Currently, email marketing averages a 15-20% open rate with subscription lists diminishing at a rate of 25% each year. With people changing jobs and names (through marriage or other), so to do their corresponding email addresses. Direct messaging, on the other hand, boasts an exceptionally high engagement rate and is fastly racing to the forefront of every digital marketer’s go-to list.
WhatsApp has an engagement rate of over 70% which is even higher than Facebook. With such a expansive reach it offers businesses a very responsive platform for marketing. It allows you to send images, audio files and short video clips of your products which attributes to the high engagement rate. And unlike SMS or Email, WhatsApp has less restrictions on format and your delivery chances are higher.
In this blog post we will outline how you can monetize on WhatsApp’s group-chat feature by building an audience and using it as a platform to increase your sales.
Creating a WhatsApp public group
The benefit of group chat over direct one-on-one messaging for promotional purposes is clear - it’s a simple and efficient way to reach a large number of people in one sweep. WhatsApp’s group chat allows you to engage with up to 256 people at once. Creating a group can be done in 5 simple steps and one of its leading features is the custom link invite.
If you are the group admin, you can invite people to join your group simply by sharing the link. This eliminates manual input of customer’s phone numbers to your contact list and then adding them to your group. A link is also very simple to share and implement into websites, just one of the ways you can build your subscription base (more of which we get into below). If you reach your group’s full capacity, you don’t have to limit yourself to one group as you can create as many as you like.
How to find group members
Once you’ve created your group, it’s time to entice customers to join. There are several methods you can use and we outline some for you below.
Use your online presence to call people to action. Your group chat link can be implemented into your website and social pages, and it allows people to join with a simple click. The purpose of a call-to-action is to outright ask people to join, but don’t forget to give them a reason. Entice them with an exclusive offer valid only to group-chat members.
Use a subscription based method just like any other. When customers sign up to your newsletter, create a customer profile, or finalize a purchase, ask them if they would like to opt-in for exclusive offers via WhatsApp. Be sure not to repurpose customer’s numbers from other forms and ask for permission before adding them to your group.
Run a promotion
A simple “enter-to-win” or in this case “join-to-win” promotional offer works wonders. Ask people to join your group for a chance to win >>insert here<< but be sure to outline the future benefits also. Tell them what they stand to gain by joining your WhatsApp group so that the rewards extend beyond the one-time prize. Try partnering up for a cross-promotion. It is an excellent way to broaden your audience.
The old-fashioned ask
Trade shows, meetings, or face-to-face at a good old brick and mortar, wherever you are chatting to a customer in person is a great opportunity to ask if they would like to join your messaging list. If you're uncomfortable and feel you are being pushy, a quick mind switch is all it takes. Remember, you’re doing your customer a favour by giving them the chance to sign up and receive extra benefits. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
What to send your customers
You've created your group, you have members, now you ask what to send. Content is king. Engaging content is the key to click-throughs, sales, and retention (which ultimately leads to more sales). What counts as engaging content in the world of direct messaging differs from e-mail marketing. You will want to keep the following in mind:
- Make it exclusive
- Keep it short and simple
- Limit your frequency
Offer your customers something exclusive, available only through your WhatsApp group. This gives them incentive to opt-in and a reason to stick around. Discounts, promos, freebies like no-cost shipping go a long way. You can also end your message with a short ‘stay tuned’ like message, letting your customer know that by staying in the group they are privy to more specials.
Keeping your message short is also important. Although Whatsapp supports up to 65,536 characters (phew) you’d want to save long-winded content for another platform. Direct messages are short, concise and to-the-point, and that’s what your customers will expect to receive.
Lastly, phone numbers are personal and people don’t part with them as easily as e-mail addresses. Once this trust is gained i.e. you’ve collected your customer’s contact, it is important to nurture this for future business. You will want to keep your message frequency limited to once or twice a month so as not to come across as spam.
WhatsApp latest update for groups
Currently, group chats allow all members to participate in the conversation. A bit of back-and-forth is encouraged and it is a great way to interact with your customers. However, at times too many interruptions may distract from the offer at hand. WhatsApp will shortly allow admins to disable the chat feature within a group so that only the admin can send messages. Whether this works for your company would depend on your business model of course, but the option will be available to switch off and on.