Why aren't more businesses using WhatsApp?

New research shows that less than half of British businesses are using WhatsApp, despite its widespread appeal among consumers.

WhatsApp, launched in 2013, is used by more than 1.3 billion users globally. But according to new research by Digimax, less than half of British businesses (48%) are using WhatsApp for client communication and marketing.

The findings show that of those that do use the free messaging app for customer communication:

  • 63% of businesses only employ WhatsApp during business hours;
  • 67% limit the times they are available for clients on the app;
  • 57% have admitted to hiding their online status so that clients can't see it;
  • 72% of business customers do not use WhatsApp for group chats with business colleagues, keeping it for one-to-one communication.

When asked what features of WhatsApp business customers used, 83% said that they did not use emojis, memes or gifs when communicating with clients; and 74% did not think that the service was secure enough to use for sensitive business information. However, one of WhatsApp's key features – the fact that you can see when someone has read your message – is increasingly finding favour with business users. The research found that 73% of business users say that the biggest advantage of the service is the ability to see that the message has been delivered and read.

In fact, 90% of WhatsApp messages are opened within three seconds, according to Digimax. Its survey found that 29% of business users also say they like being able to see how long it takes the recipient to read a message.

Shaz Memon, creative director at Digimax, said: "WhatsApp enables immediate, free and convenient communication and is ideal for work-related discussions. One of the best reasons for using the instant messaging app is that most of your customers are probably already using it – more than 50 billion messages are sent through WhatsApp every single day.

"However, before you create a new group for clients and colleagues, take a step back and think about the potential pitfalls of entering into a Whatsapp discussion with a disgruntled client or having endless conversations about work when you're trying to unwind. By taking group sizes, basic manners, timing and content into account you can ensure your business Whatsapp chats remain professional and keep those work/life boundaries firmly in check."

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