Landbot's WhatsApp-Led Growth Report 2023 revealed that consumers are ready and willing to communicate with businesses via WhatsApp. However, while 40% of consumers cited WhatsApp as their preferred channel for marketing and sales communication, only a minority of marketers have said they leveraged the channel in the past.
The most common reasons marketers bring up include technical complexity and campaign development time, which, as the report points out, stem mainly from low awareness of solutions and advances in WhatsApp automation available on the market.
However, the more concerning issues, especially for those marketers who tried working with WhatsApp before, include creating campaigns specifically for WhatsApp as well as designing conversational sequences.
It’s hardly surprising since WhatsApp as a marketing channel is still relatively new and untested. Despite some WhatsApp caste studies already available online, many professionals are unsure how to tackle the challenge.
In that spirit, this article will explore real WhatsApp marketing campaign examples successfully carried out by other brands and offer campaign ideas as well as insights into conversational tech that can help you create top experiences.
Successful WhatsApp Campaign Examples
To help you understand the scope and potential of WhatsApp-led growth marketing, let’s have a look at brands that managed to surprise and even break new ground by leveraging WhatsApp channel popularity among their audience as well as its conversational nature to the fullest.
Hellman’s: Customer Success
If you are considering using WhatsApp for marketing, chances are you already came across Hellman’s Brazilian “WhatsCook” campaign. Launched in 2013, it’s one of the oldest WhatsApp campaigns, preceding the launch of WhatsApp Business API by good five years. You might argue that this campaign wasn’t automated yet and so isn’t relevant. However, we believe it still offers a great insight into how to work with WhatsApp to your advantage.
The popular food brand came up with this campaign in order to get Brazilians to use their product more than as a condiment and so cement their place in the kitchen all over the country. Their marketing team created the campaign based on three key customer insights:
- Most people use Hellman’s mayonnaise mainly as a condiment, not a cooking ingredient;
- Most people don’t know how to cook, especially only using the ingredients they already have at home;
- WhatsApp is the most popular app in Brazil, with over 70% market penetration.
Hence, the brand decided to teach their Brazilian customers to use their product more effectively by employing a simple but clever and easily accessible campaign to address the pain points.
They launched their first live conversational recipe service connecting their customers with chefs in real-time via WhatsApp. Customers simply had to register on Hellman’s website using their phone numbers to participate. Once they were connected, they could then share write or photos of the ingredients available, and the chefs would suggest tailored recipes that included Hellmann's mayonnaise. In case of any confusion, the chefs would provide additional assistance by sending images and videos.
What were the results?
After only a couple of weeks of the campaign, Hellmann’s registered WhatsCook signups from 50% of their website visitors. What’s more, in the process, their chefs came up with over 500 new recipes, and their customers learned new, creative ways to use Hellmann's mayonnaise.
So, even though this campaign is fairly old and not really automated, it’s still worth putting forward as it sets a good example of how to approach WhatsApp marketing. The campaign directly added value to the customers as they were able to get more out of the product they like while also making the best use of the ingredients they already had at home. Overall, around 13,000 people registered for WhatsCook service, and, on average, they interacted with the chef for about 65 minutes. After being a huge success in Brazil, WhatsCook was also rolled out to 4 more countries in Latin America.
Absolut Vodka: Building Hype & Awareness around Limited Product
Another older campaign that deserves a shoutout for its smart use of WhatsApp is Absolut Vodka’s Doorman at the Party campaign. It was launched around 2013 in Argentina by a contracted advertising company.
The campaign was designed to promote Absolut’s launch of a new, limited-edition line of vodka. The goal was to build awareness of the new exclusive product and establish a line of communication between the brand and its customers—all while keeping in mind this brand isn’t just for anyone.
Hence, in the spirit of exclusivity, they decided to launch the new line with a bang, organizing a VIP party. Only two tickets were set apart for a couple of lucky people from the general public. Or, better said, a couple of crafty people from the general public.
Well, to incite the hype and engage their customer base, the brand created a fake but very fearsome bouncer Sven. Their target audience could reach out to Sven on WhatsApp to try to persuade (or manipulate) him to “get them in,” which was NOT an easy thing to do.
