What Start-ups Can Look Forward to From WhatsApp for Business?
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Ever since WhatsApp's initial burst on to the scene back in 2009, it has pretty much become the preferred messaging app for people in several large countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil amongst others. Yes, text messages are still doing the rounds, but WhatsApp's popularity is such that it has been successful in achieving something that is not easily achieved- It has changed user behavior forever.
Now with WhatsApp calling, it's easy to foresee that it'll have the same effect and possibly even take over from regular voice calling too (if it hasn't already that is!) Habits once formed don't die easily of course.
Convenience Over Capability
What's interesting to note is that nowadays, most people don't just use WhatsApp because of the 'free' messaging and calls. Even though unlimited calling and All You Can Eat data plans have become the norm among service providers, people still use it for one simple reason - convenience.
With the new iOS releases, WhatsApp and Skype calls all show up in the same call logs - basically blurring the lines between a VoIP call and an actual Mobile call.
So what does the next stage of WhatsApp evolution - WhatsApp for Business - have in store for us? Well for starters, it's a genius platform for small and medium-sized businesses to jump on to. Here are a couple of other reasons how WhatsApp's new avatar will benefit businesses:
A Customer Service Channel
Most large corporations have to put out fires on Twitter when their customers aren't pleased with them. Small and medium-sized businesses on the other hand, barely have a presence on Twitter.
The new WhatsApp for Business can be a great way for customers to reach out to these businesses to get their grievances resolved. Sort of a micro level Twittersphere except it's private.
A Way to Increase Revenue
For mid-size businesses and savvy small businesses, it's fairly easy to be a part of a larger e-commerce site. For departmental stores, there's Amazon, for restaurants there's Zomato/ Swiggy/ Uber Eats; but what about small merchants and lunch homes?
WhatsApp for Business can help them accept orders and even make for easier payments using good old COD, or even... UPI!
UPI Payment Integration
In 2017, the Indian government in its push to digitize the economy actively promoted the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Easier bank-to-bank transfers and fewer entry barriers for foreign entities; WhatsApp was the perfect candidate.
WhatsApp Payments brings up new challenges for the existing payment companies in the market now. I mean, think about it - their user base in India alone is 250 million. Add to that the simplicity and ease of using the payments function, and they'll soon be converting even the digital non-believers to try it out. Plus, the bank-to-bank transfers will be a dream come true for small business owners and merchants. Paytm better watch their back.
A New Marketing Broadcast Platform
Yes, email is great and it's an important part of any marketing strategy. But, what's the best open rate you have got with email marketing? 35% - 45%? Compare that to a platform that has a 78% open rate, not to mention the 1 billion active users that it has.
The potential in using WhatsApp as a marketing broadcast platform is undeniable. But be careful, people are being spammed already. You'd probably get away with it if you design a campaign that isn't as intrusive but still gets the message across.
A Bit of Forewarning
Although the benefits of WhatsApp for Business are clear, small businesses need to be watchful of their presence on the platform, lest they lose credibility. For instance, it's going to take a lot more invested effort in getting pre and post sales customer service organized.
Software that comes up with WhatsApp integrations will probably be the new thing to watch out for. From integrations with AI chatbots for round the clock customer service, to CRM tools for automated responses, and even marketing automation tools that will help personalize the marketing process a lot more - the sky's the limit for software that can make life, after the launch of WhatsApp for Business in India, smoother.
However, this shapes up, the launch of WhatsApp for Business is a very positive turning point for both businesses and users. Also, and maybe I shouldn't jinx it, but how soon do you think they'll start to monetize it?