7 Ways to Use WhatsApp for Business

With over 2 billion users, WhatsApp is the leading messaging app – and it's opening up for business.

In this article, we’ll walk you through your options for using WhatsApp for your business. You’ll learn about the benefits of WhatsApp and how you can leverage the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business API for various business purposes.

We’ll cover:

  1. WhatsApp Business App vs. WhatsApp Business API
  2. Using WhatsApp for marketing
  3. Using WhatsApp for sales
  4. Using WhatsApp for customer service
  5. Using WhatsApp for internal communication
  6. Using WhatsApp for recruiting
  7. WhatsApp for mass communication
  8. WhatsApp for conversational banking

1
WhatsApp Business App vs. WhatsApp API

WhatsApp offers two options for business use. Which one is right for you will depend on the size of your business.

The WhatsApp Business App is intended for small businesses. It’s available for free for Android and iPhone and comes with basic features for support, like fast replies, labels, and a business profile.

The downside is that it offers only one seat per account. And it’s not feasible to be sharing one mobile device. That’s why it’s not ideal for large, professional service teams.

The WhatsApp Business API was built for larger businesses with professional customer communication teams. In contrast to the WhatsApp Business App, the WhatsApp Business API doesn’t have its own front-end interface, but it can be connected to customer communication solutions such as Userlike, HubSpot, Salesforce, etc.

WA Business AppWA Business API
Target businessSmall to mediumLarge to enterprise
Frontend interfaceYesNo
BroadcastsYesNo
Business featuresBuilt-inThrough business solution
Template messagingNoYes
Agent seats1Unlimited
FlexibilityLowHigh

These two solutions offer different opportunities. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which you can use both.

2
WhatsApp for marketing

The mere use of a channel like WhatsApp has a significant impact on the perception of your brand. It gives off a more relaxed and cool vibe than email or the phone.

Due to the WhatsApp newsletter ban in 2019, however, businesses are no longer allowed to send newsletters to target groups of customers. Instead, customers need to initiate the conversation with them. If the customer’s last message in the chat is more than 24 hours old, the company will need to make use of message templates to continue the conversation.

This means that marketers have to find new ways to engage with customers and prospects. Here are a few ideas:

Campaigns. When Absolut Vodka launched a limited edition of its product, it hosted an exclusive party, in Argentina, to create a buzz. Only two tickets were available to the general public. To win these tickets, people had to convince Sven, a virtual doorman on WhatsApp.

Over three days, the WhatsApp bot interacted with over 600 users and received over 1,000 images, videos, and images.

Stories (WhatsApp Business App). WhatsApp’s “Status” feature offers a low-key way to engage with customers. You could post a video of your office to give customers a glimpse into your company’s culture.

Or you could promote flash sales or temporary discounts on your website. Since the content will disappear after 24 hours, this is a great way to create a sense of FOMO and get people excited about your products.

Groups (WhatsApp Business App). With WhatsApp “Groups”, messages are shared among all members. This could be interesting if you want to conduct a focus group to elicit opinions from a specific customer segment. It is also possible to set up groups in which only admins have the right of sending messages, and the others only have reading rights. This is useful for when the groups become too large. The limit of people within one group is 256.

Broadcasts (WhatsApp Business App). The “Broadcasts” feature is the closest thing to a newsletter. When you send a message, it goes out to everyone on your list, and it appears as a normal message to the receiver. To receive your message, the recipients do need to have your number saved to their contact list. You can select up to 256 contacts in each Broadcast list, but there is no limit in the number of Broadcast lists you can create.

That’s why broadcasts are useful for sending content such as ebooks, whitepapers, or information about special offers/promotions.

3
WhatsApp for sales

The informal nature of WhatsApp lends itself to building customer relationships. There’s something immeasurable about connecting with customers on a channel largely used for personal communication.

Here are some ways in which WhatsApp can be used to boost sales:

Pre and post-sales support. WhatsApp doesn’t allow businesses to initiate conversations with non-customers. However, businesses can encourage customers to start chatting by displaying the WhatsApp widget on their website and in Click to WhatsApp ads on Facebook.

