How to Use Whatsapp Business for Marketing, Customer Service and Sales: an Actionable Guide for 2022

When we walk into a brick and mortar store, there’s always a salesperson who talks us into making a purchase. Sometimes, even buying things we did not intend to initially! 

That’s the power of conversations and human-to-human marketing.

But most ecommerce businesses have been relying on one-way marketing tactics like paid promotions on social media and search, SMS marketing and emails to get their products, discounts and deals in front of consumers. 

In times when consumers want to buy from people and not brands, conversational commerce is taking the center stage. 

That’s why you see more and more leading brands gravitate towards leveraging conversational channels like WhatsApp to engage their customers. 

In this article, we’re going to introduce you to everything you need to know to get started with WhatsApp marketing. 

What is WhatsApp marketing? 

WhatsApp marketing is a type of messenger marketing that lets businesses connect with their customers through the chat app, WhatsApp. It is similar to how text or SMS marketing works, but comes with more added features like the ability to send images, files, videos, emojis and more. 

Why use WhatsApp marketing for ecommerce? 

WhatsApp is one of the fastest growing messaging apps in India, with an active user base. Since ‘WhatsApp’-ing one another has become a natural part of our day-to-day communication, it gives businesses an opportunity to reach customers where they are the most active and get their promotions noticed. 

Here are some statistics on the use of WhatsApp in India: 

  • According to eMarketer, India has more WhatsApp users than any other country. Statistics suggest that there are 390.1 million monthly active users on the chat app as of today and the number is only growing by the day. 
  • If you sell internationally, you can also tap into the 2 billion strong WhatsApp user base across the globe.  
  • An average user opens the WhatsApp app 23-25 times daily

But to get started with WhatsApp marketing for ecommerce, you can’t just use your personal phone number. To be able to send and receive messages from your customers seamlessly, you need a WhatsApp Business account. 

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business is a  free to download app built for small business owners. It comes with features and tools that let businesses automate, sort and quickly respond to messages received on the messaging app. 

Some of the features WhatsApp Business offers include:

  • Ability to create a business profile (profile image, company address, email and website)
  • Setting up of online product catalogs 
  • Labels to organize and easily find chats and messages
  • Messaging tools like Quick Replies to respond to customers faster  

The WhatsApp Business app interface is the same as that of the regular messaging app to make it simpler for businesses to use. 

How to set up a WhatsApp Business account? 

Setting up a WhatsApp Business account is almost as simple as setting up your personal account on the chat app. Here are the steps you need to follow: 

  • Download the WhatsApp Business app
  • Verify your business phone number 
  • Restore your account from a backup, if you wish 
  • Set your business name 
  • Build your profile. Tap ‘More options’ > Settings > your business name 

You can download the WhatsApp Business app for iOS and Android here.  

As mentioned before, a WhatsApp Business account is well suited for brands that are just getting started and want to have more one-on-one communication with customers. But if you’re a brand that tends to get tens of queries every day, you need WhatsApp Business API to manage things better. 

What is WhatsApp Business API? 

Launched in August 2018 by Facebook, WhatsApp Business API is designed to enable medium to large businesses that want to use the messaging app with multiple users. It is a much more complex solution as compared to the WhatsApp Business app as it has no app or front-end interface and needs to be integrated into a business software to be put to use. 

To use the WhatsApp Business API, you will need to look for a solution provider that makes this integration easy. Typically these providers offer you a dashboard similar to email marketing tools so that you can create, manage and monitor your WhatsApp marketing campaigns with ease. 

You can learn more about the WhatsApp Business API here

Simply put, while WhatsApp Business enables you to get started with WhatsApp marketing, the WhatsApp Business API gives you much more advanced features to set up automated campaigns across a buyer’s journey, on a bigger scale. 

How to get WhatsApp Business API access? 

