Since it first launched, WhatsApp has quickly taken over SMS as the most preferred form of messaging among Indians. WhatsApp currently has 225+ million users in India, which is around half of the total number of internet users in the country. It a mobile app that’s here to stay in India.The growing number of Indians using WhatsApp can be attributed to the sudden drop in data costs and the introduction of low cost smartphones. Because of this, the app quickly became popular among Indians of all ages and economic backgrounds as it offered a free, simple way to connect with each other. But WhatsApp wasn’t just used for personal conversations among friends and families. For a long time, owners of small businesses like grocery stores and tailors used the app informally to communicate with their customers. Taking notice of this huge potential, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp for Business, a feature which can help brands engage with India’s next billion internet users. This new feature aims to simplify the process for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to connect with their customers.
WhatsApp for Business is currently only available as an Android app which can be downloaded for free from the Play Store. iPhone users will have to wait a little while longer until WhatsApp for Business rolls out an iTunes app as well. WhatsApp for Business is exclusively for business owners to communicate with their customers. In other words, businesses will use WhatsApp for Business to speak to their customers who will receive these messages on their regular WhatsApp account. To register on it, businesses will need a number that isn’t connected to their personal WhatsApp account. If you don’t have a separate business number, you will need to either get one or transfer your personal number to your WhatsApp for Business account. Once the app verifies your number, you can start setting up your business profile and begin communicating with customers.
WhatsApp for business looks almost identical to the regular WhatsApp, however, there are a few key differences. A number of tools have been added to the business app, facilitating easier communication for business users.
Once on the app, WhatsApp allows you to create a ‘Business Profile’ on your account that needs to contain important information such as your business’s email ID, contact number and address. There is also a location feature which allows business to locate their store on the map. Filling in this information will help users understand your business better. Over time Whatsapp also aims to verify each business and link their FB profiles as well, so that only authenticated businesses and stores can reach out to their customers.
WhatsApp for Business also makes it very simple to engage with your customers, even if your consumer base grows very large. The ‘Messaging Tools’ feature allows you to create message templates which can be sent out to your customers automatically. ‘Quick Replies’ allows you to set message templates to questions that your customers frequently ask, so you can easily respond to them. These include ‘thank you’ messages every time your customers order something or details about your products and prices. You can also set up ‘Greetings’ messages which are sent when you are first interacting with a customer and ‘Away’ messages which are sent when you are unable to respond to them at that time.
When Whatsapp for Business was first showcased to our team at the FB SME Council in India, it was made abundantly clear that it is not going to serve as a bulk/promotional messaging service. The intent is to provide customers the convenience to reach brands and vice versa. So its ideally meant to keep in touch with existing customers or leads.
One of the key features WhatsApp for Business offers is an easy way for business owners to understand how well their messages are performing. For now, the current version of WhatsApp for Web offers basic statistics such as the number of messages delivered and number of messages actually opened. The data collected from these statistics can offer business owners invaluable information on the efficacy of their message strategies. This information allows them to identify the type of content their target audience will find engaging. This can help them come up with more targeted message strategies that will resonate better with their audience. While the current statistics offered are very straightforward, future updates of WhatsApp for Business might include more detailed statistical tools.
One of the biggest hurdles that WhatsApp for Business faces is that non-business users might not like receiving business messages in their WhatsApp inbox. Most of our SMS inboxes are filled with promotional messages from businesses with barely any messages from our actual contacts. With the introduction of WhatsApp for Business in India, especially since it’s free, these businesses might start using WhatsApp instead to message people. Because WhatsApp is such a personal form of communication, the fear of spam is ever-present, with users expressing concern over their WhatsApp inbox also becoming flooded with promotional messages.
However, WhatsApp has ensured that it is putting the users first even with the introduction of WhatsApp for Web. If users are receiving too many messages from a business or they aren’t interested in the business, they can easily block the business or report it as spam. The rigorous verification procedure ensures that the business on the app are legitimate, reducing the chances of spam. WhatsApp is also introducing a verification badge against businesses if their WhatsApp for Business number matches the number registered against their business. This feature will help users understand which businesses are authentic.
