Constant connection and instant gratification are the potent characteristics defining the new generation of consumers. However, this particular “generation” is not bound by age. Generation C is the label assigned to all “connected consumers;” a generation that must adopt and adapt to new technologies brought forth by the status quo.
Yet, despite Generation C embracing messaging as the most convenient way to fulfill their needs for constant connection, the messaging gap between businesses and customers remains relatively wide.
Why is that? What is standing in the way of companies undergoing a similar journey when it comes to adopting and adapting to messaging apps?
It’s not for the lack of channel. Since 2018, WhatsApp has been working to create a business-friendly platform by improving its Business App as well as releasing and building the Business API platform ecosystem. Thanks to those efforts, WhatsApp is becoming a growth channel in its own right. However, many companies remain cautious—if not skeptical—as a lack of guidance leaves messaging-based growth strategies in the realm of experimentation. Others are hung up on the old business mindset focused on acquisition funnels that drive transactions and go-to-market teams working in silos.
Both attitudes are responsible for widening the communication gap between brands and customers. As our WhatsApp-Led Growth 2023 Report uncovered, users are open to businesses reaching our over WhatsApp to offer support (60%) or for marketing purposes (40%) while only 30% of professionals say they gave it a try.
That’s why I’ll use this space to help you adjust your mindset and outline a strategy that will enable you to use WhatsApp and embrace its potential as a full-fledged growth engine.
Adopting New Mindset
Before we dive into building a WhatsApp-led growth (WLG) strategy, it’s essential to rethink and regroup your mindset to focus on:
- Retention instead of acquisition;
- Building relationships instead of chasing transactions;
- Enabling team collaboration instead of competition.
Here is why…
Focus on Retention
In the past, most businesses have been focused on acquisition to grow their customer base. In essence, there’s nothing wrong with that approach. However, the pandemic and the following economic recession upped the difficulty of customer acquisition.
All in all, on average, the probability of selling to new leads is 5-20%, while the probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70%. Moreover, your existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products or services and spend 31% more when compared to new customers.
This is why we have to refocus our mindset from acquisition to retention. Forgetting retention will very likely hinder your business growth and pose roadblocks on your path to monetization. Most importantly, great retention improves customer lifetime value which, in turn, will provide you with more resources for customer acquisition.
Build Relationships with Customers
The old business mindset treats the customer as a number on the spreadsheet, be it a number of visitors, leads, opportunities, closed deals, etc. The funnels were built to drive more and more transactions.
The problem with this approach is that Generation C customers are more demanding than ever and are aware of their value. They are looking for businesses that not only sell the product/ service they need, but also offer the best experience on the journey to obtain it.
To be successful when dealing with the connected consumer, you need to think human-first, treat customers as friends and work on building long-term relationships instead of closing a single sale.
Here are a few things you need to start considering:
- Designing the buyer journey from the customer perspective;
- Understanding the pains and problems your customers have;
- Finding ways to become a trusted advisor by offering valuable content.
Enabling Team Collaboration
In the past, most customer-facing teams (marketing, sales, customer support, etc.) worked in silos—each focusing on their team-level KPIs and optimizing team-level processes. In fact, many companies continue to work this way today.
For example, marketing teams tend to own the website and social media, whereas sales teams focus more on email and phone channels. If teams don’t collaborate, from the customer's perspective, this type of team silo creates inconsistent experiences and turns customers away.
If you hope to be successful in implementing the WLG model, it’s absolutely critical to align and connect all customer-facing teams for three reasons:
- WhatsApp has the unique advantage of being able to cover the entire customer lifecycle in the same channel. Therefore, all customer-facing teams must collaborate on designing the customer journey together to offer a frictionless experience.
- With all the teams collaborating on the same journey, you can improve team communication and efficiency. Imagine no more bad leads from marketing, overselling to the wrong customers from sales, or bad customer service from support.
