WhatsApp is quickly becoming one of the best messaging platforms for customer communication. Naturally, being the most adopted messaging app on the planet, with over 2 billion monthly active users, is one of the key reasons for its growing popularity among businesses. But that’s not the reason behind its success.
As I mentioned in my article on the rise of WhatsApp Led Growth (WLG), the messaging app is winning businesses over not only because of its local penetration but also WhatsApp’s ever-more robust API platform and its openness towards messaging payment integration. Moreover, according to our WLG 2023 Report, WhatsApp users are open to businesses using the channel for both support (60%) and marketing (40%).
You clearly defined your use case. Successfully applied for the Business API. You had your notification message templates approved and also possibly built your WhatsApp chatbot. The next step to building a fail-proof strategy is to find reliable ways to grow your WhatsApp audience.
It might be new territory, but a few benefits might take the edge off the novelty of it all. For one, unlike with the WhatsApp Bussiness App, with API, there’s no limit to how many people you can reach and connect with via the smartphones they carry and check 24/7. Furthermore, once people add you to their WhatsApp contact list, it’s unlikely they will “unsubscribe.” After all, when was the last time you actually deleted a contact on your phone? Probably a long, long time ago.
To help you get started, I have compiled a list of eighteen different ideas you can leverage to loop people into your WhatsApp-led growth tailored content.
How to Grow Your WhatsApp Audience: Strategy Considerations
WhatsApp is quite exigent about their opt-in requirements. Hence, to protect the end users, the messaging app obliges you to make the WhatsApp channel opt-in very clear. There must be no doubt about what the consumer is signing up for.
Your WhatsApp entry points must be straightforward and self-explanatory. While that doesn’t put a cap on the many creative ways you can draw attention to your presence on the messaging app, the basic marketing rules apply.
You need a strategy!
So, before anything, review your marketing, commerce, customer care, and loyalty requirements, as they will be the critical factors in determining where and how you place entry points.
- What behavior do you want to encourage? Consider what it is you want your prospects or customers to do. Do you wish to generate pre-purchase product-focused engagement? Then create a CTWA campaign and entry points next to product pages. Do you want to deflect customer care call volume? Then focus on creating entry points within the IVR system and wherever your customer care phone number and email appear.
- Where should you place entry points? There are plenty of online and offline places and spaces across the customer journey to build awareness of your WhatsApp channel. Answering the first question will help you narrow it down a bit, as will your budget and timing.
- Should you use deep links? Consider your use case. In some cases, deep links can be beneficial. For example, deep links automatically trigger a pre-populated message rather than simply opening a WhatsApp thread. They can also provide users with a context for their questions and focus on a specific topic related to the specific entry point.
WhatsApp Audience Organic Entry Points
Let's kick off this list with organic tactics to draw attention to your WhatsApp marketing and other types of innitiatives. While paid campaigns might undoubtedly come in handy in some cases, everyone can benefit from well-placed, naturally-integrated entry points that work for your specific use case.
Social Media (1-5)
Naturally, there are the (in)famous social media. It is quite a straightforward go-to space for organic promotion, especially if you have a solid following already.
Check out some of the WhatsApp discovery placement ideas below.
1. Persistent Click-to-Chat Link
One of WhatsApp's most prominent discovery points is a permanent link placement in your social media account's bio description. When tapped or clicked, the link will open up a WhatsApp conversation without unnecessary roadblocks.
The advantage here is that the placement is permanent and won’t get lost in your feed or stream of stories!
2. Instagram Post
Another great way to attract attention to your WhatsApp services is by using an Instagram post - preferably video.
While a photo promotion can also do the trick, the statistics show that, on average, Instagram video posts have two times more engagement than other types of posts. It’s a no-brainer that animated video makes for more eye-catching content than a still image.
On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that organic Instagram posts cannot contain links, so users must dial the number they see in the video or the copy manually. Also, these posts have a relatively short visibility span.
3. Instagram Profile Page Story Highlight
While Instagram became known and loved for its square-shaped photo feed, today, it’s the Stories that enjoy the spotlight of user attention more than anything else.
