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 on a daily basis and spend an average of 28 minutes with the app. In addition, 44% of Germans would like to get in touch with a company via WhatsApp.

This is reason enough to take a closer look at what opportunities the Messenger channel offers marketing professionals to reach customers and strengthen their relationship with them. In the first part of our guide, we will look at the technical the technical aspects, the set up and the requirements of WhatsApp. In the second part, we 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
  • Which guidelines must be observed
  • How companies can drive consumers:inside 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 data protection compliant and does not allow the channel to be managed by a team, but only by a single person.

WhatsApp provides the WhatsApp Business API for medium-sized and large companies. This is privacy-compliant 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 WhatsApp newsletter software or directly a Conversational AI platform which can also be used to directly build and operate a chatbot.

How does the 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. The first step is therefore always taken by the consumer. Only then can companies send messages to their customers. Cold calls, or in this case cold messages, with purchased phone lists are not permitted.

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.

In the session messages, the users contact the companies. Afterwards, they have the opportunity to reply for 24 hours and send further messages. Each time the user responds to a message from the company, a new 24-hour window opens in which the user 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 from Facebook here: Link

Which guidelines must be observed?

Obtaining the opt - ins for Business Initiated Messages

As with e-mail 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 
  • About your website
  • In the WhatsApp chat
  • Over the phone, using IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
  • In person or via a hand-signed document

More information about the privacy policy can be found 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 for WhatsApp message templates:

Notification options for a chatbot via WhatsApp

The full guidelines for Message Templates can be found here: Link

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

However, promotional content is allowed in session messages.

How can companies drive consumers:inside 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 and a QR code can be used for this.

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

The retailer Makro is a good example of how companies can encourage their customers to contact them on WhatsApp. As part of a Christmas campaign, the company asked customers to tell Santa Claus their favorite toy via WhatsApp. Vouchers were then raffled off among the participants.

Ad with QR Code to Chatbot

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 optimally exploited

Conversational marketing involves marketing within a conversation. For this to feel natural to customers, responses must be sent in real time. However, this is not possible with limited human resources. 

The use of an intelligent chatbot can remedy this situation in real time. 80% of all standard queries can now be answered very well by chatbots. This means that employees only have to deal with the complex queries 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 a mandatory requirement of 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 learn what is possible with a chatbot in conversational marketing.

Part 2: Examples of Conversational Marketing