Facebook-owned WhatsApp is finally opening up their platform for businesses with the launch of their limited public preview ‘WhatsApp Business API’. This API is set to have a significant impact on the way businesses communicate with customers.
With 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app globally because of its non-intrusive, non-ad, and entirely personal nature. With the addition of end-to-end encryption, personal messaging is as secure as it gets with WhatsApp Business API.
Impact on customer experience landscape
The highlight of the WhatsApp Business API is enabling large-scale communication for large enterprises on the WhatsApp platform. Last year, WhatsApp released the WhatsApp Business App, which enabled small businesses to reach out to customers on a verified business profile. However, this was still a single-phone, single-number based app and does not have the option for CRM or CS integration.
WhatsApp Business API, on the other hand, is a full-fledged package by WhatsApp, targeted at large enterprises to help them reach out to their users at scale. WhatsApp Business API will enable enterprise businesses to communicate with their users through automated and personalized transactional messages that users have specifically opted in to receive. Likewise, customers can also initiate conversations with businesses using WhatsApp, for customer support related queries.
However, the real impact of WhatsApp Business API lies in how fast, simple, reliable and fluid it can be when it comes to messaging. Businesses can reach out to users on a channel that they know for sure is always being checked. Being able to send high-value messages like flight tickets, boarding passes, order confirmations, price drop, and stock alerts directly to a user’s WhatsApp chat is the value proposition of the API.
What sets WhatsApp Business API apart from the rest of the commercialized messaging apps is the lack of advertisement on the platform and the restrictions on sending promotional content to users. Furthermore, businesses will require users to explicitly opt-in from the website/app before any messages can be sent to their WhatsApp chat.
These rigorous opt-in measures by WhatsApp ensure that the app remains what it has always been loved for – a personal, non-intrusive messaging app.
On the technical front, WhatsApp Business API will render enterprises the ability to integrate the API into their enterprise software enabling them to link to multiple teams such as CRM, Customer Service, marketing team, possibly sales and account management. Teams across a company can now use statistics from the WhatsApp Business API to help them in creating better and more awesome experiences for the users.
UX Potential for Marketers
The world of online messaging has come a long way since the days of the Yahoo messenger. The exponential pace of mobile growth accounts for smartphone taking up 62 percent of the time spent on digital media.
Messaging apps, in general, have seen tremendous growth in the past couple of years, but WhatsApp, in particular, has exploded – today, it has the largest user base amongst messaging with more than 1.5 Billion users.
The WhatsApp Business API will allow marketers to capitalise on just this. Not just the user base, but also the ability to reach out to users on a channel that they are regularly using. For example, airlines can send users flight tickets and boarding passes directly on WhatsApp chat and users won’t have to bother opening their email or taking a print-out.
Unlike other messaging apps, WhatsApp’s stringent policy against promotional and advertising content implies that businesses can create real, mindful, and non-intrusive experiences for users on the app while delivering high-value transactional messages.
The WhatsApp Business API will be a paradigm shift away from mere chat automation to a more meaningful and personalised experience for users.
Build more personalised experiences with WhatsApp Business AP
Insider has been fiddling with the API for a while now, and recently launched their early access to WhatsApp Business API integration for enterprises.
The API is essentially a docker container that needs to be integrated with the enterprise software and run in parallel with SQL databases and block storage.
For brands that aren’t invested in software development as a core-strength, the integration and maintenance of the API are going to be a scalability disaster. The complexity of the whole deal perhaps has something to do with WhatsApp’s commitment to maintaining the trust and safety of the app and delivering an ad-free experience for its users.
The good news is that Insider can take care of the grunt work for businesses, leaving them more room to design, create and deliver mindful experiences for their users through WhatsApp. The integration process is quite simple – there is a single line of code that businesses need to copy and paste on their websites.
As part of the Insider integration, businesses will be able to:
Message users at scale while complying to privacy policies
WhatsApp policies require that businesses must get user consent before sending them any messages on WhatsApp. Insider can enable WhatsApp opt-in messages on website / mobile app so businesses can comply with WhatsApp’s privacy policies.
These opt-ins also mean that businesses can reach out to users at scale on WhatsApp chat rather than the one-on-one chats possible through WhatsApp messenger or WhatsApp Business.
Send High-value notifications
Being able to send high-value notifications to customers such as movie tickets, flight boarding passes, order receipts etc. allows businesses to create an experience where customers don’t have to go anywhere else to retrieve this information. Instead, they have it at their fingertips.
Track WhatsApp campaign performance
Businesses can keep track of key metrics for WhatsApp campaigns like Opt-in, Sent, Delivered, Seen and Clicked, to analyse how users engage with their personalised messages.
“WhatsApp is the first B2C messaging channel that looks beyond automation. It focuses more on driving real-time, hassle-free and personalized customer-brand interactions.”
Srikant Kotapalli, Product Evangelist, Insider
Perhaps the most significant value proposition that WhatsApp offers to businesses is the ability to reach out to users on a channel that they are always active on. Insider is focussing on simplifying this process of sending WhatsApp messages for brands; with minimal to zero IT effort.
Together with Insider, the WhatsApp Business API will offer businesses the chance to evaluate and discover how this new channel performs in customer engagement and in creating impactful user experiences.
What does the future look like?
For now, the WhatsApp Business API is available only in limited access preview, but for marketers, this is a dream come true. Even though sending promotional-content is off the table, for brands looking to create mindful user experiences, the WhatsApp Business API provides just the platform to make that happen.
At Insider, we can already see the use cases for this channel, from sending cart reminder messages to automated account management using yes/no situational type messaging. As the WhatsApp API continues to evolve in its offerings to the public, the possibilities become multiplied through the Insider partnership.
We can envision how our Growth Management Platform along with the WhatsApp Business API integration will help companies leverage the power of AI to deliver custom-made, personalised and impactful experiences to users on their WhatsApp chats.
One thing remains certain, the future of this new channel will always be about delivering impactful experiences through transactional messages that users have agreed to receive. Apart from delivering a smooth user experience, businesses can gain the user’s trust as the communication will be concise and non-intrusive. Much of the potential around this channel will be focused on this niche.
Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Insider