Focus on WhatsApp in Marketing Cloud
The January 2021 Salesforce Marketing Cloud release announced the ability to send messages to customers via WhatsApp using the Chat Messaging feature. This extends the possibilities for omnichannel engagement through the most widely used instant messaging application today (according to a Statista study; WhatsApp now has over 1.6 billion users in 180 countries).
Sending WhatsApp messages from Marketing Cloud is enabled by Sinch, an official WhatsApp partner, whose role we will detail later in the article. In MC, Contact Builder allows you to manage your WhatsApp audience, Content Builder allows you to create content and personalize it, and Journey Builder allows you to send messages to your customers within a defined journey.
Two types of WhatsApp messages can be sent from Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Template messages: these are transactional messages (order confirmation, payment confirmation, abandoned cart reminder). These template messages need to be approved by WhatsApp before sending to ensure they do not include any promotional content.
And session messages: these messages are replies to conversations initiated by the user. They do not require approval; their form is free.
Responses are automated and can be welcome messages, product advice, but also preference requests to collect personalization details from your audience; they are therefore more appropriate for improving your customer engagement.
These automated responses are set up in a journey in which keywords are defined from the messages sent by your audience, which will then generate the appropriate response from you. Session messages can also be the subject of non-automated responses from the relevant team (customer service, sales team, etc.)
Whether it is via a website, interactive voice server processes or via a conversation, companies should respect the following conditions when requesting consent from their target:
In order to take advantage of this new communication channel with your customers, several prerequisites are necessary:
You will then be able to create templates for your transactional messages and submit them to WhatsApp for approval.
To get the most out of your WhatsApp communications, remember to build trust with your audience by only interacting with users who have opted-in, be careful about the frequency of messages and avoid overwhelming your prospects/customers.
A watchword: work on personalized and optimized (synthetic) content. The tone used on the platform must be personal while remaining creative and dynamic; do not hesitate to use all types of media (image, gif, document). Also make sure that you keep an acceptable quality index. Finally, your strength will be to have a consistent brand image reinforced by the use of the WhatsApp channel.
As proof of the quality of messages received by your subscribers in the last 24 hours, this index can take three different ratings:
You will then receive a warning that your WhatsApp Business account status will be changed to Marked (without an improvement of the index, the allowed sending rate of your account will be restricted) or Restricted (you won’t be able to send messages for 24 hours).
WhatsApp messages are generally less expensive (in France and internationally) than traditional SMS messages.
Users are less limited in terms of characters when sending WhatsApp messages than when sending SMS which can easily generate additional costs beyond the 160 characters.
In terms of available metrics, the ability to track the open rate for WhatsApp messages is a significant strength over SMS in Marketing Cloud.
With all of its features, WhatsApp is ideal to the integration of a cross-channel journey at any point in the user experience: live customer support or after-sales service, cross-selling or notifications of account creation, order or delivery status.
"WhatsApp is a new service channel for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to communicate with our customers. When they sign up, KLM customers receive information and flight documents and have access to 24/7 support from the world's largest dedicated social media team."
Martine van der Lee
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
As WhatsApp supports a wide range of communication media, a company that adopts this channel as part of its CRM strategy can easily consider creating a complete value chain around the platform, from sending out satisfaction surveys to promotions.
This is the case of B2W, which uses WhatApp to create post-purchase engagement:
"WhatsApp fits with our vision of customer proximity and our initiative on post-sales digital engagement. This is just the beginning and we are very excited."
The expansion of customer engagement possibilities enabled by WhatsApp messaging from Marketing Cloud makes us wonder about the use of similar social networks in Asia. Applications such as WeChat (China), Line (Japan) or KakaoTalk (South Korea) are increasingly in the news, and for good reason: beyond sending text or voice messages, sharing media (photos, videos), or adding stories -existing features for WhatsApp- these platforms allow, among other things, ordering meals, streaming music or making payments.
In addition, on WeChat, companies can create so-called “official WeChat account”, comparable to Facebook pages, allowing them to promote their brand/company. These accounts can be followed and thus appear in the main stream of users’ chats and allow the sending of up to 4 promotional messages per month per user.
On the WhatsApp side, it is currently impossible to send promotional communications and there is still some way to go for the application to eventually align itself with Asian models. What is certain is that through the Chat Messaging feature for WhatsApp, Marketing Cloud is ensuring that it can keep up with future developments on the platform.
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