How to grow your WhatsApp subscriber list

How to grow your WhatsApp subscriber list

How to grow your WhatsApp subscriber list

In this article, we’ll explore organic list building, paid list building, and most importantly—ways to maximize your opt-in rate. 

Picture this: you're in the middle of something important when your phone buzzes. 

A message comes through. Do you look at it?

According to research, you likely do. 

In fact, 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes. That's a direct line straight to your audience. But how do you build a list in the first place? 

By having access to a robust WhatsApp subscriber list, you can connect with customers at every phase of their buying journey: pre-purchase, purchase, and customer care. You’ll be able to subtly shape customer behavior by encouraging a shift to text-based communication.

In this article, we’ll explore organic list building, paid list building, and most importantly—ways to maximize your opt-in rate. 

Build your list naturally

Add WhatsApp opt-ins to all of your existing lead-gen and outreach platforms, and watch your list expand naturally. 

Begin with an embedded sign-up form on your website or a full landing page that describes all of the benefits your subscribers will receive. Extra points for including an opt-in as a website popup, or as a contact page option. This allows you to easily collect interested site visitors and gives them a low-risk way to get to know your business.


pop-up on landing page asking for whatsapp opt-ins


Using a WhatsApp chat widget makes the process even more streamlined. With MessageBird’s Omnichannel Widget, you can provide instant messaging access to subscribers while keeping everything centralized in one inbox that houses all your conversations. 

Consider this: more than a decade ago, Pew conducted a research study asking Americans how they preferred to communicate. Back then, 31% of users preferred texting to a phone call. Fast forward to 2023, and the choice is clear for Millennials and Gen Z. They would rather take that conversation to text every time. 


When you’ve tapped all traditional methods for adding subscribers to WhatsApp, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box—like adding a WhatsApp link to your email signature, offering incentives to join, or running a contest.

Optimize every part of your funnel with WhatsApp

Think of every piece of your funnel as a natural spot for a WhatsApp opt-in. Don’t hesitate to alert users at every level about this convenient new way to connect. This might include:

  • Inviting your social media followers to join your WhatsApp list for exclusives

  • Including your WhatsApp contact number in your social profiles

  • Using QR codes to make sign-up a cinch for viewers on the go

  • Sending an announcement to your email list about your new WhatsApp messaging capabilities and inviting them to join


If you already use general SMS messaging as part of your strategy, you can use this method to alert users to the opportunity for WhatsApp conversations and special offers.  


SMS message to user asking them to opt-in to whatsapp marketing messages


You can also lean on short codes to generate your WhatsApp list via SMS. (Short codes or feature codes are a mobile device communications channel that’s traditionally used for customer support, but have fantastic marketing applications as well.) While short codes are dependent on the mobile carrier network your prospects use, you can use the shortcodes associated with this type of communication to drive traffic to WhatsApp.

Giving the option to switch to WhatsApp in place of a mobile carrier-supported conversation may also increase conversion in prospects who don’t have access to a reliable network.

Additionally, you can use interactive voice response (IVR) for customer support, meaning that customers can opt-in to WhatsApp messaging during an interaction by pressing a designated key on their dial pad. For example, you can add a menu option so that users can “move” the conversation to WhatsApp. 

“To talk with an agent, press 1. 

To get a status on your order, press 2.

To message us on WhatsApp, press 3.”


You may be surprised by how many users choose to move the conversation to a text-based option. It provides those who are otherwise engaged (i.e., at the office, in a meeting, multitasking at home) a way to keep the discussion moving without waiting on hold or spending time on the phone with a customer service operator. 


WhatsApp conversation between customer and business asking the customer if they would like to opt-in

Paid growth strategies to build your list

https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/business-policy/?lang=enAdding a paid growth strategy is simply the icing on the cake when collecting WhatsApp subscribers. The more budget you have available, the farther your potential reach. If you must pick and choose where your dollars are going, it’s best to spend where your audience is most likely to reside. Here’s a breakdown of options in the paid-tactics arena.


Lean on paid ads

This usually equates to placing online ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Lucky for you, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are all owned by Meta, making cross-promotion extremely user-friendly. When a customer clicks the “Send Message” button on an ad, they’re automatically sent to your WhatsApp channel to start a conversation.

