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More engagement? How to grow your audience on WhatsApp and other messenger apps!

man with a smartphone and WhatsApp Business app logo and pensive face
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You've set up your business channel on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Apple Messages for Business. Congratulations! But how do you actually get people to contact you on these channels? We'll show you how you can grow your audience on messenger apps in no time!

Marketing, sales, and service on messenger apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct offer many advantages for companies and customers. While your customers are happy about a quick, easy and personal way to talk to your company, you're more successful as a company because you reduce your workload, improve the service quality, and have happier customers! 

However, this only works if your customers actively use your instant messaging channels. That's why it's important to lead as many of your (potential) customers as possible into your messenger channels.

Growing your audience on messenger apps: The challenge 

But they also have to find it! From the user's point of view, that's not as easy. For example, the world's most popular messenger app, WhatsApp, does not (yet) offer companies any way to place ads or promotions directly in the app. The same also applies to Telegram and Apple Messages for Business (iMessage). And even in messenger services such as Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct, it's only possible to lead users to the channels with a small detour of using an external ad.

This means that, most users, when they want to get in touch with a company, won't necessarily know that they can chat with you on WhatsApp or Instagram Direct. Even if it's now possible to search for businesses on the WhatsApp Business Directory, they have to take the first step to do that, and even if they do, it takes users out of their customer journey if they have to switch from a product page to WhatsApp, for example. 

The challenge in growing your audience on messenger apps is therefore to use external impulse "entry points"! But how can you manage to lead users to your messengers at the right points in their customer journey? By drawing attention to your messenger at every touchpoint!

Quote Erik Reintjes MissPompadour

We show you, how you can do that successfully. 

Communicate your messaging channels at every touchpoint! 

If you want to grow your audience on messenger apps, it's extremely important that users know that they can contact you there! That's why it's crucial to communicate at every touchpoint that you're available on WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger, and so on. Think carefully where you have touchpoints with (potential) customers. Think, for example, of: 

  • Flyers 
  • Banners
  • Store front ads
  • Website
  • Catalogs
  • Podcast ads
  • Radio ads
  • Packaging
  • Out-of-home
  • Business cards
  • Magazines
  • Receipts
  • Company vehicles
  • Etc…
Contact us on WhatsApp CTA NSSA
Let your customers know that they can reach you on messaging apps. (Source: NSSA)

Additional tips for WhatsApp

Since WhatsApp, unlike Facebook Messenger, for example, is not directly integrated into a social media platform (and is therefore more difficult to find), it's even more important to communicate your WhatsApp number everywhere.

You currently only have a landline number as a business contact? No problem! If you set up a WhatsApp business account through a professional provider such as Sinch Engage, you can simply bring this number with you and use it for your WhatsApp business account.

With the click-to-chat feature, Meta offers the possibility to create a link in such a way that users who click on it end up in a Meta chat app. This means that you can use click-to-WhatsApp to lead users directly to a WhatsApp chat, for example. Of course, the same also goes for Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messaging. 

If you use the WhatsApp Business Platform, you can even greet users via chatbot that you can set up with automated dialogs for certain keywords. You can also guide users to important web pages with predefined reply buttons. Even a pre-programmed answer is possible, with which users automatically start a chat when they click on it.

Click-to-Chat automatisierte Antwort

You can use this link anywhere on the web and easily lead users to the chat at the best touchpoints while surfing.

Anzeigen Click-to-Chat für Instagram und Facebook
Click-to-chat works for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct. (Source: Meta)

Use QR codes!

A different way to use click-to-chat is to set up the chat link behind a QR code on a flyer, print ad, fair booth, and whatever physical object you can think of! Once users scan the code, they'll be automatically directed to your messaging app. 

QR codes for WhatsApp Business

💡Tip: Sinch Engage customers can directly download flyers with QR code configured for their respective channel in the tool under the menu item "Widgets & More" and use them to promote the channel. This also applies to a pure QR code that can be used with stickers, foil, and other advertising materials.

Click-to-chat ads

You can also combine the click-to-chat feature of the Meta messenger apps with ads. For example, you can place ads on Facebook, Instagram, or even Google. If a user clicks on the ad, the chat starts immediately, as described above. You can either manually select a messenger app, or Meta also offers the option to automatically direct users to the app they probably prefer.

Especially if you use several messenger channels from Meta, this is a very user-friendly solution. And if you use a business platform for your Messenger communication, all these messages will arrive in a single inbox anyway.

Click-to-chat as a "refer a friend" solution

You can also use click-to-chat to ask your existing customers to recommend your messaging channel. To do this, simply create a click-to-chat in a pre-written message that users then only need to forward to their contacts.

Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook 

Using social media is basically a mix of "communicate your number" and "click-to-chat." Here are some tips and examples.

For Facebook, we actually recommend videos, as they get more engagement and perform better on the platform. Communicate your number there and leave a click-to-chat link directly. You can find a very nice example on Huawei's Facebook page.

