Growth and Monetization

Start The Conversation: Your Guide to WhatsApp Business in 2021

March 15, 2021
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When people sit down to write about a good idea, they often make the mistake of trying to break it down to a list of success factors - magical presets spelling out divine prophecies without which the founders could never have possibly made it in the real world.

These success factors are often logical. They must have started with a plausible, data-driven idea.

But not all success is measurable, or even intended. 

Whatsapp, for instance, was a happy accident.


WhatsApp was created in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum. Koum had been facing a very human problem - he used to miss a lot of work calls at the gym. It was starting to get in the way of things, so he hired Igor Solomennikov through and WhatsApp was born.

Except, it wasn’t a messaging app back then. It merely leveraged Apple’s recently released notification feature to push status updates so Koum wouldn’t miss any more important phone calls.

For Koum, it was an instant success. He no longer missed any calls, and he was finally getting chummy with his brand new iPhone. But it wasn’t until WhatsApp released the Whatsapp 2.0 version, which incorporated a free messaging functionality, that the world started to see its true potential. 

Going head-to-head with Blackberry’s uncontested BBM, WhatsApp’s release of the messaging feature on iOS launched WhatsApp into business halls of fame with a whooping 250,000 active users. Acton and Koum quickly caught on and took the leap, improving WhatsApp with multimedia messaging and releasing it on Android later that year. 

From then on in, success took a very different shape for the two lucky founders.

Where other apps cautiously scaled, WhatsApp aggressively snowballed. By early 2013, WhatsApp had hit 200 million active users, giving Acton and Koum a lot of leverage in the global conversation, and a whole lot of attention from Silicon Valley.

In 2014, Facebook moved to acquire WhatsApp, raising its initial bid by $3.6 billion and again by $1.7 billion to close the deal at a record-breaking $21.8 billion. This surpassed Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs and Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, going down in history as one of the largest tech acquisitions of all time.

Within its launch year, WhatsApp had released, tested, identified, pivoted and re-launched the product in a different shape than it was originally intended. This was a giant personal triumph, and the funding only went to prove that WhatsApp’s success really started on the user end of things. 

WhatsApp was more than an application, it was a movement - people were starting to experience access in a new way, and that translated into exponential user growth. WhatsApp was a genuinely good idea, and like all good ideas, it caught on like a wildfire.

In 2016, WhatsApp hit 1 billion active users, and by the end of 2017, that number grew to 1.5 billion. Today, WhatsApp helps 2 billion active users send roughly 100 billion messages a day.


History has taught us that wherever that many people gather, they are bound to fight, mate or trade. This fact was not lost on Acton and Koum, who aptly seized the third and last market by launching WhatsApp Business in 2018 to help small business owners capitalize on the app’s popularity and usage to grow their online store.

Today, WhatsApp is one of the biggest messaging apps in the world, boasting twice as many monthly active followers as Facebook messenger and seizing hearts across the globe as the second most-installed non-game app after TikTok.

Every month, more than 1.6  billion people use WhatsApp to connect (sending approximately 69 million messages per minute!), and everyday, more than 175 million people in 180 countries around the world message a WhatsApp Business account.

Here’s how you can use Whatsapp Business to streamline your online store’s lead generation, customer engagement and customer care into one platform.

1. Scale your customer care with labels and quick replies

Choosing WhatsApp Business not only saves you the trouble of having to sit down to write your replies from scratch every time a customer reaches out to your store, it also helps you remember where you left off.

Using quick replies, you can easily configure your frequently asked questions and access them with a shortcut. You can also categorize and label your conversations for easier follow-up. 

Together, you can use WhatsApp Business to accommodate your business growth and handle a higher number of queries quickly and efficiently.

2. Keep your store active outside of business hours with greeting messages and away replies

Nothing hurts business like keeping a customer hanging. Configure your greeting messages and away replies to keep your store up and running when you need to get some sleep. 

Whatsapp Business greeting messages

3. Display your products using catalogs

In addition to supporting your eCommerce store, WhatsApp Business can help you showcase up to 500 products or services without having to leave the app.

Catalogs help you highlight your ongoing promotions, respond to customer requests with a product link and resolve customer queries on the spot. To purchase an item, your customers would simply have to click the shortlink to be redirected to your store website, Instagram or app for checkout. 

Whatsapp Business catalog

If you are in India, WhatsApp Business has partnered with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to design a real-time payment system that helps you sell your products directly from WhatsApp Business.

4. Start conversations with your customers using template messages

Every time a user messages your WhatsApp Business account, it registers as a session message, and your business can reply within 24 hours. 