While there was no bot involved and the campaign was handled by a community manager, the campaign demonstrated the potential and power of a well-designed WhatsApp campaign. The marketing team was smart to work off the key audience insights:
- Love of the party
- Craving for exclusivity and standing out
- The stereotype of trying to barter with a bouncer to get inside a club/party
- Accessibility and popularity of WhatsApp in the region
Sven was not easy to sway though, forcing people to get creative
Around 600 participants came forward. Sven received around 1000 unique videos, images, audio messages, songs, bribery attempts, and (indecent) proposals creating hype among the customer base while making it FUN. The brand inspired three full days of uninterrupted chats with the participants, generating new contacts through WhatsApp numbers and a usually quite brand managed to create a buzz not just in Argentina but, eventually, around the world.
Unilever: Product Launch
Now, we are finally getting to the automation and WhatsApp business API territory. One of the notable automated WhatsApp campaigns was done by Unilever in Brazil in 2019. This example is interesting because it shows how WhatsApp can create connections for non-digital brands selling simple, everyday products.
The brand launched a new fabric softener and needed to get the word out. The creative minds behind this campaign came up with a smart idea that involved putting up more than 1,000 posters and billboards all around Sao Paulo. The objective was to reach as many people as possible and spread the message in a big way.
The posters featured a teaser message and a WhatsApp number. When curious customers contacted the number, a chatbot called “MadameBot” replied to them offering advice on how to care for the clothes while also introducing the new product using multimedia content such as audio messages and memes. At the end of the chat, the leads received a 50% discount on the new product as well as free shipping.
Although Unilever is not a digital brand, it still managed to engage the audience by creating an offline WhatsApp entry point, such as a poster. Plus, Unilever played into human curiosity with a teasing message: “Bring your beloved clothes back!”
Thanks to the campaign, the bot received 290.000 messages from 12.000 unique customers, and sales saw a 14-fold increase.
Netflix: User Retention
The next campaign is a powerful inspiration for all subscription-based businesses. In 2019, Netflix launched their “I Am In” campaign on WhatsApp. Its aim? To keep in touch and reconnect with inactive and churned subscribers.
The campaign targeted users who had both Netflix and WhatsApp apps on their devices.
The users who clicked “I Am In” got not only movie recommendations but also new suggestions, announcements, and notifications. Thanks to this campaign, Netflix managed to retain its existing customers but also brought back users who had unsubscribed to re-subscribe.
The most amazing aspect of this campaign is that it wasn’t exceptionally creative, nor it made use of complex conversational AI. It was just a WhatsApp newsletter in disguise. Its sole advantage was covering a communication gap by leveraging the channel users already loved and used on a daily basis.
This case demonstrates the power of WhatsApp’s reach. Generally, consumers block or ignore most app notifications. However, this behavioral pattern does not extend to messaging apps. In fact, most users check their favorite messaging app several times a day. Hence the communication they receive via this channel is unlikely to go unnoticed.
Animal Equality: Meaningful Connection & Lower Cost Per Lead
Every marketer struggles with the high costs of lead conversion. The struggle is especially real if you are an NGO. As a cause constantly looking for new donors (AKA attracting leads, capturing intent & converting), Animal Equality requires a strong brand recall that reminds the audience about the organization’s efforts in achieving the mission.
However, broad brand awareness campaigns across multiple digital channels aren’t a budget-friendly strategy. Creating a cost-effective funnel was always a struggle and even when they managed to put together an effective funnel in the short term, the email marketing database/newsletter subscription wasn’t scalable as retention was low. Thus, the NGO realized and decided to turn their efforts to a channel that was not so one-directional as traditional ads and email—WhatsApp.
Animal Equality created a simple WhatsApp bot that not only shared their mission but also collected important information that allowed them to ultimately move that audience to other channels
What was the most powerful about this bot?
“We are maximizing the lead generation spend. What we are doing here is that with 3.5 Euros, we are able to capture user data in all of the seven channels.”
