Facebook eyeing small & medium enterprises to boost WhatsApp Business in India

The investment of $250,000 into the startup ecosystem in India is a bid to popularise the WhatsApp for Business App in the country, say experts

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Nov 28, 2019 1:33 PM

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Whatsappp for Business

After emerging as one of the biggest platforms for advertisers, Facebook is now going all out to boost its WhatsApp Business in India. The social media giant is now gearing up to grab the attention of small and medium business owners.

WhatsApp has announced an investment of $250,000 into the start-up ecosystem in India. Through a partnership with Startup India, WhatsApp will provide 500 DPIIT-approved startups with $500 USD each of Facebook ad credits. With these ad credits, the startups can create ads that invite customers to click to open a chat on WhatsApp and thus deepen connections and increase sales.

According to marketing expert and digital agency Fulcro Founder Sabyasachi Mitter, “Facebook has clearly cracked the code to generate revenue from advertisers in India but their Click-to-WhatsApp ad unit present in the Facebook inventory has not gained much popularity in the country. The entire exercise of pumping in $500 of ad credits to 500 startups is to grab their attention and acclimatize them with how the tool works. So they are looking at popularizing the WhatsApp for business app and getting people hooked onto invest in Facebook to direct conversations to Whatsapp.”

On how this initiative can help small and medium businesses, Hina Mittal Nayar, Co-Founder and CEO, Profiliad Media, said: “This would help in revenue growth for small and medium businesses by making their business more reachable and engaging for customers, which in turn would lead to an increase in the number of sales or purchases. The customer, once used to this format, would re-invest in the platform and that is what WhatsApp is targeting.”

WhatsApp for business functions in two formats - WhatsApp for business API, meant for big businesses like MakeMyTrip and BookMyShow, and WhatsApp for business app, used by one million retail companies at the moment and is targeted towards small and medium businesses.

The Click-to-WhatsApp ad feature is currently available for objectives of messages, traffic, conversions (for website) and post engagement and allows users to choose their audience, placements, and campaign schedule.

Sharing further insights, Mitter said: “Once the feature is popular, and small and medium business players get a hang of how they can use it to communicate one on one with clients they will start investing in it and Facebook can add to their revenues by selling ads through this.”

The social media giant already has a double digit growth in the country and WhatsApp for business, once popularised, can help boost it further.

According to financial data, accessed by business intelligence platform, Tofler, Facebook India Online Services Private Limited, reported its revenues for the financial year 2018-19 at Rs 892 crore, a 71 per cent jump since the last financial year. The company further reported a net profit of Rs 106 crore during the same fiscal. This was also an 86 per cent increase from the last financial year.
“India’s entrepreneurs are at the forefront of bringing impactful social and economic change, and we at WhatsApp are committed to providing them support in achieving success,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp India.

In an official statement the social media player has said five million businesses around the world, of which a million are in India, are actively using the WhatsApp Business app to have meaningful conversations with their customers. With the newly launched catalogue feature, small businesses now have a mobile storefront to showcase their products and services so customers can easily find something they might like to buy.

“Just like shopping apps came in as a disruption and took over the market place, the entire ecosystem of how products are bought and sold might completely change in the coming days with WhatsApp business and WhatsApp payments also coming in,” Mitter explained.

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