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WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app. Two billion people worldwide use it to chat with friends and family and to interact with their favorite brands. This behavior has influenced millions of businesses to use it for marketing, selling, supporting, and retaining customers. To paint a better picture, in 2021, brands worldwide amassed over 220 million downloads of the WhatsApp Business app.
In this article, I’ll cover all that is good about the WhatsApp Business app, the downsides, and how to bypass them completely without skipping a bit in your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts.
What is the WhatsApp Business app?
WhatsApp Business is a free app available on Android and iPhone. It’s very similar to the one people use for chatting with friends, but this one was built for micro-businesses to interact with customers, providing tools to automate, sort, and quickly respond to messages.
The WhatsApp Business app can be operated either through the mobile app or through WhatsApp Web, and you can add four additional devices to manage the same business profile and engage customers with:
- Text messaging one-on-one
- Sharing images, audio, video, and all common file types
- Voice and video calls
- Group chats
The advantages of the WhatsApp Business app
The Business version of the app works and feels just like the regular WhatsApp Messenger with some additional tools and features, such as:
1. Business Profile
Your business profile is what customers see when they search for your brand on WhatsApp. A business profile enables you to establish a formal business presence on WhatsApp. It gives your customers important information about your business, such as your brand name, description, address, business hours, and category.
2. Product Catalog
Another benefit of setting up a business profile on WhatsApp is that you can include a product catalog featuring up to 30 of your products and services. Customers can easily browse the catalog and message you when interested in your products or services or choose an item to share with their friends.
Anyone using messaging channels for business knows how crucial it is to be well-organized and efficient in communication. Using labels will enable you to mark chats with specific info so you can later easily find them.
You can label messages with different colors or names and add a label to an entire chat. For example, you can name conversations like “New customer” or “Returning customer” to help monitor your customers’ spending habits.
4. Automated greeting and out-of-office/away messages
Customers expect a quick response when they message you on WhatsApp. Not only will this handy feature save you tons of time, but it will enable you to respond to messages even outside of business hours automatically.
The most common predefined automated messages sent with the WhatsApp Business app are:
- Greeting messages: You can automatically welcome customers when they initiate a conversation with your business for the first time.
- Away messages: You can automatically inform customers when you will be available if they message you outside business hours.
5. Quick replies
This is another handy feature that will enable you to quickly reply with a predefined answer to the most common customer inquiries. These messages can be in the form of text, or media files, such as images and videos. You can store up to 50 predefined messages.
6. Short links
The WhatsApp Business app allows you to generate a click-to-chat link so customers can contact you directly by scanning a QR code. You can generate default messages and give your customers the option of sending your business a predefined message to start a conversation.
If a customer opens the short link on WhatsApp installed on their phone, it automatically opens a chat between the two of you. If they open the short link on a web browser, they will be sent to a web page with your business information. From there, they can chat with you.
7. Broadcast messages
You can use the broadcast list feature if you want to send a message to up to 256 of your contacts. You can create a broadcast list and repeatedly send broadcast messages without selecting them each time.
When you use this one-to-many feature, the message will be received by all contacts in the broadcast list that have your number saved in their phone. Broadcast messages look no different than regular messages, and if a customer replies to them, only you and that customer will see the reply.
8. The convenience of the Whatsapp Business app
The success of the WhatsApp Business app lies in its ability to connect users and businesses seamlessly and drive marketing, sales, and support outcomes with two-way conversations.
Nowadays, people feel comfortable with WhatsApp Messenger and expect to have easy, conversational communication with their favorite brands. Businesses that recognize this trend in customer behavior leverage the advantages of the WhatsApp Business app to build long-lasting relationships with their customers and deliver personal experiences that accelerate the buyer journey.
Since users have the free WhatsApp Business app installed on their phones, they can enjoy freedom and mobility and quickly address customers’ questions wherever they are.
With all that said, it’s essential to understand that the app does have a fair share of drawbacks, especially for small and medium businesses, while for large enterprises that want to manage all their customer relationships, the app is practically useless. Here’s why:
The disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business app
The limitations of the WhatsApp Business app can be a deal breaker for some businesses. In some cases, the app is simply not enough to answer all their needs.
Below I’ll list all the disadvantages of the app one by one. However, let me assure you, this is a happy ending story!