- Strengthening cross-team collaboration will also increase employee satisfaction as it will enable data flow and sharing, and so improve visibility and minimize miscommunication. Also, having a clear view of the overall impact of their contribution to customer experience and business success will contribute to driving motivation and teamwork.
The Four Cs of WhatsApp-Led Growth Strategy
Once we understand the rules of the new game, we can start designing the WLG strategy.
There are many different ways to think about a strategy, but one of the most useful models we are using at Landbot is the 4C framework:
The first C of the WLG strategy is the CUSTOMER. Here, you need to reflect on who your target audience is and what you want to communicate to them via the WhatsApp channel.
As we have mentioned before, building relationships with customers is more important than ever, so we should aim to treat customers as friends:
- New Friends: They are the new users who just discovered your WhatsApp channel by accessing it through one of your entry points. By definition, you don’t have any existing information about new friends. So, in this case, the aim should be to “get to know each other” and use the conversational space to gather as much information as you can.
- Subscribed Friends: They are the users who opted-in to your WhatsApp channel (in other words, confirmed to receive WhatsApp communication from you). According to Meta’s policy, you can only send proactive messages (unprompted notifications) if users have opted-in, or you will be banned from using the WhatsApp Business API Platform.
- Engaged Friends: They are the users in the consideration stage who have already shown some interest in your products/services. This is the biggest pool of potential customers you need to nurture and guide toward conversion.
- Converted Friends: They are the users who have purchased your products/services—the customer. At this stage, you should focus on enabling them to become successful with your product or service so they share great feedback and come back for more purchases in the future.
- Loyal Friends: They are the ambassadors of your brand who love your solution and actively share their satisfaction with others. Loyal friends are an excellent distribution channel for running referral campaigns to amplify your audience reach at a lower cost.
The second C on the WLG strategy list refers to CONTENT. At this stage, you need to consider why your audience is interacting with you and what kind of information they are looking for.
We can categorize most content into four categories based on the established stages of the customer journey:
- Awareness: The consumer has just become aware of the problem and needs to understand everything around the problem. For example, at Landbot, target customers typically suffer from high call center operation volume and/or a low customer satisfaction score. So, before anything else, we need to provide content to help them understand why. What are the root causes of decreasing customer satisfaction? Content in this stage is informational, educational, and analytical. It does not aim to sell but simply increase knowledge and understanding of the issue.
- Consideration: At this stage, the consumer is discovering and considering different solution categories and needs to understand which one is better for him/her. For instance, once our target prospects identify and understand their problem, they begin considering possible solutions. They know there are several different ways to solve it, such as hiring more and better call center agents, improving their products and services or using the WhatsApp channel to improve customer experience. Each solution category has pros and cons. Hence, the content at this stage needs to help customers understand these benefits and drawbacks to determine which solution best fits their particular case.
- Decision: The consumer picked the type of solution they would like to pursue and is now deciding between you and other providers. Content at this stage needs to help them understand why your product or solution is better. For instance, if our target prospect chooses the WhatsApp channel as the ideal solution category, the next stage for us is to demonstrate that Landbot is the best Whatsapp Business Solution Provider (BSP) for the user—what makes us different from others and how can we, specifically, solve the problem at hand?
- Support: The consumer—now customer— has already purchased your product or solution and needs support from your team. For example, after the Landbot users upgrade to a paid plan, we will assign a customer success manager to provide onboarding guidance and content materials to help the customer not just use but become successful with our solution.
Remember, WLG is a growth model that allows you to leverage WhatsApp across every stage of the customer cycle.
In that sense, the same WhatsApp channel can easily address and fulfill content needs at any stage.
It can cater to the pre-purchase use cases:
Customer support use cases:
Or even offer support to the most loyal of customers:
All within a single channel.
3. Channels (AKA Entry Points)
The third C of the WLG strategy is CHANNEL. In this case, the C doesn’t refer to the WhatsApp channel but rather the channels that you will use as entry points to direct your audience to WhatsApp.
