December 7th is currently looming over many companies like a dark cloud. They had just realized that WhatsApp is a profitable, easy channel for getting in touch with customers and for broadcasting newsletters with information, offers and more. But that will soon be over. Won’t it?
Despite many companies worrying about how to keep using WhatsApp as the newsletter ban approaches, there’s hope on the horizon. Businesses can leverage WhatsApp to continue their customer engagement, shifting the promotional, newsletter-style approach to user-centric, personalized tactics.
This shift won’t be easy, as companies need to rethink how to engage customers in a spam-fatigued world. But it’s not only possible — it’s also desperately needed.
The Root of all Evil: Uncontrolled Mass Communication
What many new WhatsApp Business users don’t know: companies that were active on the app before August 2018 used a private account for it — and thus clearly violated WhatsApp’s guidelines, whose business model is based exclusively on private use. Nevertheless, many seemingly reputable providers were already selling business solutions to companies at that time.
At first glance, these products often looked attractive, but given a closer look, it was obvious that they were lacking in every aspect of what is now possible with WhatsApp, including security, scalability and integration.
Only last summer, the Facebook subsidiary officially opened the platform for commercial use. The original hacked solutions are still tolerated for the time being, but the newsletter ban takes an important step forward: regulated integration into commercial communication strategies on the chat app.
Anyone who continues to send mass messages after December 7 will be at constant risk of legal action. Strict controls by WhatsApp are needed to diminish spam, abuse and unsolicited messages, protecting WhatsApp’s core asset: its users.
The new regulation is therefore the only logical consequence — and the only way to avoid commercial oversaturation and a loss of user confidence in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp: The Favorite Communication Channel in 100+ Countries
WhatsApp is setting completely new standards. Not only is the average message sent via the messenger read after only three minutes, but its open rate of over 90 percent is also unbeatable. By comparison, the average email is only read after five to six hours — if at all — because the average email open rate is just 21 percent.
WhatsApp is extremely popular across all age groups, from Gen Z (21 year-olds and under) to 60+ seniors, and it is the chat app of choice in 130+ countries, including major global and regional economies like Germany, the UK, Singapore, India, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
Ignoring WhatsApp’s potential can have fatal consequences for companies today. Competition in both e-commerce and offline commerce is fierce, regardless of the industry, the size of the company or the country. In order to withstand this pressure, having a sustainable customer-centric communication strategy is a matter of life or death. And where would a product be better placed than exactly where (potential) customers are active every day?
One App and a Thousand Possibilities
A major point of criticism that online shops often have to put up with in comparison to brick-and-mortar retailers is the lack of advice from professionally trained shop personnel. WhatsApp has the potential to close this gap across the board. The question that is gnawing away at the minds of many is: what is (still) possible after December 7?
The answer is as broad as the functions of the chat app itself. There are almost no limits to how WhatsApp can be used.
A food startup specializing in spices, healthy snacks and food supplements can use WhatsApp to give prospective customers tips — including cooking tutorials and suggestions for products that are compatible with particular medicines that customers might be taking.
Potential customers can ask which product best fits their needs via personalized shopping. They can receive answers directly by push notifications on their smartphone. They can send additional pictures and voice messages to help clarify if needed. And they can then order the exact product they’re looking for directly over the chat app. This is user-centric, spam-free communication.
WhatsApp offers valuable advantages as a communication channel for not only merchants with physical products, but also service providers. A car rental company can, for example, send customers easy pick-up locations, cheap petrol stations or places of interest on their planned itineraries before the start of their journeys. And users can always reply or initiate conversations, instead of having to call a contact center and wait in line to speak to an agent.
If you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to discover your products, you can implement a button on your website that directs them straight to chat, or you can use the Click-to-WhatsApp function for advertising posts on Facebook and Instagram. This means that the long search for the right telephone number and the long wait to talk to an agent are finally over.
The WhatsApp Business API in practice: A Success Story
The success case of the private jet charter GlobeAir shows what WhatsApp can actually do for companies throughout their customer journey. GlobeAir’s customers include athletes, managers and celebrities who are characterized by their spontaneous purchasing decisions and chronic lack of time. In order to meet the needs of this particular target group, GlobeAir decided to use tyntec’s WhatsApp as a channel to implement Slack in its internal communication tool. After just a few weeks, the first significant successes were achieved: a 27% increase in leads, 20% more last-minute flights sold and a 225% percent improvement in response time to incoming customer messages to less than 60 seconds. Best of all, using WhatsApp has not only made it easier for customers to contact GlobeAir quickly, it has also made customer dialogue as straightforward as possible for GlobeAir's service staff, which is directly reflected in the huge reduction in response time.
GlobeAir proves that newsletters and automated bulk messaging are not needed to increase business, just like many other success stories.
The Shopping Consultant of the Future
Sending newsletters is an easy way to get new products and offers out there, but it doesn’t mean it’s effective. For the first time, companies have a real incentive to create spam-free, personalized conversations, leveraging long-term engagement.
The only thing that companies have to consider is finding the right WhatsApp verified partner to integrate the WhatsApp Business API into their existing CRM or ERP systems in a way that is fully GDPR compliant and secure.
With an official solution, the newsletter ban, which comes into force on December 7 and finally pulls the plug on mass mailings, is no longer a challenge for companies — it is an opportunity to blend communication to customers’ lives and needs. With the right service provider at its side, WhatsApp has the potential to become the shopping advisor of the future — no matter when and where.
For further information about using messaging to supercharge customer relations, download tyntec's guide WhatsApp Playbook: Leverage WhatsApp to Future Proof Your CX Strategy or schedule a demo to explore possibilities for your business.