How to use WhatsApp Business – a guide for small businesses


As a small business owner juggling multiple responsibilities, it’s important to find ways to upskill that fit easily into your everyday life. You may already be familiar with WhatsApp when chatting with friends and family – but did you know you can use it to keep in contact with customers too?

From easily communicating with customers to driving sales, tools like WhatsApp Business are becoming increasingly popular with small businesses.

Keep reading to learn how to use WhatsApp Business to grow your small business in our handy guide.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business App 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.

This is not to be confused with the WhatsApp Business Platform, which is a programme used by larger businesses at an additional cost. But if you’re a small business, the regular WhatsApp Business App is probably your best choice.

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 59.9 million smartphone users in the UK, while Finder says average daily use is above four 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’s 2024 Consumer Texting Behavior Report show that 81 per cent of consumers have signed up to receive text messages from a business, up from 66 per cent in 2021.

The same report reveals that 42 per cent of customers expect a response from a business within just 15 minutes, going up to 66 per cent expecting a response within one hour.

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: https://wa.me/[your-phone-number-here].

What’s the WhatsApp Business Platform?

Most businesses will use the standard WhatsApp Business App. However, there’s also an opportunity to use the WhatsApp Business Platform.

The WhatsApp Business Platform is an Application Programming Interface (API) which 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. 

If you want to use the WhatsApp Business Platform API, it’ll cost you. Cost is based on the number of 24-hour conversation sessions you have, which in turn will differ depending on whether you or the customer initiated the conversation.

However, your first 1,000 conversations each month are free, so you can start building customer relationships.

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.

What are your legal obligations?

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.

Ready to set up your cover?

As one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, we specialise in public liability insurance and protect more trades than anybody else. Why not take a look now and build a quick, tailored quote?

Photo: AlexPhotoStock/stock.adobe.com

Conor Shilling

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

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