As you may have noted already, WhatsApp is very protective of its users. In other words, you can only reach out to and communicate with users who have actively agreed to receive messages and notifications from your business via WhatsApp. Officially, this user action is called WhatsApp opt-in, which comes with its own set of rules.
The gist is that you need to clearly state that you are asking for permission to contact the person via WhatsApp and what type of information the user is signing up to receive.
Now, entry points are the online and/or offline spaces where you decide to place the opt-in call to action.
There are numerous organic or paid entry points you can leverage to raise awareness and guide consumers to your WhatsApp channel:
- Phone Number: By manually entering the phone number (as seen on your website or social media) or adding a contact card associated with your WhatsApp business account, customers can find you in their WhatsApp contacts and start a chat when needed. This is one of the most common ways for people to add WhatsApp contacts in general. However, when it comes to WhatsApp for business use, it’s also the least convenient way. You can use this option for a referral campaign or driving word of mouth where customers can share your WhatsApp phone number with others.
- Click-to-WhatsApp Link: This entry point requires users to click a URL link like wa.me/354545343 (usually in the form of a button). Upon doing so, they can immediately start a conversation with your WhatsApp business account. You can even personalize the first message the users receive based on the location of this link, which further reduces the entry barrier and allows you to track the entry source (similarly to UTM). This is one of the most convenient ways to not only get users to your WhatsApp channel but also ensure the highest conversion rate. You can use this option for most online scenarios, like placing the link on your website, social media profile, YouTube channel, etc.
- QR Code: This entry point redirects the user to a WhatsApp conversation by simply scanning a QR code with the camera app. The mechanics here are the same as in the click-to-WhatsApp scenario—you can personalize the initial message and conversation overall by using different QR codes for different locations. You can use this option for most offline scenarios, including a billboard, product packaging, restaurant menu, etc.
- Opt-in (Conversational) Form: This entry point asks users for their WhatsApp phone number as well as their consent to receive WhatsApp notifications in the form of a web chat. Upon completing the required fields, users receive an automatic business-initiated message from your Whatsapp account. In addition to the user’s phone number, you can use the opportunity to ask for more information from the customer, like email, age, address, etc., to craft a more personalized experience on the spot. It’s important to note that this is a high-friction option because most customers don’t trust sharing phone numbers with unknown brands, so you should use this option only when the customer is at an advanced stage of the buyer journey. For instance, when they are about to check out, book a call with the sales team, or after they made the purchase and want to get support.
Which entry points are the most valuable to you depends highly on your WLG use case.
Does your use case revolve around generating pre-purchase product-focused engagement? Then the best way to go for you is, for example:
- Create a CTWA (Click-to-WhatsApp) social or SERP campaign
- Create a CTWA button or chat widget on your product pages
Is the point of your WLG initiative to deflect customer support call volumes? Consider:
- Creating entry points within the IVR system (E.g., Press 2 to continue your inquiry on WhatsApp)
- Adding the WhatsApp option everywhere you are already displaying your customer support number (E.g., Contact Us page, Invoice email, product packaging, etc.)
There are no limits to creativity regarding WhatsApp entry point placement.
However, to avoid confusion, it’s paramount that the entry point strategy stays aligned with the use case. For instance, do not advertise the WhatsApp channel to prospects if you only offer customer support, not pre-sale assistance.
If you are curious about more practical entry point suggestions, check out my post on 18 actionable strategies to grow your WA audience.
The final C of the WLG strategy represents COMPANY. This step is all about assessing which team within the company should contribute and participate in the WLG strategy implementation.
Remember, WLG is about leveraging WhatsApp to drive business growth at every possible stage of the customer lifecycle.
Therefore, the best way of finding and selecting the most impactful use case is to create a cross-departmental squad:
- The Marketing team will be in charge of managing the Awareness stage. They need to own most of the WhatsApp content production and define entry points to grow your WhatsApp audience.