After the success of an initial beta version of the service, WhatsApp launched the WhatsApp Payments feature in India for Android during early February of 2018. This feature is very similar to other digital payments services like PayTM as it operates through the United Payments Interface (UPI) and supports most of the major banks used in India. Once you have verified your bank account details, you can directly transfer money from your account to other users through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Payments and WhatsApp for Business in India are two new features which can work together in synergy. It can enable small business to reach out to their customers who can then pay for their products or services directly through WhatsApp. Since the upper limit for the amount of money which can be transferred through WhatsApp Payments is set at Rs. 5,000, it makes its features best suited for SMEs. For example, using WhatsApp for Business and WhatsApp Payments, users can easily order and pay for their weekly groceries from the local convenience store. This can go a long way in helping small business improve their sales.
As the name suggests, WhatsApp for Business works like a typical WhatsApp account but has additional privileges that are tailor-made for businesses. Aptly titled “WhatsApp Business”, the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Once downloaded, you can register with a phone number that is exclusively used for your business. You can then stay connected with your consumers with interactive tools that let you respond to messages easily, sort your messages as per your preferences and automate your replies, among other functional tasks.
Just like the regular app, WhatsApp for Business is also free. The only expense you will face is setting up a distinctive mobile number that will be used exclusively for your business. You will need this to register your business on the app. However, WhatsApp may begin charging businesses in the future for these services.
You begin by downloading the app titled “WhatsApp Business” from the Google Play Store. Once you agree with the terms and conditions, you will have to register with a phone number used exclusively by your business. Once the number is verified, you can begin using the app to stay connected with your consumers.
WhatsApp for Business is currently available only on the Google Play Store. You will need an Android device to download and use it. However, the app is under development for iPhone users and will be available on iStore soon.
Apart from it being exclusively designed for businesses, WhatsApp Business has a distinctive feature called “Business Profiles”. This tab helps consumers generate more information about the business such as the official email ID, website and store address. This tab also accommodates a small description of the business to give consumers detailed insights into the kind of products or services offered.
WhatsApp for Business also offers a plethora of handy messaging tools to make it easier for to interact with consumers by sorting messages, creating automated replies and designing frequentlyused templates for messaging.
There are many messaging tools available in WhatsApp Business that make it easier for businesses to interact with their consumers. For example, you have a “Quick Replies” option to send instant answers to frequent questions. You can also create a template to greet your consumers with a greetings message or a thank you note. Additionally, you can create a customised “Away Message” to let your customers know you are currently not available and will get back to them shortly.
Apart from tools for easy execution, WhatsApp Business also offers statistical data of your messaging pattern. You can keep a tab on the number of messages sent, delivered and opened to give you a fair idea of how consumers are responding to your messages.
While WhatsApp for Business is still in its nascent stage, it definitely has the potential to explode in India. Evolving digital marketing techniques in tier 2 and tier 3 cities should definitely begin to utilise WhatsApp for Business in their strategies. For small businesses, it could prove to be an important tool to help them expand their profits in the face of growing competitions from larger corporations. We also understand that APIs to allow for managing larger number of conversations is on the cards so the future of Whatsapp for Business is indeed exciting.
India is at a crucial moment in its digital story where it is slowly emerging as the most important internet audience in the world. While the global number of internet user growth has more or less peaked at around 10 percent annually, India’s internet users grew by an incredible 28 percent up until 2016. Currently, there are about 450,000,000 internet users in India and going by current trends, 635.8 million Indians will be online by 2021. These developments offer both a unique opportunity and a challenge for brands. In order to make full use of the growing digital audience, brands need to find the best strategy to engage with the next billion internet users in India.
Indians are a sizeable presence across almost every major digital platform. Facebook is, by far, the most popular social media platform, with 240 million Indians users and most accessing it through their phones. These numbers prove that Facebook is a goldmine for brands looking to engage with their audience in the most impactful way. By effectively utilising the top tools for social media analytics, brands can understand their consumers better and create more targeted campaigns.
There are currently 225 million Indians on YouTube, making it the second most used digital platform in India. This is significant, because YouTube ads can be a very effective way to attract and engage new consumers. There are also 50 million Instagram users in India, while there are 45 million Indians on LinkedIn. WhatsApp has quickly surpassed the previously used SMS as India’s favourite text messaging service. 240 million Indians use WhatsApp daily to send around 50 billion messages globally. This points towards the use of WhatsApp for business becoming increasingly important for brands.
