Conversations Conference: Meta announces WhatsApp Cloud API for businesses, and 5 other important takeaways
“The best businesses meet their customers where they are” – and that’s on messaging apps. These were the words that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg used to kick off Meta’s very first messaging conference, “Conversations”. It showed: Meta is heavily investing in new messaging tools for businesses, including opening up the WhatsApp Cloud API. What does this mean? What can you expect? Where is the future of messaging headed? We sum up the most important takeaways.
The past two years have changed pretty much anything about our lives. The way we work, the way we do business, and mostly, the way we communicate. During the pandemic, messaging apps like WhatsApp, the Messenger on Facebook or Instagram Direct became our dependable ways to stay in touch with colleagues, friends, and family—even when we couldn’t see them in person.
And: it’s also changed how people want to communicate with businesses. Meta has seen this shift on all of its messaging channels. Recognizing the importance of conversational interactions between businesses and customers, Meta launched its very first conference focused on messaging: Conversations.
It not only focused on the future of messaging, but also showed Meta’s ambitious plans to take their messaging channels, and turn them into conversational channels for businesses, including opening up their WhatsApp Cloud API. What does this mean? What new tools will Meta launch? And how does this affect your business? These are six biggest takeaways from Conversations.
WhatsApp-Influencer:innen: Das solltest du zu dem Trend wissen!
- Your customers are sending you messages, answer them!
- Conversational messaging will take your business through the roof
- Messenger communication leads to more engaging experiences
- Messaging will replace apps
- Proactive customer service is the next big thing
- Meta opens the WhatsApp Cloud API for all businesses
- Get the features of the WhatsApp Cloud API (and much more) now!
People love messaging! After all, conversations are the most natural way for humans to interact. Every day, people around the world send 140 billion messages to friends, co-workers, and family. It’s only natural that customers want to talk to businesses the exact same way.
Seven out of ten customers say that they feel more connected to a business if they can message it. In fact, more than one billion users reach out to businesses on messaging apps every week.
Yet, they still end up in hour-long waiting lines on the phone where they hang up in frustration. Or, they are being sent e-mails that they don’t read. And every single time, businesses loose interactions, they lose customers. According to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it’s time to change that.
The best businesses meet people where they are.
For Meta this means, that they are heavily investing in their messaging services WhatsApp, the Messenger from Meta, and Instagram Direct by adding new features for businesses. Most notably, Zuckerberg announced that WhatsApp is now opening a WhatsApp Cloud API for businesses of any size, anywhere in the world.
Companies that have started to shift their business towards messaging have seen a huge success. The German clothing company C&A, for example, has started allowing Brazilian customers to shop on WhatsApp. The results? C&A is now making 50 percent of their digital revenue on WhatsApp!
Similarly, General Motors has also seen a huge increase in their business in Brazil through WhatsApp. In the beginning of the pandemic, GM was forced to move their business online. They decided to offer consultation and buying options on WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in Brazil. The result? WhatsApp is bringing in in sales the equivalent of 25 physical stores!
Indosat, a telecommunications provider in Indonesia, decided to help customers faster by implementing automation on their WhatsApp customer service. The result? Indosat has been able to drive five times more revenue!
The logistics company LBC noticed that a lot of their customers were contacting them through the Messenger on Facebook. So, they decided to guide customers to the Messenger, and answer their most frequent questions there, instead of on the phone. The results? They tripled their interactions from 100,000 to 300,000, saved 200,000 hours, and ended up having happier customer service agents, as they were finally able to engage in more meaningful conversations.
📺 Check out our free Webinar to learn how to use WhatsApp and other messenger apps for marketing, sales and customer service!
Another important takeaway from the Conversations conference was that conversational marketing leads to more engaging customer experiences.
First, there is an actual conversation happening with a customer, so the interaction is more personal and more engaging to begin with. In addition, messaging services allow immersive experiences by adding multimedia elements, such as video or images (and maybe even virtual and augmented reality one day). For the Conversations conference, Meta itself allowed users to register via messaging and automated features.
This can change the customer experience significantly.
Instead of sending a customer an e-mail with instructions or telling somebody on the phone how they can re-start their router, businesses can talk their customers through it by video chat. And instead of sending an interested customer to an online store, you can sell them the product they want directly on the app.
Conversational marketing happens on one channel, and it offers a smoother and more engaging experience. Businesses that use conversational messenger marketing have been able to grow their number of leads by six times. Compared to e-mails, sending customers notifications on messenger apps leads to a 79 percent higher open rate, and a 20 times higher click-through-rate!
The ticket company eTicket, for example, sent out notifications about ticket offers to its customers. Out of the people who received the notification, 65 percent ended up buying a ticket the same day.
