Marketing on WhatsApp? How to Prevent Your Account from Being Blocked

By all accounts, WhatsApp marketing is cementing its place as the darling of the digital marketing world. True, it’s not a new tool and many people are already using it extensively, but most businesses are still weary of incorporating the planet’s leading instant messaging app into their marketing plans. Why are they hesitant? Because WhatsApp is a particularly sensitive channel, and failure to comply with its operating standards can end up causing more harm than good. To be very clear, we’ll state it upfront: marketing on WhatsApp is an entirely different beast than SMS or email marketing.

There’s no arguing that WhatsApp conversion rates are substantially higher than the other two common channels mentioned above (studies show between 45%-60%), but to reap such rich rewards, you need to be smart and, in particular, careful. Over the past two years a multitude of systems have sprouted up for sending WhatsApp messages, but only a select few are officially authorized for use by WhatsApp itself and meet the company’s stringent rules and regulations.

Why is this important? Simple – improper use of your marketing WhatsApp account can lead to it being blocked by your customers themselves, turning it into SPAM. How can you know if the system you’re using is approved? Well, it’s very likely that you won’t know (at least initially), if the system’s vendor didn’t bother to tell you – but that’s what we’re here for.

With that said, there are a number of fundamental differences in how you connect to and operate authorized WhatsApp systems, as opposed to independent systems that permit mass distribution of marketing messages. For example, the nature and period of connections to the systems differ between the two types.

קמפיין סמס מנצח
Address your customers by their first name (depositphotos)

Connecting to a legal system takes roughly one to two weeks. In this time, the applying account is thoroughly validated by WhatsApp itself, and the connection is established through one of a select few vendors that hold licenses to sell packages of marketing messages. There are also differences when it comes to billing, as payment for legal WhatsApp accounts is made per message, and not on a package basis. Any deviation from WhatsApp’s messaging policy puts your account in immediate risk in the case of an unauthorized systems, while in approved systems, deviations are gradual, and are made based on fixed sending levels. And what about message structure? This is also different and favors approved systems.

How to send WhatsApp messages?

After getting past all of WhatsApp’s bureaucratic hurdles, you can, finally, turn your attention to the crazy conversion rates and digital sales growth that are the reason you chose to connect to WhatsApp in the first place. The real question, is how to do it right? How to be sensitive and personal? We’re all familiar with WhatsApp as users, and none of us are particularly fond of the impersonal SPAM messages sent out indiscriminately, with the hope that some will stick.

1. Be personal

Address your customers by their first name, not their full name, or “segment” name. Make each of your customers feel as if the message was written especially for them. As such, avoid wording such as “Greetings John Smith” or “Hello Jane from Chicago”. Remember: you’re speaking with one of your contacts, even if you don’t really know them.

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WhatsApp marketing different than SMS or email marketing (depositphotos)

2. Use everyday language

Yes, we’re all used to speaking with WhatsApp bots, but if your goal is two-way communications, it’s best to stay away from robotic, operational language. Your tone and approach should be personal – exactly as if you were having an ordinary conversation with a friend. A message like “Hi Daniel, we see that you began placing an order on our site, but that, for some reason, you didn’t complete it. What would you say to one of our sales reps reaching out to you?” is better than “Hello Daniel. You have not completed your order. Click 1 to return to your cart.”

3. Be precise

WhatsApp is rapid, efficient and – unforgiving. This means that if you made a mistake in your message, or let loose a long, tiresome message, you’re going to have a hard time fixing things. Make certain of spelling and grammar and that your message is short and accurate. Briefly introduce yourselves and add an eloquent message that leaves your customer with a choice. Continuing from above, here’s an example: “Hi Daniel, my name is Maya from Company X. I see that you were browsing through our catalog and thought that you might be interested in receiving a short video describing our product [link to video]. I’m here to help with any questions you may have.”

4. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Ready for some earthshattering news: Not all of your customers will appreciate your messages. Some of them will ask to have themselves removed from you distribution list (removals from a WhatsApp list are followed by the contacts being removed from your general mailing list) – and you need to make it simple for them to do so. It’s not enough to write “Click 1 to unsubscribe”, rather, we recommend using a more personal voice, something like “Don’t want to receive additional messages? No problem – just say the word, and you won’t hear from us anymore.”

5. Build customer journeys

WhatsApp messages sent as part of customer journeys achieve higher levels of engagement than stand-alone marketing messages. Incorporate WhatsApp into your customer journey, adding signup links, scannable QR codes, etc., to maintain an open dialogue with customers that are already actively engaged in the conversation. If you’ve decided to still go with a stand-alone message, begin by piquing their interest, and only then send them your stand-alone messages: “Hi Jasmine, we see that you were a Company Y customer in the past. Is that right?” As soon as the customer responds with “Yes”, you can keep sending them messages without any additional cost and without having to worry about being blocked.