Everyday WhatsApp grows its 1.5 billion monthly users mark. That’s a lot of customers – potential and current – to hone and grow. But, how do you covert this opportunity into meaningful business?

NB: This is an article from Staah

Before you start reading further, look at your phone. Where does WhatsApp sit?

It probably has a pride of place next to the big guys – calendar, SMS, Facebook, Google Maps, etc.

It’s accessibilitysimplicityengagement, and trust has made it one of the most sought-after messaging apps, both by users and now, businesses.

It wasn’t until recently though that WhatsApp released its Business App to help small businesses use this platform better to reach and respond to their customer’s needs. It’s far from what the Facebooks and Googles of the world can do for a business – but what it can do is not something you want to ignore.

What is WhatsApp? How to use it?

WhatsApp is a free mobile app that uses your phone’s internet connection to let you chat with other WhatsApp users, without SMS text message charges. The app also lets you share files and images and supports free voice and video calls.

It has a web app and desktop version, but you must have it installed on your mobile first. The desktop app is highly recommended if you’re planning to use WhatsApp for business purposes.

WhatsApp uses the phone numbers from your phone’s contact list to show you an up-to-date directory of WhatsApp users who you already know. Anyone who has your phone number in their phone’s address book will automatically see your listing, too, unless you change your privacy settings.

WhatsApp messages can be shared in three ways:

  • One-on-one messaging
  • Broadcast list, where messages can be sent to anyone who has your number saved in their phonebook
  • Group, where you can message a large number of people at once

Getting started with WhatsApp marketing

WhatsApp is different from other platforms in that it does not support ads. The business account is available for android users, is limited and everything is tied to one mobile number.

This limits the scope of this platform, but also makes it very personal and you must keep that in mind when building your WhatsApp marketing strategy. Customers interact with friends on this platform, so trust and creativity are important.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when building the strategy:

  • Offer real-time customer chat. How about encouraging your guests to communicate with you via WhatsApp messaging pre check-in or even as an enquiry platform as part of the booking process? You could get creative and have pre check-in videos to inspire guests about what awaits them in and around your property.
  • Incentivise people to use WhatApp by making it a part of your hotel experience. Make it possible for them to check-in via WhatsApp or book amenities, order room service or concierge information via the messaging app. This will also encourage them to save your number so you can reach them using the platform post-stay.
  • Create a buzz factor with connected audiences by sharing exclusive offers or giving them the opportunity to buy into your offer first.
  • It’s perfect for servicing the most loyal and high-value guests. Be careful though of not spamming them with too much communication.
  • To engage with people on WhatApp, you need to have them add your number to their phone’s contact list. Leverage other platforms such as your website, other social platforms and email signatures to drive this message.
  • Form communities via WhatsApp groups. Become the conduit that gets together like-minded individuals with common interests that tie back to your business, such as food, photography, local travel tips, etc.
  • Stay clear of third-party WhatsApp marketing tools and services offering to set up multiple WhatsApp accounts and groups for marketers. Using them can lead to you being blocked temporarily or banned entirely from the service. Besides it beats the very central ideas of shatsApp – personalization and trust.

Using WhatsApp Business App

  • Set up your business name, profile address, etc. Also, a status that aptly defines your property – the wow factor.
  • Label active chats for easier management. Examples could be Booked Guests, Post-stay Communications, etc.
  • Use quick replies (eg. Thank you messages), Away messages and Greetings (eg. Festivals) using the Business App
  • Basic statistics are available within the Business App, but this is still quite basic.

Read more articles from Staah