When smartphones became ubiquitous, almost every company decided to build an app for their service. Being on a user’s phone seemed like the best way to stay close to your customer and promote your service. In reality, however, people get tired of apps, and they end up using two or three apps on their smartphones regularly.
And: at least one of these apps is a messaging app. So why not shift your business from an app to a messenger service? This is actually exactly what Uber did in India in a pilot program.
Instead of having customers download their app, and try to navigate it at low internet speeds, Uber allowed customers to call a ride through WhatsApp, an app 487 million Indians use. The response was overwhelming. Uber registered that one third of these calls were new riders (compared to usually two to three percent). And they noted that they were able to reach a much younger audience, a very new and interesting customer base for Uber.
After this success, Uber is planning to roll out the option for more Indian cities, and also bring it to other markets, such as Brazil. For an app-focused company like Uber, this is a giant shift, and it’s very likely that other companies will follow.
Customer service is typically there to help a client with a problem. Imagine, however, if customer support was proactive, helping customers even before they knew they needed help. That’s one of the big visions of Brad Birdbaum, VP at the CRM platform Kustomer.
Kustomer is Meta’s latest acquisition, and meant to connect CRM systems with messaging apps. The idea is that customer support can happen instantly and directly in the chat. However, it’s not supposed to stop there. Birdbaum envisions a customer service that reaches out to clients to let them know there is a problem—and offer to fix it.
For instance, after placing a food order at a restaurant, the restaurant can reach out to the customer to tell them that they are out of an item, and offer replacements. This could even be an automated conversation. Ideally though, customer service is already helping before the customer even realizes that there might be an issue.
This could greatly improve customer satisfaction, and become the next big thing in customer service on messaging apps.
“We are seeing a meaningful shift” in conversations, said Mark Zuckerberg at the conference. Whereas people used to share information with friends and family on their news feed, now this has shifted to more private and secure messaging channels. In order to open up this type of exchange between businesses and customers, “I am excited to announce that we’re opening WhatsApp to any business of any size around the world with WhatsApp Cloud API,” said Zuckerberg.
The Application Programming Interface allows businesses to connect their back-end systems with messaging services like WhatsApp, but also SMS or RCS. Until now, businesses only had access to the WhatsApp API through official Business Service Providers like MessengerPeople. Now, companies can link their systems directly to the WhatsApp Cloud API, which would help cut costs for server expenses.
Business users of the Messenger from Meta will now also be able to send recurring notifications (for a cost) on the Messenger API, similar to WhatsApp push notifications. Instagram will be getting the feature this fall.
Upgrade for the WhatsApp Business App
In addition to the WhatsApp Cloud API, the WhatsApp Business App, meant for very small businesses, is also getting some upgrades, such as being able to add FAQs, or a product catalog. Meta is also planning to launch a paid WhatsApp Business App subscription service that would allow small businesses to manage chats across up to ten devices and add click-to-chat links that could attract more customers.
And there will also be possibilities for larger Enterprise solutions, although Meta didn’t mention what the Enterprise solution would include exactly. Meta seems to be aiming at a suite solution where, depending on company size, businesses can add different building blocks to better fit their needs.
Data protection and costs for new tools so far not clear
It’s also unclear what costs the WhatsApp Cloud API will include exactly, and if it will allow businesses to comply with data regulations, such as the GDPR.
It also seems unlikely that companies will be able to link competing messaging apps, such as Telegram or iMessage, to the API—something other Business Service Providers, such as MessengerPeople do offer. It therefore remains to be seen how businesses will integrate the new messaging options in the future.
With the “Messenger Communication Platform” (MCP) from MessengerPeople, you can already unlock the features of the WhatsApp API, integrate CRM systems and other messaging apps, add chatbots, and be GDPR-compliant!
With the MCP, you can:
- 👨⚖️ … use WhatsApp and other messaging apps via the official WhatsApp Business API for customer communication in a GDPR-compliant way.
- 🗞️ … use the Messenger Information Assistant (MIA) to send messaging newsletters to your subscribers.
- 🚀… Start without IT effort and in the shortest possible time, even from a work-from-home setup!
- 💻… Edit and reply to all messages centrally, regardless what messenger app they are coming from.
- ↔ … Assign requests as tickets to your co-workers manually or automatically through auto-routing.
- 🤖 … Easily set up automation using our simple chatbot builder, which is free of charge.
- ⬆️ … Boost your efficiency with templated replies through a chatblock builder.
- 💰 … Use the number one communication channel effectively, at fair price, and without a set-up fee for maximum personal digital consulting!