WhatsApp Business is Facebook’s attempt to monetize (and possibly justify) its highly successful chat app. Although still undergoing beta testing, the new WhatsApp feature is already gathering media, corporate, and social rave.
Reports have it that European, Indian, Brazilian, and Indonesian businesses have already started testing out the new chat client. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is believed to be one of the most prominent businesses testing out the functionalities of WhatsApp Business ahead of its official public launch.
Wondering what WhatsApp Business is all about? Let’s find out.
Differences: WhatsApp Business vs. WhatsApp
WhatsApp Business is nearly identical to the already popular messaging app. The differences between this monetized version of WhatsApp and the regular version are:
- There are two new sections in the Settings menu: Statistics and Business Settings.
- The logo is slightly different. A new “B” icon replaces the telephone icon seen in the regular WhatsApp.
- This app is designed to make money (for businesses that use it and for WhatsApp).
- The app is entirely separate from the regular WhatsApp, so you can keep your business and personal contacts apart.
- WhatsApp Business will support landline phone numbers now. This change formalizes business contacts and makes it easy for businesses to use their existing phone numbers for their WhatsApp Business accounts.
- You can install both your regular WhatsApp and the new app simultaneously. Separating the business and personal apps makes it easy for small companies to focus on, manage, and measure business-related activities.
In the Statistics area, you’ll see the total number of messages sent, received, delivered, and read. According to beta testers and media briefings from WhatsApp, the Stats section should get more analytics features rolled out soon.
Users can customize their profile page in the Business section. Businesses may also add their web pages, show their opening hours, and set their profile picture. You can also set up automated responses to handle cases of customers reaching out to you outside of business hours.
WhatsApp has been trying to monetize its platform for a while now. However, the company doesn’t want to make money using traditional advertising.
In early September 2017, Matt Navarra of The Next Web spotted a code in Facebook’s ad manager. The code makes it possible for businesses to buy ads from Facebook using the call to action “Send WhatsApp Message.”
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 8, 2017
WhatsApp eventually commented on the code, clarifying that they are not trying to sell ads to their users directly but testing a WhatsApp chat button that initiates a conversation with a business right from a Facebook ad.
A spokesman from WhatsApp says:
We’re testing a new way for people to start a chat with a business in WhatsApp from a Facebook ad. This makes it easier for people to connect with businesses that they care about on WhatsApp.
In practice, a company – an online clothes retailer, for example – could use the WhatsApp call to action in their Facebook ads to invite users to spark WhatsApp conversations with them about their styling consulting services. The company would then be able to contact these prospects in the future to make some promotional offers to them about a new clothing line.
Join WhatsApp Business Beta Testing
If WhatsApp Business feels like an exciting thing you want to be a part of, they’ve made it possible for you to sign up for their beta testing. You’re not guaranteed a spot. If you’re selected, you can test and give recommendations that’ll shape the future of WhatsApp. The free beta testing sign-up form is here.
As a tester, you may download the app from the Play Store from this unique address (accessible only to beta testers). Follow that PlayStore link to the WhatsApp Business page as shown in the image below. Click “Install” to enter your Play Store email and password.
If you’re been accepted to test the app, then your device will show in the dropdown menu below “Choose a device,” as shown in the image below. You’ll simply choose your device and then hit the “Install” button to start your testing experience.
You can download WhatsApp Business app from APKMirror, albeit you can’t use it unless you’ve been accepted as a tester first. So far, there’s been four successive versions of the app since October 06, 2017.
This release of beta versions will likely continue until the actual public launch. Most people won’t be able to access and use the WhatsApp Business app for now, due to the beta testing restrictions on it, so I have provided you with a look at the features of the app.
Features of WhatsApp Business
Assuming you have access to the app, once you download it you will find that it looks much like the regular app except the title bar reads “WhatsApp Business.” Just like your regular WhatsApp, you’ll see tabs for your calls, status, chats, and camera.
You’ll begin noticing the app’s changes once you open the Settings; in there you’ll find the Statistics and Business settings sections. I have used Hüseyin Filiz’s beta testing account to provide you an insider view into the app.
As I’ve noted earlier, the Stats on WhatsApp Business are quite rudimentary at the moment, but this is expected to improve and become robust. As a business app, access to more statistics would help users understand their customers’ engagement levels and interests, optimize their responsiveness levels to customers, and measure other vital factors to promote business growth.
The app’s Business setting has two sections: business profile and away messages.
Your business profile’s main page has your business name, a profile picture, a badge (indicating verified or unverified status), and any other pieces of information you give. Customers who add and contact your business will see this profile.
You can alter this profile information by tapping on the pencil icon on the top-right of your screen. At your discretion, you may include your location, business description, categories or tags, one or more websites, and email addresses.
The categories provided are quite broad; ideally, you should be able to find one that fits your business. Alternatively, use the “Other” option.
Your customers will get away messages whenever they try to reach you but can’t get through to you. You can set the messages to go out on a schedule based on specific time periods (when you wouldn’t be reachable) to reply messages. You may choose to turn it off or on.
You may choose to personalize your messages to include any emoji and text. The away message scheduling option is very rudimentary at the moment. You only have the option to set a start and end date and time. You have no flexibility to choose to schedule for every day, or every Saturday or Sunday, or anything like that yet. So you’ll have to turn your away message on (or off) manually on weekends and every night.
So far, those are the differences between the regular app and the new WhatsApp Business. Since this is beta testing, we should see more features added and existing functions improved.
On the customer’s end
A yellow-background message about end-to-end encryption comes up when prospects or clients add your business phone number and attempt to contact you. This message is the same as you’d see on the regular WhatsApp app.
Then a pop-up and another yellow message informing them that they are talking to a business that might belong to you and that you are unverified yet will appear.
Your customers and prospects can also check your business profile to see all the details you’ve provided: images, location, email address, category or tags, website, and more.
To Wrap It Up
WhatsApp already has one of the highest user engagement levels and low attrition rates of any app category. The new chat client will make it easy for small businesses (as well as enterprises) to quickly engage with their customers and prospects personally, without being intrusive.
Businesses with already-popular landline numbers can efficiently use that for their WhatsApp account. Using existing phone numbers is excellent because it maintains consistency with old clients and business documentation that have that phone number printed on them.
Are you eager to try out WhatsApp Business? We’d like to hear your opinion in the comments.