Is Telegram popular with your customers? If it is, this guide will teach you how to use Telegram for business. Drawing from our direct experience in successfully setting up and managing Telegram business accounts, we’ll explain what a Telegram business account is, how to create a Telegram bot to chat with customers and best practices for making the most of your business account for Telegram. Let’s dive in!
What is Telegram?
Telegram is a messaging app renowned for its privacy and security, support for every major operating system and ease of use as a mobile app. It had over 700 million monthly active users and was among the top five downloaded apps worldwide as of June 2022.
The privately-owned service also long held a not-for-profit stance. While Telegram has introduced a paid premium subscription, all existing features remain free. As its popularity continues to grow, the channel is seeing an uptake among businesses.
Let’s examine more reasons why Telegram is a key channel for customer communication.
Telegram Business Account Benefits
An impressive 64% of customers prefer communicating with businesses over instant messaging rather than traditional channels like phone calls or email. Given this preference for instant messaging, Telegram for business stands out, particularly due to its robust security measures.
Telegram uses server-client encryption, and it stores and encrypts files in the Telegram cloud. Privacy-conscious users can opt for extra security with advanced end-to-end encrypted messages and voice calls.
However, customer communication is not limited to 1:1 chats and calls. Telegram also has social platforms businesses can leverage to interact with customers at scale, such as Telegram Groups and Channels. Companies can share promotional content, special offers and marketing materials, reaching a wide audience effortlessly.
Best of all, Telegram doesn’t limit the number of devices an account can be connected to or use simultaneously, and chats are synced in real time across all devices. Without any restrictions on content type or messaging windows, it’s a great channel for business.
Furthermore, Telegram for Business stands out as a cost-effective solution. Its free Telegram Bot API opens doors for integration with CRMs and customer conversation management software. This enables the use of AI chatbots and automation tools for businesses that want to message at scale.
Why You Need a Telegram Business Account
A Telegram business account can enhance your operations and customer interactions significantly. Below are some examples of what you can achieve:
- Share promotional content, special offers and other marketing materials in 1:1 messaging or via Telegram Groups and Channels.
- Guide customers through the sales funnel easily as the platform enables secure and informal conversations that build rapport.
- Provide customer support 24/7 and respond to customer inquiries, complaints and feedback in real-time.
- Conduct surveys and gather feedback from customers or employees in a conversational format.
- Integrate existing CRMs so they can access and update customer data and create deals or tickets while chatting with customers on Telegram.
Now, let’s see where businesses are actively using Telegram to communicate with customers.
Regions that Use Telegram for Business
In a few regions around the world, Telegram is overtaking Facebook Messenger in popularity, though it’s still behind WhatsApp globally. What spurred this development and where is this growth prominent?
Telegram was the fastest-growing messenger in 20 countries and the top messaging app in 16 countries in 2020. That number has only risen since. The 2020 Telegram user growth map below shows its use in Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as in parts of South Africa, North America and South America.
The trend continued in 2021 and 2022, with Europe, Asia and Africa recording steady downloads. Telegram’s largest user base is now in India, where the app has 120 million monthly active users as of September 2022 and comprises almost 20% of its total users.
Telegram has already become part of an elite club of apps that have been downloaded over 1 billion times. If you’re in a region where customers are increasingly turning to the channel, consider using Telegram for business to reach out to them.
How to Use Telegram for Business
Telegram provides an easy yet impactful experience for businesses and customers alike. For example, businesses can drive customers to chat with them via Telegram links or QR codes. Let’s look into more native Telegram features or capabilities that are ideal for businesses.
Interact with Customers on Telegram Groups
Telegram Groups work just like groups on other messaging apps. The key difference is groups on Telegram can have up to 200,000 members. They are highly configurable, have granular controls for chat management and can be private or public and searchable.
As Telegram Groups support two-way interaction, they are invaluable for community building. Businesses can share their Telegram links with customers to gather feedback, conduct polls or address topics of interest according to the group’s segmenting.
