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A beginner’s guide to WhatsApp marketing

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Trends & Innovations 17 min read | Marinela Potor wrote in blog on July 9, 2024

“Is there a way I can use WhatsApp for marketing?” If you’re a marketer, you’ve definitely asked yourself that! After all, it’s hard to overlook the huge potential of WhatsApp.

With over two billion global users, WhatsApp is not only the world’s most used messaging app. It also boosts open rates around 98%, click-through rates of 35%, and an active audience that spends up to 17 hours on WhatsApp. If you add to that the messaging app’s rich media features like videos, images, GIFs, voice messages, two-way chat capabilities, and more, it’s easy to see the enormous potential WhatsApp has as a marketing channel.

And the good news is: Yes, businesses can and absolutely should use WhatsApp as part of their marketing strategy!

Let’s explore how.

What can you do with WhatsApp marketing?

Businesses can use WhatsApp for marketing in several ways.

Send promotional messages

From special deals to promoting a new product to customised recommendations: Sending promotional content on WhatsApp is straightforward. You segment your target audience, create content, and send it to your WhatsApp contacts.

Tata CLiQ WhatsApp marketing message
Sending WhatsApp marketing messages is straightforward. (Source: WhatsApp)

You’re typically rewarded with open rates over 90% and equally mind-boggling click-through rates.

That also has to do with some distinctive features WhatsApp offers.

  • WhatsApp messages typically end up on the locked screen of users where they get the most attention.
  • There are no distracting algorithms or spam folders that keep your message from getting through.
  • WhatsApp doesn’t have a character limit like SMS, so you can get more creative with your content.
  • WhatsApp supports multimedia content, so it’s easy to make your content more engaging by adding emojis, images, and even high-resolution videos.
  • WhatsApp’s one-to-many messaging features are very similar to email marketing and newsletters. Each message ends up in a user’s individual inbox, from where you can continue with a one-on-one chat. So even when sending bulk messages, you can maintain a personal touch.

By the way, since WhatsApp is an internet-based channel, you can also easily reach customers in other countries. For UK companies with an international audience in WhatsApp-first countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil, or even Germany, that’s a tremendous advantage.

Invite users to have a two-way conversation

WhatsApp is not only great for direct marketing, but also for two-way conversations.

In fact, since private users know WhatsApp as a chat application, they’ll expect to interact in a similar way with businesses on WhatsApp.

Brands that try out conversational marketing on WhatsApp usually find that they sell more by having an exchange with customers as compared to traditional push marketing techniques.

Take for example MissPompadour. For the Berlin-based DIY paint reseller, this conversational approach is a real revenue driver. They offer a WhatsApp consultation service where users can ask for advice on the best type of paint to pick or the right colour choice.

MissPompadour WhatsApp marketing

The conversational approach turns nine out of ten WhatsApp chats into a sale!

Of course, there are many other ways to use WhatsApp for conversational marketing. You can:

  • Offer users to chat with you to get shopping inspiration
  • Initiate a contest or raffle
  • Have users send content where they interact with your brand (and give out a special prize to the winner)

Re-connect through re-engagement campaigns

One of WhatsApp’s greatest strengths is that it creates a very strong bond between customers and businesses. That’s why WhatsApp is ideal for building customer loyalty through re-engagement campaigns like:

  • Sending back-in-stock alerts
  • Sending product recommendations based on previous purchases
  • Giving out freebies or discounts for bringing in new customers
  • Sending VIP offers to loyal customers

Re-connecting with customers on WhatsApp is fairly easy. All it takes is sending them a new message. It’ll end up in the same chat as previous messages, so it’s very smooth to pick up where you left off.

Compared to expensive re-targeting campaigns on search engines or social media channels, companies get a better value out of running re-engagement campaigns on WhatsApp. For one, sending WhatsApp messages is often cheaper than running ads. But even more importantly, WhatsApp delivers higher engagement rates, which generates a better ROI.

WhatsApp marketing features for businesses

Now that you’ve seen the possibilities, let’s have a closer look at the different marketing features that WhatsApp offers for businesses.

WhatsApp Channels

WhatsApp Channels were launched in 2023. Private users and businesses can use the feature for free to send push notifications to followers. These can contain text, images, GIFs, voice messages, or videos.

While this can be a useful way to broadcast news, keep in mind that on WhatsApp Channels all followers get the exact same message. There are no personalization options. The reactions are also limited. All followers can do is react with an emoji.

WhatsApp Channels overview
Since 2023, businesses can use WhatsApp Channels. (Source: WhatsApp)

Channels also don’t appear in the same tab as the regular WhatsApp chats. They’re shown in the “Updates” tab, beneath the Stories.