While internet usage in India has been steadily growing over the years, there was a definite tipping point where the number of internet users in India exploded. There are two main catalysts for this development: the availability of low cost smartphones and most significant of all, the launch of Reliance Jio. Jio started its services in September 2016 with a bang, offering its users free data. Even once the offer ended, the data plans for Jio remained much lower in comparison to other network providers. This sudden easy access to the internet led to India having the highest amount of data consumption in the world. Of the 150 crore GB consumed by Indians, 100 crore GB was consumed through the Jio network alone. What is perhaps the most exciting part is that internet penetration currently stands at only 27 percent. This means that the number of Indians online is only going to grow from here, offering a huge advantage for brands.
With India’s internet audience growing by the minute, the stage is set for brands to tap into this huge market and engage with their consumers. Consumer engagement requires brands to realign their priorities from solely revenue-generation to actually creating value for their consumers. In India, brands can do this in a number of ways.
In order to create content that consumers will actually find valuable, brands need to know who they’re speaking to. By 2020, almost 40 percent of all internet users in India will be women. This points towards the growing importance of creating content that women will find relevant. Doing so will also involve challenging long-held assumptions with regards to gender and interest areas. For example, 60 percent of those who shopped for sporting goods and viewed related videos on YouTube were not men, but women. Additionally, 60% of those who searched for car-related information online were also women. Having an intimate understanding of audiences can help brands generate content that their users will actually find valuable. This is a crucial step in building a relationship with audiences.
Brands can create user-centric content to rank organically on Google as well as on YouTube. For tips on how to rank your videos, read our in-depth article: YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Your Videos in 2019.
One of the most interesting characteristics of India’s internet usage is that most Indians haven’t followed the general pattern of internet adoption. While globally, most people first used a computer and then migrated to mobile phones, Indians seem to have skipped the computer stage completely. According to a survey by Statcounter, Indians use their phones to access the internet almost 80 percent of the time. This means that brands should be producing content specifically designed for mobile phones if they want to engage the next billion internet consumers.
While the number of English-speaking internet users in India is largely static, the number of regional language users is growing at a breakneck pace. One of the key reasons for this growth is internet penetration in tier II and III cities, along with villages. Digital marketing is constantly evolving in tier II and tier III cities and brands need to take note of this growth. In fact, Google estimates that about 30% of users in India are from rural areas. If brands want to develop a personal relationship with their consumers, then a strong regional language strategy is crucial. Tamil is the leading regional language used among internet users in India with 42 percent while 39 percent of users are Hindi-speaking.
Voice search in India might still be in the nascent stage at the moment, but it is growing at a steady rate. Google estimates that 28 percent of all searches are voice searches. Even more promising is the fact that there has been a 400 percent growth in Hindi voice search. Voice search has vast implications for SEO because traditional keywords aren’t used when speaking naturally. For brands, this means that they have to find new ways to become discoverable through voice search results to stay visible on digital platforms.
Adding call extensions to your ads can significantly increase click-through rates as well as conversion rates. But with a sizeable number of mobile users in India, especially in smaller cities and towns, using prepaid connections, the cost of making a call might stop them from contacting your business. This is why AdWords has recently rolled out a ‘Missed Call’ feature which can help address this concern. When a user selects the Missed Call option on an ad, a call is placed and is then immediately cut. After this, the user will receive an automated call telling them to stay on the line while their call is connected to the business. During the same time, the business will also receive a call from Google. Once both the user and the business are on the call, they will be connected to each other. This feature can help brands engage with their consumers better as well as track conversions more effectively.
Digital marketing allows brands to not just speak to their consumers, but also to listen to them in return. This unique opportunity for a two-way conversation is crucial for building consumer engagement. To be able to have a meaningful conversation, brands need to understand exactly who their audience is, where their interests lie and what their concerns are. In the context of the current Indian audience trends, brands can only reach out to the next billion internet users once they look beyond the urban metros.
The Indian internet audience is more diverse than ever before. Only by gaining a deep understanding of India’s unique audience can brands develop marketing strategies that will resonate with their consumers.