Overall, the WhatsApp campaign:
- Boosted lead engagement to 86%, resulting in reduced cost per lead and over 2% overall donor conversions
- Reduced drop-offs with 8 out of 10 people completing the bot flow (Note: Animal Equality has 47 different user fields in its lead ge process, and yet incredible 86.29% of leads engaged with all the touchpoints due to the easy, conversational nature of the bot flow.)
Lenskart: Seasonal Sales Campaign
Lenskart is an eyewear brand that turned to WhatsApp to promote its products and services in order to increase both awareness and sales. Their 2022 WhatsApp marketing campaign was a seasonal Valentine’s Day Sale stunt promising the good old “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” combo.
The premise was simple. The “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” offer was made available from the 6th to the 16th of February. Besides that, they also offered 14% off and 14% cash back. All the brand had to do was send out a single WhatsApp template message to their audience.
Again the campaign itself was not particularly complex. While it was automated and required the use of WhatsApp Business API, no bot was required. Customers simply clicked on the link in the message to access the discount.
The main advantage for Lenskart was the low overall cost as compared to conventional ads as well as the higher open rate of WhatsApp messages as opposed to other channels.
Flipkart: Sales Promotion
Flipkart shook up its game with a creative personal shopper. The eCommerce ran a campaign, ”Big Billion Days,” whose aim was to reach potential customers in a rather memorable manner.
Flipkart launched a BigB WhatsApp Bot, which allowed you to interact with Bollywood’s BigB while, at the same time, making the most of the ongoing sales. It truly was an industry-first campaign, where India’s Amitabh Bachchan’s virtual version guided you through all that you needed to know about the sale in a fun way. The bot was boasted with trivia, offers that could be unveiled via emojis—for example, if you chose a shoe emoji, you would see offers on footwear—and other fun activities such as puzzles and mini-contests. For maximum reach and relatability, it was launched both in Hindi and English.
This campaign was groundbreaking not only because it used WhatsApp, the most popular and accessible messaging app in the country but also an automated version of a beloved pop-culture personality.
The outcome? Flipkart made the best use of WhatsApp, as the results were visible in only 2 short weeks. The company achieved 3.5x higher conversion, 7x higher number of quality leads, and a whopping $2.5 million USD in revenue.
Saffola: Customer Success
Another brand from India that cracked the WhatsApp code to success is Saffola, the reigning market leader in edible oils in India, promoting purity and trust among consumers with its advanced antioxidant system that helps improve immunity and makes food healthier.
Saffola wanted to connect with its customers in a way that was more relatable, so they turned to WhatsApp. However, their biggest win was focusing on the common human insight and the neverending struggle around fighting the craving for unhealthy food, which—more often than not—ends with reaching for a snack.
Hence, this campaign was named the “Beat the Crave” campaign.
But, how did the campaign work?
Soffola’s customers had to actively sign up by entering their WhatsApp number on the brand’s website. By doing so, they gained access to the brand’s “digital audio buddy.” designed to keep them away from unhealthy food as any good friend or a strict personal trainer would.
The “buddy” was actually a WhatsApp chatbot designed to encourage healthier eating habits. A person could message this bot whenever they felt the craving for comfort food. In response, the chatbot quite simply tried to distract them with pre-recorded positive reinforcements, nutritional advice, alternative healthier recipes, as well as puzzles, and even a rap song promoting Suffola’s new slimming drink.
Saffola’s WhatsApp campaign was a grand success as it helped beat almost a million cravings, earned over 6,000 WhatsApp subscribers, and, more importantly, saw a 483% increase in sales!
ADAC: Reach New Customer Base
Next and last on our list is a WhatsApp campaign example by ADAC, a German Automobile Club offering its members roadside assistance. Being the largest automobile club in Europe, the company boasts a strong customer base of 20 million. However, ADAC recognized they had trouble attracting younger audiences who often travel using their parents’ car and not their own.
To try and address this gap in communication, the company decided to launch a new service available on WhatsApp and aptly named the campaign “Don’t Call Mom.” The services provided a hotline for young people to ask any questions they had about the car or issues that arose with it… especially the kind they would be hesitant to ask their parents.
The campaign lasted for a period of 6 weeks and generated 20 million impressions. During this time, the Automobile Club received around 140,000 messages demonstrating just impactful WhatsApp can be in reaching and connecting with new audiences.
