Last updated on September 29th, 2015 at 04:00 pm
After you read our primer on WhatsApp, the hugely popular communications app, you may have seen how it would be ideal for the B2B space. And now there is further evidence to that app-lication.
To recap, WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in October 2014 for $19 billion. It’s also widely used in South Asia and South America with a user base 900 million strong. It’s popular in these developing nations because it allows users a cheap and effective way of communicating with each other via text and voice messages. It’s free for the first year, and then you only pay $1 per year after that to stay on board.
Lidiane Leite, the mayor Bom Jardim (a small town in northeast Brazil with just 40,000 people), even performed several of her mayoral duties using the app. She isn’t the only person in Brazil using it for business purposes either. Chocolate maker Lacta created a marketing campaign for its Sonho de Valsa bonbons with the ad agency W3Haus. People were able to request ideas for places to go for Valentine’s Day, or ask for special gifts like photos and wallpapers via WhatsApp.
Also, Proctor and Gamble has used WhatsApp. In 2014, it promoted the Head and Shoulders shampoo lineup through short videos featuring Brazilian soccer coach Joel Santana shared over the messaging app.
In India WhatsApp is a hit with businesses as well. Raman, a vegetable retailer, used to take orders on call and deliver as needed. Not anymore though. With WhatsApp it sends photos of current stock its customers via the app’s group feature, and they can then order as they like.
Bewakoof.com, another India-based company, recently launched a series of promotions using the app and now draws in about 15 percent of its total sales with the app.
There are essentially three ways that WhatsApp can be used business:
Internal Communications – Because it’s free and uses very little data, WhatsApp can be a great tool for employees to stay in contact with one another. It’s much cheaper than using a regular phone line, and this is precisely why it’s popular in developing economies. Also, group messaging is easier to manage than a phone’s native text messaging tool.
Customer Service – Many companies in Brazil and India offer their WhatsApp account numbers in advertisements and encourage customers to engage them via the app. Even the Delhi Police used WhatsApp to launch a new helpline. On its first day the helpline received over 23,000 messages. Texting through the app provides a fast, personalized, and easy way to answer customer queries and keep them engaged.
Promotions – WhatsApp is another avenue for digital marketing initiatives to reach existing and potential customers. You can only put a maximum of 50 people in a group, but that can be surpassed using third-party programs.
WhatsApp was not intended to be used for business, but it has swayed itself the B2B space quite easily. In emerging economies like India and Brazil the cost savings that comes with using a free app instead of a phone line which requires a monthly fee is hard to ignore. Perhaps here in North America there are some companies who might be interested in taking advantage of it in the same way.
Photo via WhatsApp