What was life like before Whatsapp? The time before you could send messages and images over 3G for free belongs to the recent distant past – like life before Paypal or Facebook or digital banking. What on earth did we do then? Businesses risk getting stuck in the prehistoric age if they don’t adapt to new methods of communication. But it’s not all about appearing up to date, it could also revolutionise the way you communicate with your customers.

Businesses risk getting stuck in the prehistoric age if they don't adapt to new methods of communication. - Highlight to share -

Here are our top reasons why you should be using Whatsapp to engage your customers. That is, if it’s not banned in the next couple of weeks. And if the government do ban WhatsApp, I’m sure the equivalent is being designed in some startup lab somewhere.

1. A lot of people have it

Simply put, if you want to communicate with customers, you have to use their preferred method of communication. Otherwise you’re clapping in a forest with one hand. Or something like that. With 450M users and counting, Whatsapp is where the people are and you’d be a fool not to join them.

Whatsapp is where the people are and you'd be a fool not to join them. - Highlight to share -

2. You’ll never get trapped in the spam folder

Mailchimp may have many things going for it but the way your carefully crafted content risks getting caught in the Spam folder is not one of them. With Whatsapp you go direct into a person’s inbox and they’ll always be aware of the pearls of wisdom you’re dispensing.

3. It’s international

From Durban to Dubai, Milton Keynes to Mogadishu, King’s Landing to the Emerald City, you can connect with your customers wherever they are.

4. It’s free (ish)

Although they’ve teamed up with Facebook, the CEO Jan Koum was adamant that they wouldn’t allow advertising:

“You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.”

At the moment it’s only about $1 a year. Bargain.

5. You can get valuable customer data

Data and privacy is a big issue at the moment. But if a customer wants to communicate via Whatsapp you get one of the most valuable pieces of customer data that they’re often otherwise unwilling to share: a phone number.

6. You’ll be able to protect customer privacy

Sometimes people don’t like others to know exactly what they’re buying, using or doing – be that holiday plans, bra sizes or surprise presents. Whatsapp is not an open platform like Twitter or Facebook so customers may feel more comfortable talking about sensitive problems.

7. Your business will be able to talk to lots of people or just one

With Whatsapp you can start customer feedback sessions and focus groups using the group chats. The multi-media capability means that people will be able to take photos and use videos to show you how they use your product or service.

8. You’ll be able to reap the rewards of user generated content

Whatsapp works so well because you can send photos and videos without paying hefty charges, all while on your phone. So if someone has bought a wonderful toaster from you, they can send you a photo of a perfectly toasted crumpet. Or if they’re having a problem working out the car’s GPS system, you can send them a video of which buttons they should be pressing. Group chats mean people can share UGC in a safe, closed environment so your customers will feel even more special

9. You might soon be able to sell sell sell on Whatsapp

WeChat, the Chinese version, allows you to buy products on the platform. Could the same happen on Whatsapp?

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9 reasons using Whatsapp could lead to better customer feedback