Send Broadcasts via Telegram Channels
Telegram Channels have the same features as Groups, except communication is one-way — only admins can send messages. They also have no user limits, making them ideal for broadcasts.
For instance, Health Ministries in Singapore, Malaysia, India and Israel used Telegram Channels to update the public on COVID-19 news.
Users subscribe to channels through in-app searches on Telegram or by using channel links posted on websites or other places. Interestingly, channels with over 1,000 subscribers can access channel and post analytics to measure their reach and impact.
Share Identification Documents Securely with Telegram Passport
If you’re in an industry that handles identity verification, then Telegram Passport is for you. It’s a platform that stores identification documents for use by institutions or service providers that require them for Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.
The idea is to stop uploading these confidential documents to various places. Since Telegram stores this data in its cloud with end-to-end encryption, only the intended recipients can access the data.
Get Telegram Premium for Heavy Use of Telegram for Business
Telegram’s co-founders were adamant that its private messaging would always be cost-free and ad-free. That promise is still intact, but the channel recently introduced Telegram Premium for users who are willing to pay for additional benefits.
These include 4GB file uploads, faster downloads, exclusive stickers, custom animated emojis and emoji statuses, and advanced chat management and privacy settings. If you often send large files, subscribing to the Premium plan could be worth it. Otherwise, you can get by with the free version.
Create a Telegram Business Account with Telegram Bot
The Telegram bot is basically a Telegram Business account. Unlike WhatsApp Business App, there is no dedicated Telegram Business app. However, using the Telegram bot allows you to create a branded Telegram account for your business.
The Telegram bot (or Telegram Business API) is free and lets you create bots to play games, run e-commerce services or chat with customers, among many other things. Telegram chatbots are also searchable in the app.
However, you’re probably here to learn how to use it for business messaging. As an API, the Telegram bot lacks an interface and needs to be connected to a messaging inbox like respond.io to send and receive messages.
Medium to large businesses can connect Telegram to an AI-powered customer conversation management software like respond.io or integrate it with their business software or CRMs to perform tasks while chatting with customers.
Additionally, connecting a Telegram bot to respond.io will enable sophisticated automation to automate marketing initiatives, sales cycles and customer support. Businesses can also use advanced AI tools to manage sales and support conversations.
Is this what you've been looking for? If so, just jump ahead to the next section to get started with your Telegram bot.
How to Set Up a Telegram Business Account with Telegram Bot
The Telegram bot allows you to set up a branded Telegram account for business, which gives your account legitimacy and credibility. To create the bot, do the following:
1. Chat with the BotFather. Search for the BotFather in Telegram and then press Start.
2. Use the /newbot command. This will start the bot creation process.
Choose a display name and then a username. You can change the bot name later, but the username has to be unique, should describe who you are and end with bot.
3. Receive the token to connect your Telegram bot to a messaging CRM.
That’s it — once this Telegram account setup is complete, you can start using your Telegram bot immediately.
Verify Your Business Account with the Telegram Badge
Want to assure contacts of your legitimacy with a Telegram-verified badge? You’ll need verified accounts on at least two of these services, including TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Verification is currently only available for channels, bots or public groups.
Next, let’s look at best practices to make the most of your Telegram account.
Telegram Business: Best Practices
For conversations to happen on this channel, you need customers to message you first. In this section, we’ll look at how to capture inbound conversations and send outbound messages on Telegram.
Telegram Business: Get Contacts to Find You on Telegram
Although users sign up for Telegram with a phone number, the primary identifier of each user is their Telegram ID. To protect your privacy and reduce spam, Telegram does not pass on your phone number or ID to your messaging CRM, just your name.
This also means Telegram users cannot be imported via CSV file to a CRM as contacts. Luckily, there are tools that make it easy for customers to reach out to you. These tools are chat links, QR codes and in-app search. Let’s explore them in more detail.
