WhatsApp Marketing On The Rise In Africa. Digital Odyssey Blog.

WhatsApp Marketing On The Rise In Africa

Known as one of the most popular messaging apps in Africa – with a few exceptions -, Whatsapp has been essential in increasing the Internet uptake across the continent with its ability to share unlimited text, video and audio messages for free. 


Reported to be responsible for almost half of all of Zimbabwe’s Internet data in the past year, the private messaging app is now being looked into as a marketing platform, especially for a digital marketing agency. Overall, Whatsapp has been a tough nut to crack: no ads, no media, and users not open to intrusive messages means digital marketers have to work and think twice as hard to generate genuine customer engagement. 


With Internet infrastructure in a developing stage, mobile data dominates as the easiest and convenient for African users, as shown here:


Source: Distribution of web traffic in selected African countries by device


With African e-commerce retailers now using Whatsapp to engage customers and more effectively manage returns and failed delivers, marketers are turning to Whatsapp marketing in order to broaden their scope. 


Whatsapp marketing is a channel for businesses to engage with their clients, and helps users send bulk Whatsapp messages to existing users. It creates better engagement as you can only send messages to and from contacts, and businesses can conduct marketing surveys, promotions, and brand awareness. 


Despite no official statement, Whatsapp appears enthusiastic about helping the rise of Whatsapp marketing in Africa, what with the introduction of Whatsapp Business targeting SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to reach their customers. Its features include a business profile, improved messaging tools, metrics, and a verified business account listing. 


For example, we have the South African big box company, Makro. Makro runs lucky draws through their website, Facebook and Twitter. For Christmas 2019, Makro ran a Whatsapp campaign called ‘Whatsapp to Santa’ where people enter the competition by scanning a QR code to add Makro on Whatsapp. 


Why did the Makro Christmas campaign work? 


Efficient customer service. 


By adding Makro on Whatsapp, the user is led through a series of conversations led by prompts and providing some personal information. The end result is the user submitting the name of any article from the Makro Festive Toy Gift Guide Catalog. The company has impressive Whatsapp customer service, and allows users to receive the address, opening hours and contact information of the nearest Makro store once they share their personal details like Whatsapp location. The messaging platform allows Makro to retain clients who have participated in their campaigns and encourages engagement beyond promotion. 


We’ve narrowed it down to a few easy strategies: 


  • If It’s Relevant, It’s For Free 


With a 70 percent engagement rate, Whatsapp can help you offer your users great content on relevant topics related to your brand, such as interviews with thought leaders in your field, business news, etc. 



  • Quick Customer Service 


Like Makro does, having your customers on Whatsapp with you means guaranteed exposure, as long as you’re adequately equipped to handle customer queries on time. 



  • Help With Consumer Research 


Though not for extensive research, Whatsapp offers a free and quick way to get information from your consumers. For example, you could ask about ice cream flavours they like or their preferred soap brands. 



  • Build A Database 


Since Whatsapp is a free service, you’ll want to have something to offer your users if you want their phone numbers (like good free content or promotions). For example, India’s Delhi Police created an anti-corruption mobile number for people to send in images/videos of policemen taking bribes, shirking from duty, etc. On the first day, they received over 23,000 messages alone. 


Despite its success, Whatsapp has caused some friction with mobile network operators by enabling users to make voice and video calls at relatively lower data costs than that of traditional SMS and calling revenue structures. However, at the same time, Whatsapp is also responsible for the consistent rise in Internet usage, as we’ve found out in various African countries, including Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya


If you’re looking to create and build a marketing strategy for Whatsapp, Digital Odyssey can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas of how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys, and digital marketing campaigns. 


Contact Us to Learn How



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