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Little did Brian Acton and Jan Koum knew 9 years back that their app would take the world by storm and will be used by 1 Billion users, extending it to Whatsapp for Business.
Whatsapp started with a freemium plan where the first year was free, followed by 0.99$ each year. After few years, this model was scrapped and Whatsapp became free for life.
Now after years of being used by people worldwide, it is taking steps towards making some money from it’s platform.
Whatsapp for Business
WhatsApp has been testing business accounts, with a view to opening up a monetization pipe — even as CEO Jan Koum has claimed it will not be putting “ads in the product”.
It is giving verified green badges to business accounts if their contact information is verified.
Though as of right now, business verification is limited to the small number of businesses that are participating in the pilot program. If the phone number of a contact belongs to a business account, it earns a green check.
WhatsApp is also going to let you know if you’re talking to a business by showing a yellow text bubble in the chat. These text messages exchanged between users and businesses can’t be deleted. In general, users are able to delete messages and chats from a regular conversation, but WhatsApp seems to be forcing users to keep records of chats with a verified business.
The verified badge is already used by Whatsapp’s parent company, Facebook as a trust symbol which will eventually encourage more businesses to get on their platform.
WhatsApp users who already have a business’ phone number saved in their address book will see whatever name they have saved for that contact.
However when a business’s phone number has not been saved in a user’s address book the name they will see is the name the business has chosen for themselves — suggesting WhatsApp might be intending to allow verified businesses to ‘cold-message’ users, i.e. even if they have not had any prior contact with a business.
Alternatively, it could mean WhatsApp intends to offer users a business search function so they could manually browse and search to locate relevant business accounts at the point of need.
BookMyShow is among first few businesses in India which have collaborating with WhatsApp. It sent its users confirmations on WhatsApp for tickets booked, one of which was posted by a user on Twitter. “We will use this chat to send your ticket confirmation,” BookMyShow’s WhatsApp message read. “To stop receiving messages from us, please reply with ‘Stop’.”
BookMyShow is not the only company that is looking at what is being referred to as “WhatsApp for Business”. WhatsApp is in talks with other companies such as Uber’s local rival Ola and hotel rooms aggregator OYO, and few airline companies.
Ola may also start sending one-time-passwords and invoices through WhatsApp. OYO, too, may start sending booking confirmations and invoices on WhatsApp.
What does that mean for Digital Marketing?
It is a definite truth that Whatsapp for Business will open new avenues for digital marketing and prove to be a touch point for reaching out to your target audience.
It can serve as an easy method to engage your audience on a platform which they use extensively.
Now the game changing factor which can make a huge impact will be the audience insight which whatsapp can utilize for reaching out to people.
Though it is said repeatedly that Whatsapp will not push ads to it’s audience but it is a possibility in future. Mark Zuckerberg may be working on algorithms which identify user level interests through Whatsapp chat, same way as it works on Facebook.
Also Coming : Whatsapp for Payments
WhatsApp based payments are also coming to India. WhatsApp is in talks with companies, including some of those mentioned above, to enable payments on the platform. In July, the company had received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to allow users to make in-app payments using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
It is not clear exactly how mobile payments will fold into WhatsApp for Business but appears to be clearly part of the company’s monetization funnel.
A user will potentially be able to pay a cab driver, book movie ticket or hotel rooms, recharge phones, and settle utility bills using WhatsApp mobile payments — just like on a mobile wallet or payments app today.
So, what do you have to say about Whatsapp for Business? How will you feel when businesses will reach out to you through personal messages now? Share your views in the comment section below.