Telegram for Business: Chat Links and QR Codes
When a person clicks a chat link or scans a QR code, they will be taken directly into a chat with your brand. Every Telegram bot comes with a chat link using the t.me/username format, so it’s important that your bot username reflects your brand.
Chat links work well on websites, social media profiles or even in emails sent to customers. They do have a limitation though: They only work well when the Telegram app is installed on the device.
On mobile, users will be directed to download the Telegram app if they press the link. On desktop, users will be taken to a page where they can open Telegram Web. However, this only works when users have visited the page previously.
What about QR codes? Businesses commonly use them to drive traffic from both online or offline locations such as websites and storefronts. Similar to chat links, they will only work when the app is installed. Here’s a tip: To let customers know which app to use, add a Telegram logo above the QR code.
Although Telegram doesn’t provide QR codes out of the box, businesses can make them with any QR code generator using the t.me link. Alternatively, they can generate a QR code on respond.io.
Telegram for Business: In-App Search
You don’t need a verified Telegram bot to be searchable in-app. Once you create a bot, any user should be able to search for it on Telegram and send it a message.
Although in-app search may not drive the bulk of your traffic, this is the most likely way hardcore Telegram users will find your brand. Now that you know how to acquire customers as Telegram contacts, let’s explore how you can go about messaging them.
Telegram Business: Messaging Customers
Messaging customers on Telegram is relatively straightforward. Although other messaging app business accounts place limits on when and what you can send messages, Telegram for business doesn’t have such restrictions.
Telegram for Business: 1:1 Messaging
Since Telegram doesn’t have a messaging window, you can send customers a message any time after they become a contact. How cool is that? But the key things to know about messaging customers on Telegram are the sent and read receipts.
While Telegram provides sent, delivered and read statuses on personal accounts, a Telegram business account doesn’t have the same functionality. The Telegram Bot API does not provide status updates, even when connected to a business messaging platform
Additionally, whenever a Telegram user messages your bot, their messages will automatically be marked as read. This could give some customers the impression that your business has read the message but hasn’t replied. Something to keep in mind.
Telegram for Business: Broadcast Messaging
Like 1:1 messaging, Telegram doesn’t have any limitations for broadcasting. You can send rich media like pictures, videos, files and text to an unlimited number of Telegram contacts.
However, contacts can block your bot if your content is irrelevant or they feel you are spamming them. If they do, you’ll receive a Forbidden: bot was blocked by the user notification when you message them. Keep your content relevant and broadcast carefully to avoid this.
Just like with 1:1 messaging, you’ll need to connect your bot to a business messaging platform to send a broadcast. Make sure the business messaging platform you choose has broadcast capabilities.
Telegram for Business: Group Messaging
Group messaging is important for business use cases like sales or promotional messaging. You’ll be pleased to learn that Telegram bots can be added to group chats.
By adding a Telegram bot to your group chat, you’ll be able to record group chat history in the messaging CRM your bot is connected to. While we haven’t enabled group chats on respond.io, you can help us do so by upvoting the feature request.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Telegram for Business secure for corporate communication?
Yes, Telegram for Business is generally secure for corporate communication. It offers end-to-end encryption for private conversations and secure data storage. However, businesses should implement additional security measures and follow best practices for optimal security.
Can Telegram be used for marketing?
Yes, Telegram can be used for marketing. Businesses can leverage channels and Telegram bots for targeted messaging, content distribution and customer engagement. Plus, its lax broadcast rules make it an exceptionally good channel for reaching wider audiences efficiently.
Is Telegram for business free?
While creating your Telegram Bot is free, you’ll need to pay for messaging inbox like respond.io to send and receive messages and integrate with your software stack.
In conclusion, talking to customers on a Telegram business account via respond.io drastically expands what you can do with the channel. Interested in using Telegram for business after reading this Telegram guide? Sign up for respond.io to get started.
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