A Beginner’s Guide to WhatsApp Marketing for 2019

8 Min Read. |

Whatsapp is rarely a marketer’s first choice when it comes to digital marketing. However, at 1.5 billion monthly active users, Whatsapp is a platform that has unparalleled reach.

It’s also a platform that most users prefer for daily interactions, which can offer great potential for brands who want to increase their reach and customer satisfaction, albeit in a non-intrusive way. In this article, we talk about what WhatsApp marketing is all about and how brands can leverage it smartly.

Reach and Power of WhatsApp

Whatsapp has 1.5 billion monthly active users, which is larger than any traditional social media platform, except parent company Facebook.

Even more importantly, as the world’s largest messaging platform, Whatsapp has a level of intimacy and engagement that is missing in most social media platforms.

That’s mostly because it has stayed away from involving brands in the platform until very recently. Plus, apart from China, where WeChat is the predominant messaging app, Whatsapp has loyal users all over the world. There are three main ways of using Whatsapp’s messaging service:

One-on-one chats

This is the most common way in which Whatsapp is used. Individuals who have each other’s phone numbers can use Whatsapp to text each other without incurring traditional SMS charges. You can also call each other, share images and videos, and even send recorded voice messages.


With a broadcast list, you can send a message to 256 people at once. They will receive the message as long as your number is saved in their phone book. Much like a BCC email, the message comes to them in the form of a one-on-one message.

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Whatsapp Groups

Whatsapp groups have become a ubiquitous feature of Whatsapp. From school friends to family members, Whatsapp groups allow people to stay connected as a group. A Whatsapp group can accommodate up to 256 people and allows sharing of text messages, videos, photos, and audio messages.

WhatsApp Marketing

WhatsApp Messenger

Why has WhatsApp Marketing emerged as a viable marketing channel lately

Whatsapp launched their Whatsapp for business feature around two years ago. This has given brands an inroad into Whatsapp like never before.

If you don’t have a Whatsapp for Business account, chances are you’re one of the few marketers not leveraging the power of the messaging platform. Here are some reasons why Whatsapp for Business should be a part of any comprehensive Digital Marketing strategy.

Most of your customers are already on Whatsapp

60 billion messages are sent through Whatsapp every day. In India alone, there are more than 200 million users. So chances are your customers are already on Whatsapp, which will make it that much easier to reach out to them.

Customers are actually engaged on Whatsapp

Unlike other types of social media, Whatsapp actually shows phenomenal engagement rates. In fact, 98% of Whatsapp messages are opened and read, while 90% of them actually get opened within just 3 seconds of being received.

When you compare that to engagement rates of other marketing channels like email, Facebook, or even SMS, Whatsapp is far ahead. Having an inroad into a channel which people are hooked to can be a huge plus for any business.

A lot of content gets shared through “dark social”

Dark social refers to private messaging channels like Whatsapp and email. Close to 84% of sharing now takes place on private messaging channels like Whatsapp instead of public social networks.

So even if you don’t use WhatsApp for marketing, customers are probably sharing content related to you anyway. Whatsapp marketing gives you some measure of control over the narrative.

Customers are ready for chat-based services

In a recent survey, 67% of the respondents said they expect to use chat for communicating with businesses they use. In fact, 53% said they are actually more likely to shop with a business that they are able to connect with directly on a messaging platform.

WhatsApp Marketing

WhatsApp Business App

Whatsapp Marketing tips and techniques

It’s important to remember that Whatsapp is very different from any other marketing channel, including other messaging platforms like WeChat and Facebook Messenger.

It doesn’t have any advertising space and doesn’t lend itself to easy automation. In fact, even with a Whatsapp for Business account, you can only broadcast a message to 256 people at one time.

WhatsApp Marketing

WhatsApp Marketing

However, what that does is it gives you is a major advantage in terms of personalization, engagement, and efficacy. This is what you need to leverage in your Whatsapp marketing strategy to make the most of the channel.

