WhatsApp has made the world a smaller place. It’s the quickest chat app available and while we use it to get in touch with family and friends, WhatsApp has revolutionized digital marketing for businesses of all sizes. Communication with WhatsApp is fast, secure and just plain fun.

Why is Microsoft Teams not working as it used to? Why is Skype not as popular as it once was? Why is SnapChat not our primary form of communication with our friends? The answer to all these lies in the reach and popularity of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp isn’t limited to messaging but extends to VoIP (Voice over internet protocol) and video conferencing. Gone are the days when you wanted to buy a vanity phone number or get a fax machine, your WhatsApp app fulfills all your communication needs in the simplest user-friendly manner.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp for Business is a version of Whatsapp for small businesses. It has two major features: Groups and Broadcast. These let you contact customers or potential customers in two distinct ways. Both are powerful communication features and involve sending WhatsApp messages to multiple recipients, but they serve different purposes.

With over 2 billion active users globally, and 5 million using WhatsApp Business, the mobile message application is a force to reckon with. Between WhatsApp Groups and Broadcast, there is a massive opportunity for businesses that isn’t to be missed. It’s aimed at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with their marketing and customer engagement strategies. 175 million people send messages to business accounts on WhatsApp every day.

WhatsApp Business has multiple features for SMEs like a unified dashboard and KPI tracking analytics, but Groups and Broadcast stand out as the most trending features. Let us identify them individually and then compare them to help you understand which will work best for your unique business needs.

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group

What is WhatsApp groups?

You have probably been part of a WhatsApp Group. They can be annoying when it’s your family, but for businesses they’re an easy way to get in touch with many customers at one time.

Everyone can see the Group members and their phone numbers. There is one admin, all powerful and all controlling. This person can choose whether anyone can send messages for everyone else to see, or they can limit conversation. They also have exclusive rights to add and remove members and control who can change Group descriptions.

A WhatsApp Group has all the features of regular WhatsApp chats like sending images, videos, locations, gifs etc. They are used by people mainly to keep up to date with a certain group of people or to make plans. For example, a law firm can create a WhatsApp Group for every case to include the lawyer, paralegal team and plaintiff to facilitate communication. WhatsApp can also be used for law firm video conferencing.

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group

What is WhatsApp broadcast?

Broadcast is a medium for mass communication on WhatsApp but it works in a different way compared to Groups. It isn’t a two-way communication feature like Groups. It’s designed for a 1-way communication and the receiver doesn’t know the message was sent through the Broadcast feature. Also, they can’t see the members of the Broadcast list.

The Broadcast feature is like mail merge. Send the same message to many people, and the message is received in the private direct chat just like regular WhatsApp messaging. A Broadcast message appears as if it’s personally sent to every recipient.

Broadcast messages are received only by those people who have your names saved as a contact. This is a restriction WhatsApp has put in place to save us from spam messages.

WhatsApp Broadcast can truly lift your digital marketing efforts especially when used in tandem with WhatsApp templates. WhatsApp for Business allows you to use its features not only to interact with customers but with your staff too. When you find affiliates to work for you, you can use the Broadcast feature to announce upcoming promotions, and every affiliate will receive the same message without you having to manually send each one.

Broadcast messages aren’t personalized but they do add the personal touch. The Broadcast message can be the first push down the sales funnel on Whatsapp for prospects and if it turns into a conversation, your sales reps can catch on to it.

WhatsApp Broadcast is also a preferred method of communication because it maintains the privacy of all your recipients. It’s quite similar to sending a BCC email.

Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both.

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group

Advantages of WhatsApp groups

The WhatsApp Group feature has the potential to be the biggest asset in your marketing strategy. You can reap the following benefits if you decide to deploy it to expand your business:

a) It’s free and allows you to share images, videos, gifs and even documents like PDF, PPT, and TXT.

b) It allows for a two-way meaningful conversation that can help all parties increase their knowledge.

c) It helps you directly market your business to your target market and increase customer engagement by allowing and boosting conversation around your brand.

It is a convenient enterprise communication medium. WhatsApp groups can be used within your organization for team collaboration efforts and even group video calls are possible.

Advantages of WhatsApp broadcast

WhatsApp Broadcast is an excellent tool for marketers looking to save time and effort. Other than saving you valuable time, and being a more personal means of communication, broadcast has the following advantages:

a) A reply to a message in a WhatsApp group can be seen by everyone. Broadcasts are great for when you don’t want to share replies with everyone.

b) Broadcast lists have been known to have been successfully used to get survey results that should not be shared publicly.