Once the 24-hour window is up, you can only initiate conversations with your users to resolve standing issues or provide pending updates on the status of your users’ accounts, payments, tickets or reservations. 

To restart the conversation with your consumer about another product or start another one with a new user, WhatsApp Business can accommodate your growing business needs with the help of message templates.

Message templates is a paid feature of WhatsApp Business API that allows you to innovate your marketing and customer engagement efforts right at the point of contact with your customer. Thanks to their inherent conversational factor, message templates are a great place to exercise your emoji superpowers for the greater good of your business.

Whatsapp Business template messages

5. Have smarter conversations with the help of AI-powered chatbot builders

Implementing a WhatsApp chatbot on your store can do more than alleviate the pressure of talking to customers, it can also help you automate your customer care process and decrease your load with the help of trained AI agents.

There are currently two ways to build a WhatsApp chatbot once you have applied for a WhatsApp Business API:

Employing the help of AI can do more than decrease your backlog and help your business accommodate a growing user base, it can also bypass a lot of WhatsApp Business limitations through custom user functionalities like delaying messages, enhancing your user journey with rich media and interactive reply buttons, introducing variables to the conversation flow and tracking your customer insights through Google Analytics.

By integrating with natural language processors, tools like Google Dialog Flow can also help you enhance your user journey with rich customer conversations powered by Google’s leading AI. These prebuilt agents can be trained with conversational replies to further humanize the brand experience and make it more relatable for the consumer.

Whatsapp Business chatbot
( Source : Influencer Marketing Hub )


Every month, 40 million users view a business catalog in WhatsApp. If they like anything, they can immediately message the store and ask about the product. 

This makes it really easy for small businesses to touch base with their customers and give them what they need without having to wait. 

According to Nielsen's Facebook Messaging Survey, 67% of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years. What's more, 53% of respondents say they're more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. 

But immediacy is not WhatsApp Business’s only edge. Businesses have been using the app to enhance how they communicate with their customers, move their products and personalize their offering to the season and market.


By February 2020, WhatsApp scored 96 million global app installs, putting it ahead of Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp’s popularity also trumps that of its many competitors within their local markets, including WeChat, Snapchat, Telegram and QQ Mobile.

For businesses, this kind of reach translates to tremendous ad potential and easy access to an evenly distributed set of consumers, making WhatsApp Business an ideal choice for brands looking to penetrate saturated international and local markets.

But that did not stop businesses around the world from further innovating on the app’s main functionalities to set their brand apart from the competition.

1. Play Netflix Trailers

Banking on WhatsApp’s native picture-in-picture video player, Netflix joined WhatsApp’s list of supported services to allow users to spread the word about their favorite TV shows to their friends and loved ones.

This simple integration allowed Netflix to fully utilize its word-of-mouth and maximize its exposure to users, who can watch the trailer immediately upon receipt, without having to leave the app.

netflix picture-in-picture mode
( Source : Android Police )

Further reading: Video Marketing Best Practices: How to Make Your Business Stand Out with Video

2. Offer Custom Products and Services

PortBlue, a men’s handmade leather shoe business, sells 800 pairs of custom shoes every month through WhatsApp Business. 

PortBlue’s introduction of WhatsApp Business to its daily operations not only meant creating even more jobs for thousands of artisans in Surabaya, Indonesia’s east Java province, it also meant faster order processing. 

Today, 80% of PortBlue’s sales are made through WhatsApp Business.

3. Build Personal Connections

Lisseth Mondragón is a Mexico-based entrepreneurial mentor and coach uses WhatsApp Business to connect with her 300 clients around the world. 

As the founder of Mujer Asertiva, a coaching and mentoring program for female entrepreneurs, Lisbeth empowers female entrepreneurs through one-on-one mentoring, group coaching sessions, online conferences and monthly challenges.

Ever since she started using WhatsApp Business, she witnessed a 40% increase in new client contact and a 10% increase in sales.

4. Streamline Customer Care and Sales Operations

Cardex Autoteile OHG is an auto parts retailer that restores, repairs, services and cleans cars in Germany. Before introducing WhatsApp Business to their eCommerce store, Cardex Autoteile OHG needed a more efficient way to collect and process each user’s vehicle registration details and individual requests. 

Cardex Autoteile OHG now makes 90% of its sales through WhatsApp Business, and reports more than 15,000 customer requests received within the first nine months of using the app.


Designed with medium to large-sized businesses in mind, the WhatsApp Business API provides users with a variety of extra functionalities and customization features to better serve their growing needs. This includes support for multiple users, multiple devices, access to template messages and advanced automation control.

This helped businesses around the world bypass WhatsApp Business limitations and innovate on the offering to create something bigger, better and more efficient.

