WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. It has attracted users worldwide and downloads from people of all ages.
How popular is WhatsApp? In 2018, Forbes reported that over the course of just three months (May to July), people spent more than 86 billion hours using WhatsApp. This is enough screen time to rank WhatsApp above social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even China’s WeChat.
You may think of WhatsApp as a chat tool that’s primarily used to help people communicate with friends and family. People can use it to communicate with businesses too. And businesses can use it to connect with their customers. In fact, WhatsApp is becoming ever more open to commerce.
In 2018, WhatsApp launched “WhatsApp Business.” That gives business owners free access to WhatsApp. Primarily aimed at small businesses, WhatsApp Business is a simple downloadable app. It offers limited functionality. More recently, WhatsApp launched the WhatsApp Business API for larger businesses.
Both WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API open the door to chat commerce. But the API-based version offers more capabilities and the potential to integrate with other systems and processes. Let’s take a closer look at what chat commerce is—and how you can use WhatsApp to connect with customers in new ways.
What Is Chat Commerce?
Chat commerce enables companies to provide services, communicate, and initiate payments using popular chat apps like WhatsApp. That’s valuable because so many people prefer to communicate using chat. People spend significant time on chat apps each day connecting with friends and family. Businesses have the potential to win more revenue by joining their customers on chat apps.
When you make it as easy to communicate with your company as it is to send a message, your revenue soars. Chat commerce lets customers connect to the products they want within the same apps that they use all the time. All without opening (or even downloading) your merchant-specific app, visiting your website, or going to a physical retail location.
WhatsApp Business API
You can think of an API (application programming interface) as a language that allows applications to communicate and work with other platforms and systems. The WhatsApp Business API allows medium and large enterprises to communicate with their customers at scale. The API enables businesses to connect service agents with customers. Businesses can also use the API to connect customers to chatbots. A key feature of the WhatsApp Business API is the ease of integrating with various backend systems, including marketing and CRM systems.
Here are some ways that the WhatsApp API, chat commerce, and WhatsApp can combine to benefit your business.
Integrating CRM and Marketing Automation with WhatsApp
Using the WhatsApp API, you can now integrate your CRM and marketing automation processes with WhatsApp. The technical specifics (and complexity) will depend on the CRM and/or marketing systems you use. Once integrated, you gain significant chat commerce power. You will have the ability to set up pre-planned and determined sequences, funnels, and workflows that send your messages directly to your customer’s WhatsApp account.
With WhatsApp is connected to your CRM, you can share your business data and information between the two. This includes contact details from WhatsApp, making it easier for you to stay in touch with customers who have already connected with your business.
Chat has the potential to race ahead of email as a marketing channel. According to Gartner, emails can have open rates that are lower than 20 percent, while messaging has an open rate as high as 98 percent. Plus, emails are often sent to spam folders. Many that are opened have low click-through rates. Because of this, marketing through WhatsApp will have a much higher chance of putting customers on the path to purchasing your products.
Another great way your business can use WhatsApp to connect with customers is through chatbots. Chatbots are essentially artificial intelligence (AI) programs that interact with customers on your behalf to help them find information or complete tasks. These tasks can include addressing simple questions about things like shipping. When you use chatbots for routine questions, you free your service agents to address more complex issues.
WhatsApp allows your business to take advantage of your customer service chatbots using the API – but requires businesses to make it possible for customers reach a human agent if they prefer . Once customers engage with your chatbot, you will be able to read the replies, and use that to inform your business decisions.
SMS vs. WhatsApp
You may be thinking that you don’t need to use WhatsApp because you already use SMS to reach customers. It’s not an either/or choice. You can use both. Many customers prefer WhatsApp to SMS. In some countries, people pay to send and receive SMS messages. Not so for WhatsApp. They simply open the app and chat. The service itself is free for them to use no matter how many messages they send.
Start Using Chat Commerce Today
With over 50 million users of the WhatsApp Business app, business and chat commerce are primed for future dominance in eCommerce. There has never been a better time to add chat commerce to your business.
Clickatell is uniquely suited to help you take advantage of WhatsApp and other chat channels. Clickatell offers WhatsApp Business and Chat Commerce solutions built to scale with you as you expand your cross-channel offerings.
Get started with Clickatell today and turn chat commerce into a competitive advantage for your business.