So while Whatsapp viral marketing is not always possible, effective Whatsapp marketing campaigns can definitely be designed. Here are some tips you must keep in mind when it comes to Whatsapp marketing:


Remember that any message you broadcast is received by your prospective customer as a one-on-one message. This kind of message will almost certainly be opened and read which automatically puts you at an advantage over most other marketing channels.

Plus, Whatsapp is a personal and intimate messaging platform so it makes sense for your messaging to be highly personalized as well.

If you’re sending a message to just 256 people at a time, you can truly segment your prospective customers by their tastes, spending pattern, and likes and dislikes.

This makes customers far more likely to respond. So although not as scalable as other marketing channels, Whatsapp marketing more than makes up for it with a much higher response and conversion rate.

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While Whatsapp marketing is highly effective, it can only work if prospective customers are willing to share their number with you. Using techniques like freebies, giveaways, and contests can help you attract interested customers and get their personal details.

This also ensures that you only end up marketing to people who have some degree of interest in your product. Given that Whatsapp marketing is time-consuming, have a list of qualified leads makes a lot of sense.

Customer service via Whatsapp

Although strictly speaking this isn’t a Whatsapp SMS marketing technique, it can really help your company’s brand image. Whatsapp is a channel most customers are hooked to, so if you can use your Whatsapp for Business account to actually provide customers with exemplary customer service, they will be delighted.

This level of customer delight can go a long way in cementing your company’s reputation as a brand that cares. In fact, if you’re a larger company, you should actually explore setting up a customer service team that handles queries on Whatsapp.

Here’s a video that talks about how small businesses can make the most of Whatsapp marketing.

Successful Whatsapp Marketing Case Studies

Over the years, many brands have used the power of Whatsapp viral marketing to take customer engagement to the next level. If you think Whatsapp SMS marketing is restricted to smaller companies that don’t operate at scale, you will be surprised by some of these case studies.

Absolut Vodka in Argentina

Absolut was launching their Limited Edition Absolut Unique Bottle collection in Argentina. Given the nature of the product, they wanted their marketing campaign to be aspirational and exclusive.

They zeroed in on Whatsapp to drive their marketing because firstly, it is the most personalized marketing platform and secondly, 84% of Argentina’s mobile phone users had Whatsapp at that time.

WhatsApp Marketing

Absolut Vodka

They hosted a very exclusive launch party for the product and decided to make just two invitations open to the public. They also created an imaginary bouncer named Sven and anyone who wanted to attend the party had to contact Sven on Whatsapp and persuade him to invite them.

This resulted in a Whatsapp viral marketing campaign. The campaign generated just the buzz Absolut was looking for. More than 1000 unique images, videos, and audio messages were actually created by users looking to attend the launch

Agent Provocateur

Agent Provocateur is an exclusive luxury brand. It has a service for special customers wherein it uses Whatsapp to update them on new arrivals and events at its stores. Since Whatsapp is a more private channel, it also allows for two-way communication on more sensitive subjects.

In fact, the brand launched a Whatsapp campaign called Menage a Trois on Christmas. Whatsapp users could choose to include a personal shopper from Agent Provocateur on a Whatsapp group with their partner to discuss potential Christmas presents. While there were just 112 conversations in all, the conversion rates were phenomenal. 31% of the customers visited the store and 61% went to the website.

Whatsapp Marketing Software and Tools

The Whatsapp for Business tool allows for certain features including the ability to sort, automate, and respond quickly to messages. Since Whatsapp doesn’t offer any business or tools or Whatsapp marketing software, the only option is to go for the kind of small-scale campaigns outlined above.

While certain third-party Whatsapp marketing software is available, it is not legally sanctioned by Whatsapp. Using these kinds of Whatsapp SMS marketing tools can result in damage to your business reputation. In fact, you may end up being banned from Whatsapp altogether.


Whatsapp marketing is a completely different ball game. It isn’t just different from PPC and social media campaigns, but also from other messaging platforms.

However, its strength actually lies in its emphasis on privacy. While Whatsapp marketing may not be the most scalable strategy, it can undoubtedly be one of the most effective. If you’re looking to understand the nuances of Whatsapp marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy, doing a complete Digital Marketing Certification Course is probably the best way forward.

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