Just imagine! You have booked a flight for 7 AM tomorrow and you wish to web-check-in. You open the ticket booking app, after a series of redirections you complete the check-in process. But then you forgot to download the ticket. You go again to the ticket booking app and do it all over again. Finally, you save the eTicket in PDF format. You wake up the next morning, catch a taxi to the airport, at the entrance you are asked to show your boarding pass – you open your mobile swiftly and realize that you don’t have a file manager app, so you cannot locate and open the ticket (which is in PDF format). Grrrrrrrr!
The above mentioned is not just a made-up story, it is how a typical day goes by for an average consumer today. There is no wonder WhatsApp has become a sacred space for people who are not tech-savvy. WhatsApp is the only place where people are not bombarded with technical challenges. What if WhatsApp allows consumers to book tickets through a conversational chat window? Believer it or not, it is possible. About the above use-case of web-check-in, the entire process can be simplified to 3 simple messages in a WhatsApp Chat Window. This WhatsApp chatbot automation can bring down the web-check-in time from 5 minutes to 1 minute (80% reduction).
EVOLUTION OF WHATSAPP – A BRIEF HISTORY
One fine evening in January 2009, Jan Koum (Founder of WhatsApp Inc.) was going through the newly launched Apple App Store. He was amazed to see many 3rd party application developers coming up with interesting utility apps such as Super Monkey Ball, eBay, Loopt, Enigmo, Cro-Mag Rally, Band, MLB.com, Modality, MiMvista. Koum could see Apple’s vision behind the app store and realized that a new ecosystem of 3rd party application was going to explode. He started conceptualizing an instant messaging app that would serve as an alternative to SMS, and gave it the name – WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up”.
WhatsApp had a humble beginning just like you and me. It started getting attention when Apple added push notification ability to apps in June 2009. Koum modified WhatsApp to “ping” users when they receive a message, and soon afterward the app installs grew exponentially. When WhatsApp gained a sizable user base, Koum convinced his ex-colleague from Yahoo, Brian Acton to join the company as a co-founder. (Source: Wikipedia)
- 2009 – Incorporation, Seed funding of $250K, image support, 2-way communication
- 2010 – WhatsApp launched for Android and Blackberry phone
- 2011 – 7 million funding from Sequoia Capital, Birth of copycats like WeChat & Snapchat
- 2013 – WhatsApp userbase crosses 200M, launches voice messaging, Raises $50M in series B from Sequoia and becomes a unicorn as valuation touches $1.5B
- 2014 – Facebook acquires WhatsApp for $19B, Launches message ‘Receipt’ and ‘Read’ status feature
- 2014 – Facebook acquires WhatsApp for $19B, Launches message ‘Receipt’ and ‘Read’ status feature
- 2015 – Launched WhatsApp Web – a browser-based client to access from PCs, Launches audio call feature
- 2016 – WhatsApp launches End-to-End encryption feature for messages, started document(PDF) support, video call
- 2017 – WhatsApp test runs its business solution, KLM becomes the enterprise to signup on WhatsApp Business
- 2018 – WhatsApp opens its platform for Business and launches 2 variants to business solutions, Business App and Business API
- 2019 – Launches group call, Limits forwards to a maximum of 5, Catalog feature launched in WhatsApp Business
- 2020 – Crosses 2 billion user base, governments bodies and organizations create WhatsApp chatbots during the Coronavirus epidemic
By 2020, WhatsApp had become the most popular messaging app worldwide with the bulk of subscriber base coming from India.
WHY WHATSAPP IS SO POPULAR
WhatsApp has grown faster than its contemporaries like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, WeChat & Snapchat. Although several factors can be credited for the massive growth, there are some deciding ones mentioned below.
- Advertisement Free: If you don’t pay for the product you are the product. Google, Facebook, and other similar companies are making billions from advertisement money. But, WhatsApp has been the rare outlier, by consistently offering its platform free of cost – I mean truly free, no advertisements.
- Call & Text: A cheaper alternative to voice calls and texts, WhatsApp has saved billions of dollars for consumers that would have gone into making phone calls and sending SMS.
- Intuitiveness: The simplicity of the WhatsApp platform has resulted in mass adoption by the senior citizens and non-tech-savvy people.
- Groups: Did you know, the average size of a WhatsApp group is 6 people. The most active WhatsApp groups are family group and close friends group. Due to this ‘group’ feature, WhatsApp has become the digital inner circle for people.
- Instantness: This feature has less relevance today due to the advent of 4G networks. However, this is one of the key things WhatsApp was good at when the world was running on slower networks. Even in a 2G network area, WhatsApp was able to send and receive messages instantly – WhatsApp was the first true instant messenger.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT WHATSAPP
- WhatsApp is the only major technology company that has never invested in marketing or advertisements. Well, it is in line with their philosophy of ‘No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!’
- On average, a typical WhatsApp user opens the app once every hour. I certainly open it more than 10 times an hour😜.
- More than 90% of smartphone users in India have WhatsApp installed on their phones.
