WhatsApp Channels for Business: A Complete Guide

WhatsApp Channels is a new feature launched by WhatsApp to engage customers using one-way communication at scale and deliver important updates in real-time.

WhatsApp Channels for Business: A Complete Guide

If you are running a business in today’s hyper-competitive space, then it is more than likely that you are looking for new ways to improve sales engagement and streamline your marketing processes. 

After all, it is crucial to grab customers’ attention by connecting on their preferred communication channels and promoting your offerings in a much more personalized manner. 

One such tool that has emerged and become a favorite among the people is WhatsApp. With around 2.8 billion active users worldwide, WhatsApp is an unmatched platform for you to engage with your audience directly. And recently, WhatsApp launched a new feature called WhatsApp Channels, allowing you to build a WhatsApp community on this communication platform.

But what are WhatsApp Channels, and how can you leverage them to scale your business? 

Well, in this guide, I’ll explore various aspects of WhatsApp Channels, including their benefits, setup process, best practices, and limitations to give you a clear idea of what to expect before you decide to dedicate resources to it. Let’s get started!

What are WhatsApp Channels?

WhatsApp Channels, a relatively new addition to the WhatsApp platform, allows you to send a message in bulk to a large number of people efficiently. Although the Channels seem similar to WhatsApp Groups, the major difference between them is that Channels only support one-way communication instead of a two-way conversation. 

With WhatsApp Channels, your channel members can view and react to your messages (by using emojis) but cannot reply to them like they could in a private chat or a group. 

This makes it a one-way communication channel where you inform customers about recent events, news, product announcements, and company updates. 

In addition to that, the messages you can send in Channels can include different types of formats, including text, pictures, stickers, links, videos, polls, and audio clips. 

Examples of WhatsApp Channels. Source

Why should you use WhatsApp Channels for your business?

Using WhatsApp Channels for your business can be a great way to skyrocket engagement and keep your customers in the loop about what is happening with your brand. Having said that, here are some of the benefits of WhatsApp Channels for business:

Massive user base and extended reach

As mentioned above, with close to 3 billion global users using WhatsApp monthly, it is the most widely used messaging app in the world. This goes to show that there is a huge audience actively using it and you can utilize this fact to extend your market reach to an international audience.

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Improved engagement rates

Messages sent on WhatsApp have an astonishing open rate of 98%. This is significantly higher than email which has a 20% open rate. 

Having such a high engagement rate greatly increases the chances of your messages being seen and acted upon by your channel members, boosting overall customer engagement. 

Share valuable information

Consider the WhatsApp Channels as your business’s forum, where you can share useful information about your company with customers to keep them updated. 

For instance, if you are releasing a new product, you can immediately inform your customers about it to build hype around the launch and book pre-orders. 

This is just one example of how you can use WhatsApp Channels to promote your business and build a sales engagement model to deliver important messages straight to your customers’ phones. 

Internal or external channels

You can control whether you want to make your channel public or keep it invite-only. This customizability allows you to handle how you want to use the channel and for what purposes. 

A public channel, which anyone can search and join, is excellent for interacting with customers. On the other hand, a private channel can be used for internal communication and keeping various departments on the same page.

Better customer satisfaction

WhatsApp Channels can also be used for providing clear instructions and customer assistance about matters that affect a range of customers. This interpersonal channel, which is easily accessible to your customers, lets you provide support in real-time, thereby improving overall customer satisfaction. 

Steps to create a WhatsApp Channel for your business

You can set up a WhatsApp Channel on either the WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp Web. Here is the step-by-step process for both of these versions: 

For Android and iOS devices

Start by downloading the WhatsApp app according to your device type, open it, and choose the Updates tab from the bar located at the bottom of the screen. 

An image showing the Updates tab in the WhatsApp mobile app.

Click on the menu button at the top right corner and select the Create Channel option.

An image showing the Create channel option in the WhatsApp mobile app.

Read and understand the on-screen instructions and press the Continue button. After that, upload a channel icon image, give your channel a name, and add a description. Lastly, once you are ready, press the Create channel to finish the process.

WhatsApp Channel icon, name, and description screen in the WhatsApp mobile app.

For WhatsApp Web

Log in to your WhatsApp account a browser and go to the Channels section by pressing on the Channels icon. 

An image showing the WhatsApp Channel icon in WhatsApp Web.

Here, click on the + button and choose the Create channel option.

An image showing the Create channel option in WhatsApp Web.

Click on Continue and proceed to the next screen. Once here, enter a name, description, and an icon image for your WhatsApp Channel. Press the Create channel button to finally finish the setup process.

The WhatsApp Channel icon, name, and description screen in WhatsApp Web.

How to add members to your channel?

Now that you have created your WhatsApp Channel, next, you have to add members to it. There are various ways to do as given below: 

  • Shareable link: You can share the invitation link of your channel on social media platforms or on your website for your customers to join it easily. 
  • In-channel sharing: You can encourage existing members to share your channel with their contacts, increasing the total number of members. 
  • Discovering it within the app: Another passive way for customers to join your channel is by searching for it within the WhatsApp app or going through the list of channels.

Best practices to make the most of your WhatsApp Channel

Just like any other marketing channel that requires a set of rules or general guidelines to boost ROI, WhatsApp Channels are no exception. 

