By Maxine Hess
Writer | WhatsApp marketer | Creative
Posted: December 07, 2023
Updated: February 22, 2024
How do you localize WhatsApp campaigns? How do you manage a WhatsApp channel in a CRM team? Annika Himborn, Bears with Benefits shares her insights from 1 year of mastering WhatsApp marketing.
It's always a joy to talk with our customers for case studies.
These experienced CRM marketing managers, sales people, email managers and founders get more and more excited about WhatsApp as they talk – the innovative campaigns they've run, the heartfelt conversations they've had with customers, the business learnings they've made...
And yet to date, there's not much best practice advice out there on how to make WhatsApp a success in a CRM or marketing team and how to manage a WhatsApp channel (yet).
It's understandable – it's a tried but not so tested area.
But all the WhatsApp marketing best practice advice you need exists: it's just in the heads of our customers.
These are brands across Europe who have established strong strategies and solid, stable, successful ways of working with WhatsApp. They've have been pioneering WhatsApp marketing and pushing WhasApp and the charles WhatsApp platform forward for 1-2 years.
So we're going to start sharing our client WhatsApp tips and wisdom with you. Rich insights you can't find easily anywhere else – and that will make sure you start off with WhatsApp in the most successful way possible.
We hope you find it useful – whether you already run a WhatsApp channel or are thinking about starting one.
Annika Himborn, Director Commercial Success and Controlling, Bears with Benefits: Annika has worked at Bears with Benefits for 3 years.
Here's how Annika and her team have created a successful WhatsApp strategy to delight customers and grow revenue:
How to localize WhatsApp campaigns
We set up the campaigns pretty much the same in every country. The difference is which products you focus on (you need to know your market demand here), and how you approach the customers.
🇮🇹 For example, in Italy you need to be more clear on the information you're giving. They want to know how the promotion works, they want to know when the parcel will arrive, they want to know who the delivery guy is :) They are very eager to have all the information. And of course, our Italian customers love to save always and any time.
🇩🇪 In Germany, people know us. It was our first DTC shop and we have a very loyal customer base who have known us for quite some time. Besides using promotional arguments, we also focus very much on the product benefit, how it can support the individual beauty need. Also, German people tend to be more patient and not that pressing on topics. So this is what we embed in our communication.
🇫🇷 In France you need to be a little bit more formal, more subtle, in the way you approach customers. Not so informal or in your face as other countries. Avoid doing the whole "buy now and you get a 50% discount!"
So in terms of WhatsApp campaigns, we approach them the same, we just change the visuals and text a bit. Overall, the needs we see are the same in terms of what Journeys do we need? Abandoned carts? You have that in all countries. You have welcome flows, you have reminders to redeem your voucher.
It's always very similar but with a local twist.
How to create a WhatsApp-first CRM marketing strategy
WhatsApp has become one of the leading channels for Bears with Benefits.
We send WhatsApp campaigns 1 to 2 days before other channels. And WhatsApp subscribers hear first when a product is new or back in stock, as well as actions that aren’t available anywhere else, like flash sales.
Bears with Benefits uses charles "Chat-ins" on its website to bring visitors into WhatsApp and build its subscriber base
It feels our customers enjoy the exclusivity and personal feeling of connecting with a company on WhatsApp over more impersonal channels.
We’ve developed 3 basic rules:
- Always WhatsApp first: send all promotions in WhatsApp before other channels
- Sometimes WhatsApp only: do separate promotions for a limited time frame exclusively for WhatsApp customers
- Prelaunch products on WhatsApp: launch products exclusively to WhatsApp customers before we put them out there for everyone. It’s usually only a matter of 1-2 days difference, but it’s very effective.
Why send WhatsApp campaigns on Fridays
WhatsApp is not like other platforms, where Friday can be a low-engagement day to do campaigns or posts. On Fridays, people are already in weekend mode. They're checking their phone, they're on WhatsApp. They're not actually working until 6pm.
We're still testing and figuring out our ideal time slots and days. But so far, we've had a very good experience with sending campaigns on Fridays. But for sure, the content of the campaign is relevant as well.
How email works with WhatsApp marketing
Email is not dead. In our maturer markets, we make 15-20% of our monthly revenue with email campaigns and automization.