It is the perfect feature to share announcements.

Disadvantages of WhatsApp groups

While WhatsApp Groups has an extensive reach, it has a few limitations:

a) If you have blocked a contact and you share a Group, they will ‌receive your messages. Groups don’t consider if one contact is trying to avoid another.

b) Admins can’t control the content of the messages. It’s a public 2-way communication channel and members are free to share whatever they like. It’s hard to regulate Group chats unless the Admin turns off the chat function for everyone except themselves. And that just kills the whole point of Groups.

c) Members can choose to turn off notifications for Group chats. For businesses that choose WhatsApp Groups to inform customers, this defies the point of having a Group‌ chat.

d) Everyone can see everyone’s number. Some people don’t appreciate their number being shared publicly.

e) The cap of 256 members per Group, means you have to have multiple Groups if you have a large pool of customers. This can increase the workload as admin of many Groups.

f) You can’t integrate a Group chat with CRM (customer relationship management) tools or Android Enterprise.

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group

Disadvantages of WhatsApp broadcast

Making Broadcast lists and using those to market your brand works well for a lot of businesses. However, there are some undeniable shortcomings of WhatsApp Broadcast:

a) If a contact doesn’t have your number saved, the Broadcast message won’t be delivered. This is a massive hurdle to overcome as most customers do not save the numbers of businesses. It’s tiresome to keep tabs of the people not getting your messages.

b) The cap of 256 contacts per Broadcast list could mean you need to create dozens of lists.

c) You can’t integrate WhatsApp Business features with your CRM.

d) If you’re using WhatsApp business, your message has to follow the strict message format set by WhatsApp and sometimes these message templates take a few days to be approved. You cannot Broadcast promotional content, symbols, or emojis.

Say, you want to Broadcast an urgent message to your valued customers about a new gateway on your website for frictionless payments, and WhatsApp doesn’t approve your template in time. It just kills the importance of your message, if you aren’t able to Broadcast it on time.

On WhatsApp Business, Broadcast messages are limited to non-promotional marketing efforts like sharing discount codes and invitations for upcoming events. WhatsApp has a strict “no promotion” policy and that takes away from the usability of the app. The messaging platform should consider how to improve quality of product offering and make it easier for businesses to promote themselves.

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group

Making the right choice

If you want to involve lots of people in a group to brainstorm ideas or discuss your new product, WhatsApp Groups would be the better choice. If your aim is to make your life easy and send the same message to many people, but you want to start a private conversation with all of them personally, WhatsApp Broadcast would suit you better. Broadcast lists work best for updates and announcements.

Make a choice that suits your business. Both are quite unique in their advantages and their shortcomings. Broadcast lists ensure ‌your contacts aren’t bombarded by messages from people they don’t know, and at the same time group chat allows your customers to interact with each other on a platform created by you. WhatsApp group creates a community for your brand.

Sales strategies on WhatsApp can use either of the two features. What is essential is that any successful business strategy should include WhatsApp in its marketing arsenal. It’s one of the most direct ways to increase and maintain your customer base. Both features have strengths that cannot be ignored and perhaps more businesses need to use them together for their Whatsapp sales and customer support strategy.

Frequent Questions

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp for Business is a version of Whatsapp for small businesses. It has two major features: Groups and Broadcast. These let you contact customers or potential customers in two distinct ways. Both are powerful communication features and involve sending WhatsApp messages to multiple recipients, but they serve different purposes.

With over 2 billion active users globally, and 5 million using WhatsApp Business, the mobile message application is a force to reckon with. Between WhatsApp Groups and Broadcast, there is a massive opportunity for businesses that isn’t to be missed. It’s aimed at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with their marketing and customer engagement strategies. 175 million people send messages to business accounts on WhatsApp every day.

What's the best choice between WhatsApp groups and broadcasts?

WhatsApp Groups would be the better choice if you want to involve lots of people in a group to brainstorm ideas or discuss your new product.

WhatsApp Broadcast would suit you better if your aim is to make your life easy and send the same message to many people.

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About the author: Hello! I am Alan and I am the marketing manager at Callbell, the first communication platform designed to help sales and support teams to collaborate and communicate with customers through direct messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram and Instagram Direct