While a normal Story only lasts 24 hours, the feature “Story Highlights” enables you to pin the story under your profile info and above your feed and keep it there permanently.
Highlighted Story not only allows you to showcase animated content permanently but also lets you make it click-to-WhatsApp easy. All the users need to do to start chatting is swipe up.
4. Facebook Post
Facebook might not be the top go-to space for the general public but it still remains very relevant to certain demographics and industries.
Within the context of a Facebook post, you can raise your WhatsApp channel awareness using the combination of a convincing copy, a video, and a link to chat.
The upside is you can include detailed information on the WhatsApp channel and even highlight a specific chatbot feature. You can put the cherry on top with a solid call to action and an entry-point-specific deep link to personalize the WhatsApp conversation from the get-go.
Like any other organic posts, Facebook posts have a short visibility span. However, the strategy can be incredibly impactful if you have a strong following on your profile or within a Facebook community.
5. Facebook Page Link
Why complicate things if, sometimes, a button says it all?
Once you connect your WhatsApp Business account with a Facebook Page, you are able to add a 'Send Message' button to your profile. It's a permanent fixture, ensuring that, if need be, your followers can get in touch instantly.
Your Website (6-9)
After social media, your website is another apparent space to raise awareness about your WhatsApp services. You can incorporate your
6. Website 'Contact Us' Page
A natural entry point is your website's Contact Us page, given it's relevant to your use case.
You can easily highlight WhatsApp as one of your contact channels by sharing your WhatsApp number, QR code, or a deep link.
The design and manner in which you promote it will have an impact on engagement.
The easier it is to find an entry point to WhatsApp on your website, the easier it will be to start a conversation. Keep in mind the basics:
- Tapping a link or scanning a QR code is faster and easier than manually typing in a phone number;
- The more prominent the placement, the more likely that people will choose WhatsApp to engage with your business;
- If you are using WhatsApp for more than one use case, consider using deep links as a way to trigger different chatbot responses or connect users to different teams to provide them additional context to a conversation.
7. Website Home Page
Depending on your goal, another good space to promote your channel is right on your home page using the same formats I mentioned above:
- Phone number
- QR code
- CTA with deep link
Placing a link to the WhatsApp channel on your home page is ideal if you wish for customers to actively get in touch, for example, to learn more about your products.
It’s important to remember that offering information upfront regarding what users can expect from contacting you using WhatsApp is vital to drive opt-ins. For instance, you can:
- Add screenshots of the WhatsApp experience, so users know what to expect;
- List use cases that can be resolved in WhatsApp, so users are incentivized to try it out;
- Optimize the website metadata content to rank high for WhatsApp customer service within search engines.
8. Website Header, Footer, or Floating Element
Next on the list is a clickable WhatsApp logo. You can feature it in your header or footer or add it as a floating element in the corner of the screen.
Placing a floating WhatsApp icon makes it extremely easy for visitors to reach out should they have questions or requests.
The downside of this scenario is that the users don't have immediate context as to what they can expect from the conversation. To balance it out, you must kick start the chat with a solid welcome message that clearly explains what they can achieve using this channel.
9. Conversation Starter Button
Last but not least there is the conversation starter button.
The concept is similar to the floating element, though the button allows you to be creative with the CSS and add more information and clarity to the UX that the floating element lacks. Also, you can get more experimental with the placement and test various page positions over time to determine which one drives the most traffic.
10. IVR Deflection
If your business relies on a semi-automated telephone support format, you can integrate WhatsApp into the interactive voice response pathway as part of the menu.
Including WhatsApp in the menu can be especially helpful during peak hours or the busiest periods of the year when wait times get out of hand. Deflecting the calls can increase customer satisfaction as WhatsApp communication, even if not instant, gives customers the freedom to go on with their day instead of putting everything on hold to wait on the line.
Add a "Move conversation to WhatsApp" option to your IVR menu to implement this option. You will also need to set up Contacts API to determine if the customer's phone number is an active WhatsApp number.
11. Missed Call
Another relevant phone-service-related entry point to your WhatsApp is using the messaging channel to send the automatic missed call response.
Quite simply, if a customer tries to reach you by calling in but all the lines are busy, they will receive an automated message on WhatsApp.
