We’re bringing you some pretty exciting news in this blog post - WhatsApp has started experimenting with promotional template messages in a few countries. While they haven’t released this feature in India yet, it still has some interesting implications for the future.
Up until now, WhatsApp only allowed template messages that were notificational or transactional in nature - notifying customers about deliveries, confirming payments, and reminding customers about upcoming appointments, for example. According to Facebook’s policies, up until now, advertising, marketing, or promotional messages weren’t permitted (this still applies to the countries where promotional messages haven’t been launched)
With the new option to send out promotional messages, it changes how brands can handle marketing on WhatsApp. The company does want to allow businesses to reach out to customers with genuine, personalised offers and updates. That being said, WhatsApp has, and will continue to remain strict about protecting its users from overly promotional and/or spam messages that go out to customers.
However, what this means for businesses is that they can now reach out to customers not just for updates or notifications, but they can now create personalised, targeted marketing campaigns for customers on WhatsApp. For instance, you can now send out personalised promotions to customers based on the customer’s last purchase.
While WhatsApp had started experimenting with promotional messages in Indonesia and Mexico prior to this, they’ve now opened up the new messaging function in the following countries as well:
Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Nigeria, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, USA
While this opens up new possibilities for how businesses interact with customers, there’s still a few things to be kept in mind before reaching out to users
For one, users will still need to opt in before they can receive promotional messages, similar to how it worked before. WhatsApp does want to protect its users from spam (and not eventually turn into SMS!), so reaching out to customers that haven’t agreed to receive these messages is still a big no. Secondly, messages need to be relevant to the customer that’s receiving them. They need to be precise, and personalised to the specific customer, containing necessary information that clearly outlines the steps the customer needs to take to make use of the promotions. Essentially, messages should not look like spam, and should have a clear direction for the customer to use. Lastly, messages should be within a frame of time that’s still relevant to their last interaction to the brand. For instance, reaching out to customers with promotions after 6 months of the customers last interaction is not allowed.
Businesses do need to take into account the fact that WhatsApp is still rolling out this feature on a trial basis, and launching in other countries is still highly dependent on how these trials go. That being said, it’s still interesting to see how businesses can use this effectively to promote and market their business and products on WhatsApp. A few of the use cases, for instance, would be:
If WhatsApp’s trials of promotional messaging go well, then we could be looking at this feature being launched globally, essentially changing not just the way businesses promote and market their business to customers, but even how they interact and engage with them. With the number of WhatsApp users and businesses getting on WhatsApp to connect to their users, this is another step forward towards getting businesses to connect with their customers in more personal and meaningful ways.
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