Chances are, your email inbox is like 70% filled with newsletters. I know mine is; but how many of those do I actually open and read? Probably not even 10%.
If I think about it from a business-owner perspective, that’s not a great number, and it’s definitely not how I hope people behave towards Landbot communications.
What if there was a better option?
The good news is, there is — WhatsApp.
The messaging platform is a great way to boost your marketing operations, including complementing (if not replacing) your email newsletter marketing strategy.
A Brief History of WhatsApp Newsletters
If you’re not up to speed on WhatsApp’s newsletter features, don’t worry; let’s kick things off with a brief overview of how WhatsApp has been handling bulk messaging and the options it gives businesses.
Now, one thing you must know about WhatsApp is that it prides itself on offering users an experience that ensures they’re not being spammed or getting any undesired messages from business accounts. For that reason, prior to 2021, WhatsApp didn’t have an official bulk messaging/broadcast/newsletter solution.
That didn’t mean companies didn’t still flood customers with too many messages. In 2019, at one point, WhatsApp closed down 75% of business accounts after users flagged their content as spam. As an extra measure, in December 2019, WhatsApp banned bulk messaging altogether until November 2021.
About a year ago, broadcasting was reintroduced to WhatsApp, this time as an official app feature. As such, bulk messaging is now allowed in the form of non-transactional messaging — a type of message that needs to follow specific rules and processes that gives brands the option to send them while protecting the user experience. Not only do these message templates need to be approved by WhatsApp, but the users also need to actively opt-in to receive them.
Cue to today, and there are a lot of benefits to be reaped in using WhatsApp to send out newsletters. But more on that later. First, let’s look at how the process of sending newsletters via WhatsApp actually works.
WhatsApp Broadcast vs. WhatsApp Campaigns
You may have noticed that I’ve been calling WhatsApp newsletters by different names — newsletters, broadcasting, bulk messaging, and now even campaigns in this section title. At the end of the day, they’re all the same, namely sending out the same message to a lot of different people individually (as opposed to in a closed WhatsApp group.)
Broadcasts, however, are the technical name of the feature available on WhatsApp Business App. They allow businesses to send out a notification to several people in a broadcast list. While they’re a good option — definitely better than having no option at all — broadcasts have their limitations.
First, only people who’ve added your business number to their phone contact list will receive your message. Second, a broadcast list can only include up to 256 people. There’s a workaround to this, of course, which is to create the number of broadcast lists needed to reach the number of people you want to send your message to. But it’s not ideal. The process is already too manual — creating a list, selecting the contacts to add to the list, crafting the message — so having to do so repeatedly to send *one* message is too time-consuming.
Broadcasts might get the job done for small businesses for whom it’s enough to have a WhatsApp Business account. Enterprise-level companies, though, will see better results using WhatsApp Campaigns available via the WhatsApp Business API.
Unlike the Business App, the API doesn’t limit the number of people a business can message at a given time. As long as your contacts have actively opted-in to receive messages from your company, you’re good to go.
There are other rules you need to follow, though, when using the API. Newsletters sent via the API need to be in the form of Highly Structured Messages, or message templates. These need to comply with certain quality standards and be submitted to and approved by WhatsApp before you can start sending them.
Using WhatsApp Campaigns with Landbot
As we’ve mentioned in this article dedicated to applying for the WhatsApp Business API, the process is labor-intensive and technically challenging. Businesses can directly sign up for it, but the best path is via an official Business Solution Provider (BSP) such as Landbot.
Not only will this take a lot of work off your hands, but it will also give you access to a lot of tools that will help you make the best of WhatsApp — including a Campaigns section you can use to send out newsletters.
The process is very straightforward:
- You create a new campaign;
- Choose your previously created audience segment;
- Select the content out of one of your approved Message templates (HSM);
- Schedule your campaign;
- Save, and that’s it!
You can read into detail how to use Landbot’s WhatsApp Campaigns feature, but the gist of it is pretty simple and easy.
Additionally, you can choose for your message to trigger a WhatsApp bot that will keep the conversation with the user going. What’s more, you can choose the bot that will be linked to your campaign so that if the person replies, a specific bot will be triggered instead of your main WhatsApp channel bot.
WhatsApp Newsletter Best Practices
If you’re all set to start using WhatsApp to send out your newsletters, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Don’t forget — even though WhatsApp allows you to bulk message your contacts, you should still keep their user experience in mind.
In the same way you probably don’t send out an email newsletter every day, you don’t want to send out WhatsApp messages too frequently. It may be tempting to, since people who use WhatsApp most likely use it daily to connect to friends and family, but you should avoid it.
The key is to keep a balanced interval between each message. If it’s too short, your users are likely to opt out and stop receiving your WhatsApp newsletters. Too long, and they might forget your business exists. So:
- Don’t send a newsletter more than once a week. Again, too many notifications might push customers away.
- Determine the time according to the content of your newsletter. Is it a reminder about a promotion? In that case, it’s probably okay to shorten the time between newsletters, say three days before the promotion ends and again on the last day.
