Procurement · 3 January 2018

A majority of UK firms are missing out on the potential of WhatsApp for business

Despite increased use among business owners, most have fears over the app's security
Despite increased use among business owners, most have fears over the app’s security

Fewer than half of small UK business owners are leveraging the marketing power of WhatsApp, despite the social media tool’s vast user base.

According to new survey findings, conducted by digital marketing agency Digimax, only 48 per cent of decision makers at small UK companies use messaging platform WhatsApp for client communication and marketing.

With over 1.3bn global users, the app offers business owners a ready and waiting user base on a platform their clients will already be familiar with. The latest findings have revealed the untapped potential of WhatsApp as a business tool.

Of those using WhatsApp for business, the overwhelming majority agreed that the ability to see when a message has been delivered and read was a unique advantage over regular text messaging.

With 90 per cent of messages opened within three seconds, brands have been able to connect with customers almost instantly to generate responses.

In September 2017, WhatsApp confirmed development of a dedicated chat tool for small companies – find out what to expect from the WhatsApp business app

However, despite the rise of emojis, memes and gifs on instant messaging platforms, 83 per cent avoided breaking a traditional format when reaching out to clients and customers.

Meanwhile, security fears could explain the low uptake of WhatsApp as a business tool. Some 74 per cent of survey respondents didn’t believe the platform was secure enough to send sensitive business documents through.

Looking more closely into user behaviour, 63 per cent of business owners only contact clients during working hours, while 57 per cent admitted hiding their online status from customers.

Commenting on the findings, Shaz Memon, Digimax creative director, detailed some of the benefits of WhatsApp for business.

“WhatsApp enables immediate, free and convenient communication and is ideal for work-related discussions,” he explained.

“One of the best reasons for using the instant messaging app is that most of your customers are probably already using it – more than 50bn messages are sent through WhatsApp every single day.”

Aside from the majority overlooking client communications and marketing, almost three-quarters of business owners claimed they weren’t yet using WhatsApp for group conversations with colleagues.

However, Memon warned employers to be cautious of overloading a team with work communications.

“Before you create a new group for clients and colleagues, take a step back and think about the potential pitfalls of entering into a WhatsApp discussion with a disgruntled client or having endless conversations about work when you’re trying to unwind.

“By taking group sizes, basic manners, timing and content into account, you can ensure your business WhatsApp chats remain professional and keep those work/life boundaries firmly in check.”

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Office distractions

 

WhatsApp or Facebook? Britain’s top office distractions revealed

With 21.18m people working nine-to-five office jobs every day, the UK could be losing nine million hours of work each day thanks to office distractions.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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