WhatsApp Marketing Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide


The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.

— Tom Fishburne, Founder & CEO, Marketoonis


Imagine a situation where you are marketing to a potential customer and it doesn’t even feel like marketing. How can you get to this state? A great option is to speak their language on a channel they are most comfortable with – WhatsApp. The messaging channel has become extremely popular as it is more engaging and provides one-on-one real-time interactions.

In fact, messaging apps have grown even bigger than social networks.¹ With 2 billion active users, WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app of all time. But despite its widespread popularity, only 7% of marketers have used WhatsApp for business.²

As a marketer, what can you infer from this? At the least, it means WhatsApp marketing is a relatively untapped niche and can give early starters an edge over the competition.

As you would know, most of the popular advertising platforms like Facebook and Google have leveraged user data as an opportunity to target their users with ads. WhatsApp, on the other hand, has taken a more thoughtful approach. Even though after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, they could have monetized the platform. But yet WhatsApp has refrained from doing it, keeping it spam and ads free.

And because of this WhatsApp has seen a huge growth in its user base, great open rates, and more opportunities for marketers to break through the noise and have personalized interactions with their users.

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WhatsApp has introduced business tools like WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business app to empower businesses to connect with their customers, foster engagement, and deliver a great customer experience. Depending on the organization’s size and requirements, both tools are compatible with a range of marketing strategies.


How to build a winning WhatsApp marketing strategy?

Effective marketing underlines a well-thought-out marketing strategy. It enables you to clearly define the goals, outcomes, and roadmap to achieve them. Here’s a checklist you should follow while creating a WhatsApp marketing strategy for your business.

1. Set your goals

To set your goals for WhatsApp marketing, use the below approach.
1. Analyze the existing marketing funnel.
2. Identify the gaps/ weak spots in your marketing.
3. Address those problems using WhatsApp.

Example  Your ads conversion rates are low, as a lot of product queries coming after seeing the ads remain unaddressed. As a solution, you can run Ads that will directly open a WhatsApp chat where people can ask their questions or proceed to purchase on your WhatsApp store or website.

2. Build your buyer’s persona

A buyer’s persona is a representation of your customer. It’s important because, with a clear picture of who you’re marketing to, it’s much easier to develop effective, targeted content that speaks to your ideal buyer’s goals and challenges.

Pro tip – To build a buyer’s persona you can look into the data of people who have purchased from you. For this, you can use your Ads data, your contact lists, or even the ordered items.

3. Get WhatsApp Business API

The WhatsApp Business app is available for both Apple and Android users. It is available for free but has certain limitations. WhatsApp Business app limits the number of agents to only one which acts as a major roadblock even for small businesses. It provides basic features like away messages, quick replies and doesn’t support chatbots, message templates, doesn’t integrate with other tools which are extremely important to get the most out of WhatsApp. 

That’s why it is recommended that businesses of all sizes use WhatsApp Business API over the WhatsApp Business app. Also, a lot of businesses that were using the WhatsApp Business app earlier have moved to WhatsApp Business API as they scale. 

One of such businesses is Supr Daily – an Indian subscription-based online delivery company for milk & daily groceries. They shifted from the WhatsApp Business app to WhatsApp Business API due to an increase in queries during COVID as people ventured out less. 

To get a detailed comparison between WhatsApp Business API and the Business app, we recommend you read our comprehensive WhatsApp for Business blog.

4. Build a contact list

If you’re going to use WhatsApp as a marketing channel, you need a contact list. A highly relevant contact list is the key to a successful campaign. WhatsApp requires customers to give consent that they want to receive updates on WhatsApp before they receive the message. As a result, you need to get a list of people who are already interested in your products and services. This will lead to a highly relevant contact list you can use for different campaigns.

5. Define messaging and build content

WhatsApp has an incredible open rate of 99%, however, if you provide irrelevant or poor content you’ll end up wasting the opportunity of using WhatsApp as a marketing channel. As much as open rates decide the success of your campaign, actions people take after seeing your message are equally important.

And to make sure they open your messages and take action, make a note of the following things:

  • Keep your communications short and to the point
  • Reinforce your messages with multimedia files, such as videos, animations, or pictures
  • Use emojis wherever appropriate. 
  • Don’t spam your customers. B2B companies usually send updates on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger about  3-7 times weekly.

6. Get customer feedback and improve

A well-thought-out marketing strategy does wonder when it is coupled with a feedback mechanism. This feedback from your customers helps you:

  • Validate the success of your campaigns
  • Identify unhappy customers and work towards improving the experience for them
  • Helps you measure customer satisfaction
  • Tells you areas to improve and the areas which are working well for them

You can use WhatsApp message templates to get feedback from your customers and use that feedback to take important business decisions.


How do I promote my business on WhatsApp?

1. Message templates 

Starting June 7, 2021 WhatsApp has allowed businesses in the following countries to send non-transactional messages.

Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Nigeria, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Indonesia, Mexico, and the USA.

