There was a snappy joke prevalent: ‘WhatsApp has the world’s third largest population after China and India.’
Going by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent estimate and announcement, WhatsApp now has 1.5 billion users and sees 60 billion messages sent per day. That’s compared to 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily active users in July.
That’s certainly a staggering number indeed!
When Mark Zuckerberg made the decision in 2014 to acquire this social messaging app, the decision wasn’t bereft of quantifiable frowning by many. But with the unparalleled popularity and its multiple usages, WhatsApp has made the $19 billion dollar investment look as successful as it ever could be.
One-to-one personal communications to group communications among professionals to large forums, WhatsApp has its varied user base far and wide.
One of the them are the businesses which are leveraging unprecedented benefits of this social media platform to accomplish many goals.
WhatsApp has assumed the role of an unofficial platform for quick official correspondence and communication. More and more organizations are making use of this platform for varied purposes time-to-time from communicating motivational messages to discussions on projects with their employees. Internal departments – sales, marketing, and production etc. – also have their own WhatsApp group to share and discuss issues and fulfill department specific communication needs. This practice saves time in sending mails and help in reducing chances of mails getting lost among myriads of mails received every day.
WhatsApp is fast becoming a go-to tool for businesses to reach out to existing customer base and also new potential customers. It is an effective marketing tool adopted by businesses for reaching target group which is essential for businesses to reap out the best benefits of its marketing activities. Since WhatsApp is text message outlet, it saves the initial jerk of a cold sales call. Besides, according to statistics, follow ups through WhatsApp yields better responses than phone calls to prospective customers.
WhatsApp has become an extended channel for customers to reach business and shares their views, comments, queries and feedback. Most businesses now include this channel as one of multiple channels such as email, phone, fax, to simply send a text message.
Vice-versa businesses have also integrated it as an effective tool for providing customer service. WhatsApp provides businesses a scope for real-time customer service through prompt reply which go a long way in creating brand value and customer loyalty. Since WhatsApp is a media rich platform, businesses also make use of customized text, images, audio, and videos to provide guides and solutions to customers.
Similarly, WhatsApp is helping businesses to conduct virtual customer survey and collect valuable customer feedback about products and services much faster. Instead of reaching each customer at a time, a questionnaire or specific questions in a target group garner responses which build up the path for continuous improvement.
WhatsApp are helping businesses in accomplishing many marketing targets from a single platform. Businesses send promotional messages through WhasApp to initiate a conversation with a potential customer. What more, for existing customers, businesses use status feature of WhatsApp which they use to let them know about the promotions running, create special promotional codes for a product or service to redeem etc. Also, this is used as tool for sharing marketing content such as a video content of the most recent product or service, blog, you tube videos and the likes.
Now assessing the ever increasing use of WhatsApp by businesses and its vested benefits the businesses are leveraging, WhatsApp for Business, a version exclusively developed for business entities was launched earlier this year.
The app sports some business specific features such as earning ‘Verified’ badge for business profiles to improve their acceptability and authenticity in the minds of the customers, real time updating of order status, along with the existing benefits reaped out of the platform with the Messenger version.
With this version, suitable for both mobiles and desktop, businesses will be able to keep track of messaging statistics which will help generate valuable data for future marketing strategies.
Interestingly, WhatsApp offers a business a powerful tool to maintain its social media presence, conduct effective marketing activities, and at the same time maintain a personal one-to-one relationship with customers at the same place, at the same time. This offers ease-of-use to a business and the most cost effective channel for marketing and customer service till date.
No wonder, soon like its ever increasing general user base, WhatsApp will be the preferred platform for businesses worldwide.
Hari Shanker, is a Media Entrepreneur and Marketing Communications Specialist and has been in the media industry for the last 21 years. He has extensive experience in the growing manufacturing sector in the country. Starting his career from national capital Delhi, he has travelled and worked across the country, stationed for regular intervals at Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata and is now based in Pune. He founded four companies, four publications and is currently the Publisher of Magazines, Metromart and Martupdate. Recently he has ventured into a startup, The IMPALS, Empowering communications of manufacturing companies.