Paid ads also include more traditional forms, like print media and billboards. This is where a strategic QR code might come in handy to automatically move viewers to the next phase of the journey.


Paid ad on Facebook with option to message the business directly on WhatsApp


Tap into PR and media buying opportunities.

Perhaps your audience is more apt to engage with traditional news outlets. Swooping into traditional media with a non-traditional marketing method may shake things up in the best way possible; you’ll create new curiosity. For example, you can include a QR code to your WhatsApp sign-up page on posters or in magazine ads.


Ad on magazine with QR code with the option to chat to the business on WhatsApp


Partner up with an influencer

Nowadays, having trusted social proof in your corner is as important as the quality of your product. Working together with popular influencers in your space will add credibility to your campaign and allow you to borrow an audience of warm, engaged users.


Don’t offer this opportunity to just any influencer. Do the research to find out who in your niche already has an active WhatsApp community. This will save you tons of time and ensure you’re spending those dollars wisely.


Then, with organic and paid strategies lined up, the next step is to make your opt-in policy work for you.

How to get opt-ins for your WhatsApp marketing

WhatsApp’s opt-in policy ensures businesses get permission for each type of message they send to customers. For example, if a customer opts in to receive shipping notifications, you can’t send them product recommendations. 


The opt-in process gives customers more control over the types of messages they receive—and ensures that you don’t get reported or blocked for sending unsolicited messages.


Establish your strategy the right way up front, and you’ll gain more qualified leads—allowing you to focus their marketing efforts on consumers who are more likely to engage with you and make a purchase.


Start with your website

A landing page or popup dedicated to adding subscribers to your WhatsApp list can explicitly ask for an opt-in. In fact, it’s best practice to make sure your message is clear at first glance. For example, an opt-in to receive shipping notifications might look like the picture below.

Landing page pop-up where user can add details to get shipping updates via WhatsApp


The same can be said for paid ads, SMS messaging, chatbots, and it’s even an option within an existing WhatsApp thread. Wherever you decide to share your WhatsApp capabilities, make sure to use the opportunity to directly ask for permission to send communications to new subscribers. It’s a seamless way to introduce this new option where your customers are already active. 


WhatsApp conversation between user and business asking for data usage and the business takes the opportunity to ask for WhatsApp marketing opt-in


Take opt-ins offline

If you have brick-and-mortar locations or partner with those that do, ask customers to sign up for your WhatsApp list at checkout. Have a QR code right next to the register so you can easily prompt them to sign up. Consider including a quick list of benefits in case they’re on the fence.


If you’ve included traditional print, PR, or media buys as part of your overall marketing plan, you can also use these channels to encourage opt-ins via QR code, text messaging, or an easy-to-remember web landing page.


Storefront with QR code and WhatsApp message from business asking user to opt-in


Overall opt-in best practices to keep in mind

Honesty and transparency are the tickets to maximizing subscriber opt-ins. The goal is for consumers to understand what they are signing up for and make the choice that best suits their needs. Then, if they do sign up, you’ve got an optimal lead in your funnel. 


Some other best practices for inviting leads to opt in include:


  • Choose clarity. State clearly what your business is, what type of messages they’ll receive, and how often they’ll receive them.

  • Explain the benefits. Make sure the consumer knows why it’s beneficial to them to sign up for your WhatsApp list. This may include opportunities they wouldn’t normally have access to if they’re not on your list, such as special promotions, offers, and exclusive sales.

  • Be specific. Explain what types of communication are available to the customer, like shipping notifications or promotional messages.

  • Keep it simple. Provide easy-to-follow directions. If you require too many form fields,  you’ll lose your audience.

  • Offer an exit. Making the user aware of their right to opt out of certain types of messaging empowers them to make the right choice—which ultimately is what you want when collecting qualified leads.

Grow your WhatsApp subscriber list to connect directly with customers

Starting your WhatsApp subscriber list is the first step to getting in conversation with your customers. Gain subscribers through organic and paid methods, and stay honest with them throughout the process with a clear opt-in permissions. That way, once you add customers to your list, you’ll already be well on your way to earning their trust and loyalty in the years to come. 


Are you ready to learn more about growing your WhatsApp subscriber list? We can help you get started. Alternatively, check out our WhatsApp for business features here.

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.