What is the difference between mobile newsletter services and mobile Apps?

After WhatsApp banned WhatsApp newsletter services some businesses worked on using their apps as replacement. It sounds like a no-brainer: just post the App-install link and users will flock to the mobile App instead. Right? Unfortunately not.

The reason is that WhatsApp newsletter services are rather unique in the way how they address users. Messages have an informal style and address recipients directly. This mimics a conversation where “a friend” talks to you. This is of course no coincidence: after all WhatsApp IS a chat app.

This way of messaging is hugely engaging: people are more likely to open WhatsApp newsletters than regular newsletters or mobile Apps with Push notifications. Of course you can argue that mobile Apps with push notifications are more or less the same. This is certainly true on the surface, but if you dig a litte bit deeper you’ll notice the fundamental difference of mobile newsletters and Apps with Push notifications.

Let’s do a little experiment. Take your favorite WhatsApp newsletter service and look at the wording of messages. They have emojis and address you directly. Messages give you an overview of different topics and have several links for more information. On top of that there is an implicit emphemeral character to WhatsApp messages since they have a conversational tone.

Now look at Apps: many of them contain a stream with messages. However, the wording of messages is different and often sounds more “objective”. Emojis are also nowhere to be found. There is no message that contains an overview, because it doesn’t fit into the message stream.

So since December 2019, after newsletter ban WhatsApp, for many, especially small and medium-sized companies, this meant that an important and extremely practical marketing and customer loyalty tool was no longer available. However, WhatsApp has introduced a new format that is similar to the previous newsletter format. Via the WhatsApp Business API, companies can now officially send so-called “non-transactional notifications” to their customers. There are basically push messages for advertising and marketing purposes.

The use is provided with certain new rules, for example, companies must receive an opt-in from their customers, which corresponds to the guidelines of the WhatsApp opt-in policy and the law applicable in the respective country – in Germany the GDPR. Companies are also obliged to offer a simple option for opting out so that users have control at all times. WhatsApp also checks every message it is sent. With this, the messenger service wants to protect its users from annoying spam.

But the most important change for businesses is this: While WhatsApp messages from companies are still free for customers, senders now have to pay for them. Currently, the costs in Germany are around seven cents per notification. This amounts quickly to several Euros per message. This is certainly not very attractive and 

So what is the alternative? We at IKANGAI offer a mobile newsletter that keeps the main qualities of WhatsApp newsletters. It adds additional features like message formatting with Markdown and is GDPR-compliant, since no personal data (phone number, etc.) are asked from the user. Just contact us for a presentation of our platform.


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[Last update on  September 30th 2021]
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