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How to use WhatsApp Business – a guide for small businesses

5-minute read

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

9 July 2021

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Being able to communicate effectively and securely with customers is crucial for small business owners. And that’s why apps like WhatsApp Business are becoming increasingly popular with small businesses and their customers.

Read on to find out how you can use WhatsApp Business to keep in touch with customers, send automated messages, and set up your own branded business profile.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business is a messaging app which was built ‘with the small business owner in mind’.

Small business owners can use the app to speak directly to their customers, promote their products, and do administration work.

The business app’s appearance and user experience is very similar to the original WhatsApp Messenger, which is the most popular messaging service in over 100 countries and has over 2.5 billion active users.

The WhatsApp Business app is available as a free download for both Android and Apple devices.

Why use WhatsApp Business?

Small business apps like WhatsApp Business allow you to interact with customers directly and professionally. Similar to social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp Business verifies you as a service provider which can increase trust from customers.

For most small businesses, being able to message customers directly is a powerful tool, but doing it from your personal phone number isn’t as slick or professional.

What’s more, WhatsApp Business has a range of features to help you communicate with customers and promote your brand.

Read more about the features here.

Engage with customers directly

Using a free service like WhatsApp for business allows you to be where your customers are and engage with them more easily.

According to research by Statista, there’s an estimated 55.5 million smartphone users in the UK, while Ofcom says average daily use is above three hours.

As a result, messaging customers via text has become a highly effective direct marketing channel.

Create a better customer experience

Figures from Ez Texting show that 90 per cent of marketing text messages are read within three minutes, compared to just 20 per cent of emails during the same timeframe.

Meanwhile, 77 per cent of consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers an SMS service.

Communicating with your customers directly improves your chances of providing good customer service – two way conversations can take place and your customers have a quick and easy way of speaking to you.

How do you set up a WhatsApp Business account?

When you download the WhatsApp Business app from the relevant store, you’ll be asked if you want to use your existing number or a different one.

It’s important to note that you can’t use the same number for a WhatsApp Messenger and WhatsApp Business account. You may be happy to use your personal number for your business account, but if not you’ll need to use an alternative work mobile number or a landline.

Next you’ll need to set up your profile, which will include:

  • changing your display name
  • uploading a company logo
  • adding your contact details
  • adding a status message

Once you’re all set up, you’ll have access to a range of WhatsApp-branded resources to encourage people to message you – these can be integrated into your website, social media accounts, and other marketing channels.

You can also create a ‘short link’ which you can share widely. It includes a WhatsApp prefix and your number, for example:

What’s the WhatsApp Business API?

Most businesses will use the standard WhatsApp Business app. However, there’s also an opportunity to use the WhatsApp Business API (Application Programming Interface).

The WhatsApp Business API allows you to customise the app, add new features, and integrate with other services. If you want to use the API effectively, you’ll need to be tech-savvy or have the budget to outsource the development work.

To get access to the API, you’ll need to contact WhatsApp and ask for access to the code.

How to sign up

How much does WhatsApp Business cost?

The standard WhatsApp Business app is free to use for businesses and customers. However, it’s expected that the WhatsApp Business pricing structure will change and users will be charged to use the service in the future.

If you want to use the WhatsApp Business API, it’ll cost you. The cost depends on which WhatsApp Partner (usually an SMS provider) you work with.

It’s worked out on a fixed cost for each message, depending on how many messages you send. For example, you could be charged 50p for the first 250,000 messages you send each month, and then 45p per message for the next 750,000 messages you send up to one million.

What are the key features of WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business has a range of features that can help you to generate new business, keep in touch with existing customers, and manage sales. Here’s an overview of how you can use the app effectively.

Quick replies and automated messages

The app makes it easy to set up automated messages to send to customers. For example, you could send them a greeting message when they opt-in to receive messages from you, or you could send them a link to your most popular products.

You can also set up ‘quick replies’, allowing you to answer FAQs such as ‘how long do you take to deliver?’ in one go without having to message each customer individually.

Using automated messages and quick replies, you can make sure your service is ‘always-on’ and engaging with customers even when you’re not working.

Branded profile and shop

Setting up a profile is a quick and easy way to increase brand awareness on WhatsApp for business. It’s also a great way to show customers your personality and engage with them visually.

Your profile can include key information, such as:

  • opening hours
  • contact details and address
  • a link to your website
  • a brief bio or description of your services
  • a status update

The app also allows you to set up a shop catalogue to showcase all your products or services. You can include the details of all your products, including the price, description, images, and product codes.

Each catalogue entry will include a direct link to the product on your website, which can be shared with customers directly in a message.

Direct marketing campaigns

You can use the app to generate new business and keep in touch with prospective customers. The ‘broadcast list’ feature allows you to build a list of contacts and send them all the same message in one go.

You may want to let your contacts know about a special promotion you’re running, or send them some of your best customer testimonials.

Much like a traditional email marketing platform such as mailchimp, any replies you receive will be sent directly to you and you can pick up the conversation from there. You can also use the app to track performance of your marketing campaigns.

It’s important to remember that you can only send broadcast messages to customers who have opted in and are aware of your privacy policy.

Customer support and labelling

The direct and personal nature of WhatsApp means the business app is a useful tool for offering great customer service.

You can have a two-way conversation with your customers and benefit from WhatsApp’s key features of knowing when a message has been delivered and read.

Another handy tool is that you can add labels to customers, identifying whether they’re a new customer, need to pay you, or awaiting delivery of your product.

While WhatsApp for business is a useful tool for marketing, you can’t use it to launch a cold-calling campaign.

It’s an opt-in only platform, which means customers have to give you permission for you to message them from your WhatsApp Business account.

This is to make sure you comply with your GDPR responsibilities.

Are you using WhatsApp Business? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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