Recent reports have shown that more companies are beginning to embrace messaging app WhatsApp for their mobile marketing campaigns. WhatsApp provides users with a way to communicate using free SMS style messages sent to cellphones while avoiding expensive SMS charges from cellphone service providers.
Marketers can send short text-based messages, images, and video content to customers and interested prospects through the app.
WhatsApp added a new “broadcast” feature in late 2013. The feature allows users to send group messages to many people at once without having the recipients revealed to one another. The WhatsApp broadcasting feature gives marketers a more instant way to reach their audience than many social media marketing and email marketing options. Mobile marketing messages are sent by marketers directly to the recipient’s phone, just like those sent by friends and family.
Marketers can generally reach nearly 100 percent of their WhatsApp contact list with a single message. Mobile marketing messages sent through WhatsApp are more likely to be opened and read within minutes of being sent, rather than languishing for hours on Facebook or in an email inbox. Because WhatsApp is generally used for personal communications, brands exploring the use of the broadcast feature were warned not to send too many messages or risk having people block their notifications.
News organizations around the world were some of the first companies to experiment with the WhatsApp broadcast feature. Starting in 2014, the British Broadcasting Corporation utilized the WhatsApp broadcast feature to send news about the general elections in India and the Ebola crisis in West Africa to relevant communities.
The news company provided a mobile number for users to add to their contact list and send the word “JOIN” to if they would like to start receiving news updates through the messaging app. Users could unsubscribe from the BBC’s news notifications by sending “STOP” to the same number.
Originally launched in 2009, WhatsApp now has over 700 million registered users. A staggering 70 percent of the app’s users access the app daily. The popularity of the app pushed Facebook to purchase the app for a reported $19 billion in 2014.