This might not work for all markets as this practice is more common in some regions (e.g. India) than others.
WhatsApp Audience Paid Entry Points
We have seen the different takes on how to grow your WhatsApp audience organically. No paid campaign can ever substitute that well-placed organic CTA, but it can be a great push when you are getting started or simply when launching a seasonal campaign.
Paid Social Media (12-14)
12. Facebook Click-to-WhatsApp Ads
Facebook is a perfect place to make WhatsApp part of your paid campaigns. Since both Facebook and WhatsApp are part of the META ecosystem, you can easily personalize your ads with click-to-WhatsApp CTA.
This approach is the perfect strategy if your goal is to:
- Reach and engage existing customers/prospects outside of your own organic properties;
- Reach and capture new leads and potential new customers within the desired target group.
Paid ads allow for refined targeting, while the “Send Message” CTA removes friction points by taking the engaged leads straight from the ad to the WhatsApp conversation. Remember that for the ad to bring value to both your business and your customer, the WhatsApp conversation needs to have a definite purpose. For example, the bot can ask the lead or customer a series of questions to offer a personalized product recommendation or a custom discount.
13. Instagram Click-to-WhatsApp Ads
Similar to Facebook ads are click-to-WhatsApp Instagram ads. Again, since both Instagram and WhatsApp are part of the same larger ecosystem, you can make WhatsApp a direct CTA prompt for any of your campaigns.
This approach is the perfect strategy if your goal is to:
- Reach and engage existing customers/prospects outside of your own/organic properties;
- Reach and capture new leads and potential customers within the desired target group.
Whether to focus on Instagram or Facebook should depend on your audience's preferences and behavior patterns.
Plus, you can always explore paid click-to-WhatsApp options outside the META universe, for example, on Linkedin or Twitter.
14. Influencer Social Media Post
Last but not least paid option on social media to attract attention to your WhatsApp channel are influencers.
Influencer marketing is still, well, influential and should not be underestimated.
Having a trusted influencer promote and recommend your WhatsApp channel can drive significant traffic and engagement.
On the other hand, influencer marketing, although paid, is, in the context of social media, an organic share. Hence, such a post has relatively short feed visibility and can be quickly pushed down by newer posts. To ensure you are making an impact, focus on influencers with truly relevant and highly engaged following rather than simply a large one.
WhatsApp led growth, and communication might be relatively new to businesses, but you can easily use the most traditional advertising techniques to get the message across and drive engagement.
Here are a few ideas!
15. Product Packaging
If you are in the business of selling physical products, you can print a QR code on your packaging.
QR code represents the most straightforward form of offline WhatsApp access without manually entering the phone number into the smartphone.
Still, it is always useful to print both the number and the code to account for users who are not accustomed to or familiar with QR code use.
On-product CTA is a great way to encourage users to submit feedback, participate in contests or polls as well as share further information about product usage and/or benefits.
16. Out-of-Home (OOH) Advertising
Your WhatsApp phone number or a unique QR code can also make an appearance on billboards, posters, flyers, or other OOH ads.
It is one of the more costly options, but the exposure is worth it. Plus, it turns a traditionally passive ad, such as a billboard, into an active entry engagement point.
17. Search Engine Ads
We can’t talk about traditional advertising and forgo search engine ads. And yes, they have been on the scene long enough to be considered “traditional.”
You can use your SERP know-how to drive traffic to WhatsApp conversations instead of landing pages whether to generate leads, nurture prospects, or offer customer support.
Last but not least there are PR and news mentions.
The advantage here is having the space to explain the scope of your WhatsApp services and their benefits in detail. The exposé can feature screenshots of the WhatsApp experience and offer quotes from top executives that will act as influential trust factors.
Start Growing Your WhatsApp Audience Today!
This is my short list of organic and paid WhatsApp entry points to help you start growing your WhatsApp audience.
I have no doubt there are many more strategies and tactics that will rock the world of digital marketing in the future. Yet, for now, this list provides a solid foundation to drive leads and customers to engage and discover the benefits of WhatsApp business communication.
Do you want to learn more about WhatsApp-led approach to growing your business?