The Ultimate Guide to WhatsApp Marketing in 2022

When WhatsApp launched in 2006, it quickly became the biggest social messaging platform around. It did however have many strict rules and policies around businesses using the platform for marketing purposes, so many companies started using 'work-arounds' using broadcast messages, groups and building contact lists to try and market their products to their customers. It's a cumbersome and overwhelming way to reach customers on WhatsApp, but that didn't stop anyone because the high ROI was worth the effort at the time.

The high demand from brands to engage with their customers, saw WhatsApp introduce its Business API to fill in this gap. WhatsApp first introduced the ability to use the platform for customer service use cases, keeping a tight reign on making sure it was free from spam. Using pre-approved templates, every business-initiated message needs to be approved by WhatsApp before businesses can use them to message customers.

They were pretty strict about their advertising policy until the new changes around Proactive Promotional Messaging came into effect in July 2021, expanding the types of messages you can now send to your contacts who have opted-in to receive messages from you. WhatsApp Proactive Messaging allows you to send or initiate a message to your WhatsApp contacts, without it needing to be part of an existing 'transactional' conversation, although it must be done through a WhatsApp pre-approved template message.

This is great news for businesses who can now send push notifications to their customers using WhatsApp through a platform that is far more effective than traditional SMS and offers greater personalization than email.

In our Ultimate Guide to WhatsApp Marketing, we'll show you how you can really get the most from WhatsApp as a marketing channel and how you can use it to create brand awareness and stronger more sustainable customer relationships.

Why use WhatsApp for Marketing?

WhatsApp is the biggest and most popular messaging channel on the planet by far. Over 100 billion messages are sent every day, with more than 2 billion active users. For almost everyone, WhatsApp is their go-to messaging app to engage with friends and family. 

Customers are also preferring to use WhatsApp when communicating with businesses and brands. According to research by WhatsApp, 61% of customers would rather message a business instead of making a phone call, and 59% would choose sending a WhatsApp over sending an email.


Favorite Social Media platforms | Source: Hootsuite

WhatsApp as a direct response marketing channel

Direct Response Marketing is a technique that focuses on ROI, rather than brand awareness by encouraging customers to take action on business offerings. Up until now, SMS and Email marketing have been the dominant channels used for direct marketing. With WhatsApp making a big play in the direct marketing space, you need to revisit you direct marketing channel strategy and ensure you're making the best impact to drive ROI for your efforts.

WhatsApp vs. Email

WhatsApp has an open rate of between 60% to 80% compared to an average open rate of just 25% compared with email. Customers find it easier and more convenient to share their mobile number with a business, than sharing their emails. Using WhatsApp to have a two-way conversation with customers is more convenient and quicker than using email. WhatsApp also offers similar abilities to email, like sending rich media, tracking open and read rates, and utilizing call-to-actions like you would traditionally do in email. Although they do apply to a certain extent, spam restrictions applied to emails are far stricter than on WhatsApp. Not that we want to spam our customers anyway! The only advantage that email may have over WhatsApp is the cost, however the ROI of using a WhatsApp channel yields far greater results than email does, which answers that quite easily.

WhatsApp vs. SMS

Although SMS previously had high reach and open rates, we've seen that steadily decline in recent years and dipping as low as 2% to 10% in many instances. Customers are actively ignoring SMSes and often use apps to block unsolicited messages. So while SMS may seem like a cheap option to push out messages, you're going to need to spend a lot in order to get any kind of meaningful return. SMS also lacks a lot of features. Text messages don't allow you to include rich media, have limitations for text length and have no sender branding beyond including a business name as part of the message. They're boring. Also, the inability to gather analytics on how customers engage with SMS is extremely limited. Let's not forget that SMS is subject to regulations that are country-specific, making it even further complicated. WhatsApp is a clear winner here!


Get more value for your spend - SMS vs WhatsApp engagement

WhatsApp direct marketing campaigns examples

The goal of any direct marketing campaign is to drive action. You want your customers to act and do something, so the content of what you are sending in your WhatsApp messages needs to be engaging and appealing to start conversations, provide value, and ultimately encourage conversions.

Here are a few examples of WhatsApp campaigns:

  • Introduce new products and special offers to repeat and existing customers.
  • Give product recommendations based on a customers recent purchases or activities.
  • Share specific deals and offers based on their purchase behavior.
  • Send price alerts to customers for products and prices they are tracking.
  • Enable sales teams to connect with customer on WhatsApp, sending offers and special discounts.
  • Promote upsell campaigns to existing customers asking them to upgrade to a higher product or tier.
  • Recommend relevant products to current customers for cross-sell campaigns.
  • Send renewal reminders for subscriptions.
  • Send Cart abandonment reminders for items not purchased yet.
  • Notify customers of items that are back in stock.
  • Send payment reminders and statements to credit clients.

Design and execute your marketing campaigns for WhatsApp

Every great marketing campaign has an offer that a customer just can't say 'no' to and is specifically tailored to a customer segment, sent at the right time. You need to know what you want to say, to who you want to target and when is the best time to send it. Always keep in mind the ultimate action that you want your customer to take.

Define your goal

Carefully consider the goal you want your campaign to achieve. As it is a direct response marketing campaign, this goal should link to your ROI to have a direct and measurable impact. Have a clear goal is essential in crafting your campaign. For example, do you want to promote a new product, drive traffic to your website, increase subscription upgrades? Make sure you have one specific goal you want to achieve and that it is measurable enough to show success.

Select your customer segment

Make sure that you are targeting specific groups or client segments so that you have a greater chance of achieving results. It doesn't help to try and sell cat food to customers who don't own a cat. Use the customer data that you have to ensure that you target the right customers at the right time. No one wants to receive any kind of message that is irrelevant or poorly timed.

Create your offer and craft your message

Your offer or message needs to appeal to your client's desires, emotions, fears and frustrations. What is going to motivate them to take the desired action? Think about the goal you want to achieve and your target segment, what kind of incentive do they need to make an action? Don't forget that your customers are people too, so tap into how they would feel if they got your message and how you can make them feel good about taking action.

On average you only have about 4 seconds to grab the attention of your customer, so make sure your message has sufficient context, value and enough reasons to prompt an action without being cumbersome and lengthy to read or understand. Keep it to the point and avoid unnecessary detail that may distract from your message. Don't try and cram too much information or ask them to take more than one action. 

Have a clear call to action

The whole point of a direct response marketing campaign is to get your customers to take an action. So make sure that you have a clear call to action that asks customers to perform a specific action. Some examples are:

  • Visit your website
  • Call a consultant
  • Make a booking
  • Upgrade now
  • Send an enquiry about a product
  • Buy now
  • Complete a form
  • Use a coupon

Do a bit of A/B testing using a sample of your target audience before you hit that send button.

Submitting Message Templates for Review and Approval

Once you have decided on what message you want to send, you will need to send it to WhatsApp for approval before you can send it to your customers. WhatsApp can take up to 48 hours to approve a template, so make sure you plan and submit well in advance before you want to send your campaign.

You can read our article about submitting templates for approval here.

Send your campaign

Now that you're ready, it's time to send your campaign! 

Sweesh is the only platform that enables you to send, track and report on bulk WhatsApp marketing messages. It's a web-based platform that needs no special development or integrations to get started. You can easily create and submit WhatsApp template messages for approval, send your direct response marketing campaigns, and attach documents, videos and images. 

Track your ROI

WhatsApp isn't a free tool, and just like all other direct marketing campaigns, you need to measure the cost against the goal or revenue you have achieved as a result of the campaign.

It is fairly simple to do. Divide the total cost of your WhatsApp campaign by whatever number you are measuring against and have achieved. For example, if you used $1,000 of WhatsApp templates cost to sell 4,000 units of a particular product, your ROI would be:

$1,000/4,000 = $0.25 per download

What's great about using a WhatsApp channel is how easy the correlation between your campaign and action of your customer is. This means that In most cases, you can confidently measure and track the ROI of your campaigns.

How frequently should you be sending WhatsApp marketing messages to customers?

How often you send WhatsApp marketing messages and notification to your customers will depend on the kind of content you are sending and your specific marketing goals. 