On Instagram, you can put the "link in your bio". You can also work with influencers and ask them to promote your messenger channel. Or, you can promote your chat on Instagram Stories (swipe up to chat), and of course, also in Reels. Recently, Instagram also introduced ads in Reels, which gives you even more options to grow your audience for your messenger channels. 

On Twitter, videos combined with number and link work the best. Here's an example from Adidas:

Has a team-mate let you down? Whatsapp PRED to 07444 081 752 now and we'll send you one of London's best ballers in their place.

Seems unfair? Rent-a-Pred is unfair. 100% Unfair. pic.twitter.com/vuYRsgSRs4

— adidas UK (@adidasUK) February 4, 2020

You have a Facebook page? Connect your Meta messenger apps with Facebook!

You can now not only integrate the Facebook Messenger button as a contact option on your Facebook page, but also link it to your WhatsApp or Instagram Direct channel. You can find the function in the settings of your Business Manager.

Include widgets on your website

It's so obvious, but many companies still forget: use your website! That's in fact where most users are looking for information or want to get in touch with you. Consquently, it makes sense to prominently include widgets here. Users can simply click on it, choose the messenger app they prefer, and you can even include a data privacy consent opt-in. 

That's important if you want to be able to send broadcasts to your leads in the future or re-activate a contact. 

Note, though, that the opt-in addition is only included if you use a professional messaging solution. Otherwise, you have to set it up yourself. 

WhatsApp widget website, Altitude Adventure Holidays
  • An optimized landing page for your messenger channel should always be the starting point. 
  • Sinch Engage customers automatically receive a widget that they can place on their website, in their preferred design to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you. We recommend placing the widget in multiple places on your website. Of course, always keep the customer journey in mind, and implement it where it makes the most sense for your business. 

These are the things you should keep in mind when using a widget. 

  • Place the widget also in the sidebar, in the header, and the footer of your web pages. 
  •  Make sure to adjust the widget's shape and size for the best look (it's very easy). 
  •  Always use the most current widget from Sinch Engage (included in your packages). 

Use your chip widget everywhere! 

The chat icon is immediately understood by users, and it offers website visitors an easy way to start talking to you. On your end, it's probably one of the easiest ways to get more users to your messenger app. You can place the widget everywhere on your website. In our experience, however, it works best if it's in the bottom right corner. 

Two companies that grew their audience on iMessage and WhatsApp 

Stylink: Doubling user numbers on iMessage

Stylink is an international affiliate platform that connects online stores with influencers, helping both sides to push exciting products via affiliate links. In Europe, stylink primarily uses WhatsApp as a communication channel for their influencer customers. But when the company expanded to the US, it was clear that another channel was needed! Since stylink already uses the professional messaging solution Sinch Engage, adding another channel was no problem.

Sinch Engage Conversations

Stylink set up iMessage from Apple Messages for Business, and of course first had to promote this channel to grow their user numbers. They promoted their messenger channel through their e-mail newsletters and also with the help of influencer campaigns. Their work paid off: in just two months, stylink doubled the number of iMessage users!

BQ Prime: Twice as many readers

The Indian financial publication BQ Prime (formerly: Bloomberg Quint) wanted to reach more readers, and decided to start a WhatsApp newsletter. In order to get set up with a professional WhatsApp Business Platform account, they used Sinch Engage and their Campaigns feature to send out broadcasts about important stock market and financial news. 


The media publications heavily promoted their WhatsApp service, which turned out to be a huge success! BQ Prime was able to double the numbers of readers. 

"As per our projections, we targeted 100,000 users with the launch, and we achieved that. At present, the community has grown to over 225,000 active users enjoying curated news, stock bots and much more – they can receive everything directly through WhatsApp.

Ankit Dikshit, BQ Prime

Conclusion: The best tips and tricks for growing your audience on messenger apps

Because communication on messenger apps is faster, more direct, and more enjoyable for users, and because it saves work (and costs!) for companies and leads to better conversions, the goal of growing your audience on messenger apps should be clear: users should rather use an instang messaging app than phone, e-mail, and social media!

Therefore, you should promote your messaging channels at every touchpoint. Our tip: Start with your own touchpoints first, such as your website, e-mail signatures, product packaging or flyers. Also, make sure you don't just include phone and email in your contact information, but also clearly communicate WhatsApp and co. We also recommend communicating this very clearly, such as, "Just write us on WhatsApp if you have any questions!"

Also, don't forget about engaging customers offline as well. Here, you can use QR codes to get more users into your chat. And of course, you should also use external sites online where possible, such as click-to-chat links to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct, and also think about where it makes sense for you to place ads on social media pages. This can be in the Facebook feed, but also in the Instagram story, or on Google!

The bottom line: the more active you are in communicating your messaging channels, the more users you will reach!

Do you have more questions about building up your user base on WhatsApp and the like? Our team will be happy to help you!

Just write to us on WhatsApp 


Image of Marinela Potor, editor-in-chief at Sinch Engage.
Written by: Marinela Potor