- Most people do not know that Facebook owns WhatsApp, and most likely they use both the apps.
- KLM airlines are the first enterprise to use WhatsApp Business API.
- Both founders of WhatsApp had applied for jobs at Facebook and were rejected.
- WhatsApp is operated by a lean workforce of 55 employees only.
- WhatsApp supports 60 languages. However, most of the users type in English.
- WhatsApp stores all the messages and media in the smartphone’s storage only and in most cases the data is backed up in the cloud storage of the user.
- Even today, WhatsApp doesn’t allow marketing and promotional messages on its platform.
- WhatsApp compresses the images and videos sent through the platform to reduce the upload and download time. It also saves the storage space of the phone.
- The encrypted messages in WhatsApp are almost impossible to decrypt by any of the existing technologies.
- More than 100 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp every day.
- WhatsApp is the 3rd most downloaded app in the world, after Facebook and YouTube.
- WhatsApp has been banned in 12 countries due to its privacy features. Had China not banned WhatsApp, more than 50% of the world would be using it. Funny thing is WeChat, its biggest competitor offers no privacy feature, allowing the government to see the messages.
- WhatsApp has been downloaded more than 7 billion times. That is close to the global human population of 7.8B. However, this figure doesn’t represent the number of users, as one user can and most likely has downloaded WhatsApp thrice, maybe on different phones or as a returning user.
WHAT IS WHATSAPP BUSINESS (WAB)
WhatsApp Business is a platform built on top of WhatsApp messenger engine to enable enterprises and small businesses to have meaningful conversations with their customers. Today, more than 3 million brands are connecting with their customers through WhatsApp Business (WAB). WAB service is available in 2 formats (or variants), i.e. WAB App and WAB API.
WHATSAPP BUSINESS APP
WAB App is a simple mobile app that looks very similar to the original WhatsApp. It is available on both Apple App Store and Android Play Store.
Step by Step Process to get started on WhatsApp Business App
- Visit the App Store/Play Store and search ‘WhatsApp Business’
- Install WhatsApp Business App on your phone
3. Add your mobile number and verify it by entering the OTP. (Note: Once you have verified your number on WhatsApp Business, you can only use it on the Business App. This process is irreversible.)
4. Do the basic setup – add display picture (which can be your logo or business photo), business name, category, services, description, and address. Create a catalog of products or services you offer. Under the ‘business settings’, you can see many great features like Statistics, Short Link, Linked Facebook Page, Away Message, Greeting Message & Quick Replies.
5. Interface: The chat window and the rest of the user interface is the same as the usual WhatsApp. I am not including any screenshots because there is nothing new. You can do pretty much everything you could do on the regular app. For example, you can set status, see the status of others, make and receive calls – both audio and video, join groups, do the group call.
6. Labeling: You can label chats and segment them into different buckets like new customers, paid clients, partners, or any custom labels. This is a good feature and will help you when your customer base increases.
7. Quick Replies: An interesting feature that saves a great deal of time for business owners. With a quick reply, you can simply type a particular keyword after ‘/’ key, and the whole message gets typed. This is useful in cases where you copy-paste the same message to multiple contacts, e.g. welcome message, thank you, or send to website message. Besides, you can configure greetings and away messages that will be sent automatically to your chats. Here is how you can set up quick replies.
WHATSAPP BUSINESS API
WAB API comes loaded with even more features compared to the WAB App. To start with, the WhatsApp API can be integrated into just any software/platform such as ERP, CRM, Support Desk, MIS, Marketing Cloud, etc. The real magic begins when you automate the conversations through WhatsApp Chatbots and Natural Language Processing (NLP) engines such as Dialogflow.
WhatsApp Business API is recommended for those companies that have a sizable customer base, often more than 5000. To get access of the API, a company has to apply for WhatsApp Business Account on facebook’s official page or through one of the partners of WhatsApp depending on the country your company/customers belong to. Again the access is subject to approval from WhatsApp. It is recommended to apply through a partner to ensure a high chance of approval. The process takes between 2 to 28 days for getting approval from WhatsApp.
The step-by-step technical process for getting started with WhatsApp is provided on Facebook’s website.
WhatsApp API is complicated. Why should I not go with the App?
Well, it is complicated for sure. In the case of micro and small businesses, the WAB app will do the job. But, the WAB app will not integrate with your enterprise suites and because of that you cannot go beyond manual messaging. If you are worried about the complexity involved, then you can simply watch the tutorial video created by Pratik Jain (Co-founder, Morph.ai)
I am sure you are aware of enterprises like IXIGO, MakeMyTrip, OYO, and BookMyShow are using WhatsApp API to communicate with their customers. Read our article 20 Businesses which are WhatsApping in 2020 and check if any of your competitors are already leveraging WhatsApp Chatbots.
