WhatsApp Marketing: Go or No-Go?

This will be fun. Rank the following social mediums (without using Google) according to monthly active users; highest to lowest.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Linkedin

Got it in your head? Now scroll down for the results.









social users monthly

source: SumoMe

Ok, Facebook. Duh, you got that one. But, wait, WhatsApp?

Yes, that is correct. WhatsApp has more active monthly users than Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin COMBINED.

If you live in the United States, you may be saying “Whats-what?” WhatsApp is an SMS based social platform that allows users to send text, picture, video, voice messages, location, documents… all for FREE and to ANYWHERE in the world. It simply uses your data plan or Wifi.

So why is it such a secret in the States? Well, unlike other areas of the world, the U.S. cell market has adopted the “unlimited” model like no other country. For this reason, users aren’t particularly worried about how many texts they send each month. Because of this, and other reasons, it has been slow going for the U.S. market, however 18.4 Million users is nothing to balk at.


Why You Should Get In Now (Pros)

Few U.S. and European marketers use WhatsApp as a marketing channel. But, think about it like this:

  • Fewer marketers means less NOISE to cut through.
  • No Ads to compete with.
  • Over 1 Billion global users and rising. Global reach is more important today than ever.
  • It requires 100% opt-in, which means those receiving your messages actually want to get them (more on this later). They do this most often by adding your mobile number to their contacts list.
  • As a 1-1 channel (direct link to your audience) you can get real feedback directly from real users.
  • No algorithms to compete with, so no watered down, organic reach. This means your message will reach each and every person who has opted-in.
  • Due to message alerts, WhatsApp boasts a 70% open rate.
  • IT’S FREE!


Why You Should Wait (Cons)

Of course, there are still some bugs to work out in how marketers can best use WhatsApp to reach their audiences. Here are a few reasons to wait before jumping in:

  • It requires 100% opt-in. Yes, this can also be a con because some users will not want to take the time to add your number to their contacts list.
  • Broadcast lists are limited to 256 people. For larger outreach, multiple lists will be needed.
  • WhatsApp is an app that is tied directly to one, and ONLY one mobile number. However, there is an available desktop download for Mac and Windows.
  • There are no business profiles. Users are people. Because of this, some businesses won’t feel comfortable with how “intimate” this channel can be. As co-founder Jan Koum puts it “…you, the user, are the product.”
  • High amount of manual work. Don’t discount the amount of time and involvement this may take.


Before You Do Anything…

As with any other marketing medium or channel, before you start blasting away with your message:

  • Learn how the platform works. Most Twitter and Facebook tactics won’t work here. WhatsApp is not a place where people go for news, but to communicate on a more personal level. Remember this when you are planning your messaging.
  • Be engaging, authentic and genuine. Users expect a real person on the other end. So give them that.
  • Learn from other pioneers. Some bigger brands have already begun testingthe waters. Find out what they did right and wrong, and adapt your campaign according to your own audience.
  • Think about tying a WhatsApp campaign in with another event for cross channel success. A good campaign can garner great reactions in other social channels.
  • Lastly, because this is fairly uncharted territory, try something NEW. If it fails, it fails, but you’ve learned a great lesson.

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