Once on your website, customers will naturally be drawn to the WhatsApp widget.

If you combine website chat and mobile messaging, you can also configure your website chat button to show when your customer is on a desktop device, and your WhatsApp chat button to show when they are on a mobile device.

Product catalog (WhatsApp Business App). The WhatsApp Business App itself offers a product catalog to help you promote your services and products. For small businesses that may not have much money to spend on sales funnels or the expertise to build a website, this is particularly beneficial.

Product demonstrations. More than catalogs, product demonstrations help you get customers excited about your product. It’s also an effective way to address product-related concerns.

Seeking to inspire uses of mayonnaise, Hellman’s launched live cooking demonstrations on WhatsApp for customers in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Once customers signed up online, they were asked to send photos of the contents of their fridge via WhatsApp so that live chefs could provide bespoke tips and recommendations.

For inspiration on other ways, WhatsApp can be used in sales, you can learn more in our article 9 Ways to Use WhatsApp for Sales.

4
WhatsApp for customer service

WhatsApp bypasses many service frustrations: endless waiting lines, audio harassment, and delayed responses.

Since mobile is asynchronous, there are no waiting lines. Customers can put their phones away, get on with their day, and get notified about your answer whenever it’s there. If necessary, the conversation can escalate into a live interaction from there.

This makes WhatsApp ideal for customer service. Here are some ways in which you can implement it.

Automation. As with website chat, WhatsApp has chatbot capabilities. This means you could deploy a chatbot on WhatsApp to handle common, repetitive questions so that your team can spend time on more complex issues. You could also set up greetings or away messages to let customers know when to expect an answer.

Order and delivery updates (WhatsApp Business API). Auto emails risk getting lost in the clutter of inboxes. The high open rates on WhatsApp, on the other hand, mean that customers won’t miss crucial order confirmations and status updates.

To incentivize customers to opt in to messages, KLM allows customers to receive booking confirmations, flight information and boarding passes all within WhatsApp.

Post-sales support. In a Facebook study, 50% of the participants who messaged with businesses did so across all stages of their customer journey – to ask about a product or service, to make a purchase or reservation, or to get support.

WhatsApp offers a low-effort way to provide post-sales support without making your customers wait in line or repeat information. If a product needs repairing or a little more explanation, you can offer live video tutorials. Refunds can also be processed faster without paperwork or the back-and-forth of emails.

5
WhatsApp for internal communication

Businesses turn to messaging apps to speed up their information. As most people are on messaging apps, messages are, more or less, guaranteed to be read.

The appeal of WhatsApp, in particular, is familiarity. Most people are using WhatsApp on a daily basis, which means they don’t need to be trained to use it. This removes the obstacle of making employees adapt to an unfamiliar system.

Landbot provides some tips on how WhatsApp can be used effectively:

Screenshot of WhatsApp onboarding.

Onboarding support (WhatsApp Business API). The first few months for a new hire can feel overwhelming. Often, there’s too much information for it to stick. And it can be daunting to ask people to repeat information, for fear of looking stupid.

Offering FAQ sessions in WhatsApp via a chatbot can ease some of this pressure. If human intervention is required, the employee can be forwarded to HR/relevant departments, where the employee can request more information about a certain topic in an informal, one-on-one chat.

Company newsletter (WhatsApp Business App). Today’s employees are overwhelmed by emails. According to Hiver's The State of Email Report 2019, the average employee receives 180 emails daily, of which 40% are not even opened.

This is bad news if you’re trying to push through an updated policy or announcement. Instead of cluttering inboxes with company-wide emails, the “Broadcast” feature (available on the WhatsApp Business App) can be used to send newsletters to smaller, departmental groups where employees can share their opinions and start a discussion.

Alerts and notifications (WhatsApp Business API). Alternatively, if updates are urgent (fire drills, emergency evacuations), the “Message Templates” feature (WhatsApp Business API) allows you to send push notifications. It’s important to note, however, that “urgent” announcements about last-minute after-work drinks probably won’t be allowed.