1. Overcoming Geographical Barriers

Where the world lacks, Mukuru provides. For years, this international money transfer company has been assisting financially underserved migrants in Africa send money to their friends and relatives back home.

Providing millions of users in over 20 countries with access to formal financial services, Mukuru built a virtual WhatsApp assistant to help customers in addition to their live agents. This integration not only helped automate a lot of time-consuming tasks, such as account creation, balance checks, money transfers and oversight processes, it also did wonders for their customer care.

Between October and December 2018 alone, Mukuru saw a 7.5% increase in customer satisfaction score, a 5% decrease in messaging costs, and a 7.6x increase in customer feedback.

2. Maximizing Inventory Efficiency

NoBroker is an India-based real estate platform that lets property owners sell or rent their property without paying a brokerage fee. This is extremely useful for its 6.5 million customers across six key Indian markets in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Gurugram and Hyderabad, who save over Rs 1,000 crores per year through the platform.

Like its many competitors within the sector, NoBroker was having a problem with quality control - its customers were not taking the time to upload the necessary photos when listing their property on the website or app.

By capitalizing on WhatsApp Business API’s bulk upload feature, NoBroker experienced a 20x increase in annualized ROI, a 2.8x increase in sold and rented properties, and a significant decrease in upload time (6 minutes, down from an average of 3 business days).

3. Introducing a Self-Serve Model

Connecting 9 million customers in the UAE, du is an Emirates Integrated Telecommunications company specializing in fixed line and broadband internet services. 

To better serve its immense user base, du realized that it had to get with the times and introduce a digital experience to accommodate incoming queries.

Using WhatsApp Business API, du teamed up with communications and artificial intelligence expert UIB, which created Blu, a WhatsApp-powered virtual assistant that serves its customers round-the-clock.

Since its launch, 80% of du’s customers opted to resolve their queries via WhatsApp. The result? More than 50% resolved customer enquiries and 50,000 customer conversations on WhatsApp.

4. Gamifying Customer Experience

FlipKart is an Indian eCommerce platform that sells a diverse range of products at affordable prices. In an attempt to capture and engage a wider set of customers, FlipKart wanted to hype up Big Billion Days, a flagship five-day online sales event where people could have a personal conversation with Amitabh Bachchan, one of India’s most famous Bollywood movie stars.

By creating a large-scale lead generation funnel for the sales event and linking the ads to WhatsApp, FlipKart saw 3.5x more conversions, 7x more high quality visitors based on time-spent on the platform, and a smashing $2.5 million USD in revenue.

FlipKart activation with WhatsApp Business

5. Telling Bedtime Stories

PlayKids is a children’s learning resources and development platform that provides children with safe, parentally-supervised access to infotainment shows, fun characters, and educational online games.

In an attempt to reach out to mothers where they are most comfortable, PlayKids introduced WhatsApp Business as the main channel for customer care. This was a tremendous success that resulted in a 40% increase in message open rates.

It was then that PlayKids saw an opportunity to use WhatsApp Business in a new way, namely to send messages at crucial times when customers are most likely to unsubscribe from its service. 

Innovating on time-based messages, PlayKids started sending caregivers bedtime stories around the time when their children were ready to go to bed. And just like that, PlayKids saw a 90% decrease in the number of lapsed subscribers, and a 60% decrease in the time taken to reactivate lapsed subscriptions.

Playkids Whatsapp Business


Everyday, the ways that businesses reach out to their customers change, adapt and grow to meet the needs of a much faster and highly-virtualized generation. 

Just last year, Facebook started rolling out Facebook Pay, a seamless and secure way to purchase products and services, send money to friends and support global causes straight from the platform. 

This closely matched with their vision for WhatsApp, which integrated a platform-exclusive payment feature for India - its largest market - and Brazil, with plans to expand to Indonesia and Mexico.

“Making payments simple can help bring more businesses into the digital economy, opening up new opportunities for growth. In addition, we’re making sending money to loved ones as easy as sending a message, which could not be more important as people are physically distant from one another.”

- WhatsApp Blog

But facilitating online payments is not the only end in mind. For global businesses like Facebook, Google and WhatsApp, it is a bigger battle for a much bigger end - leading the pack into the future of virtually cashless shopping.

This is made even more pressing with the onslaught of the pandemic, which resulted in an unseen 40% usage increase for WhatsApp alone.

Whether you are pro-digital or prefer to keep things grounded, it is impossible to imagine a world without WhatsApp. And in a few years, it might prove equally challenging to imagine a world without WhatsApp Business.

How are you using WhatsApp Business to scale your eCommerce store? Share the deets with your peers on Twitter @GameballCo and get the conversation going!