WhatsApp Business: Best Practices (The Ultimate Guide)

WhatsApp Business Best Practices

From unique and rewarding marketing tactics to productive and efficient customer support, there’s no question WhatsApp Business provides endless opportunities for a brand to grow.


The numbers say it all. As the world leader in messaging applications and with users spanning across 180 countries, there can be a whopping 2.5 billion WhatsApp users online at any given time.


If this seems like a huge (and possibly) untapped market for your business, you couldn’t be more right. 


WhatsApp released WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API in 2018 to allow small businesses to keep their WhatsApp profiles separate from their personal lives.


These new applications cater to both small business owners and large enterprises and aim to make their lives simpler. They readily provide essential business information to current and prospective customers while simultaneously providing new features intended to increase efficiency and productivity.


Since WhatsApp Business is still a fairly recent release, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that covers the WhatsApp Business best practices for using WhatsApp Business and its premium sister, the WhatsApp Business API.


We’ll cover everything from creating a WhatsApp Business profile and best ways to use WhatsApp Business templates to how to execute WhatsApp marketing, and more.


Ready? Let’s get to it.


Creating a WhatsApp Business Account

The very first thing to do is to create a WhatsApp Business account.

How you do this will depend on whether you’re getting the free WhatsApp Business app or the WhatsApp Business API.


In a nutshell, the free app is catered to smaller businesses while the API has more advanced and enhanced features for larger enterprises.


If you want to better understand how they differ, we recommend you check out our post on the differences between WhatsApp Messenger, WhatsApp Business App, and Business API.


Filling in Your WhatsApp Business Profile

After creating your account (whether you’re setting up an account with the free business app or the API), the next step is to fill in your WhatsApp Business profile.


That’s because when customers connect with your business on WhatsApp, that’s the first thing they’ll see. 


Be sure to include essential business information like:

  • A brief description;
  • Your business’s physical location (if any);
  • Email address;
  • Website;
  • Hours of operation, and more

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Making Use of WhatsApp Business Templates

One of the best features of WhatsApp Business is the possibility to create message templates. 


These automated templates are a combination of the written word, emojis, and GIFs that allow you to auto-respond to a customer when no one on your team is available. These templates can pull the client’s personal information so that every response is tailored to your clients’ needs.


Pre-made and Custom WhatsApp Business Templates

There are plenty of pre-made templates to choose from that make your customers feel taken care of, even when you can’t be there. 

How far you can go with these templates will depend on whether you’re using the free business app or the API.


If your business is verified by WhatsApp Business API, you have the opportunity to create your own templates (subject to the approval of the WhatsApp Business API team).


Here are some great WhatsApp message templates sent most frequently by users:

  • Account updates;
  • Auto-replies;
  • Payment confirmations;
  • Shipping updates; and more

Sending these updates automatically helps to ensure your business is in constant contact with your customers. Keeping clients up-to-date on account-related information promotes a trustworthy and reliable reputation for your business.


We’ve previously written a guide on WhatsApp Templates: Automated Messages For Businesses and we highly recommend you check that out.


WhatsApp Business Automated Messages: Restrictions

WhatsApp strives to maintain its reputation for being a reliable and trustworthy communication channel. 


In doing so, they impose strict guidelines when it comes to sending out automated messages. 


For instance, the app strictly prohibits spam and any custom templates containing discount codes, promotions, or giveaways. If you’re using the WhatsApp Business API, these messages will be rejected.


Clients must also have provided their consent (via an opt-in) to start receiving messages from a business via WhatsApp. 


To avoid potentially getting banned from using WhatsApp, do give the WhatsApp Business Policy a good read.


Now, although it’s not possible to “cold call” prospective customers on WhatsApp, there are tons of creative ways that businesses use to get around this and collect opt-ins, some of which we’ll discuss later.


Using WhatsApp Groups for Business

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When you’re thinking of ways to use WhatsApp to your business’s greatest advantage, remember that WhatsApp’s ultimate goal is not to be a social media platform. Instead, the platform aims to be a trustworthy platform for families, friends, and loved ones to connect.


Where does business come into this equation? Instead of acting as a newsletter for business information, freebies, and giveaways, think of WhatsApp Business as being more of a conference call between you and your customers.


How to Create WhatsApp Groups

Regardless of whether you’re using Android or iOS, it’s easy to create and use WhatsApp Groups on WhatsApp Business. 


Using iOS, click on “Chats” and then “New Group.” Similarly, if you’re on Android, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and then “New Group.”


Note that there is a maximum of 256 users allowed in a single Group. 


WhatsApp Group vs WhatsApp Broadcast

If you’re already familiar with the WhatsApp Business platform, you may be wondering what the difference between WhatsApp Group and WhatsApp Broadcast is.


With WhatsApp Broadcast, a business can send a message to a list of recipients. However, only the broadcaster (the business, in this case) can send a message. Replies are private and are redirected to a private chat so that they cannot be seen by other recipients.


In contrast, WhatsApp Group acts as one huge conversation. All messages can be seen by all participants.


For a more in-depth breakdown of the two, check out our post on WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group: Key Differences.


