Staying in permanent contact with your own customers – the dream of every company. Until 2019, many companies had therefore sent newsletters directly to their customers’ smartphones via WhatsApp. After banning WhatsApp usage for commercial purposes, WhatsAPp is now promoting its latest business message format. So is the WhatsApp newsletter back? What can the new format do? And what sensible alternatives are there for companies?
1. What are WhatsApp newsletters?
Numerous companies from various industries discovered the WhatsApp newsletter for themselves years ago. The principle behind it is simple: Customers can by sharing their mobile phone number, register for the newsletter via WhatsApp. The company then sends news such as product updates or discount campaigns via WhatsApp directly to their smartphones. This keeps the e-mail inbox nicely clean and anyone interested can look at the latest articles to discover exciting Black Friday offers in the online shops.
This is awesome! That’s what many companies thought and started using WhatsApp newsletters. Because WhatsApp was not only a practical platform for online shops, it was used in addition to classic email marketing. In addition to newsletters, customer questions could be answered quickly and easily and dispatch confirmations could be sent.
The WhatsApp newsletter has also been very popular in other industries for a long time. For example, restaurants were able to lure hungry workers over to them before the lunch break with a photo of the current dish of the day. WhatsApp newsletters made it possible for companies to reach their target group directly via marketing messages on their private smartphones – in one of the most widely used apps of all.
From the customer’s point of view, this type of corporate contact had the advantage that everything could be done in one go, with little effort and in a single app. While the latest gossip was exchanged in the WhatsApp group of friends, it was possible to follow in real time how the long-awaited, recently purchased T-shirt finally approaches your own front door.
The big shock for all WhatsApp newsletter providers came in 2019: companies were officially banned from sending marketing messages via WhatsApp.
2. Ban on WhatsApp newsletters for commercial purposes – 2019
The ban on commercial business newsletters via WhatsApp hit numerous companies who had invested an incredible amount of time and resources in their WhatsApp newsletter marketing: In mid-2019, the messaging service officially announced in an FAQ that the sending of commercial newsletters was about the app would no longer be permitted from December 7, 2019.
From this point on, companies that diligently sent WhatsApp newsletters to their contacts despite the ban had to expect an account blocking or even legal consequences. WhatsApp said it would now work harder to identify company accounts that tried to defy the ban. In these cases, the messenger service threatened to take legal action. Even before that, the corporate practice that had become popular was only in a legal gray area that was cleverly exploited by the companies.
WhatsApp justified its decision by saying that the commercial bulk sending of messages via the application should be stopped. Rather, private communication should once again be in the foreground and users should be protected from abuse.
3. New WhatsApp message format for business purposes – 2021
After the ban on mass emails via WhatsApp, the messenger service drew attention to its tools specially developed for messenger marketing. The “WhatsApp for Business” app is primarily intended to help small businesses manage their customer communications. The “WhatsApp Business API”, on the other hand, is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that use Messenger with their international Customers wanted to get in touch. So far, companies with WhatsApp Business have only been able to proactively send customers transaction messages (“WhatsApp Notifications”). This meant, newsletters and marketing e-mails were explivitly prohibited.
In October 2020, there was exciting news from WhatsApp: With the WhatsApp Business API, companies should again be able to contact interested parties with promotional messages. Even if it is not officially called “WhatsApp Newsletter”, the new contact options for companies include, among other things, a format that enables you to send offers and news to your customers again. WhatsApp Promotional Messages include:
* Product recommendations (e.g., promotional offers and coupons)
* Reactivation (e.g, shopping cart reminders)
* Alarms (price or news alerts)
4. Previous WhatsApp Newsletters vs. WhatsApp Promotional Messages: What Are the Differences?
Both WhatsApp message formats were or are used by companies to send marketing emails to their own target group. What are the differences between the previous WhatsApp newsletters and the new WhatsApp Promotional Messages? Here’s a list where these tow differ:
* WhatsApp now officially allows companies to send advertising messages via Messenger.
* WhatsApp now controls the quality of the business messages sent more strictly to avoid sending spam. An opt-in for the user is necessary; in the EU, this must comply with the GDPR requirements.
* Companies must create templates for their marketing messages that comply with the specified standards and must be approved by WhatsApp.
* Messages initiated by companies are billed according to a multi-level price model, starting at € 0.766 for the first 250,000 messages. One exception: messages sent within 24 hours in response to a customer request are free.
5. Good alternative to the WhatsApp newsletter
Sending messages to customers via WhatsApp is not suitable for all companies and industries: Depending on the target group, there is a risk that you will not even reach interested parties via WhatsApp. Since WhatsApp is still a tool for private communication for many users, it may well be that many will decide against using WhatsApp for contact with companies from now on.
The limited design options and established template norms mean that business advertising messages via WhatsApp will probably lack individuality and their own pep. Standing out from the competition is a lot more difficult here than with conventional newsletter mailings.
Fortunately, the WhatsApp newsletter is not the only way to get in touch with customers on a regular basis or to inform about new products or events.
What is the sensible alternative to the WhatsApp newsletter?
With qnews IKANGAI offers a tool that allows businesses to inform their users as usual on their smartphone. Messages are sent to all subscribers who have subscribed to the qnews newsletter service. Signing up is very easy: users just have to open a link in the browser and add the link to the home screen.