In addition, it’s actually not that easy for users to see new posts as Channel updates aren’t set as push messages by default. So, users have to open the updates tab, scroll through their channels, and click into the channel feed.

Unless you’re a known brand or popular influencer, users won’t put in all that effort just to see a company’s updates.

That’s why WhatsApp Channels can be a good complementary marketing tool, but we don’t recommend it as your only approach.

WhatsApp broadcast lists

The WhatsApp broadcast lists are another free feature for businesses. They’re available on the WhatsApp Business App.

The one-to-many feature allows you to send one message to a maximum of 256 unique recipients. Beware that WhatsApp will block your number if you exceed that limit.

Your broadcast message can contain important updates, helpful tips, but also promotions or deals. However, as the broadcast lists are not meant for scaling campaigns, you’re limited in your marketing possibilities.

You can’t schedule broadcast messages and there is no way to personalise the content. The WhatsApp Business App also doesn’t support chatbot or external tool integration.

In addition, you can only message users that have saved your WhatsApp number in their contacts, which makes it hard to reach new audiences.

In some markets, WhatsApp has launched a premium broadcast version, WhatsApp Marketing Messages, with a few more personalization and automation options. However, the upgrade isn’t available in Europe.

Aside from its restricted marketing features, the WhatsApp Business App comes with  some compliance concerns whenever you use it for customer communication.

As the app automatically synchronises your contacts’ personal information, extracts personal user data, and saves it on U.S. servers, it’s not compliant with the Data Protection Act or the GDPR.

There are safe ways to use WhatsApp for business, but more on that later.

WhatsApp marketing conversations

WhatsApp’s most advanced and enticing marketing feature is a template-based format. By using specific marketing templates, businesses start a “marketing conversation” with customers.

Businesses first create a marketing template with the content they want to send and then have to get it approved by WhatsApp. This is meant to protect WhatsApp users from spam messages and usually only takes a few minutes. Once the template is approved, businesses can use it again in the future.

Businesses start out with a maximum of 1,000 users they can message through a marketing conversation template. However, depending on the quality of the campaign, this number can be scaled to 10,000, 100,000, and even an unlimited number of users.

The marketing templates support automations, including chatbots, personalization, external tool integration, and analytics.

This paid feature is only available for WhatsApp Business Platform users through WhatsApp’s API and for businesses that use a verified WhatsApp software solution like Sinch MessageMedia.

The pricing depends on the type of solution, the location of your business, and the recipient’s country code.

Curious about WhatsApp marketing?

Groovy! Try Sinch MessageMedia, and see how easy it is to get started with WhatsApp marketing.

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WhatsApp click-to-chat links

Being able to chat with (potential) customers on an engaging channel like WhatsApp is amazing, but how do you build a contact list to chat to in the first place? Here’s where WhatsApp’s click-to-chat links come in! These links are tied to your WhatsApp profile, so anybody that clicks on your click-to-chat link automatically ends up in your WhatsApp chat.

Click-to-WhatsApp links send users directly into your business chat.

You can place WhatsApp links literally anywhere: your website, your email signature, or even as a Google ad.

By the way, you can also turn them into QR codes, which enables you to promote your WhatsApp channel offline as well. Add these QR codes to your shop window, business cards, company van, fliers… the possibilities are endless.

WhatsApp QR code
Use WhatsApp QR codes to promote your contact offline.

WhatsApp ads

WhatsApp’s parent company Meta also offers businesses the possibility to place WhatsApp links as ads on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. These ads are prominently displayed on a user’s screen, and an ad click leads them into your WhatsApp chat.

Click-to-WhatsApp ad on Instagram
Run click-to-WhatsApp ads on Facebook and Instagram.

As WhatsApp doesn’t allow in-app ads, this is a clever way to grow your user list and guide leads towards your WhatsApp channel.

Product catalogue

With a WhatsApp business account, companies can upload a list of up to 500 items into a product catalogue. Users can browse these items, click on links that lead to product landing pages, and you can also include a link to a specific item in the catalogue in a one-on-one chat.

This is a great feature to showcase your offer, increase traffic to your product pages, and drive sales. The product catalogue is available for free on the WhatsApp Business App and also on the WhatsApp Business Platform and verified third-party WhatsApp tools.

Advanced users can also access WhatsApp Flows, an even more engaging chat experience that can guide users automatically through your products.

WhatsApp automations

WhatsApp also offers several automation options that make running marketing campaigns more efficient.

For example, you can set up welcome and away messages or use quick replies.

