Updated: Oct 24
WhatsApp has been ruling the personal messaging domain for years now, with billions of users and trillions of interactions. The platform has become one of the largest platforms for interaction. As a logical step forward, WhatsApp launched tools for businesses to engage with their customers over popular messaging apps. This enabled one-to-one remote interaction and sharing like never before.
Since 2018 when the WhatsApp Business app was launched, brand presence has been increasing on the platform to make the most out of customer engagement. The messaging app allows businesses to showcase their products, get reviews, resolve issues, and even place orders from within the app. Consequently, brands are now recognizing WhatsApp as a major marketing channel.
A comprehensive use of WhatsApp
WhatsApp gives users a multitude of options when it comes to customer engagement and marketing. Its advantage of reaching customers where they are, lets brands execute multiple strategies at different stages of a purchase.
Essentially, there are four stages of a purchase, and here is how WhatsApp helps brands influencer customers during each of them.
The awareness stage is where brands engage with customers through first contact. This is generally done to popularise the brand and establish the brand as a recognizable entity.
During the awareness stage, brands leverage communication through WhatsApp to reach out to customers. This helps customers feel more connected since they get the feeling of communicating with a real person, much like a personal conversation, compensating for an in-store experience of interacting with salespeople.
This is the stage where brands can use messages to provide relevant information to customers about the products, introduce and promote new products as well as answer the most common questions asked by customers. The WhatsApp Business app allows brands to automate some of these activities for a better user experience.
Consideration and Intent
The consideration stage is where the customer begins to evaluate the product and evaluate its need. This is a critical stage for D2C brands as this is where the value proposition of their product would be put to a test.
Here brands can use WhatsApp to communicate specifics about the product(s) that would prompt the customers to appreciate its value and show intent to purchase. Brands can use the platform to answer particular questions about the product such as size, colour, type, availability, policies, and more. These key pieces of information reinforce the value of the product for the customer.
Once the customer moves past consideration, there is intent for purchase if the value communicated appeals to the customer which is represented through the addition of items in the cart.
The process of purchase transitions into the stage of a decision where customers choose to purchase or not purchase a product. This stage generally arrives when the customer has already added items to the cart and is contemplating if the purchase should be finalised. This is where communication becomes the most critical part of a sales cycle since this is what determines if the sale would be successful.
Here the messaging app can be used to communicate the value of the product and also share enticing offers that get them to convert immediately.
One way to do this is with the help of abandoned cart prompts. Messages can be used to persuade customers to revisit their cart and consider products, extend offers to create a sense of urgency, and reminders of items in a cart to re-engage the buyer.
Usually, a gentle nudge in the direction of a purchase is the only thing standing between people and their decision to buy. Getting abandoned cart offers and setting up abandoned cart messages helps with better conversion. These can be in the form of limited-time discount coupons, or persona-specific offers.
While the process of setting these up is just as easy as sending an email, WhatsApp messages have better conversion and ROI, and usually a better rate of response from the potential buyer.
Delight is a post-purchase experience stage that arrives when the customer has successfully made a purchase. This stage is where brands communicate with customers to keep them involved and become repeat shoppers.
When an order is placed by a customer, it becomes critical for the brand to ease post-purchase anxiety. The buffer between the time of purchase and the time of delivery is a delicate period. If dissatisfied with their post-purchase experience, customers may cancel their order. Therefore, WhatsApp can be used to communicate and resolve issues of customers after a purchase, providing them information on the status of their order, cause of delays (if any), estimated date of delivery, and more.
Further, D2C brands typically use mail to communicate promotional information. However, through WhatsApp, this can be done with a much higher rate of interaction. Since WhatsApp is a much more direct channel of communication, it allows users to see promotional information almost immediately, improving the visibility of the brand.
Here brands can communicate information about early access to sales, special discounts, personalised offers, and more.
Connecting with your customers: Leveraging WhatsApp Business for effective communication
The Indian D2C market is booming with new startups entering the market, and they are in dire need of effective communication with their customers. WhatsApp Business has enabled brands to achieve this with the help of integrations with several AI tools which helps connect with customers and answer questions with the help of chatbots that send replies over WhatsApp. Likewise, Graas has been helping eCommerce brands set up automatic replies for abandoned carts, which can further help increase conversions.
Here are some ways D2C brands have been using WhatsApp to interact with their customers.
A D2C vegan cosmetics brand from India, Iba Cosmetics has been rapidly growing. Recently, they integrated their platform with WhatsApp Business and immediately noticed massive growth in customer engagement. The platform used WhatsApp Ads launched by Facebook in 2020 that redirect customers from Facebook Ads to WhatsApp conversations. This helped the brand drive many sales, and gain an ROI of 9x within 2 months of rolling out.
The State Plate
Recently seen on Shark Tank India, The State Plate is a D2C brand that delivers packaged ethnic foods from regional brands and white labels across the country. The brand noticed unprecedented growth within a few months of launching and required a reliable and simple customer support solution to resolve issues faster. It partnered with Interakt from Haptik to resolve customers' queries over WhatsApp and was able to resolve 1.5x more queries within a few months of signing up.
The way ahead
D2C brands will continue to grow in the future and so will customer expectations. However, the market has understood the importance of interaction and is now engaging with customers in places where they are most comfortable. WhatsApp Business has allowed brands to deliver a shopping experience in a manner similar to a private conversation, enabling more engagement and interaction. Therefore, used in the right way, WhatsApp Business can be one of the best tools for marketing and customer experience today.