That means if you are in the above countries you can 

  • Send product recommendations to your customers related to their previous purchases
  • Send helpful informational alerts
  • Send relevant offers to your customers
  • Send reminders to book appointments for your customers 

But businesses have to keep in mind that these messages can be sent only to those users who have opted-in to receive WhatsApp notifications from your business.

2. Click-to-WhatsApp ads

Typically when businesses run ads, customers usually get directed to a website. But businesses that don’t have a website can take advantage of “click to WhatsApp” ads that directly take the customer to their WhatsApp Business profile.

Click-to-WhatsApp ads are created in Facebook Business Manager and can run on Facebook and Instagram. While creating WhatsApp ads, businesses can also choose their target audience similar to when they run Facebook ads.


6 Ways to use WhatsApp for marketing

Here are the top 6 ways you can use WhatsApp to ramp up your marketing game.

1. Use opt-ins to generate high-quality leads:

WhatsApp opt-in is the option using which customers provide their consent to receive messages from the business. Opt-in must be collected by the business before they start sending messages to their customers using WhatsApp API. Businesses using WhatsApp APIs should collect opt-in using a link or a banner shared through their website, mobile app, email, SMS or social media channels. Once clicked, the user will be asked to provide their phone number after which they can continue to chat with the business on WhatsApp.

And because only those people who are genuinely interested will opt-in, businesses will get a pool of high-quality leads who are more receptive to business communications.

Kaafmeem, a Saudi Arabian fashion e-tailer has successfully leveraged WhatsApp to drive more conversations and achieve business goals. Kaafmeem’s customer service team had traditionally used email and direct calls to handle sales queries, delivery information requests, or questions about refunds and replacements. However, to have a direct dialogue with their customers on a user-friendly channel, they started using WhatsApp as the main communication channel and promoted it on their newsletter, website, and Instagram profile.  As a result:

  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) score bumped up to 4.5
  • FRT (First Response Time) reduced from 1hr 12min to < 1min.
  • WhatsApp became the preferred channel of communication constituting 30% of query volume and helped the company build relationships that matter.

2. Build your eCommerce store on WhatsApp with in-app catalogs

The in-app product catalog is a great feature available in WhatsApp Business app to help businesses organize, display, and sell their goods and services without needing to create a website. The in-app product catalog showcases your product with the help of an image and description, just like an e-commerce website. This helps users make quick purchase decisions. Payment links can be provided in the chat window to complete the purchase.

WhatsApp bot - automate sales process

Additionally, as users don’t have to exit the chat to select and evaluate the product, businesses close more deals and reduce drop-offs, providing a unified user experience.

3. Generate brand awareness using the Status feature

Since its introduction in 2017, one of the most popular features on WhatsApp is the Status feature. Available on the WhatsApp Business app, this feature can be used by businesses to spread awareness about a new product or service with the help of images, videos, audio, and links.

WhatsApp Stories growth

Source  – Buffer

While using the status feature make sure to keep the following in check:

  1. Avoid having more than 7 stories at a time to avoid drop-offs. The optimal posting length for stories on Instagram is 1-7 stories and as WhatsApp status also works like Instagram stories, the same metrics can be used as a yardstick.
  2. Use status for announcements (like offers or contests) and product updates.
  3. Don’t spam and avoid being ‘salesy’.

4. Create contests and campaigns 

Due to its instant messaging feature, WhatsApp is a great platform for brand-related contests and campaigns. The key to a successful campaign is to encourage your audience to engage with you directly on WhatsApp.

5. Upsell & Cross-sell using WhatsApp bot flows 

Did you know that 35% of purchases on Amazon come from product recommendations? Businesses can use WhatsApp bots to recommend related products when customers make their purchases and increase order values. One should note that the bots integration is available only with WhatsApp API.

Freddy custom bot flow


6. Collect customer testimonials for social proof

In order to understand customers and increase retention, it’s very important to get customer feedback. While bad reviews help you pinpoint the gaps, great reviews provide social proofing that can get you more business. Although feedback can be obtained by using survey forms and email, these channels see only 20-30% open rates with even lower response rates.  Compared to email, using WhatsApp to collect customer feedback can deliver much better results as the open rates are an extraordinary 99% with a 40% response rate.

SENS Group, an Argentina based insurance company has been proactively asking for customer’s feedback through WhatsApp. Due to the increase in positive ratings, leads have started pouring in and sales have also been on rise.


6 Great examples of brands using WhatsApp for Marketing

On WhatsApp, before your business can send notifications and messages to a person, you have to get consent from them in the form of opt-ins. While WhatsApp opt-in is a fairly simple process and requires the potential customer to just send a “Hi” or some text to your business, sometimes it can a bit hard to get those extra people in your contact list.

An easier way of getting people to opt-in is by asking them to participate in a contest and message your business on WhatsApp. This way, on one hand, you are getting them to participate in your marketing campaign, on the other hand, they are also opting in to receive notification from you, creating a great contact list for your business. And if we look at most of the examples below, we will see a similar approach taken by brands.

1. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

Hellmann’s in Brazil wanted to inspire people to think of mayonnaise as a cooking ingredient, not just a condiment. So they invited visitors to their website to submit their phone numbers along with a picture of the contents of their refrigerator.

They were then connected through WhatsApp with real chefs, who came up with a recipe using Hellmann’s and the other ingredients in their fridge. The chefs even taught the users how to cook the meal through pictures, videos, and other WhatsApp features.

As a result, a total of 13,000 participants spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with the brand, and 99.5 %of them approved of the service. The brand was so happy with the results from the Brazilian campaign, they rolled it out to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay.


2. Absolut Vodka

Here is an innovative campaign launched by Absolut Vodka to communicate an exclusive Absolut Unique launch party in Argentina. In this campaign, they devised a unique WhatsApp-based campaign for their limited edition bottles that required users to interact with Sven (a virtual doorman of the party) via WhatsApp and convince him to give them access to the party.

As users got creative, this campaign resulted in 3 days of uninterrupted chat with users, a lot of buzz on social media, and more than 1000 images/videos/audio messages to convince Sven. All of this happened by running a campaign using just WhatsApp.

3. Adidas

With the ‘Rent-a-Pred’ campaign, Adidas helped London football teams solve the tiresome problem of unreliable playmates: In this campaign, if a player cancels a match on short notice, the understaffed football team simply writes a WhatsApp to the “Rent-a-Pred” WhatsApp hotline, answers a few basic questions about the location and time of the match, and then they will get a substitute player – of course fully equipped and sponsored with Adidas Predator20 Mutator equipment.

adidas WhatsApp marketing campaign

Some of the best football players in the city were recruited to support the understaffed team in a “100% unfair way” as Adidas-sponsored substitute footballers. The world star Kaká was also part of the substitute team!

4. Persil

Launched in 2015, Persil Kufua Expert Campaign was a campaign run in Kenya that asked Persil users around the country to send in 15-second videos of their best washing tips via Whatsapp.

They ultimately went with this brilliant WhatsApp campaign that was interactive and collaborative. Users with the best tips were then rewarded with gift vouchers and Persil hampers.

5. Colgate

Dental hygiene brand Colgate launched a contest called “Send Your Smile” to promote their Visible White toothpaste brand. For a chance to win a makeover with brand ambassador Sonam Kapoor, consumers could send a selfie of their smile to the Colgate WhatsApp number displayed on the toothpaste packaging.

Colgate WhatsApp campaign

6. Marie Light

One of ITC’s well-known brands, Sunfeast Marie Light wanted to run a creative campaign to boost the sales of their biscuits in India.

The idea was to increase the sales of biscuits by offering a 40 inch LED TV to a lucky winner every day. This campaign ran for 3 months. To enter the contest the person had to take a “Tea-time selfie” with the pack and share it on the brand’s WhatsApp number.

Here’s a video they ran to promote this campaign.


Why use Freshdesk Messaging?

Freshdesk Messaging is an official Business Service Provider (BSP). Freshdesk Messaging provides 360° customer engagement during different stages of the customer journey. With the help of WhatsApp chatbots & AI, message templates, custom reporting, unified inbox, and different automation tools like Intelliassign, it offers a suite of messaging solutions to help your business be successful on WhatsApp. 

Some of the key features:

✔ Early and easy access to WhatsApp Business account

✔ Fast approvals from WhatsApp on messaging templates

✔ Rich APIs that connect data between your tools and bots conversations

✔ Custom Analytics

✔ Unified and smart agent inbox

✔ Enterprise-grade security

✔ Run banner ads on Facebook and Instagram or Google CPC  that click to WhatsApp

✔ Handle volumes with WhatsApp chatbots and AI, automate sales catalogs and payment queries.

✔ Divert traffic from IVR support on phone to WhatsApp

✔ Connect with your favorite CRM, payment gateways, Helpdesk systems, and more!


Simple, but not limited: WhatsApp’s flexibility and the new normal

When all is said and done, marketing, in the “new normal” boils down to a few time-sensitive aspects – crisis communications, empathy-based approach, humanizing your brand, and cost-effective strategies. 

WhatsApp witnessed a 40% surge in usage globally during the COVID-19 outbreak. But this isn’t a newly found thing, it is a circumstance-driven validation of WhatsApp – as simple to use but a feature-rich platform that is cost-effective, personalized, and a great channel for one-on-one communication.

It’s important to keep in mind that WhatsApp shouldn’t be a primary marketing tool, like a CRM or email marketing software. Instead, it should be a channel to amplify your marketing efforts and help people connect easily with your brand once they take an action from your marketing campaign.

Signup for Freshchat - whatsapp banner


Updated on 13th Oct 2021

  1. https://www.businessinsider.com/the-messaging-app-report-2016-4-23?IR=T
  2. https://www.hubspot.com/state-of-marketing
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/730306/whatsapp-status-dau/