The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your WhatsApp Following

Growing Your WhatsApp Audience

WhatsApp can profoundly change the way brands engage with their audience, offering direct and personal communication at scale. With open rates as high as 90%, this messaging platform offers an unparalleled direct line to your customers. By establishing a robust WhatsApp audience, you can enhance your marketing campaigns and improve customer retention effectively. But building a sizable WhatsApp audience isn't as simple as just posting a phone number - it requires a strategic, GDPR-compliant approach.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll share the proven strategies top brands are using to rapidly grow their WhatsApp subscriber base. More importantly, we'll ensure you do it all in a way that builds long-term trust and engagement with your customers. The good news is that starting a conversation on WhatsApp is as easy as tapping on a widget or a link, which opens the WhatsApp app and a conversation with the brand. But where is the best place to position this?

By the end, you'll have a roadmap to transform WhatsApp into a powerful revenue-driving machine for your business. Let's dive in.

Website Widgets

Adding a WhatsApp widget to your website is the most effective way to rapidly grow your WhatsApp audience. In fact, our numbers show that 1-3% of website visitors will proactively tap the WhatsApp icon to start a conversation.

These widgets don't just drive opt-ins, though. They also enable you to provide immediate value to customers, whether that's answering FAQs, offering customer support, or sharing important updates. Requests to opt-in to join the “WhatsApp club” after previous exchanges are significantly more effective and can be easily automated with a WhatsApp platform.

For example, placing a WhatsApp opt-in form on your website's thank you page is a seamless way to convert first-time buyers into long-term WhatsApp contacts. You can tie this to delivery updates or other post-purchase information they'll find genuinely useful.

Pop-up invites

Pop-ups will be a highly effective method to introduce their WhatsApp channel to website visitors.

The key is providing an incentive for users to opt-in. Perhaps it's a special discount, like 10% off their first purchase for joining the "WhatsApp Club" Or maybe it's exclusive access to product launches or behind-the-scenes content.

Give customers the option to choose between your WhatsApp and email newsletter, catering to their communication preferences. Alternatively, many successful brands use a two-channel approach. Their desktop pop-ups invite visitors to join the email newsletter, while the mobile pop-ups highlight the WhatsApp opt-in. Signing up on WhatsApp is easier, especially for mobile users, as it only requires a tap. No need to enter any email/phone numbers. One tap takes you to a WhatsApp chat with a pre-populated message asking to join. An automated message will ask the consumer whether they would like to join with clear, GDPR-compliant buttons, and they are in!


Extend an exclusive invitation to your most loyal subscribers, inviting them to join your VIP WhatsApp channel.

The key is clearly communicating how the WhatsApp experience will differ from your email newsletter. Position it as a more exclusive, VIP-level access where they'll receive special offers, behind-the-scenes content, and other perks not available elsewhere. This differentiation will be crucial in converting email subscribers to WhatsApp opt-in.

Our data shows that as many as 50% of email subscribers who see an invitation to join a brand's WhatsApp channel will opt-in. They recognize the value of moving to this more personal, direct communication platform.

Leverage the power of QR codes!

The more savvy WhatsApp commerce businesses leverage QR codes as a powerful tool to grow WhatsApp. These scannable codes streamline the opt-in process, making it a breeze for in-store customers to join your exclusive WhatsApp club.

Whether it's at the checkout counter, a leaflet on the delivery package, on product displays, or even in your storefront windows, these codes will catch the eye of potential subscribers and incentivize them to join. You can sweeten the deal by offering a special discount or entry into a contest exclusively for new WhatsApp sign-ups.

Beyond the immediate boost in subscribers, QR codes also allow you to leverage valuable location data. By connecting an in-store scan to a personalised WhatsApp opt-in, you'll gain insights into where your most engaged customers are browsing and purchasing. This intel can then inform personalized messaging and offers, further strengthening the customer relationship.

Promote WhatsApp on social media

Promoting your brand's WhatsApp channel on social media can be a game-changer for driving WhatsApp growth, especially for creator brands. Leveraging the power of platforms like Instagram, you can reach new audiences and compel them to join your exclusive WhatsApp community. For example, one of our customers used a unique WhatsApp link to identify their growing TikTok customer base.

Brands can invite consumers to ask any questions about their posts or products on WhatsApp or invite them to join the exclusive WhatsApp club.

Forward-thinking brands will also invite in-app purchases directly through WhatsApp, enabling consumers to go from viewing a post to purchasing an item in as few as 3 taps. This seamless shopping experience can be a major differentiator.

Ads to Whatsapp

Using Facebook/Instagram ads to direct potential customers to WhatsApp conversations is a fast-growing practice. By creating ads that link directly to WhatsApp, brands can initiate more personal and immediate dialogues with their audiences, offering a seamless transition from advertisement to interaction.

Successful campaigns, such as those run by The Little Farm Co., demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy. By focusing on longer video ads that showcase a single product, the company witnessed a 46% increase in messages and a 32% reduction in customer acquisition costs. These metrics underscore the potential of WhatsApp-focused ads to significantly boost engagement and reduce marketing expenditures.

Maximizing Opt-Ins and Maintaining Engagement

No matter the channel, you should optimise for a clear and transparent opt-in process to ensure GDPR compliance and obtain explicit user permission. They will emphasize the importance of a double opt-in, where customers actively confirm their consent to receive communications.

Beyond offering discounts, the best companies on WhatsApp will provide valuable content that builds trust and brand loyalty. This may include product updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or loyalty program news - all designed to engage and inform their audience.

Leveraging the power of WhatsApp automation tools, brands will streamline their communication and personalize the customer experience. Automated greetings, delivery updates, and other tailored messages will enhance the connection between the business and its customers.

The key to success will be building trust. Customers will share information with brands they trust, as long as they receive genuine value in return. This shift towards a more direct, personal approach will fuel the rise of creator-driven brands, where the focus is on adding value to the community rather than simply acquiring new customers.


The consumer industry dynamics have undoubtedly shifted. Customers are now much harder to acquire, but they are also more approachable than ever before. By leveraging the strategies outlined in this guide, brands can forge a closer connection with their audience, gain their trust, and learn valuable insights about their needs and preferences.

The rise of creator-driven brands is a testament to this new reality. These businesses prioritize adding genuine value to their communities, rather than simply chasing new customers. By building trust through thoughtful, personalized engagement, they are able to establish mutually beneficial relationships that drive long-term loyalty and success.

Ultimately, the brands that will thrive in this evolving landscape are those that embrace a more direct, transparent, and customer-centric approach. By mastering the art of WhatsApp marketing, they can unlock a powerful new channel for driving sales, enhancing the customer experience, and staying ahead of the competition. The future belongs to the brands that are willing to get closer to their customers, understand their needs, and build lasting, trust-based relationships.

Merx is here to help. Are ready to transform WhatsApp into a revenue-driving channel? The journey starts here.