Welcome messages will be sent automatically once a user contacts you for the first time. This could be a simple “Hi! How can we help you today?” to get a conversation started or a longer message with useful information, FAQs, and a link to your website.

Away messages will be sent during a time window you select (typically outside your business hours).

Quick replies are pre-typed answers. You set these up in advance and label them. With quick replies, instead of having to type the answer, you just start typing the name of the quick reply and can then add the pre-set answer with just a few taps.

If you have access to the WhatsApp marketing conversations, you can also schedule your campaigns – and you’ll be able to integrate chatbots.

You can use WhatsApp chatbots to get a conversation started, collect opt-ins, schedule appointments, send abandoned shopping cart reminders, forward useful information, and much more.


Speaking of integrations: Advanced business users can add several integrations to connect their WhatsApp marketing to other tools they’re already using, like a CRM software.

That allows you to use your existing data to easily build customer segments, fine-tune your targeting, and personalise your WhatsApp campaigns.

With a special WhatsApp marketing software like Sinch MessageMedia, you can even manage multiple marketing channels like SMS and WhatsApp from the same platform.

Official business account (green tick)

If you sign up for the WhatsApp Business App, you create a verified business account. Here, you can add a profile name, logo, and some basic information like your business hours.

For more advanced users, WhatsApp offers the possibility to get an “official” profile – the famous green tick. Businesses with an official profile appear with their business name and logo in the chat, even if a user hasn’t saved your number in their contacts yet.

Only advanced WhatsApp business users can get the green tick. (Source: WhatsApp)

While this is not an exclusive marketing feature, it can be very beneficial for marketing campaigns where you often contact users that haven’t had a lot of interactions with your business before. With a verified profile, they’ll be able to immediately recognise your brand and know that the content comes from a trusted source – and won’t ignore it as easily.

Only businesses that use the WhatsApp Business Platform or work with a certified WhatsApp solution like Sinch MessageMedia can apply for the green tick.

Check out our detailed overview to learn more about WhatsApp’s potential for businesses.

Three examples of WhatsApp marketing to learn from

The following examples show how successful WhatsApp marketing can be.

Instamotion: Bumping chat-to-sales conversions

Instamotion is an online platform for used cars. As buying a car online can come with a lot of questions, users that want to have a one-on-one consultation with an instamotion agent can leave their phone number for a callback.

However, in the past, the agents had trouble reaching users. Some wouldn’t pick up because they didn’t recognise the phone number. For others, it was just bad timing. For instamotion, these were lost leads, and, ultimately, lost sales.

Until they introduced WhatsApp. Now, when users leave their phone number, they can also select to be contacted via WhatsApp. In that case, if an agent can’t reach someone, they send them a WhatsApp message.

Sent from a verified profile, users immediately see where the message is coming from, and they can answer whenever it’s convenient for them. This has bumped the response rate to 19% and the chat-to-conversion rate has increased by 116%!

Dr. SAM: Cutting churn in half

If you want proof of WhatsApp’s success as a customer loyalty channel, look no further than Dr. SAM. The e-commerce platform offers a subscription-based pet service. Like other subscription platforms, they also struggle with churning customers.

That drastically changed once they introduced WhatsApp for re-engagement. Dr. SAM now reaches out to existing customers with tips around caring for their pets or to recommend re-stocking an item.

Customers love the exchange with the brand on WhatsApp so much that Dr. SAM was able to reduce churn by 50%.

METRO: Reaching B2B customers

The food wholesaler METRO uses WhatsApp to send out regular promotional messages to their B2B customers. In these weekly deal alerts, customers get special discounts on seasonal offers.

WhatsApp marketing from METRO
METRO successfully runs B2B WhatsApp campaigns.

By sending their deals through WhatsApp, METRO can not only easily reach 96% of the customer base, they also see excellent performance metrics. In only six months, METRO gained more than 10,000 subscribers and their campaigns average click-through rates above 18%.

Want more inspo? Check out our overview of successful WhatsApp marketing examples!

How to get started with WhatsApp marketing

There are three ways for businesses to use WhatsApp for marketing:

  1. By creating a business profile on the WhatsApp Business App
  2. By connecting to the WhatsApp Business API
  3. By using a verified WhatsApp software

The WhatsApp Business App is a free smartphone app that you can download for iOS and Android. It’s easy to install and use, but only offers the most basic marketing features. For example, you won’t be able to use the WhatsApp marketing messages, integrations, and chatbots.

As mentioned, this version is also not 100% compliant with data regulations like the UK Data Protection Act or the GDPR in the European Union.

