Using WhatsApp Business communications makes perfect sense – that is where the users are. But OTT messaging has many other advantages. Nikita Ilin, CTO of Messaggio explains
In the past 20 years, SMS messaging has become firmly rooted in the depths of CRM systems, as well as billing and web services. But with the invention of messengers and their growing popularity, businesses have sought new ways of interacting with clients.
Over the top (OTT) messengers’ activity in business messaging has raised a commotion in the field of SMS messaging. Sending rich media (and images as well), native 2WAY, extended delivery statuses—these are the possibilities that businesses have just started to use in marketing and analytics.
Moreover, a wide toolkit, offered by OTT messengers such as WhatsApp and Viber, has given opportunities for companies not only to reduce costs but also to bring communication with clients on a new level, maintaining their engagement and increasing brand loyalty.
Business messaging via messengers is quick, easy and doesn’t require customers to be stuck on hold for hours. And 53% of people, who usually make Internet purchases, are more likely to shop with a brand they can reach through a messaging app. It’s a really convenient and natural platform to reach out to businesses with questions and concerns.
WhatsApp Business API and messenger
Let’s focus on WhatsApp messenger and especially on WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp is the most popular messenger in the world—it processes about 65 billion messages daily for 1.5 billion active users per day in 180 countries. Compared to other messengers and social networks, 80% of WhatsApp messages are seen within five minutes.
Therefore, businesses are definitely able to catch the attention of their customers. Those, who have tried WhatsApp Business API have said that their messages had an open rate of 99%, and users answered more than 40% of their messages.
WhatsApp Business API is targeted at large enterprises to help them reach out to their users at scale. But before starting messaging via WhatsApp Business, it is necessary to get users’ permission to receive messages from the brand via the WhatsApp channel. Fortunately, this permission can be received on any communication channel of the company: website, app, email, SMS, etc. Permission should be active, meaning that the user should make any action for that—for instance, request they check off a “tick” box.
Messaging via WhatsApp Business API is more attractive to businesses, and it allows them to send rich media content (for example, photos of goods, videos, gifs, and large text). It makes it possible to send files as boarding tickets to customers. Brands can also send video tutorials or PDF guides to help out users with more complex problems, and users can send screenshots or videos showing the issues they’re dealing with.
Moreover, it gives users the ability to personalize—a company can use its logo, business description, email, address, website. Every business account must have a phone number, and it can be not only a cellphone, but a landline or a toll-free number. The brand must also define a verified name. It can be a maximum of 256 characters and should not contain an emoji. With a detailed company description and verified account, customers will become more loyal.
Working with chatbots
Then, WhatsApp Business API uses native 2WAY communication, which works perfectly with chat-bot services. So, businesses can set up a welcome message and quick replies for frequently asked questions. And if the business isn’t available, it can easily set an away message to point users toward other communication channels or to notify visitors when you can respond. It would help to speed up responses and to unload operators.
WhatsApp Business API allows users to create and delete message templates. There are lots of benefits of Message Templates over plain text messages. For example, when sending a message to a contact for the first time, WhatsApp displays buttons to mark the conversation as spam or block the number. With Message Templates, WhatsApp knows already that the template is a valid one, so these buttons won’t show if the business is verified, allowing for a better user experience.
When sending a message to a client for the first time, the brand should type a “welcoming” message so that the user will definitely understand their importance to the business.
There is only one disadvantage of messaging via WhatsApp Business API—marketing, advertising, and promotional messages are not permitted. Brands can send only promotional information after a customer agrees to the terms of the 24-hour chat. And special offers and promos can only be sent with WhatsApp’s written permission.
Besides, WhatsApp cares about its reputation and the feelings of its users. Therefore, businesses that are connected with drugs; tobacco products and alcohol; weapons; goods or services for adults can’t be registered and gain a business account. According to WhatsApp’s policy, it is also forbidden to send messages with gambling for real money and to message about products, items or publications that may be or are fraudulent, misleading.
To sum up, business messaging is changing the typical customer journey and customer care of a modern company. WhatsApp makes clear rules for business messaging, greeting moderation, and gives wide touchpoint opportunities. That’s why it structures and brings order into the process of business messaging, unlike SMS. These rules are very important for controlling such a wide audience, and WhatsApp has made a real breakthrough in the messaging market.
Nikita Ilin, CTO of Messaggio, the multichannel messaging platform providing all of the features needed for business messaging: SMS, Mobile Identity, Vk.com, RCS, Viber and WhatsApp.