Working in the digital space, it is safe to say that the transitional nature of the Internet has kept us on our toes. Social media marketing trends that broke the Internet a few years back have been replaced by faster, better and more advanced concepts that have changed the way users engage with brands online. So, as we usher in the New Year and look back at what’s trending and what’s deteriorating on the internet, let’s promise ourselves to stick to the following five social media marketing commandments to optimally reach out to your target group and convert them to loyal customers.
Gone are the days when social media was used as a mere platform to showcase your products or services. Brands are leveraging the power of social media to reach out and engage with India’s next billion Internet users. As per latest statistics, 89% of messages posted to brands on social media platforms go disregarded. This only means that brands are seeing social media platforms as a one-way street in which they feature their products and services but do not work on the feedback attained from the users. Apart from product reviews and feedback, 41% of online users tag their favourite brands on various social media handles while posting on the platform. According to a recent poll, a whopping 80% of users also religiously follow their brands for regular updates and notifications. With such a high rate of acknowledgement coming from the consumer side, companies are now focusing on customer engagement as the go-to solution for higher conversions. 2018 is going to witness a stupendous increase in engagement rates which is only going to lead to happy and content customers.
We were all introduced to the concept of augmented reality through face filters brought to us by Snapchat. Social Media users worldwide went bonkers with those adorable puppy dog ear filters which were later introduced by Instagram along with their revolutionary Instagram Stories. This concept of augmented reality is going to take off in 2018 as more brands leverage the witty and youthful idea to market their brand. In 2017 alone, Instagram released more than 20 new features in the form of augmented reality. These features include contemporary filters, trendy stickers, season’s wishes and many more. These statistics are guaranteed to increase in 2018 proving the fact that brands can easily leverage this concept to produce more relatable social media content. These are few of the most effective social media trends to look out for in 2018 till they get replaced by their upgraded versions in 2019. Till then, it is time you add these innovative methods to your social media marketing strategy and take your business to towering heights. You can also check out our blogs on WhatsApp for Business and digital marketing for FMCG, real estate and Finance industry for a better understanding of the online space.
Importance of Granular Targeting in Social Media
For e-commerce companies, social media is a critical channel for driving sales. While Google and the display network is an effective medium to reach the target audience, social media networks, especially Facebook are being used to target the right consumers having relevant interests. While it’s important to engage with the audience within Facebook, we have found it to be more effective to drive traffic via Facebook Ads directly to the website or landing page and track results there.
For example, Planet Superheroes, which is into Superhero Merchandise has used FB to segment users who like specific superheroes and are online spenders in India. So superman t-shirt ads are targeted to users who like Superman and fit into the age & location demographic relevant to the brand. This level of granular targeting is possible only in social media. Moreover, organic posts are not enough anymore owing to the recent policy changes for Facebook Pages. This means advertising on Facebook and other channels becomes essential. With the advanced features of Facebook companies can even target their existing customers, friends of their customers and even audiences having similar interests and demographics to their existing customers.
Most importantly, the return on investment is measurable to the last rupee using analytics and conversion tracking tools. This also makes digital marketing more transparent in constantly improving the cost of acquisition for ecommerce brands.
Other Social Media Platforms that e-commerce companies can leverage
Social Media has been crucial to the brand building of e-commerce companies. Not just Facebook but even Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have enabled even smaller startups find a niche in the crowded e-commerce space. The younger generation is more inclined to using Instagram and Whatsapp and brands are starting to experiment with these networks depending on their target segment. Even usage of pinterest and professional network, Linkedin have grown remarkable and depending on the audience being targetted, different ecommerce companies are using different channels. An interesting case in scenario is Cherrytin, a premium e-gifting destination which has used Instagram & youtube to showcase the premiumness and fun identify of the brand and thereby driving sales in the long run.
We see Whatsapp, Instagram and YouTube playing a pivotal role in the growth of ecommerce brands as the younger generation is adapting to these platforms even faster than they adapted Facebook.
Increased focus on Conversion Rate Optimisation
With tools like Zarget, CrazyEgg and even Google Analytics allowing data points to help improve sales, revenue and conversions, this is going to be a focus area for every ecommerce company.