How to Create Your Own Successful WhatsApp Campaign?
WhatsApp as a marketing tool can be very powerful when it comes to:
- Reaching new leads and audiences;
- Unobtrusively collecting user data;
- Reengaging passive or churned audiences;
- Making marketing and sales fun for the consumer;
- Having a true impact on consumer quality of life/experience;
- Creating memorable/share-worthy experiences;
There is little doubt that the WhatsApp channel is becoming a marketing force to be reckoned with. Yet, it’s still relatively new to the game, so it’s only natural that many marketers struggle with creating campaigns and flow that work.
A new channel means new rules, new formats, new mindset.
However, there is a lot we can learn from the examples above.
Firstly, with a mention of WhatsApp automation, many minds go into sci-fi overdrive, thinking of incredible feats of artificial intelligence and complicated conversational labyrinths. However, if you were paying attention, the majority of the most successful WhatsApp campaigns were simple, almost painfully so.
Yes, using WhatsApp for marketing comes with a new set of technical skills and challenges. But it’s important to remember that, in essence, it’s still just marketing.
For a WhatsApp campaign to work, you need:
- Ensure your target audience is an active user of the app already (This is kind of implied, but I thought it should be here, just in case)
- An insight into consumer behavior that sets a foundation for that campaign
True, we have seen instances where simply changing the communication channel from email to WhatsApp reaped significant results, like in the case of Lenskart. And if a low open rate is a thorn in your marketing and mare, upped visibility can solve it, you are in for the win.
Nevertheless, that’s not always going to be the case.
So, when building your campaign, you need to ask:
- What is it you are looking to communicate (e.g., Absolute Vodka’s exclusivity / Univeler’s new product)
- What pain/issue/problem/conflict/desire is the campaign looking to solve for the consumer (the need for people to feel special, be the “chosen one” / the desire to keep our favorite outfits in great shape as long as possible)
- Is there an everyday experience, an insight, that can tie the two concepts together? (cajoling the bouncer to get inside an exclusive club / human curiosity and drive to solve the mystery (of the poster, in this case))
Only after you have asked and answered these three questions can you turn your attention to the technical requirements of the task ahead of you. By now, you will have a clear idea if you simply need a well-written template message or to build any kind of virtual assistant.
What are your options, then?
The good news is, no matter the task’s difficulty ahead, chances are there are many no-code and low-code tools (like Landbot 😉) out there designed to make this mess, well, a little less messy and outright overwhelming.
A WhatsApp campaign can take the shape of:
- A simple one-off WhatsApp template message that clearly communicates the point and invites the user to click on a link or a button to complete the action. (To learn how to create WhatsApp template messages, see this article, for inspiration, check out our list of WhatsApp template examples)
- A rule-based bot that engages the users (which can be triggered by you sending a template message or a user reaching out to you). This type of bot enables you to share and collect information in a more structured way and gives you more control over the experience. The users can select options by clicking on buttons or choosing answers from a dropdown list and you can use strategies such as conditional logic or keyword jump to personalize the experience. (For a step-by-step guide to creating a rule-based WhatsApp bot, click here or check out pre-built WhatsApp bot templates here)
- An AI WhatsApp chatbot that uses NLP technology such as Dialogflow or OpenAI’s GPT API to create more fluent and natural conversations. This type of bot is particularly useful if your campaign hinges on that unique human factor (for instance, in the case of Sven, the bouncer or if Hellman’s wanted to create an illusion of talking to a chef while using AI). While using AI is the most complicated of the scenarios, it is no longer as unattainable as it used to be, and easy-to-understand, low-code options exist. (For a detailed no-code guide on how to build a chatbot for WhatsApp with GPT, click here, and to check out a WhatsApp-Dialogflow tutorial, click here).
As you can see, the possibilities with WhatsApp marketing are virtually endless.
Sound exciting, but we also know choices can be overwhelming. Don’t let that put you off, though!
You don’t need difficulty or complexity for your campaign to be successful on WhatsApp. Focus on the basics and work smart, not hard. Chances are that for whatever you have in mind there already exists a workaround. So, make use of the tools that exist to make the transition to conversational marketing easy!