Three tips for using WhatsApp as a marketing tool

The popularity of using messenger apps to build relationships with consumers has blossomed in 2016, and this week it’s WhatsApp in the spotlight. From the BBC to Just Eat to Clarks, a diverse range of brands have begun to see the value in marketing to customers via the platform. 

Boasting one billion monthly active users, (as Brand Republic’s the Wallblog pointed out that’s a seventh of the world’s population!), WhatsApp is fertile ground for marketers seeking large reach, targeted messaging or a quick and efficient way to engage consumers.

But how can brands use WhatsApp to its full potential as a marketing tool? This week we have the round up of the top three tips from the biggest names in marketing.

1. Be convenient for customers

When it comes to the service sector in particular, being there for your customers when they need you most is one of the top priorities for good customer service, trust and ultimately brand reputation.

For The Drum, this is one of the crucial selling points for marketers looking to maximise their WhatsApp strategy.

It is argued that ‘for consumers there is increased convenience, shifting away from individual services/apps towards a universal, task-oriented tool that allows them to order a cab, send a friend money, or check a flight status.’

By placing your brand at the convenience of the customer, it is possible to open up new levels of communication, decrease handling time, and arguably enhance the customer experience. With busy lives showing no sign of slowing, convenience looks likely to remain a key priority for many.

2. Get creative

The chance to be creative is always relished by marketers, and the unchartered territory that is WhatsApp marketing has huge creative potential.

For Ross Walker, social media consultant and Associate Member of CIM, the idea of running creative and innovative marketing campaigns through a messaging app is rather exciting.

According to his recent LinkedIn article, ‘promotion codes, advertising key products, giving value through entertainment and captivating people through well crafted imagery and video’ are just a handful of examples as to how content marketing can be adapted to the WhatsApp platform.

Clarks is just one example of a brand using WhatsApp creatively to alter its brand perception. Often associated with the older, more traditional customer, Clarks was among the first to recognise the potential of WhatsApp to attract younger consumers in it’s ‘From Rats to Rudeboys’ campaign.

By creating subculture characters that the consumer can add as a contact on the chat, Clarks have shown that thinking outside the box about how you communicate with customers can reap huge rewards.

3. Be a source of information

Going beyond content, brands such as the BBC have found that transforming WhatsApp into a source of vital information for its audience has made it an indispensable tool for many.

According to a recent article by Marketing Week, the BBC started using WhatsApp as early as 2014 when, during the Ebola crisis, they needed to find a quick, instant way of spreading information to as many people as possible.

Marketing Week noted ‘speaking at the We Are Social Chat Apps 101 event, the BBC’s mobile editor, Trushar Barot, said that the platform has even provided the broadcaster with content ideas’. As users began to engage with the content and ask questions of their own, the BBC was better able to tailor information to the needs of its audience and respond to current issues.

In an age of user generated content and on-the-go data, WhatsApp can easily be used as another tool in the toolkit for marketers looking to engage with their consumers. While WhatsApp has no immediate plans to enable third party advertising in the manner of Facebook, with a little creativity it can be an equally valuable platform for marketers.

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