WhatsApp for Business launching in selected markets

The company hopes to draw businesses to its platform by offering access to a large user base. Here’s what marketers and other communicators should know about the rollout.

How could messaging apps enhance your marketing mix?

WhatsApp is hoping most businesses are looking for more options with its rollout of WhatsApp for business, the company’s equivalent of a Facebook “Page.”

TechCrunch reported:

With the new WhatsApp Business app arriving today, small companies can set up their WhatsApp Business profiles by filling out information like a business description, email, address and website.

WhatsApp says people will know when they’re talking to a business because these accounts will be listed as “Business Accounts.” Over time, some of these will become “Confirmed Accounts,” after WhatsApp verifies the account phone number it registered with matches the business phone number.

Once established on the WhatsApp network, businesses can then use a series of tools provided by the app, like smart messaging tools that offer similar technology as what you’d find today in Facebook Messenger.

For now, the app is available only on Android devices, offering similar features to those of Facebook Messenger. Some communicators might be reluctant to add yet another digital service to their daily routines, but the app could be pivotal in reaching key demographics.

TechCrunch continued:

The company also indicated today how critical it is to address the needs of businesses on its service, which now reaches 1.3 billion users. According to data it cited from Morning Consult’s research, over 80 percent of small businesses in India and Brazil said that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers and grow their businesses.

WhatsApp declined to say how many businesses are today active on its app, when asked.

The app is intended to help communicators manage a torrent of messages.

Digital Trends wrote:

More than a billion people around the world fire up the messaging app every day, with a growing number of people using the service to converse with businesses.

The Facebook-owned startup has decided to lend the smaller outfits a hand, launching a new app called, would you believe, WhatsApp Business. Its main goal is to improve the app’s ease of use for companies dealing with a large number of WhatsApp messages on a daily basis.

On a landing page for the product, WhatsApp promises business owners the ability to set automatic away messages, maintain a public business profile and gain access to messaging data.

Some business owners will focus on access and exposure to WhatsApp’s huge customer base. Others might turn to WhatsApp as new channel as older methods of reaching customers—such as Facebook’s News Feed—dry up.

WhatsApp also offers an in-depth version of Twitter’s verified checkmark.

The Independent wrote:

A Business account with a grey checkmark badge in its profile, meanwhile, has been confirmed to be using a phone number that matches the phone number of the business it claims to be owned and operated by.

A Business account with a grey question mark badge in its profile, however, indicates that the account hasn’t been confirmed or verified by WhatsApp.

You should, therefore, be wary if a Business account with a grey badge in its profile tries to contact you, even it appears to be associated with a company you know.

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In a blog for Econsultancy, Patricio Robles outlined three things digital marketers should know about the WhatsApp launch:

1. It’s soon going to be available globally.

Though limited (for now) to the U.S. and a few other countries, it will eventually reach its worldwide database.

2. Customers must opt in to talk to businesses.

Robles wrote:

Businesses using WhatsApp Business won’t be able to contact WhatsApp users at their leisure. Instead, users must opt in to receive communications from a business. This means that businesses wanting to put the messaging platform to good use will need to develop marketing and engagement strategies that promote such opt-in.

3. Businesses should expect to pay for the service.

Robles wrote:

Last year, WhatsApp chief operating officer, Matt Idema, told the Wall Street Journal that the company eventually plans to launch paid features for businesses. Idema did not reveal what those paid features might be but it’s logical to assume that, at least initially, WhatsApp will target paid features to larger enterprises that are more likely to pay for such features.

What do you think, Ragan/PR Daily readers? How might WhatsApp augment your engagement and messaging strategies?

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