Feedback collection. Employee feedback plays a huge part in employee satisfaction and engagement. Collecting feedback on a regular basis ensures that issues are identified and resolved before they develop into more serious problems.

Instead of waiting until annual performance reviews or employee engagement surveys, WhatsApp can be used to collect feedback, as and when the problem occurs, via a survey or a poll.

6
WhatsApp for recruiting

With the growing interest in e-recruitment, it makes sense that recruiters are flocking to messaging apps — where they can reach their candidates.

Phone calls are an intrusion into the day and are generally not well-received at work. WhatsApp communication, on the other hand, is silent and therefore, more discreet.

WhatsApp also offers passive candidates a low-commitment way to learn more about job opportunities, without needing to send application documents or finding the right people to talk to.

With features as QR code scanning, Click-to-WhatsApp and message templates, recruiters can reach billions of candidates worldwide and keep them in the loop at every stage of the process.

Here are a couple of ways companies are using WhatsApp to jump-start their recruitment processes:

Recruiting campaigns. Out-of-the-box recruitment campaigns can help attract the interest of candidates who may not be aware of or are indifferent to your brand.

In 2015, Daimler broke new ground with “WhatsApp Day”, a campaign for prospective candidates to get a glimpse of company life, via a WhatsApp newsfeed. Photos and videos accompanied responses so that prospective candidates could get a feel for the culture.

Screenshot of Daimler's WhatsApp Day.
Daimler's "WhatsApp Day"

Automation. Deutsche Post DHL Group went even further, in 2019, by becoming the first German company to adopt WhatsApp into its recruiting strategy. Instead of filling in online forms, applicants can simply apply directly via WhatsApp. A chatbot then asks for the necessary recruitment data, which it compiles into a company database for sorting.

For further ideas on implementing WhatsApp in recruiting, read more in our article on How to Use WhatsApp for Recruiting.

7
WhatsApp for mass communication

Misinformation can spread, when uncontrolled, especially in a pandemic.

That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) built the WHO Health Alert chatbot. Realizing that people stuck indoors will search for help and information online, WHO designed the chatbot to provide fast and reliable information about the coronavirus.

All users need to do is to text “hi” to +41 79 893 1892 to start a conversation on WhatsApp. Within seconds, the chatbot responds with a variety of menu items to learn more about the virus and how to protect themselves.

Screenshot of the World Health Organization bot.
Fresh information from the WHO on corona virus.

The service is currently available in English with plans to add the remaining United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish).

8
WhatsApp for conversational banking

In the last few years, there’s been a shift from mobile apps and internet banking to conversational banking, with many banks introducing chatbots to assist customers and facilitate transactions.

As customers seek more personalization in their interactions with banks, messaging is a low-key way to make banking conversational makes perfect sense. WhatsApp Business, in particular, offers potential in this area with its wide reach, end-to-end encryption feature, and chatbot integration capabilities:

GDPR. As with other communication channels, there are concerns around compliance, security, and the GDPR. WhatsApp mitigates some of these concerns by restricting access to a user’s contact list and by offering the option for messages to disappear after seven days.

Users also need to opt-in to receive messages, which offers protection against unwanted messages and potential hackers.

Screenshot of OpenBank's WhatsApp service.

Chatbots. Though messaging apps have yet to take off in banking, there are a few banks such as OpenBank Spain breaking the mold. OpenBank, Santander’s first 100% digital bank, not only lets customers ask product- and account-related questions over WhatsApp but also send transfers. Using data analytics and AI-based natural language processing, OpenBank uses a WhatsApp bot to predict customer response and guide customers.

More than 50 million companies are already using WhatsApp Business in their customer communication. If you’re looking to leverage the power of WhatsApp Business and expand your customer communication channels with your customer’s favorite messaging apps, take a look at Userlike.

With Userlike, you don’t just get easy access to the WhatsApp Business API. You’ll also be able to expand your customer communication to website chat and other popular channels like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and SMS – starting from €90/month.

If you’re interested, apply for access to the WhatsApp API here.