In love with the WhatsApp Business API? Didn't think so. It's good, but brands looking to scale quickly realize they need to invest in a specialized WhatsApp Business platform. Before you hand over the € though: make sure you check off this list of must-haves.
I talk to prospective clients every day about what they need for their commercial, brand and support needs. I've ended up with a deep understanding about what doesn't and doesn't work for different types of businesses looking to get into conversational commerce (cCom).
It's a long-term solution that comes with fixed costs. So of course you need to be sure what you're buying.
Done right of course, the ROI is more than worth it. Our clients get as much as 155x return on WhatsApp marketing campaigns. One client, SNOCKS, has just made its first €1 million on WhatsApp 🚀 and plans to make over €250k this Black Friday.
To help you equip your business with the right WhatsApp Business tools, here's my checklist of 11 things you should make sure your platform offers:
11 must-haves in a WhatsApp Business platform
1. Sales and marketing as well as support 💰
Too many WhatsApp software platforms offer only the functionality to do customer service and support, often through a chatbot.
But that's not enough.
When it comes to closing the deal, the functionality isn't there and you lose out on sales. All-encompassing software is rare to see, and yet it gives you crucial awareness of your customers' habits – previous orders and preferences for example – and you unlock far greater potential.
It's the same with WhatsApp marketing campaigns. You need the functionality to make these a success, beyond what a simple support solution offers.
Not many companies offer all three (we do 😊 ) so really think about how you want to use WhatsApp and check that your software will do these things:
Marketing: can you send targeted marketing campaigns to specific audiences and analyze results?
Sales: can you integrate your online shop to view products and send checkout links in chat?
Support: can you answer customer questions easily and offer delivery updates?
This is not just about losing sales, but also ensuring a return on investment (ROI) on your platform.
Each WhatsApp conversation has a cost (as opposed to email which is free), so the ability to earn real revenue is essential to prove the work of WhatsApp as a channel. Strong, advanced marketing functionality like audience segmentation, analytics, automation and shop integration is key to making the ROI you need.
2. Advanced audience segmentation 🙋🙋♀️🙋♂️
WhatsApp is a personal space and people want to keep that way. The key to making business chats work without intruding on customers is to be personal, friendly and stick to our golden rule: high relevance, low frequency.
Meaning? Your WhatsApp marketing campaigns should reach only those you're sure will be interested in them.
High relevance: being able to segment your audience easily and granularly. Your solution should make this easy and should be smart enough to gather information about your customers in the first place.
Low frequency: we usually say no more than 1-2 campaigns a month. This ensures high engagement and minimizes the chances of you getting blocked and risking your WhatsApp quality status. You could even be blocked from the WhatsApp platform if you overdo it.
3. GDPR compliance 🚓
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the law in Europe and is recommended everywhere else in the world. It protects customers from receiving unwanted messages or advertising and puts all of us in control of our data.
Countries like India are advanced with WhatsApp Business, but GDPR doesn't apply there and because of this there are some spam issues. In the EU on the other hand, businesses need to comply to GDPR and get "double opt-ins" before they're allowed to chat with customers. Simply put: people need to say at least twice that they want to hear from you.
A platform with this built in will ensure you don't need to worry about GDPR, you just know that you're always compliant. As we're based in Europe, our platform is founded on GDPR. We employ a legal privacy expert and ensure this is central to our product strategy.
4. Automation 🏃♂️
We're not massive fans of chatbots, but we do believe in automation. To keep things personal, automate your message journey but not the text. You still write the messages in your brand tone, but they're sent automatically, a journey that's triggered by each customer response.
Automation saves you:
- Time: send automated replies to common questions
- Money: minimize the number of agents you need for live customer chats
- Sales: send automated replies when your store is closed to keep selling out of hours
- Brand: be consistent in messages, avoid mistakes and send correct information, repeatedly
And of course you should always be able to switch to a real conversation if you need to.
5. Easy integrations ⛓
It's likely you've already invested in software like Shopify, Slack, Messenger and others. Make sure the software offers easy integration with these.
If not, you'll end up with product complexity, a longer onboarding, and have to switch back and forth from product to product. This leads to lost time, frustration and, in the worst case, mistakes when talking to customers.
Easy integrations ease the onboarding process, minimize disruption and make sure you have a real-time view of whats happening in your organisation.
Take your shop as an example
When you can integrate your shop system, you can check availability, see customer buying behavior and drag and drop products into chat. You can even send a checkout link with a filled cart to customers in chat and they can purchase in 1 tap.
6. Chat bubbles 💬
You can't make WhatsApp a success if you don't have your customers' phone numbers. Lots of them.
How do you get them? There are several ways, but the most important one is the chat bubble on your website. See more here (Step 3).
Your software should include the ability to add these easily to your site and the flexibility to adapt them to your brand.
7. No focus on chatbots
As you probably know from your own personal experience, chatbots can actually ruin your customer experience. Choose a provider who will aim to keep the human in the conversation, and will offer you automation without the need for a chatbot (unless of course you want one).
Few people want to talk to a bot when they have a question. They want tailored, personal customer service, just like you'd offer in a real-life store, and that's exactly what you should aim for when you get into WhatsApp.
8. Easy-to-use interface 🪁
You platform should be a pleasure to use, and easy to pick up. Too many providers focus on the technical features and forget that the user just wants an easy, simple experience so they can make the most of the tools on offer.
Also, it should require little training. There may be different people dipping in and out of the platform – customer service, marketing and social media teams. And you might even hire extra people for big shopping days like Black Friday, Christmas and Singles Day. The easier it is to use your platform, the quicker and smoother your processes will be.
Most importantly, if everyone can use the platform easily, and find the features they need, your customers will enjoy a seamless experience – like it's just one conversation with your brand.
9. Fair pricing 💶
There's no getting around it, WhatsApp costs more than email. You pay per conversation you have with a customer. Plus you pay a monthly fee for your WhatsApp Business platform. Even though the returns our clients are seeing are (very) large, you should still shop around to get a good price.
As an example, at charles we charge a monthly fee of €349-999. It may not be the cheapest on the market, but we've made it this way so we can offer an excellent service: including ongoing support from our Success team to ensure ROI, a Product team that includes your feedback and hires the highest quality talent there is. The aim of this is to grow your business so that your revenue continues increasing.
Beyond this, our price per conversation is the lowest in Europe we believe, so in the long run it's likely you'll actually save with us.
10. Stability 💪
Will the platform break if you send 50,000 messages? If you're a big company already, or looking to grow bigger, make sure your platform can support you easily now and in the future.
WhatsApp Business software is a relatively young technology and there are many new players arriving on the scene. Young and fresh is ok, but unstable is not.
11. Ongoing support 🏋️
Your success doesn't just rest on the software: it can be made or broken by your relationship with the provider.
A good WhatsApp Business platform provider will give you more than just some clever tech: it will be a business partner, offering strong ongoing support and advice to ensure your success in the WhatsApp Business environment.
WhatsApp an exciting but pretty new channel, which means information is thin on the ground to help you decide on the best platform. Hopefully this helps you when shopping around for the best WhatsApp Business tools.
Want to give charles a try? Let's show you around.
It's easy to get started with WhatsApp, but first you probably want to see how it would work for your business. We'll make you a presentation with use cases we think would generate revenue and help build relationships with your customers, based on your business goals.
Book a slot with our friendly sales team and we'll take you through a demo.
Or want to try it out first?
Tap to get into our WhatsApp Business channel:
On your desktop?
Scan this with your phone: