Whatsapp is by far the most popular messenger service in Germany. According to a survey by Statista 90 % of Germans use WhatsApp regularly. And 68% of Germans use the messenger daily and spend on average 28 minutes with the app. In addition, 44% of Germans would like to be able to contact a company via WhatsApp.

Reason enough to take a closer look at what possibilities the Messenger channel offers marketing professionals to reach customers and strengthen the relationship with them. In the first part of our guide, we look at the technical aspects, the set up and the specifications of WhatsApp. In the second part, we will show you examples of what is possible with conversational marketing.


In this part you will learn

  • How businesses can use WhatsApp as a marketing channel
  • How communication works
  • What guidelines must be observed
  • How businesses can drive consumers to their WhatsApp channel
  • Why the use of a chatbot in conversational marketing makes sense


How can companies use WhatsApp as a marketing channel?

Companies that want to use WhatsApp for customer communication have two options: 

For small businesses, there is the WhatsApp Business App. However, this is not privacy-compliant and does not allow the channel to be managed by a team.

WhatsApp provides the WhatsApp Business API for medium-sized and large companies, which complies with data protection regulations and enables teamwork. However, there is no app and no front-end interface for using the functions. Instead, the API must be connected to a business software. This can be, for example, a Conversational AI Platform which can also be used to build and operate a chatbot directly.


How does communication work?

In order to communicate with a company via WhatsApp, users must add the company as a contact on WhatsApp and send it a message. So the first step is always taken by consumers. Only then can businesses send messages to their customers. Cold calls, or in this case cold messages, with purchased phone lists are not allowed.

What types of messages can businesses send via WhatsApp?

Basically, a distinction can be made between two types of messages: Sessions Messages and Business Initiated Messages.

With session messages, users contact the companies. Afterwards, they have the opportunity to reply for 24 hours and send further messages. Each time the users reply to a message from the companies, a new 24-hour window opens in which the users can be contacted.

After the 24 hours have expired, companies can only resume contact via Business Initiated Messages. These must consist of message templates and be created according to fixed specifications. In addition, the templates must be approved by WhatsApp before they can be used. If users reply to such a Business Initiated Message, a 24-hour time window opens again in which companies can freely send messages.

Unlike session messages, template messages are subject to a fee. Prices vary from country to country. Currently, a message in Germany costs about 7 cents. 

You can find a cost overview of Facebook here: Link


Which guidelines must be observed?

Obtaining the opt in for Business Initiated Messages

As with email marketing, an opt-in must be obtained from users for business initiated messages. It must be clearly communicated that the users agree to receive messages from a company via WhatsApp. In addition, the name of the company must be clearly stated. You can obtain the opt-in as follows:

  • Via SMS 
  • On your website
  • In the WhatsApp chat
  • Over the phone, using IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
  • In person or via a hand-signed document

You can find more information about the privacy policy here: Link

No promotional content in the message templates

Furthermore, advertising content is not permitted in the message templates. This is WhatsApp's way of preventing customers from being spammed.  

Content is classified as promotional if, among other things

  • Discount coupons or free samples are offered
  • Upselling is practised
  • Certain keywords are used that are categorised as marketing language, even if the content of the template is otherwise permitted.

The following categories are permitted by WhatsApp for message templates:

The full guidelines for message templates can be found here: Link

The WhatsApp Commerce Policy, which specifies which products or services are permitted, can be found here: Link

However, promotional content is allowed in session messages.


How can companies bring consumers to their WhatsApp channel?

If the first contact has to come from consumers, how can companies encourage them to contact them?

One possibility is to place the company's WhatsApp number on contact surfaces such as websites, flyers, posters, brochures, packaging etc.. Both the company's number directly and a QR code can be used for this.

However, it is also possible to place ads on Facebook, for example, which then redirect users directly to WhatsApp. How to create ads that lead to your WhatsApp channel: Link

One example of how companies can encourage their customers to contact them on WhatsApp is the retailer Makro. As part of a Christmas campaign, the company asked customers to send a WhatsApp message to Santa Claus with their favourite toy. Vouchers were then raffled off among the participants.


Why does it make sense to use a chatbot in conversational marketing?

Using a chatbot in conversational marketing via WhatsApp makes sense for three reasons:

  1. Employees are relieved
  2. Customer satisfaction is increased
  3. The potential of conversational marketing can be used optimally

Conversational marketing is marketing within a conversation. In order for this to feel natural to customers, responses need to be sent in real time. This is not possible with limited human resources. 

This can be remedied through the use of a chatbot. 80% of all standard enquiries can now be answered very well by chatbots. This way, employees only have to deal with the complex enquiries and have more time for them.

In addition, when marketing via WhatsApp, companies only have a limited time window in which they can communicate freely with users. After 24 hours, messages can only be sent via the message templates. WhatsApp has defined precise use cases for this and does not allow any advertising content.

It is important to note that if a chatbot is used, it must be possible to pass it on to human representatives. This is made mandatory by WhatsApp. The most convenient solution for customers is seamless forwarding to an employee directly in the chat. This can easily be done via a human handover function. 

In the second part of our guide, you will find out what is possible with a chatbot in conversational marketing.