Purchased in 2014 for around US$19 billion, WhatsApp is Facebook’s most expensive acquisition. And, if growth in user numbers is anything to go by, it has been a wildly successful one. From 450 million users when it was acquired by Facebook, WhatsApp’s user base has more than tripled to 1.5 billion users today.
All of this growth has made WhatsApp one of Facebook’s major properties – without ever having made money from it. That is, until now.
We covered this topic in a recent episode of our weekly Facebook Live. You can watch it below (we start talking about WhatsApp at 11.50 mins) or read through the detail below.
WhatsApp and Business
The WhatsApp Business Android app, launched in January 2018 was the app’s first real move to start catering for businesses. The app now has more than 3 million users, and WhatsApp is taking things a step further.
It was announced a couple of weeks back that WhatsApp would soon be introducing new ways for customers to quickly connect with businesses. With the launch of the WhatsApp API, these new features are the latest additions in a broader strategy to make WhatsApp better for businesses. New features include:
Some businesses may provide real-time support on WhatsApp to answer questions about their products or help you resolve an issue.
Request helpful information
Ability to have businesses send you information like a boarding pass on WhatsApp.
Immediately start a conversation
A click-to-chat button on a Facebook ad or website to quickly message a business.
The last of these is, in our opinion, the most interesting for social advertisers and signals a first step towards integrating Facebook’s advertising model with WhatsApp.
Click-to-WhatsApp ads on Facebook
Working in much the same way as click-to-Messenger ads, this new redirection will allow businesses to drive users to WhatsApp, where a pre-filled WhatsApp chat will enable them to quickly and seamlessly message the business.
Businesses are set to receive aggregated metrics based on this activity, including:
- Conversations started: The number of conversations attributed to your Facebook ad campaign from people starting a new thread with you or messaging you for the first time in more than a week.
- Messaging replies: The total number of messages that people sent to your business attributed to the ads you ran on Facebook.
The WhatsApp click-to-message feature can also be added to websites and Facebook pages, and is a big step towards bringing WhatsApp into the Facebook advertising ecosystem.
What could be next?
So what’s next for advertising in WhatsApp? Are we likely to see ads within the app itself?
If we take Facebook Messenger as the model, ads may not be too far away. While there’s no guarantee that Facebook will roll out advertising in WhatsApp along the same lines, the similarities between the two messaging-based platforms make it a real possibility.
Over and above click-to-Messenger ads, which we have already covered, what other options are available in Facebook Messenger advertising?
As a preview to advertising options that could soon become available in WhatsApp, let’s take a look at the current options within Facebook Messenger:
Facebook Messenger Ads (or Messenger Home)
These ads are displayed directly within a user’s Messenger home screen. When people tap on an ad that appears in their Messenger home tab, they are sent to the destination the advertiser has chosen. This could be a website, app, or a Messenger conversation with your business. At this stage, Messenger ads are available for the following objectives: Traffic, Conversions, App installs, Reach, Messages, Brand awareness, and Catalog sales.
Sponsored messages help businesses re-engage people with whom they have previously had a conversation. Advertisers can create sponsored messages that display as a direct message within the user’s Facebook Messenger inbox.
This is a powerful business tool, allowing brands to reach consumers in an almost identical way to their friends – directly in the inbox. Having access to the inbox is hugely valuable to brands – it has been well documented that open and click rates on Facebook Messenger far outperform email. One test from HubSpot saw a 242% better open rate on Messenger than email!
Calls-to-action like ‘Start my Order’ enable businesses to drive action in a personalized way. Messages also feature a small ‘sponsored’ tag and allow users to manage their preferences and opt-out of this type of communication.
And what about Chatbots?
Chatbots are what make Messaging platforms truly powerful for brands. The ability to scale and automate interactions with prospects and customers can build brand loyalty, and free you up to focus on what you do best!
According to Gartner, by 2020, 85% of consumers’ engagement with businesses will be done without interacting with another human. Instead, we’ll be using self-service options like chatbots. Added to that, an Oracle survey found that 80% of businesses currently use or are planning to use chatbots by 2020.
There are currently over 300,000 active chatbots on Facebook Messenger. The opening up of the WhatsApp API means businesses are now able to develop chatbots for WhatsApp. As the world’s most popular messaging platform, with 1.6 billion monthly active users and 60 billion messages sent every day, this is a hugely exciting step for WhatsApp and one which businesses the world over will be making the most of.
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