3 COMMON USE CASES OF WHATSAPP
Based on our experience of onboarding 100s of businesses on WhatsApp API, we have seen 3 use-cases that are common irrespective of industry, size of the company and nature of business (B2B/B2C, Product/Service). All that you are planning to do with WhatsApp will fall under any or all of these 3 use-cases. The 3 use-cases are:
1. Automation of Conversations: This is the use-case of a chatbot build on WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s business App comes with a primitive level of automation features such as autoresponder and quick replies. API is far more powerful, you can automate the conversations to great depths. WhatsApp automation has 3 parts, Trigger, Trees, and AI/ML engine. The trigger will define how the chatbot will be initiated, it can be a link, QR code, button, search/display ad, or just user initiated chat. After the WhatsApp bot is triggered, a chat will proceed as per the inputs of the user and the course of the conversation will be defined by a complex Decision Tree. In most cases, the tree is integrated with external tools like ERP, CRM, or Support Desk to pull up the information asked by the user, feed-back the counter information provided by the user, and perform an action, e.g. cancel the booking. Finally, there can be an ML engine that will keep track of the user’s past interactions and bring a context into the chat. Also, in some cases NLP(Natural Language Processing) algorithms are deployed that will understand the query of a user, match it with FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and respond with mapped answers. Visit our knowledge base to understand more.
2. Sending Notifications: The most common use-case for most companies – sending notifications is easy compared to the chatbots. ERP integrations with WhatsApp play a vital role in sending notifications. The notification message templates must be pre-approved by WhatsApp as they fall under the post-session message category. Visit our knowledge base to understand more.
3. One-on-one Agent Chat: Perhaps the easiest of use-cases to implement, Agent Chat is gaining popularity as customers are preferring WhatsApp as a channel of direct interaction with a brand. This use-case is being adopted widely by the customer support department of companies. Among all requests we receive for WhatsApp Business API, more than 30% of them are regarding a single use-case, i.e. Customer Support via WhatsApp. WhatsApp based customer service has brought down the support cost by 10% at least for all companies we’ve worked with. The key benefit is an instant response from customers which helps reduce the lifecycle of a support ticket. Visit our knowledge base to understand more.
KEY STATISTICS ON WHATSAPP
- Open Rate: WhatsApp has a magical open rate of 98%.
- WhatsApp penetration rate: India is the most penetrated market for WhatsApp
- WhatsApp users demographics (Data based on a survey of 100 users)
- Users’ perspective of WhatsApp Business (Data based on a survey of 100 users)
- The best features of WhatsApp (Data based on a survey of 100 users)
BENEFITS OF WHATSAPP BUSINESS
I think we have already covered the key metrics related to WhatsApp, and looking at those graphs you can easily understand the key benefits of WhatsApp. Here, we will dive deep into the fundamentals of WhatsApp Business and tell you why it can be a game-changer for your business.
1. The Inner-Circle: WhatsApp is the place where people are connected with their family members and close friends, who maybe thousands of miles apart. It is where they meet people they trust. A brand that can reach this inner circle will also become the brand they trust.
2. No distractions: WhatsApp has become the sacred digital space where no advertiser can enter. During our survey to 100 WhatsApp users, we found that many users did not realize the Ad-Free-ness of WhatsApp. But in their subconscious level, they value it. We found a strange thing though, all of our 100 participants also have Facebook messenger installed on their smartphones, yet only 16% of used it regularly. A big reason behind that was advertisements which load when you open messenger.
3. The only online activity: Nearly 30% of our respondents said WhatsApp is the only online activity they do. Most of them fall in the age bracket of 46-60 and 60+. Some of them were running their micro-business (like matrimony services, house brokerage, agricultural supplies) through WhatsApp. There is no other way for advertisers/marketers to reach these people but WhatsApp.
4. Conversations are trending: A lot can happen over a conversation. 100 billion conversations are happening every day over WhatsApp itself. Conversational marketing is twice as effective compared to the one-way counterpart, i.e. advertisements. Conversations result in ideas, decisions, considerations, awareness, approvals, and a million other possibilities. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that conversations are the building block of human society. Conversations are what sets us apart from animals. Businesses who are conversing more with their customers are potential winners of this decade because conversations are trending.
WhatsApp has been late and very diligent while opening up its platform to businesses. WhatsApp is consistent with its vision of No Ads and it is not going to deviate in the future. However, there is a subtle kind of marketing that is seeing the light of day as more and more enterprises are entering WhatsApp. It’s conversational marketing (or you can say WhatsApp Marketing), very different from a century-long advertisement way of marketing. As we are entering 2020, it looks like conversations will rule this decade. Let’s embrace it before our competitors do.
Read our article All you need to know about WhatsApp Chatbot – Build, Test, Activate & Integrate to further enhance your understanding.
Morph.ai is a self-serve platform where enterprises can build WhatsApp chatbots without getting into technical complexities. It is one of its kind and state of art. Morph’s vision is to onboard all enterprises on WhatsApp so that consumers are benefited from Convenience, Automation & Effectiveness. Sign up to try our platform for free. We would love to hear your feedback or you can simply send us an unboxing video just like this.