The beginning – scratching a personal itch.
- We were a software company with 4 inside sales agents
- Each one interacted with around 70 calls per day
- Out of which approximately 20 people would be interested
- Their next question… “Can you send me the details on WhatsApp?”
Back then, climbing Mount Everest was easier than sending WhatsApp message to a new person who is not already on your phone book
Step 1: You type the number
Step 2: Add him to the phonebook
Step 3: Search on WhatsApp
Step 4: copy-paste the message
Step 5: manually edit the name and other personalization details
Step 6: Finally you will be able to send the message
Unless you get a callback from another lead who also wants a WhatsApp message
in that case, your promise is lost and you will have to start all over again
But the sales agents had no choice.
The only other option was sending a brochure over email.
Even after putting in all that effort, this approach has multiple huge flaws
- It would take (waste) a lot of time (up to 10 minutes) just to send a WhatsApp message to one prospect.
- By the time they sent it prospect gets busy doing other things, so their message got ignored anyway.
- Plus it’s a built-in WhatsApp privacy feature that unless you get a response from the person they cannot actually send them a clickable link.
That’s pretty much a goodbye kiss for any hopes of sending them a call to action (CTA) or to get them to take the next step.
Hence, most of the time all that effort was just wasted!
After seeing the sales team’s pain, we quickly hacked together a script.
Now, when you’re talking to someone who is interested and says ‘send me details on WhatsApp’.
You copy-paste his number and hit send and a message will be sent and the message will be sent!
Distributing it to all team members was difficult so we hosted it on the Chrome Web store and gave everyone a link!
Our problem was solved. And things are back to business as usual.
Or so we thought…
The blow-up – 22,000 people were the same itch using OUR scratcher!
Three months later the analytics guy comes to my desk and says there are 22,000 users with a lot of highly positive reviews on one of our extensions
“We don’t have a chrome extension with even 2000 users, let alone 22000”
It took us 15 minutes to figure out exactly what was happening!
Turns out there was a text box in the extension where multiple numbers can be entered at once,
So other people had started using it to message multiple contacts on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is great for keeping your customer base and audience updated.
It has better engagement and any other medium of communication.
But groups and broadcast lists do not have the option to send personalized messages.
If your business is not big enough to apply for the official WhatsApp API then you have no choice but to send your customers impersonalized, dry, often mistimed messages to your customers.
This was exciting for us.
Going from something that we didn’t even think anyone would care about two 22,000 users (that we didn’t even know we had) asking for ‘premium’ features.
We announced on the website that we are building a premium version that will help send personalised messages…
Within three hours, 13 people asked for a link to pre-book the premium version.
In the past, we had spent months and at times years building software that wouldn’t get 13 paying users even in 3 months after launch, and here is a simple script that has 22,000 users acquired purely from word of mouth out of this 13 are willing to pre-book something that doesn’t even exist…
The response was overwhelming.
And then we noticed something…
The blow-out – It’s useless after all
While most people use it to message genuine contacts
Some people used our tool to spam unknown WhatsApp users in the hopes of marketing and selling.
As if WhatsApp is Bulk SMS.
WhatsApp frowns upon this sort of bulk messaging (and rightly so).
If I were Zuck, I definitely would not want my high-engagement platform turn into a glorified spam house like email!
So after many discussions, we dropped the idea, decided to shut everything down.
The person in charge had just resigned, so no one noticed that the chrome web store link or the email address mentioned there weren’t immediately pulled down.
Soon the unmonitored inbox was filled with requests of hundreds of genuine users asking for premium features.
After reviewing, found that salesforce does cater to this particular use case using the official WhatsApp API!
So essentially WhatsApp does not have a problem if you use some tool to send personalized updates to your subscribers and customers who WANT to hear from you
But if your business is not big enough to use something like salesforce, then there is nothing that helps to solve YOUR problem.
That’s when we decided to relaunch with proper disclaimers.
There are still some people who use our tool for spamming.
Just like 30% of the emails in your Gmail inbox are spam! But that doesn’t make Gmail useless!
We figured we can’t and we shouldn’t try to stop everyone. We can just let them know that this is not what our tool is intended for. And that we definitely do not support them doing it.
Now just like any tool, this one can also be abused.
But as long as we keep getting testimonials like this one –
We are willing to continue despite having to put in the extra effort to prevent abuse
Besides, don’t you think the world won’t be the same without Gmail (or W A Sender for that matter 😉 )