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"Mobile-first" mentality in marketing

The humble little smartphone is now THE most important and personal item we have – ahead of your wallet, laptop, watch and many more. It is not just a computer but a source of entertainment and news; a digital wallet; a shopping mall; and an enabler of your lifestyle.

The role mobile plays in accelerating Internet-enabled commerce growth versus desktop is truly profound. As early as 2015, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time, and now up to 70% of all web traffic happens on a mobile device (source: CIODive, 2018). What’s more, 49% of consumers use their smartphones for shopping, significantly impacting the eCommerce landscape. It is expected by 2021, over half of all eCommerce sales will be conducted over mobile devices (source: 99Firms).

WhatsApp-based marketing: the foundation of mobile marketing

In our previous blog, we briefly discussed how messaging platforms such as WhatsApp – with over 2 billion unique users – provide a space for intimate dialogue between brands and consumers. The benefits are truly win-win; customers can get the information they need on a private channel, while companies can create excitement over products, acquire new users, build trust, while keeping an eye on what they care about.

In this regard, WhatsApp/ messaging-based marketing should be viewed as the backbone and entry point for businesses to engage their customers in a myriad of ways. Below are some key areas that we believe companies could consider, as they seek to develop their WhatsApp-based marketing programs:

Customer acquisition

Perhaps the most immediate usage case study of WhatsApp marketing is the ability to capture prospective customers naturally. The fact that consumers have to first opt-in in order for your API to send proactive, automated messages means that you now have unprecedented, private access to their world (on mobile). From a marketing perspective, this means customers are more likely to respond favourably to your marketing ads, sales brochures, and much more.

Customisation of consumer experience

When users agree to opt-in on WhatsApp, companies automatically receive their phone number; country of origin; and (in some cases) their usernames. This allows marketers a prime opportunity to leverage AI chatbot technology to design a personalised chatbot conversation journey with the customer. By customising texts to address users by their first names, or changing these texts into different languages for instance, businesses can learn a great deal about each customer, their demographics and behaviour and amass valuable, effective data for future campaign use.

Enable direct sales conversion

As the Internet continues to drive the commoditisation of products and services, marketing is perhaps the most critical component among eCommerce businesses. WhatsApp-based marketing enables marketers to have a deeper understanding of each customer, and also presents them a variety of ways to generate sales. From texts on special “WhatsApp only” sales, to designing a conversation journey that drive product suggestions to actual sales, marketers and merchants are now able to target, measure and offer each business transaction accurately to customers.

Location tracking to enhance customer experience

Many industries are now capitalising on GPS as a way to engage with customers while they are on the move. An insurance company in Hong Kong, for instance, leveraged location-tracking and chatbot technology to provide policy holders a list of approved panel doctor locations – all sent to customers’ WhatsApp – based on where they are located at the time. Customers can then choose whether to stick to their regular doctors and book an appointment accordingly, or conveniently visit one of the clinics closest to them.

Enable online-to-offline (O-2-O) strategies

Why view online and offline marketing exclusively, when they can work together in harmony? According to a survey by HRC Retail Advisory in 2018, 59% of US smartphone shoppers used their device in-store to search for deals, coupons or compare prices.

WhatsApp marketing can allow businesses to grow their offline AND online businesses to mutual benefit – all while consumers are mobile. For instance, retailers with physical shops can engage consumers on WhatsApp in-store, and drive them to their direct-to-consumer website traffic, either to generate further sales or to attract greater viewership of their blogs and videos. Conversely, these same retailers can launch online sales campaigns targeted at generating greater foot traffic in-store. We believe such an approach is particularly relevant to retailers in Hong Kong, many of whom have much invested in physical retail presence.

Please drop us a note if you are interested to find out more about WhatsApp-based marketing solutions, and how Icicle can help you develop campaigns that create buzz, acquire new users, and enhance your relationship with your customers.


Adrian Fu is Icicle Group's Communications and External Affairs Director. He is a multi-disciplined professional with over 20 years of experience in corporate and technology industry brand marketing. He is also an award-winning songwriter and recording artist, with Mandarin and Cantonese albums to his name. Adrian is an avid reader and a student of meditation.


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