1. Only five people can answer customer inquiries
The first rule of marketing is - Focus on your audience! Once you make your brand available on WhatsApp, you’ll notice customers love it! Your business starts growing, the number of people trying to get in touch with your brand increases, and at one point, you are overwhelmed by incoming messages.
When you have only five devices connected to your WhatsApp Business profile (only one of them can be a phone), answering all customers’ questions is difficult. And once the number of messages rumps up, you’ll probably find it’s impossible.
Plus, there’s no option for assigning conversations to different team members, as there’s no shared team inbox.
2. You are limited to only 256 contacts per broadcast list
If you decide to run a campaign on the WhatsApp Business app, you’ll need to create a broadcast list, but since WhatsApp limits lists to only 256 users, you’ll have to make more than one broadcast list. For example, if you want to reach 1000 people, no problem. You’ll simply create four lists.
But what if you want to reach 1,000 people? What about a million?
To add insult to injury, there’s no easy way to import contact lists. You can allow the app to sync your phone’s contacts, however, that can cause you data protection issues. The other option is to add the phone numbers to the broadcast list one by one. If you have contacts saved in excel or collected from your Shopify store, it will take you ages to add all of them manually to your broadcast list.
And if that’s not enough of a hassle, when you send your broadcast message, only users who have your number saved in their phones will receive it. Ouch!
To finish it off, the WhatsApp Business app doesn’t offer analytics, so you’ll never know how many messages were read, opened, or replied to. This brings us to the following drawback:
3. No analytics and reports
Marketers rely on the results of previous campaigns when they plan and develop future marketing activities. Without analytics, they don’t get to know which type of messages are best received by their customers, and which types of promotions work and which don’t; they simply can’t know what triggers the audience’s interest to adjust their marketing approach.
4. No integration with CRM platforms
To grow your business, you must offer your customers smooth and quick communication. This includes always knowing what the last point of the conversation was and what information was exchanged. Today, no company can expect customer retention without a CRM to track all this.
However, the WhatsApp Business app does not enable an interface here, so any conversations you had with your customers remain entirely isolated on the app. You’d have to do it manually if you want to transfer information from chats into your CRM system.
5. Limited automation options
The WhatsApp Business app offers only basic automation features. You can set up and automatically send Welcome messages, schedule Away messages to be sent outside business hours, assign a unique ’tag’ to messages for quickly responding to frequently asked queries, and that’s about it.
The potential of chatbots and more advanced automation on WhatsApp is not even remotely possible with the WhatsApp Business app.
6. Data protection is not guaranteed
The app automatically reads all saved contacts and their phone numbers stored in your phone. This can cause data protection issues and suspend your business account, or WhatsApp can remove your access to its Business Products altogether.
How to bypass the downsides of the WhatsApp Business app?
As promised, I will untangle this story with a happy end, a deus ex machina, if you will!
Every single drawback I mentioned above can be easily overturned by moving your business from the WhatsApp Business app to WhatsApp Business API and connecting it with a customer communication platform, such as Rasayel.
Rasayel is specially designed to help you scale all your communications on WhatsApp Business. The platform offers tools and features to boost the effectiveness of your interaction with your customers and automate your workflows.
Within Rasayel, your team can collaborate via a shared team inbox. You can answer WhatsApp messages or assign them to a team member so that no customer is neglected and no sale is lost.
You can import and build contact lists based on customers’ interests and develop personalized communication, send broadcasts to an unlimited number of contacts and create marketing activities based on analytics from past campaigns.
Even without programming knowledge, you can easily set up WhatsApp chatbots to answer most of the frequently asked questions without losing a second of your team’s time. This is not only an advantage for large companies that want to scale their customer service. Small businesses with more limited resources can save time and money and allocate their employee’s time more productively.
Additionally, when you use a customer communication platform, you can:
- Get customer opt-in easier
- Integrate your WhatsApp with Shopify
- Save time by seeing eCommerce data
- Search and export all your WhatsApp customer and conversational data
- Get voice recordings, rich media, interactive WhatsApp message types support
- Use webhooks
- Integrate a CRM system
If you’re just starting to explore the possibilities of WhatsApp Business, the app can be a great way to feel the pulse of your customer base. However, if WhatsApp turns out to be your deal-closing medium, it’s good to know what are your options for scaling your communications and customer support, without leaving the most popular messaging app.