We've started to transfer our email learnings to WhatsApp – building up engagement and loyalty journeys to stimulate repurchases and create customer stickiness, and reminding customers about active voucher codes they can still redeem.
charles and Klaviyo are partners: so email and WhatsApp CRM work seamlessly together
At the end of the day, I know email is a different channel with different conversion funnels, but our customers are not. We know that we need to convince our customers not only with a great deal, but also reliable and effective products as well as further trust factors.
That, for sure, always is combined with reacting to the newest market trends. So we know that our business is heavily based on having promotions, having new products, keeping it exciting for the customer.
Because we have a fairly long journey already set up via email, all we have to do is replicate the logic. Things like saying, "Hey, was everything okay with your product?" or, "It's time to replenish your bears," or "Here are the perfect matches for your bears."
All the same things we do in email will go for WhatsApp too. Just maybe shorter and snappier.
How to write differently in WhatsApp
The messages we bring to WhatsApp will be shorter and more to the point.
More "FOMO" as we like to call it. But at the end, the flow itself – when do we contact the customer and what is the trigger and what is the first 2nd, 3rd message? It's the same.
How to automate WhatsApp customer service
Our customers sometimes send us multiple messages across all our channels. But our customer service team is sleek and slim. So we're always trying to automate processes while still keeping things human.
This is why we're currently embedding the WhatsApp conversations we get from the customers into our customer service environment, which is also in my team.
On one hand it's great that customers are accepting WhatsApp as a channel. On the other, we need to keep up to speed with it as a communication platform with our customers. We're now in the process of setting up "macros" with charles Journeys feature so we don't have to type every message.
This is how the Bears with Benefits product finder looks in Journeys
We're creating a set of predefined messages, because customers usually ask the same 10 questions when it comes to our products. We can then pull them out whenever there's a question. We can also set up automated responses when customers send us certain keywords.
Also, we don't work weekends and customers tend to message us then! So we're setting up an out-of-office message to say thanks for your message, we're not available right now.
Antonio [Customer Success Manager] is helping us set up the Journeys we need to automate all this. It's going to keep things running smooth and keep customers happy.
How to reactivate customers in WhatsApp
One area we want to bring into WhatsApp from email is building up engagement or reengagement journeys.
To stimulate second purchases, for example by reminding customers that they still have an active voucher. With the new Klaviyo integration we'll be able to merge those 2 worlds.
How to manage WhatsApp in a CRM team
We're like jacks of all trades. The people who do WhatsApp also do customer service and email marketing.
Same for me actually. I want my team to be able to work all the channels we have. So I always jump in where I'm needed most.
This way of operating is working well for us.
The people who do WhatsApp marketing also do customer service and email
WhatsApp has a high priority but we also need to manage customer service requests and also the email newsletters that go out. In the end, everything is equally important and we try to cover as much as we can.
This is why everybody needs to set up WhatsApp or email campaigns and work on customer service. We have four people jumping around between the different channels, which means everyone can cover for everyone.
It sounds a bit messy maybe, but this is how it works best for us.
How to excite young team members with WhatsApp
My team members are all in their early to mid twenties, so of course they enjoy working with WhatsApp and not so much with email.
I come from a background where email was the hottest shit – 15 years ago. It sounds quite funny now 🙂 But WhatsApp feels like that.
Our team are super excited about it. They say things like, "Wow, it's like watching TV. You see the orders coming in, 'ding ding ding.'"
How to make WhatsApp marketing results more visible
We see immediately that the work we've invested in is immediately transferring into results, which is great. I love this about eCommerce – you can see what you're doing in an instant.
Bears with Benefits tested WhatsApp in the Italian market first, before expanding to Germany, France, Spain and beyond
We have this with email too of course. When we push a newsletter, we see a peak in orders. And when an influencer posts. It's like this for all the channels, but on WhatsApp I would say, it's more visible because you can follow it in the charles tool.
Because it's integrated with Shopify, everything is super visible. As soon as we send out a WhatsApp campaign, we immediately see a spike in traffic conversion.
Thanks Annika for taking the time to talk with us and share your WhatsApp marketing insights. To hear more on how Annika and her CRM team tested WhatsApp in Italy first, and the learnings they made there, read the full Bears with Benefits x charles story.