- The Sales team will be in charge of managing the Consideration and Decision stages. They need to understand the customer needs and make sure both the automated and live conversations with customers are human and relatable.
- The Success/Support team will be in charge of managing the Support stage. They need to plan and execute an efficient system (based on fully or partly automated conversations) to resolve incoming inquiries and issues.
- The IT team will be managing the technical setups across all stages. They need to build chatbot workflows and integrate the WhatsApp API with 3rd-party systems like your CRM, other marketing automation tools, your ticketing systems, etc.
Choose & Work with a BSP
Once you have covered your four Cs of the WLG, you need to choose your “partner in growth,” AKA your Business Solution Provider (BSP).
As described on WhatsApp’s Help Center, BSPs, also called WhatsApp Partners, enable users to integrate directly into the WhatsApp Business Platform by managing communications to and from customers. In other words, they are a global community of 3rd-party expert Whatsapp solution providers.
BSPs can help manage the communications and campaigns on the WhatsApp Business Platform for approved use cases.
Why go with a BSP rather than do it all on your own?
Applying for the WhatsApp API with a BSP provider is significantly more resource-efficient and makes managing and maintaining your WhatsApp channel considerably less complicated.
A BSP acts as a mediator between your company and WhatsApp, benefiting both parties.
While WhatsApp gets advanced client management, you get the perks of your selected BSP that correspond with your goals.
Some of the things you should consider when choosing a BSP include:
- Chatbot builder capabilities (no-code, low-code, or more suited for IT resources?)
- Native integrations & API (CRM or others for quick and seamless connections with the tools you already use)
- Template messages and campaign management capabilities
- Customer support
- Pricing system
All of the above factors will influence how efficiently you are able to deploy, update and manage your WhatsApp solution and so become a key part of executing your WLG strategy.
Plum: Example of a Well-Executed WLG Strategy
Plum is an employee benefits platform that offers group medical cover for businesses in India.
Problem: Group health insurance is a very complex product, and there's a massive understanding gap between companies, employers, and employees. Their existing claims process depended on email, which was often confusing for the end users. There was too much back and forth and manual steps that often unnecessarily prolonged the claim process.
1. Customer: Plum designed their WLG for their existing customers. They decided to use the WhatsApp solution to reduce friction in the claims process, elevate customer experience, and improve retention and customer success. The objective was to make the process of filing a claim straightforward, efficient, and safe for customers.
2. Content: They tailored their WhatsApp content within the scope of customer support and success stage, offering information about the scope of the insurance as well as guidance through procedures and processes to make the most of the service.
3. Channels: Since the use cases focused solely on the customer experience, their entry points focused on customer-only spaces after their employer signed up for the service.
4. Company: Plum successfully executed their cross-departmental collaboration involving the marketing team and support agents to create content and conversations that streamline claim resolution as well as their IT team to ensure the flow and integrations were technically flawless.
Choice of BSP: Plum tried a couple of different alternatives but found they were more suited for larger enterprises and customer support wasn’t easy to get to. They also tried an open-source chatbot solution but that required too much coding and time. They ultimately settled on Landbot because it was easy to implement our solution using the intuitive drag & drop builder and extensive library of native app integrations.
Results: Thanks to their WhatsApp strategy, Plum reduced claim time by 60%. The solution has become so popular that 85% of all claims are processed via WhatsApp.
Get Started with WLG Strategy
WhatsApp is quickly becoming the go-to messaging solution. The platform is on its way towards becoming a business-friendly ecosystem on par with WeChat. While the WhatsApp Business Platform still has its limits, you can already hugely benefit from their API solution, automating business communications via a messaging app your customers love and, more importantly, feel comfortable using.
Sounds like the right fit for you?
You can always learn more about WhatsApp Led Growth and stay on top of all the latest developments. Just join the WLG Newsletter!