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What’s up with WhatsApp marketing?

WebEngage’s Chirag Parmar gives some tips on getting the best out of the messaging platform

People quickly whipping out their phones and dropping voice notes on WhatsApp to their friends and family is a common sight today. To put that phenomenon in perspective, out of the estimated 56.4 million total population in the GCC, around 40 million are WhatsApp users.

That is a staggering 71 per cent market penetration. Taking cognizance of high WhatsApp usage in GCC, brands are increasingly adding the Meta-owned messaging platform to their marketing mix.

With an average open rate of 95 per cent and an average CTR of 5.7 per cent, WhatsApp is undoubtedly an efficient channel, especially in comparison to App push notifications (0.7 per cent CTR) and Emails (1.2 per cent CTR).

While the cost of WhatsApp marketing may seem high compared to email and other channels, the incremental value from higher conversion rates makes it a worthy investment. However, ‘incrementality’ in business metrics could encourage marketers to go overboard with their WhatsApp marketing efforts. Here’s how you can get it right:

Timing is everything

Based on our earlier trends analysis, we believe customers are more likely to engage between noon to 8PM. It suggests that consumers in the GCC region prefer that brands do not infringe on their ‘me-time’ – during early mornings and late evenings. That is a strikingly opposite behaviour compared to that of users in Southeast Asia.

With the growing sophistication of MarTech tools and the help of big data analysis, brands are cracking the code of engaging on the ‘right channel at the ‘right time’. We have reached an era in marketing where brands can predict what channel a consumer is most likely to engage on while also pinpointing the exact time when that user is likely to interact.

Data-driven campaigns based on these insights can quadruple your WhatsApp marketing conversion rate. Big data also allows for personalised experiences that feel relevant, respectful, and non-intrusive.

Understanding the ideal customer profile (ICP)

Good experience is about being available when your customers expect and getting the messaging right. Assumptions are the biggest mistake marketers make. Marketers often assume their customers’ requirements without any concrete demographic research or ICP understanding.

ICP knowledge defines the tonality of the message, localisation of content (optimised for Arabic readership or other linguistic expat groups), and design aesthetics while keeping audience affinity in mind.

Optimising customer journeys

Brands have witnessed almost 3X more conversions from lifecycle WhatsApp marketing campaigns than blast promotional campaigns. In-the-moment marketing helps in increasing recall and downstream conversions.

For an e-commerce company, the ideal customer journey would look like this: Users viewing the home page, then viewing a product page, then adding a product to the cart followed by completing checkout.

Each stage of that funnel is a potential drop-off point that can be addressed using WhatsApp marketing. Challenges like check-out abandonment, cart abandonment, and product abandonment are all lifecycle-oriented. They can be addressed using WhatsApp due to the high CTR of the channel.

Striking two-way communication

Despite WhatsApp’s demonstrated potential to drive revenue for any brand, most campaigns fail because of the lack of two-way communication. Marketers must understand that they are essentially using a personal chat platform to strike up conversations with many users. Rule-based chatbots provide a quick-fix here.

Rule-based chatbots are capable of facilitating a two-way engagement with the audience and uplifting the overall experience. However, they lack ‘human intelligence’. They can’t answer any questions beyond the defined rules. That is where AI chatbots come in.

AI chatbots have the power to leverage LLMs, NLP, and ML technologies, interpret any user input, and provide to-the-point answers — much like chatting with a real-life consultant on WhatsApp. It can pick information from your servers and learn from third-party websites to provide the most accurate information. Such possibilities extend across industries, including e-commerce, healthcare, ed-tech, retail and BFSI.

WhatsApp is gradually transforming into a revenue channel. Most consumers in GCC make purchase decisions based on the convenience and customer experience that brands offer. As a result, many brands now have complete catalogues uploaded on WhatsApp to make shopping a breeze.

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