To apply for WhatsApp Business API, you need to follow these steps: 

Choose a WhatsApp Business API solution provider

Since the API has no app by itself, it will require you to use a software that leverages the code, but offers you a frontend dashboard that makes using the features easier. Some of the popular Shopify apps for WhatsApp include ZokoInterakt and DelightChat

Buy or port a phone number

The next step is to get yourself a phone number that you can receive calls and messages on. Make sure that it is not being used for another WhatsApp Business account or API account. 

Undergo WhatsApp Commerce Policy checks

After you have submitted the required details, WhatsApp will review your application to ensure it meets its Commerce Policy. You can read more about it here

Verify Facebook Business and number

As a part of the process set up, you need to complete Business Verification in the Facebook Business Manager. This requires sharing a few documents that prove the legitimacy of your business. The process can take up to a few working days. 

Generate API key to connect to business software

Once you get access to the WhatsApp API account, generate your WhatsApp API account key and connect it to your WhatsApp marketing tool to get started. 

What are the features WhatsApp Business offers? 

1. Business Profile

Create a business profile that includes all the information a customer may need about your brand. This includes your profile picture (logo), business name, business description, email address and website. 

The purpose of a business profile is to give your brand a familiar face and identity. 

whatsapp business profile example

2. Quick Replies

Quick Replies is a smart feature that saves you time from typing in repetitive messages to respond to common questions. Take a look at your FAQs and set up answers that can be sent out by simply pressing the “/” on your keyboard to select the quick reply that best suits the query. 

whatsapp quick replies

3. Automatic Greeting Message 

Similar to a live chat, WhatsApp for business enables you to set up a greeting message for customers. This feature allows you to welcome and introduce yourself instantly when someone starts a dialog with your business. 

Automatic greeting messages can be customized and are a great way to keep interested buyers engaged. 

4. Automatic Away Message

Similar to welcome/ greeting messages, away messages are custom notes that can be sent to people trying to reach you after business/ working hours. This is to let them know you’re not available at that moment and also provide information on when they can reach out to you or expect a response. 

WhatsApp Business app gives you the ability to edit your away message and also set up a custom schedule to define your work hours. 

5. Contacts Labels

As your business grows, it is important to organize contacts to be able to search for conversations faster. WhatsApp Business comes with a handy labels feature that makes categorization easy. 

You can create your own labels in the app and also assign them easily to every incoming query on the chat app. 

whatsapp business feature labels

6. Message Statistics

To make it easier for you to track the performance of your WhatsApp marketing campaigns, the WhatsApp Business app also offers all vital metrics on the dashboard. You can monitor the number of messages sent, delivered and read easily.

7. Catalogs

Catalogs is a nifty feature to showcase your products and services on WhatsApp. It lets people easily browse through your collection, without you having to send each product’s details (price, description, etc) manually one-by-one to an interested buyer. 

For every item you add to the catalog, you can include information like product description, product code and price. You can learn how to create a catalog here

whatsapp business catalog

8. Interactive Business Message

Traditional WhatsApp messages from businesses appeared as regular texts with links. But with Interactive messages, you get to add a clear CTA (call to action buttons) in your messages and also set up Quick Replies to allow recipients to answer with predefined options without having to type in their response manually. 

Interactive buttons are a great way to enhance the customer experience offered on the chat app. 

whatsapp business reply buttons


9. List Messages and Reply Buttons

Another feature that makes it simpler for businesses and consumers to interact is List Messages. It allows you to add up to 10 options to a message so that people can simply click on the option that describes their need the best instead of having to type it out. 

The Reply button feature enables customers to choose from up to three options by simply typing on the preferred option. It’s almost like choosing an item from a menu.  

whatsapp business api interactive messages


10. Facebook Shops Integration

Facebook Shops allow you to create a customized shopping experience across the family of apps the platform offers (including Instagram). The feature has enabled many businesses to sell through their social accounts with ease. 

With the Facebook Shops integration, WhatsApp Business helps connect with interested buyers. People who discover your products or services on Facebook, can simply reach out to you on the chat app to probe for more information. 