Daily: Be very careful about sending messages to a customer daily. If you really must, ensure you limit it to only a short period, and for a specific and apparent reason that is obvious to the customer. For example, they may have just purchased a product from you and you want to share the best ways to use the product. Alternatively, you could have customers explicitly opt-in to receive messages daily for industries like FMCG or daily offer brands.

Weekly: Weekly messages to engage with customers are perfect for reaching existing or membership customers. For example, gym memberships or subscription services.

Monthly: It really shouldn't be more than a month between engagements with your customers. Even if you don't have a specific reason to message them, try and find an opportunity at least once a month. Special occasions or observances can be a great excuse to run a promotion or special offer. 

Real-time: Notifications that are sent in real-time are only used to keep customers informed or to notify them of events that concern them directly.  This could be the status of an order, or notifications for delivery of a product or service. 

The key here is to always to put yourself in the customer's shoes and consider what and how often they want to get messages from you. If you're not adding value or becoming annoying or intrusive you could be blocked or reported to WhatsApp as spam. If you get a lot of blocks and/or spam reports, WhatsApp will take take action and block you from being able to send promotional messages if you consistently violate their policies.

Best practices for executing WhatsApp marketing campaigns

You want to make sure that your WhatsApp marketing messages get the read rates and achieve your ROI goals, so here are some best practices for creating, sending and measuring the effectiveness of your WhatsApp Marketing Strategy. 

1. Personalize your messages

No one likes to receive a generic marketing message. Sending hyper-personalized campaigns is going to help you improve engagement with your messages. Make sure that your data is accurate and use as much personal and relevant data, in your campaigns. Including things like interests and context go beyond the usual "Hi Name!" and can be great ways to create messages that are as targeted and personal as possible.  If you don't have any data besides a name, even just including that already makes customers more likely to engage.

2. Make it simple

While you may think that designing the perfect campaign is all about being creative, it's actually more about the ROI than anything else. Even though you have a lot of scope with the almost unlimited nature of a WhatsApp message, don't take it overboard. Messages should always be straightforward and clear to drive that call to action.

3. Always A/B test

Always make time to do some A/B testing on a small group of your customers before sending out any bulk campaigns. This will help you to see what's working and what's not so you can refine your message. Look at your open rate, click throughs, opt-outs and conversions to design and refine the ideal campaign. Here are a few things you should be testing and checking to see if it's getting the result you want:

  • Your Message
  • Your call to action
  • Your Offer
  • Frequency
  • Timing

4. Avoid being spammy

If your customers are opting out in large numbers, or your read rate is really low, you need to review your communications. Chances are that your messages are possibly irrelevant, you're sending too many or too frequently, or you're sending them out at the wrong time.  You don't want to be spammy and annoy your customers and land up getting blocked by WhatsApp.

5. Understand mobile behavior of your customers

Make sure that you schedule your campaigns according to the mobile behavior of your customers. When are they reading your messages? What time are they likely to check their phones and take action? According to research by Andrew Chen, opens rates are highest after 6pm. Take time to understand the culture and behaviors of your customers to ensure you get the best results.

6. Focus on ROI

Always keep your ROI goal as your focus. You want tangible results that you're not going to always find in high-level reports like open and read rates. Drill down and make sure that you see the connection between your campaigns and your goals. If your goal is to drive sales, having a high open rate doesn't mean it was a success if your campaign didn't get customers to make a purchase.

7. Maximize what's working

You've put in a lot of hard work to find that winning recipe, so capitalize on what's working and run with it! Automating your winning campaigns will not only help save you time, but will also ensure you're executing the campaigns that work over and over to those customers who meet the criteria and match the profile.


WhatsApp is most definitely the most engaging and personal channel we have to date. Now that WhatsApp has updated their policy around proactive marketing message templates it's really changing the possibilities for how we can use it to market to our customers. Direct marketing is changing forever, don't get left behind.


Get Sweesh!

The Sweesh platform offers an all-in-one bulk WhatsApp messaging tool to help you streamline your marketing efforts, make sales targets, build a memorable brand with your customers and hit those ROI targets!

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