intended not for first-time customers, but mostly for your returning customers. Nobody wants to receive multiple Whatsapp messages from a random unknown number.
There are several businesses in India that already use Whatsapp to effectively market themselves and communicate with their customers. We expect it to further gain popularity once Whatsapp for Business takes flight. It’s important for small business owners to keep oneself in the know of the latest technology and tools in the market that can augment your business in any way possible. Have you already been using Whatsapp for your business? If yes, do let us know how you have used it in the comments section below!