11. WhatsApp Payments

This feature is made to make transferring money or making transactions as easy as sending a message. WhatsApp Payments are designed keeping security and privacy principles in mind, including entering a personal UPI pin to make payments. You can learn more about it here.

whatsapp business payments

But to get started with using WhatsApp, you need to let your store visitors know that you’re available on the messaging platform. 

This is where integrating it on your website comes into play. 

How to add a WhatsApp widget on your website?

Once you have created a business account and have a WhatsApp Business API solution provider in place, you need to add a WhatsApp widget to your storefront. 

Typically, the solution providers come with a widget feature that makes it simple to add the button across all the pages of your storefront. All you need to do is add your WhatsApp Business account details and enter your API key to get started. 

A website WhatsApp widget looks like this: 

add whatsapp widget on shopify store

Adding a WhatsApp widget on your website is important to be able to tap into all its use cases. 

  • Subtly notify store visitors of your presence on WhatsApp 
  • Redirect store visitors to WhatsApp chat on one-click 
  • Capture intent and trigger conversations instantly with automations 
  • Build your WhatsApp list (similar to email list) 

In many cases, you will now see that online stores have replaced the typical live chat widget/ button on their website with WhatsApp. 

To set up a WhatsApp button on your website, explore all Shopify apps here

Additional read: 

Use cases of WhatsApp Business for ecommerce

There are a number of ways in which ecommerce businesses can leverage the features of WhatsApp Business API. 

Here’s taking a look at some of the most common and effective use cases of WhatsApp for ecommerce and the results seen by our partners Zoko and Interakt.  

Automate lead generation 

With a click-to-chat feature, you can encourage your store visitors to interact with your business on WhatsApp. This is similar to how live chat typically works to gather visitor information. With the help of WhatsApp Business API, you can automate the interaction with the visitor to collect specific information around the lead that can be followed up with personalized campaigns later. 

Carigar Tools has been using WhatsApp to capture visitor intent on their store. This has helped them generate 200-300 leads through the messaging app on a daily basis. You can read more about it here

Broadcast promotions for new launches, sales and discounts 

The broadcast feature of WhatsApp enables you to send updates around your ongoing and upcoming sales, discounts and deals to keep customers engaged. With WhatsApp Business, you can automate your broadcast campaigns at set intervals to promote as well as remind your customers of the offers you have. 

WhatsApp has proven to deliver a 99% open rate on campaigns, making it one of the most effective channels to run promotional broadcasts.  

whatsapp broadcast campaigns

Automate abandoned cart reminders 

Most ecommerce businesses experience a 69% cart abandonment rate. If you’re using a WhatsApp Business API solution provider, you can automate cart reminders. Reach out to consumers to remind them of the products and offers left behind or to offer exclusive discounts to encourage the purchase. 

Owing to the high open rates, WhatsApp is able to offer a click through rate of about 45-60% on campaigns. 

whatsapp abandoned cart reminder

Hustlemad, a DTC modern essentials brand has been able to recover upto 60% of their abandoned carts with the help of automated WhatsApp reminders and timely follow-ups. You can read more about it here

Additional read:

Offer customer support before, during and after purchase  

WhatsApp’s conversational interface also makes it simpler for businesses to offer customer support to online shoppers. Be it before they make a purchase, during the purchase process or after, use WhatsApp business to address their concerns and help them make an informed purchase.

A study by YouGov found that 54% of consumers want to use messaging apps like WhatsApp to seek customer service and support. It also found that 42% of them use the channel for pre-purchase queries. 

Brands like Nestasia, an online home decor store, have been able to achieve a 200% increase in support efficiency with the help of WhatsApp Business API automations. You can read more about it here

whatsapp for customer support

Another brand that is tacking cart abandonment proactively using WhatsApp for simplified communication with buyers is Perfora. The brand is not just able to prevent cart abandonment, but are also successfully recovering more than 10% of purchases that are left incomplete. You can read more about it here

Automate order status and shipping alerts 

More than 70% of online shoppers want to be proactively notified of their order status. It helps them keep a tab on their purchase, making them feel less anxious. With the help of WhatsApp Business API, you can integrate your business account with the logistics aggregator to send out order status and shipping alerts to customers.  