WhatsApp Marketing on WhatsApp Business

Marketing on WhatsApp Business is different from marketing on other social media platforms.


On Facebook and Instagram, for instance, ads can be seen by anyone casually scrolling through their feed. With WhatsApp marketing, on the other hand, businesses really need to get creative!


There are plenty of hurdles when it comes to advertising and enticing potential customers on WhatsApp. 


As mentioned, businesses cannot initiate conversations with prospective customers or advertise to users. Plus, to interact with customers, you need their phone numbers and permission to contact them.


While this all may seem like more hassle than it’s worth, don’t let yourself be discouraged so quickly!


Why Is WhatsApp Marketing Important?

WhatsApp requires a different approach and some out-of-the-box thinking. Sure, there is a lot more hassle and hoops to jump through when it comes to marketing on WhatsApp.


This very fact has turned off hundreds to thousands of other businesses from monetizing their presence on WhatsApp. And what this means your business has a lot less competition on WhatsApp than it does on other advertisement platforms.


One thing that sets WhatsApp aside is that, unlike other social media marketing, your audience on WhatsApp isn’t constantly being bombarded by advertisements and campaigns looking for a way into their wallets. This makes them more receptive to businesses that want to get to know them better on a personal level.


How to Get Customers to ‘Opt-In’?

When it comes to WhatsApp marketing, businesses struggle with the same problem we’ve mentioned throughout this entire guidebook – getting customers to “opt-in” to receiving messages.


The first thing to realize is that it’s impossible to locate a business on WhatsApp without a correct phone number. With this in mind, you must list your WhatsApp Business phone number clearly and across your entire digital presence.


One way to do this is to publish your phone number clearly on your business website and across all social media channels. 


When doing the latter, we recommend prioritizing Facebook and Instagram. Because these all fall under the great Facebook umbrella, syncing your efforts on them comes easy.


Another method is to add a WhatsApp chat button to your website’s homepage that automatically opens a WhatsApp chat so that they can begin chatting immediately.


WhatsApp Business Website Chat

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As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to start WhatsApp marketing is to allow quick and direct access to your team via a WhatsApp chat button on your website.


(For more, check out our guide on adding a WhatsApp chat button for free with the chatbot our team at WATI has created.)


WhatsApp Business Chat as a Marketing Opportunity

In addition to using the website chatbot to provide basic business information and standard responses, there is also a marketing opportunity here. 


Your business can use these chat dialogs as a way to gain new WhatsApp contacts as any conversations started by customers are considered an opt-in.


Once you have these contacts, you’re then able to send out promotional messages. Note that this can only be done within 24 hours of receiving the last message.


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Some ways to make use of this 24-hour window include

  • Giving store discounts;
  • Providing product coupons; and
  • Entering your customers into exclusive raffles and giveaways.

This benefits both your business and your customer. It incentivizes sales for your ecommerce store and builds a larger audience for your WhatsApp Business profile.


On the flip side, your customers receive instant gratification in the form of a coupon or voucher. They don’t need to wait to get an email, as is the case with most ecommerce stores, and they can put the discounts to use immediately.


For more, check out our post on WhatsApp Marketing Tutorial: A Quick Guide for Businesses Using WhatsApp.


What Does Marketing on WhatsApp Entail?

While WhatsApp is mainly a text messaging app for users to connect with their friends, families, and loved ones, it’s certainly not impossible for a business to become part of the conversation. 


Here are some cold hard facts about marketing on WhatsApp:

  • WhatsApp is enormous. Almost a quarter of Internet users say that WhatsApp is their favorite social media platform.
  • It’s a text messaging application – meaning instead of advertisements that users can scroll past, your messages are sent directly to the individual user.
  • Text messages have an open rate of 99%. Compare this to an open rate of just under 22% when it comes to advertising emails and you see why WhatsApp is worth the extra marketing effort!

WhatsApp Marketing: Success Cases

WhatsApp Business doesn’t only cater to small businesses. Multiple international and well-known brands have turned to WhatsApp to give their audience a boost. 


Absolut Vodka, for example, used a WhatsApp marketing campaign to give away tickets to a product’s release party.


How? They had their fans message a fictional bouncer, “Sven,” on WhatsApp, to explain why they deserve to win the tickets.


For three days, the messages to Absolut’s WhatsApp Business account flowed in nonstop. 


The result? Over 600 new contacts for Absolut to market to (and some very happy party-goers!).


Another one of our favorite WhatsApp marketing campaigns is from Adidas. Knowing sports teams rely on WhatsApp to share team selection info and look for replacements, Adidas offered them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to “rent” a professional athlete for a game.


Coaches and players on recreational teams were asked to message Adidas on WhatsApp and explain why their team needed to “rent” a professional athlete and when.


This was a win-win situation. The team had the honor of getting a professional athlete to play for them while Adidas got hundreds of new contacts added to their WhatsApp Business account!


WhatsApp Customer Support for Businesses

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What sets one business apart from another? A stellar and unshakeable customer service team. These teams provide their customers with a knowledgeable, consistent, and dependable channel of communication.

