What are your top business priorities for 2023? You probably have a plan in place to optimise engagement with prospective customers on social media and looking for more ways to stand out among your competitors. You’ll want to make yourself more easily available, and deliver a more convenient and immediate experience for customers. And, of course, you’ll be thinking about ways to open up new revenue streams.
If you’re one of the 2 million users that relies on the messaging platform WhatsApp, you may already be aware of its superior security measures, ease of use and cross-platform functionality. But did you know that it can also prove a formidable business tool?
With a Whatsapp Business account, you can take the legwork out of managing customer communications, integrate with CRMs and other business tools, and even sell directly through the platform. Best of all, a lot of its features are completely free to use. Read on to find out more.
What is a WhatsApp Business account?
A business account on WhatsApp works in a similar way to the same application that many of us use for our personal communications, albeit with a suite of features designed to help businesses better communicate with and market to their customers.
It’s free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores, and offers the same simple and intuitive interface as a regular Whatsapp account.
What’s the difference between a personal WhatsApp account and a WhatsApp Business account?
The primary difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business is that the latter allows users to set up and verify a business profile that is unique to their company. This profile can be used to provide customers and prospects with key information like your email address, phone number, the location of your physical premises (if you have one) and your opening hours. An image and description of your business can also be used to help customers identify you. WhatsApp Business can be accessed through laptops as well as smartphones via WhatsApp Web.
WhatsApp Business features explained
Open WhatsApp Business and you’ll find a suite of features that will make it easier to communicate with customers, strengthen your customer relationships and promote lasting loyalty. With billions of active users around the world, a WhatApp Business account is a great way to ensure that your call to action is heard by today’s customers. Below we delve into some of the top features.
Organise your contacts
As your business grows, so will your customer directory. When you open a WhatsApp Business account, you gain access to some basic CRM functions that allow you to better organise your contacts. A range of categories can be used, such as:
New or repeat customer
Order in progress/complete
VIP member (Y/N)
Stats and metrics
A WhatsApp Business account also provides access to data that can be measured against the performance metrics that matter most for your business goals in 2023.
Users can see how many messages they have sent, how many have been delivered and how many have actually been read. All of this can be quickly gleaned from the ‘Statistics’ tab in the app’s ‘Business settings’ menu.
Your WhatsApp Business account is also a useful way to showcase your products for customers by creating product catalogues that may be perused in-app. Products can be listed easily, including the product’s name, a brief description and an enticing image. Items can even be sorted into collections to make it easier for customers to find the types of product they’re looking for and increase your upselling opportunities.
Faster and more efficient communications
WhatsApp Business facilitates faster and more efficient customer communications through automation. This can streamline customer interactions and ease the pressure on customer-facing employees.
Commonly-used examples include:
Automated greetings: Take the effort out of saying hello by switching between automated pre-written greetings messages to engage and re-engage customers.
Quick replies: Avoid typing the same message time after time by saving frequently-used answers to common questions.
Away messages: These can inform customers when you are not available and assure them that you will be in touch within business hours to handle their query.
Interactive messages: Interactive messages like automated reply buttons or CTA buttons can redirect customers wherever you want to send them. While these require some coding through a third party, they can facilitate a smoother and more seamless customer journey.
Facebook Shops integration
As well as showcasing your products in a catalogue, you can also facilitate purchases. Businesses that have Facebook shops can sell their wares directly through the WhatsApp Business app by integrating their accounts.
This is quick and easy to do. Simply:
Make sure your business phone number is registered to the WhatsApp Business app
Set yourself up as an admin on your Facebook Business account
Ensure that you have management permissions for both accounts
Add your WhatsApp Business number to your Facebook shop, and ensure that it is set as your primary contact method
Link to your eCommerce store
Even if you don’t have a Facebook shop, you can still make it easy for customers to buy through your WhatsApp Business account by linking to your eCommerce store. There are two ways to do this. Either you can get a third party to develop interactive CTA buttons that take users directly to your website. Alternatively, you may include links to product pages in the respective product descriptions in your WhatsApp catalogue.
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WhatsApp Business API explained
The beauty of opening a business account on WhatsApp is that it’s quick, easy and intuitive to set up. However, it is designed primarily with SMEs in mind. Larger companies may face issues with scalability. Hence why the WhatsApp Business API was developed in 2018 to help larger businesses to communicate with greater volumes of customers at scale.
The API empowers businesses to customise the way in which they communicate with their customers and prospective clients with greater emphasis on automation (including chatbots, interactive messages and automated replies).
WhatsApp API does not have a front-end to interface with, so can only be accessed via WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs). These are third-party service providers who build their own solutions on top of the API.
Here’s a brief summary of what the WhatsApp Business API does that the app doesn’t:
Supports the sending of bulk messages to customers or prospects
Automatically triggers messages via third-party app integrations
Supports multiple logins
Should I use WhatsApp Business API or app?
While the WhatsApp Business API features a greater range of capabilities, it is also more complicated to use than the app and requires the intervention of a BSP. Generally speaking, small businesses with a handful of employees will be perfectly well served using the WhatsApp Business app. As their companies grow, however, adopting the API may help them to better communicate with their growing customer base at scale.
The WhatsApp Business API is best suited to businesses that:
Have a team of more than two people responding to conversations and want to enable WhatsApp Business for multiple users.
Have several hundred customers who want to engage with your brand through your business account on WhatsApp.
Want to send automated notifications (like new product launches or status updates) to large volumes of customers.
Find their frontline staff are struggling and you need to make greater use of automation to keep up with conversation volumes.
Want to get more from WhatsApp for business e.g. using it to acquire new customers, or offer a personalised shopping experience
Want to be verified with the ‘Green Tick’ that can only be applied for through a BSP
How to make a WhatsApp business account
Setting up a WhatsApp Business account is fairly quick and easy.
Download the app from your preferred marketplace
Choose your country and enter your phone number
Enter the 6-digit verification code that will be sent to your phone number
Allow WhatsApp to access your contacts and photos to import your contacts and provide profile pictures for your company
Create your account by choosing a business name and category, and adding a profile picture.
Add important information to your business profile such as contact information, opening hours and where to find you. Simply tap ‘Explore’ and enter the ‘Business profile’ section to do this.
(Optional) Get verified with a ‘Green Tick’ by signing up to the WhatsApp Business API and applying for verification through a BSP.
Incorporating WhatsApp Business into your operations can add a valuable string to your bow that may help you to accomplish your business goals, engage your target audience, and make your call to action heard in 2023.
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