Statistics have found that 50% of consumers want to receive order status alerts on WhatsApp and about 43% of them want to receive notifications on delays or changes in delivery. 

automated order status alerts on whatsapp

Address frequently asked questions 

Queries around your sizing guides, shipping/ return/ exchange/ refund policies and similar will always remain. With WhatsApp Business, you can use the messaging app to address these incoming questions easily with the QuickReply feature. This makes it easy for both you and the consumer to get answers to information that is already available on your storefront. 

Request customer feedback and reviews 

Apart from promoting your deals and discounts, WhatsApp also makes for a great channel to gather customer feedback. You can automate your post-purchase communication to reach out to customers seeking product reviews or comments on the delivery experience. It’s a great way to collect social proof and also show customers that you truly care. 

request customer feedback on whatsapp

Drive reorders and repeat sales 

WhatsApp Business API gives you advanced features that let you automate order reminders. Integrating with your online store, you can access customer data to set up automated order reminders on products that need replenishment at set intervals. This is a great way to re-engage your existing customers and drive repeat sales or reorders. 

Upsell and cross-sell with product recommendations 

The one-on-one channel that WhatsApp offers, gives you an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell to customers. You can use the conversation to understand their needs and preferences, and recommend products of their interest to drive higher conversion rates and sales, and even sell more! 

Shumee has been able to leverage WhatsApp marketing campaigns to boost customer engagement by 83%. They have been proactively using the capabilities of the WhatsApp Business API to educate consumers as per their buying journey.  

Note: There are a number of other use cases that businesses are exploring on WhatsApp. We’ll make sure we keep you posted by updating this section time and again. 

Getting started with WhatsApp marketing is easy on Shopify! 

WhatsApp clearly has a number of benefits to offer to businesses. It is the one messaging channel that brings back conversations into online shopping journeys, and brands haven’t unlocked its potential entirely. 

That’s exactly why you need to get started with WhatsApp marketing today. 

If you have a store on Shopify, it’s easy to get started with WhatsApp marketing in India.  

The Shopify apps offer an easy plug and play solution to get access to the WhatsApp Business API and put it to work for better marketing, customer service and support. 

Some of the apps being used by Shopify brands in India include:

  • Zoko
  • Interakt 
  • DelightChat 
  • Wigzo 

You can explore all the WhatsApp marketing apps here

People also asked

Can WhatsApp be used for marketing?

Yes, with the launch of the WhatsApp Business API, you can now use the messaging platform to directly send marketing messages to customers. These can include promotional broadcasts, order alerts, abandoned cart reminders and even customer support. 

What is the difference between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp API?

WhatsApp Business app is made for small businesses who need to communicate 1-on-1 with their customers. On the other hand, WhatsApp Business API is for larger brands who need to communicate with customers at scale with the help of automations to serve different purposes like marketing, customer service and support. 

How do I use WhatsApp marketing?

To start using WhatsApp for marketing, you need to create a WhatsApp Business account. Post which, you need to download the WhatsApp Business app to start communicating with your customers. If you are looking for more uses of WhatsApp, you will need to request access to the WhatsApp Business API or install a solution provider for the same. 

What is the difference between group and broadcast group?

A WhatsApp group refers to a group of people added to one chat channel; wherein all the messages sent and received can be viewed by everyone. On the other hand, WhatsApp broadcasts let you send messages to a list of people together, as a private message. In the latter, the privacy of other recipients is protected. 

Can WhatsApp broadcast recipients see each other? 

No, broadcast recipients cannot see each other. WhatsApp broadcasts are lists of recipients which typically includes your existing customers and subscribers. None of these recipients can see the other even when you send out a broadcast message for promotions; it is similar to how email lists work in email marketing. 

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