In contrast, a chaotic, disorganized, and uncommunicative team will struggle to provide productive and meaningful customer support to your clients.


Plus, as the popular (and proven) business saying goes: it’s always cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one. 

That said, it’s in your business’s best interest to always provide great customer service to your WhatsApp contacts. 


Thankfully, WhatsApp Business’s features make it easy to stay on top of customer queries and ensure that questions and comments are answered promptly and in their entirety.


Importance of WhatsApp Customer Support

There are endless reasons why WhatsApp is a great way to get started with quality customer service. Here are a few:

  • With WhatsApp Business’s automated message capabilities, setting up custom automatic replies is easy and allows the customer to get a response right away;
  • Assisting WhatsApp allows your customers to get immediate gratification while simultaneously providing your business with information about your potential consumers that can be used for marketing purposes;
  • Having your customer service team on WhatsApp allows your customers to contact you without needing to go to your website first; and
  • WhatsApp is a secure channel that verifies all WhatsApp Business API users, allowing customers to feel more comfortable messaging businesses that they know are validated and trustworthy.

WhatsApp Business CRM Integration

One of the key benefits of using WhatsApp Business is that it can be easily integrated with your CRM (Customer Relations Management). Gone are the days when you have to toggle between two applications.


With the WhatsApp Business-CRM integration, businesses can consolidate their customer service efforts into a single tool. This makes interactions more effective and productive and sends more customers away happy and satisfied.


When you integrate WhatsApp with your CRM, you’re able to send a WhatsApp message directly from your CRM, and vice-versa. 


Why Integrate WhatsApp Business Into Your CRM?

Some of the benefits of integrating WhatsApp Business with your existing CRM include:

  • Easy sales follow-ups: Easily send automatic responses to your clients with product details and images;
  • Order tracking: Customers can track their orders and receive automatic updates with delivery alerts;
  • Client feedback: Clients are allowed to provide your team with feedback by automatically receiving a link to a survey any time their ticket closes; and
  • Lower resolution time: CRMs have tools that provide faster and more efficient experiences for your clients.

All in all, integrating WhatsApp Business with your CRM proves an invaluable boost to your business, allows your customer relations team to work more efficiently, retain more customers, provide better customer service, and ultimately grow your business.


Benefits aside, you’ll want to also keep restrictions and compliance laws in mind. For that, check out our post on the Five Things You Need To Know Before Integrating Your CRM With WhatsApp.


Note: If the WhatsApp Business-CRM integration is something your business is interested in, keep in mind that it is only available on the WhatsApp Business API – this option is not available on the free WhatsApp Business app.


Bonus Tips: WhatsApp Business

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With so much to do on WhatsApp, knowing where to focus your efforts can be a challenge.


We would recommend giving all their features a look to see what best suits your business model and structure. But to help jump-start your WhatsApp business strategy, here are a few tips and industry best practices (some of which are extrapolated from what we’ve covered above) for best results:


1. Sync Your Brand Identity

While WhatsApp is a different social media platform from what you might be used to, it’s still important to maintain a coherent brand image on it. This allows your business to be easily recognized and also encourages a more loyal customer base.


Regardless of how you’re using WhatsApp Business, remember to maintain a consistent brand image throughout your interactions so your brand’s personality can shine through. 


2. Take Time to Learn WhatsApp Business Features

There is an endless number of features available both on WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API. When you’re a busy business owner with a long to-do list, learning new features may not seem like the best use of your time.


However, in truth, it is quite the opposite! Learning the high-tech and cutting-edge features offered by these applications can help your business become more efficient, effective, and productive, which frees you up to attend to more critical aspects of your business.


3. Focus on Customer Service

No matter how much effort your business puts into marketing campaigns, WhatsApp Business integrations, and the likes, one fact remains true: If you don’t have a strong focus on customer service, your customer retention will suffer.


The bottom line? No customers = no business.


4. Advertise Across All Platforms

Something all businesses struggle with when using WhatsApp Business is the fact that cold-calling (or cold-messaging, in this case) customers are strictly forbidden. 


So how should a business connect with customers?

The easiest way is to advertise the phone number associated with your WhatsApp Business profile across all of your social media platforms and anywhere your business is listed. 


This way, prospective customers don’t have to dig too deep for your business information and can easily reach you on WhatsApp, thus triggering the “opt-in” required to send out WhatsApp marketing messages.


WhatsApp Business Best Practices: Summary

In comparison with other business tools, WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API are still relatively new, so take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one still learning the ropes. 

However, don’t be discouraged! 


Simply apply everything we’ve gone through in this guide – give it a few more reads or even bookmark this page so you can come back to it again whenever you need a refresher – and you’ll soon be on your way to WhatsApp business success. 


There are loads more content on WhatsApp business over on our WATI blog so don’t forget to also check that out.


The tactics and strategies mentioned above apply to both the free WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API. However, as the API offers more enhanced features, it also allows for more customization for higher efficiency and productivity.


If you’re keen to learn more about the WhatsApp API, WATI is an official WhatsApp Business Service Provider (BSP) and we’d be more than happy to help you get started.

Simply get in touch with us or sign up for a free trial.

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