- But if your newsletter is informational, and excuse the repetition, you don’t want to annoy your customers with constant notifications.
- Plan your newsletter schedule and strategy according to your newsletter’s purpose.
As just mentioned, your newsletter might cover different matters, from the more transactional to the more informative. Here’s a breakdown of some topics you can make your newsletter about:
- Reminders: are there regular actions your customers need to take, such as monthly payments? You can use WhatsApp to remind them about them, instead of sending an email that is more likely to be ignored or forgotten about.
- Information/updates: use your WhatsApp newsletters to inform people about new products, services or updates to existing information, such as business hours.
- Feedback collection: let’s be honest, an email newsletter requiring a user to participate in a survey or offer feedback on your product/service is often disregarded. But on WhatsApp, you can easily ask them to participate, and even trigger a survey bot to collect information.
- Helpful content: email newsletters often present subscribers with a digest of news and relevant pieces of content such as blog or help center articles. Make sure to optimize any website pages for mobile since that’s probably where people will open them if received via WhatsApp.
Don’t forget that the newsletters you send on WhatsApp are Highly Structured Messages that need to be submitted and approved by WhatsApp before you can send them. As such, they need to comply with a set of guidelines and predefined rules:
- HSM need to match quality standards set by WhatsApp that ensure user experience. For example, if you’re blatantly using them just to promote and sell something, they most likely won’t be approved.
- Unlike with the Business App, newsletter messages sent via API, in the form of a template, are not free. There is a cost per message that varies depending on the country.
Last, but most definitely not least, when establishing your WhatsApp newsletter strategy, you need to think about your audience and what might be relevant to them. Sending all types of content to everyone might not be ideal here.
As long as people have opted-in to receive communications from your business — again, WhatsApp won’t allow you to send messages to people who haven’t — you can easily create audience segments that will receive the content that’s most relevant to them.
You can, for example, create a segment of paying customers you’ll want to inform about company updates or share a content digest with. Or create a segment of prospects to send promotional messages to so that they’ll (hopefully) become paying customers.
If you’re using Landbot, you can easily do this in the “Audiences” section of your WhatsApp dashboard. What’s more, you can create segments based on any data (profession, location, company, etc.) your bot has previously collected.
Benefits of Using WhatsApp Newsletter
Now, finally, on to the benefits of WhatsApp Newsletter.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I don’t read or even open most of the newsletters that land in my email inbox, and I’m not alone.
Email is a saturated channel. It’s still relevant, but it’s so used that people have become somewhat immune to it and often overlook the messages they receive there. Email open rates lie at around 20% — a scarily low number, even more from a business perspective.
WhatsApp, on the other hand, boasts an incredible 98% open rate.
So the benefit here is really clear, which leads me to question:
Why keep using email alone for your newsletter marketing, when there’s another channel with significantly higher open rates?
Of course, it’s not just about open rates. Customer engagement and the actions they take after they’ve read your newsletter are what really matters. Let’s have a look at two successful examples of using WhatsApp over email communications.
Landbot’s 90% Open Rate with WhatsApp Automation
One of our main sources of Product Qualified Leads for Landbot’s sales team was email-powered outreach to free-plan users who’d perform a certain action. This action would indicate their interest in becoming a paying customer, so they’d be contacted by a Sales representative via email to book a call.
But — surprise, surprise — we weren’t getting the expected results from this, as people don’t pay enough attention to email as they might have once done.
We decided to run an experiment using our own product for WhatsApp, and built an automation flow with two other no-code tools: Make and Airtable.
Instead of continuing our qualified lead outreach campaign via email, we switched a WhatsApp automated message:
And the results were impressive:
While this is not newsletter content per se, it does validate WhatsApp as a channel that performs better than email in terms of open and engagement rates.
Animal Equality’s 86% User Engagement
Similarly, one of our customers also saw great results after implementing WhatsApp automation.
Animal Equality is an international organization dedicated to ending cruelty to farmed animals. As part of its strategy to raise awareness — and donations — to their cause, the Animal Equality team was capturing high-intent leads through low-cost content marketing efforts, including email newsletters. However, these tactics were scattered across multiple channels, and the top-of-the-funnel engagement was confined to only 1% of the total user base.
As an alternative, Animal Equality created a Landbot WhatsApp bot to bind all its marketing efforts. The bot engages users in conversation, collects their contact information, and opts them into seven channels for outreach and further engagement.
One of the results of this change was an 86% user engagement rate that just wasn’t possible via email. While Animal Equality has a relatively good email newsletter open rate, a number so close to 90% was unheard of and unquestionably better.
So, you see, this isn’t about me fighting my corner and trying to convince you that WhatsApp newsletter marketing is the way to go. Well, in a way, it is, but the numbers are undeniable.
WhatsApp newsletters yield higher open and user engagement rates than email, and that argument alone should be enough to convince you.
What are you waiting for to get started?