The API lets you build your own infrastructure around WhatsApp’s programming interface. This gives you access to all WhatsApp (marketing) features, and you’ll be able to build a highly customised version.

As this requires IT resources and is best for very specific use cases, it’s mostly a solution for large enterprises or developers. You can find out more about the WhatsApp Business API in our enterprise guide and in our developer documentation.

If you don’t want to invest into building your own solution and prefer to hit the ground running, a WhatsApp software is your easiest way to get started with WhatsApp and WhatsApp marketing.

There are many third-party providers like Sinch MessageMedia that offer out-of-the-box WhatsApp solutions for businesses. We’re a certified Meta partner, so our solution is verified, safe, 100% data compliant, and it offers you easy access to all WhatsApp marketing features.

With our Campaigns tool, you’ll be able to send your first WhatsApp marketing campaign in minutes – and if you have questions, our support team is here to help.

Ready to roll?

Get in touch with our team, and we’ll get you started with WhatsApp marketing right away.

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Before you hit “send”: Useful tips for WhatsApp marketing

If you’re still new to WhatsApp marketing, we’ve put together some useful tips to help you get started.

1. Always get user consent first

WhatsApp should be used like any other marketing channel: never send people promotional messages without getting their permission first.

That’s not only required by law, it’s also the polite thing to do. After all, you don’t want users to perceive your brand as spammy. You’ll also have much better engagement and conversion rates if you send content to users that are really interested in it.

Although not required by law, we recommend a double opt-in (DOI). For example: integrate a subscription widget (available for Sinch MessageMedia customers) on your website and then have a chatbot collect the DOI and display your terms automatically in the chat.

2. Promote your WhatsApp marketing channel

Unfortunately, you can’t search for business profiles directly on WhatsApp. This makes it a bit more challenging to gain subscribers for your WhatsApp channel. That’s why it’s crucial to promote your WhatsApp number everywhere: on your website, in every email you send, on your social media profiles, and even on receipts.

3. Use rich features

WhatsApp is a rich media channel. That’s why users find the messaging app so engaging – so don’t miss out on that in your marketing.

Add images, videos, GIFS, and emojis to your campaigns to make them more interactive. Just don’t overdo it!

We recommend three emojis for B2C and two emojis for B2B messages and a good mix between text and visuals.

4. Be concise

Unlike SMS, WhatsApp doesn’t have a character limit. This still doesn’t mean that you should write long messages. End users read their WhatsApp messages on their smartphones and often on the go.

So be considerate of their time and make sure to optimise your content for small screens.

5. Personalise your messages

As with any other marketing message: Personalisation is key! A personalised WhatsApp message can double your open rate, and targeted content will lead to more engagement.

6. Measure and optimise

Just using WhatsApp won’t guarantee that your marketing campaigns will be a success. Watch important metrics like delivery and open rates, read receipts and click-through rates to learn what works and what doesn’t – and how you can improve.

Ready to roll?

Adding WhatsApp to your marketing mix allows you to use a rich messaging channel to engage with an active audience that’s ready to connect with businesses on a personal level.

In the end, this will add a new valuable channel to your marketing toolbox and create a more enticing customer experience.

Hit the ground running with WhatsApp marketing

Try out Sinch MessageMedia and take our WhatsApp tool for a spin!

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FAQs around WhatsApp marketing

With WhatsApp you can reach more than two billion users globally on both Android and iOS devices. The messaging app also offers multimedia features like images and videos and some of the best engagement rates.
– As long as you follow WhatsApp’s terms and local compliance laws, yes. However, there are some restrictions when it comes to the type of offers that businesses are allowed to promote. WhatsApp prohibits the buying, selling, promoting, or otherwise facilitating the exchange of certain regulated or restricted goods and services such as firearms, alcohol and tobacco, drugs, medical and healthcare products, real-money gambling, and dating. For a full list, check WhatsApp’s business messaging guidelines!
– WhatsApp is a successful marketing channel for small and medium-sized companies as it is for large enterprises. You’ll find your local grocery store on WhatsApp, as well as international brands like Adidas or BMW.
– No! WhatsApp currently doesn’t support in-app advertising. However, you can place click-to-WhatsApp ads on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram that lead users directly into your WhatsApp chat.
– This depends on the WhatsApp marketing service you use. The WhatsApp Channels and broadcast lists on the WhatsApp Business App are free, but only offer limited marketing capabilities. If you use the API, you’re charged per marketing message and prices depend on the users’ country codes. When using a WhatsApp software like Sinch MessageMedia, you pay a monthly flat rate. Check out our pricing here!

Ready to roll?

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