So, if you want to make the most of your WhatsApp marketing efforts, below are a few best practices to enhance your outreach:

Segment your customers

You can create different channels to segment your customers according to their behaviors, past orders, and browsing history. This way, you can send tailored messages that are relevant to every segment and resonate with their preferences. 

Offer value

Make sure your Channel messages offer something meaningful value to your customers. If you simply promote your products without adding value to customers, they will end up leaving your channel, harming your brand image. 

Whether it is a product announcement, special discount, or company update, ensure that your messages are worthwhile for your members’ time by leveraging the fact that WhatsApp Channels support various kinds of content ranging from normal text to engaging videos.

Maintain consistency

Having a consistent posting schedule allows you to maintain a constant flow of information without bombarding your members with too many messages. Also, creating a calendar to keep track of your posts allows you to plan the content creation process much more efficiently. 

Policies and guidelines

As you are using the WhatsApp platform to engage your customers, make sure that your messages comply with WhatsApp's messaging policies and terms of use. 

Furthermore, send messages to members who have specifically permitted you to do so by opting in to receive promotional or update notifications. Plus, stay transparent by offering an obvious opt-out option for customers to stop receiving these messages. 

Analyze performance

Regularly monitor and analyze the performance of your WhatsApp Channel. Although there is no in-depth analytics dashboard within WhatsApp to track particular metrics, you can still keep an eye on the number of members and how well your posts are being received based on the number of emojis. 

Limitations of WhatsApp Channels

Even though WhatsApp Channels provide various advantages that can help you grow your business and create a loyal following, there are a few things that you should keep in mind while using them. 

  • One-way conversations: You can only send messages to your customers via WhatsApp Channels. It doesn’t allow them to reply to you.
  • Absence of customization: You cannot personalize messages to best suit the needs of every member. These messages look the same for all the subscribers.
  • Basic reporting: You can only see the number of members and gauge engagement levels via emojis. This does not provide accurate information, and you are not able to measure advanced metrics crucial for B2B sales
  • Missing API iIntegration: You can’t integrate WhatsApp Channels with API, this means you will have to use WhatsApp Business app or WhatsApp Web to type and send your messages. 
  • No automation capabilities: You have to manually write the message every time you want to post something, as there is no scheduling feature.
  • Limited history: Updates within Channels are not saved for more than 30 days, meaning customers will not be able to see them once they are deleted. 

As you can see, there are numerous issues with WhatsApp Channels that make it a bit of a challenge to use them effectively. However, there are alternatives that you can explore if Channels do not fit your unique business needs.

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How to overcome these limitations?

WhatsApp Business app, by default, allows you to communicate with your customers Using it, you can create broadcast lists and reach out to 256 users at once. 

However, if you are a large company with many customers or users to engage with, you are better off using the WhatsApp API. By signing up with a WhatsApp API provider and integrating it with their platform, you can make use of its robust capabilities to connect with thousands of customers consecutively. 

So, to make it easy for you to choose an API provider to integrate with WhatsApp, I would recommend Zixflow. It is a no-code, multi-channel marketing platform that includes CRM and automation functionalities, to connect with customers. 

With Zixflow, you can reach out to your customers, not only on WhatsApp but also by SMS and email. This way, you can engage customers on their preferred channel and make the most of your marketing efforts. 

By connecting Zixflow with WhatsApp API, you can set up messaging campaigns to get in touch with thousands of users at the same time. It’s very easy to create WhatsApp campaigns in Zixflow. Simply enter the corresponding details in the required fields and you can get it going easily.

Zixflow’s WhatsApp Campaign Builder to engage customers at scale.

In addition to that, since Zixflow is a complete marketing solution, you can design WhatsApp Business Messaging templates directly from the platform and send them to Meta for approval before you can use them in your campaigns. 

Having these templates pre-approved by Meta is required by WhatsApp to initiate a conversation with your audience. Without them, you can only reply to the messages sent by customers, and that too, only within the 24-hour window. 

So, having the ability to craft and verify WhatsApp templates from a single solution can greatly increase your efficiency. 

Zixflow’s WhatsApp Template Builder to design messaging templates for your outreach campaigns.

That is not all. Zixflow also lets you automate your messaging using Zixflow Flows and sales cadences to engage customers even outside of your work hours. You can put in place, automated workflows using Zixflow’s drag-and-drop Flows builder.

Zixflow’s automation Flows Builder to automate messaging based on conditional triggers. 

Even this is not the end of the marketing capabilities of Zixflow. So, to experience the amazing features of Zixflow yourself, sign up with a free account and take advantage of the 7-day trial to check out what it has to offer before upgrading to a paid plan.

Are WhatsApp Channels a right fit for your business?

WhatsApp Channels are a powerful and versatile feature for you to connect with your customers. By leveraging the international user base and high engagement rates, you can enhance your customer engagement. 

However, several limitations come with WhatsApp Channels that do not make it an optimized way to communicate with your customers as you can use WhatsApp Broadcasts or WhatsApp Groups to engage customers more effectively. 

On top of that, if you want to personalize your messaging and utilize the advanced features that WhatsApp offers to elevate your marketing, you can use Zixflow. So, what’s the wait for? Get started with Zixflow today!

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