If Telegram is popular with your customers, you’re probably wondering how to use Telegram for business? This article will explain Telegram, how to create a Telegram Bot for Business, and the best practices of using your new Telegram business account.
Already have a Telegram Bot and want to start messaging customers now? Head over to our documentation for a step by step guide to connecting your Telegram Bot with respond.io.
What is Telegram?
Telegram is a free messaging app focused on speed and security. The interface is simple and clutter-free. Unlike WhatsApp, you can download Telegram on several devices and messages will sync smoothly across them all.
Although Telegram is one of the most feature-rich messengers, it doesn’t push these features in your face. There’s only one central interface, the messages panel. While a pull-out menu on the left gives access to Contacts as well as the ability to create new groups, secret chats, and channels.
Telegram Groups work just like groups on any other messaging app. The key difference is groups on Telegram can have as many as 200,000 members. Managing such a group may seem impossible but Telegram provides granular controls to make it easier.
Telegram Groups are awesome for community building. You can add members individually or post a group link publicly. Groups can even be made public and searchable on Telegram. You can learn more about Telegram Groups here.
Telegram Channels have all the same features as groups except only admins can send messages. They also have no user limits making it easy to broadcast information. For instance, Health Ministries use Telegram Channels to send news and tips to the public.
Users subscribe to channels by searching in-app or by using channel links listed on the website and other places. Channels with more than 1000 subscribers show channel and post analytics. Check out our article on Telegram Channels here.
If you’re in the cryptocurrency or financial industry, then Telegram Passport is for you. It’s a platform that stores identification documents so they can be used with financial institutions that require Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.
The idea is to stop uploading identification documents to several different places. Since Telegram stores data in the cloud with end-to-end Encryption, financial institutions can access the data from one central location. Is this more secure? It’s up to you to decide.
Telegram initially created a cult following in parts of the Financial Services industry. Since then the company has been able to expand its user base past this specific niche. Before using Telegram for business it’s important to know where it’s popular.
Where is Telegram Popular?
According to Telegram, the app reached 400 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) in April 2020, growing from 200 million in 2018. It seems to be one of the few gaining users relative to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. So where is the growth coming from?
By reviewing Google Play Store and Apple Store rankings, we see which apps are being downloaded the most right now. In 2019, Telegram was the fastest-growing messenger in Iran and Uzbekistan. As of June 2020, 20 other countries have joined the list.
Based on historical data, Telegram was popular in Iran and Uzbekistan in 2019. As of June 2020, the map shows how Telegram is rapidly growing in Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as some parts of South Africa, North America and South America.
There could be two possible reasons for this. The first is market share saturation, the most popular apps have already been downloaded leading to a slow-down in recent downloads. This makes it easier for Telegram to rank higher in the app stores.
Telegram is also popular in countries with authoritarian regimes due to its security-oriented features. Users in these countries require privacy and security above countries with fewer restrictions. Telegram is growing quickly in many of these countries.
If your business has many customers in these regions, consider a Telegram business account to connect with them.
Telegram for Business: Accounts
There are no obvious ways to create a business account on telegram. However, there are two ways to use Telegram for business. You can create groups and channels of course. However, the best is creating a Telegram account as a business using a Telegram Bot.
The Telegram Bot API is free and can be used to create bots for social, gaming, productivity, and e-commerce services. However, Telegram Bots can also be used for human support by connecting them to a CRM or messaging platform.
How To Create a Telegram Bot
Although Telegram calls it a Telegram Bot, it’s basically a Telegram business account. It allows you to create a branded Telegram account for your business.
1. Chat with the BotFather. Find the BotFather by searching and then press Start.
2. Use the /newbot command. This will start the creation process.
You’ll need to choose a display name and then a username. You can change the bot name later, but you should take a good think about the username.
3. Done. You’ll receive a token to connect your Telegram bot to a Messaging CRM.
You’ll notice that by design, there’s nowhere to answer messages sent to the Telegram Bot. You can start answering messages right away by creating a free respond.io account and connecting your Telegram Bot.
Telegram Verified Badge
You can safeguard the authenticity of your bot with Telegram’s verified badge. You don’t get any extra features but it assures your contacts that your page is real. To get a verified badge, you’ll need to have a verified account on:
- Facebook or Instagram (either one)
We tried verifying, but couldn’t because Twitter no longer accepts verification requests. And also, we don’t have 100,000 subscribers on our Youtube channel which is the minimum to getting verified on Youtube.
Telegram for Business: Best Practices
Using Telegram for business is different from email or SMS. Telegram is a private company that controls what is possible on the app. Telegram is focused on providing free, fast, and secure messaging, and features are created with those aims in mind.
Telegram for Business: Finding Your Customers on Telegram
Although users sign up for Telegram with a phone number, the primary identifier of each user is their Telegram ID. However, Telegram does not pass the phone number or the ID through the Telegram Bot API to your messaging CRM. Only the name.
This means Telegram users can not be imported via CSV to a CRM as Contacts. To get your customers as Telegram Contacts, they’ll have to message you first. This is a limitation used by Telegram and other messaging app business accounts to reduce spam.
Luckily, there are features designed to get customers to message a brand first. Chat Links & QR Codes can be sent to existing customers to link to a brand on Telegram. Although the most loyal Telegram users will likely find it through In-App Search.
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 the 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. For inspiration, check out our contact page. They do have a limitation though, t.me links 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. 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.
QR Codes are another option to drive traffic to your Telegram business account. Unlike links, they can be used in offline locations like physical stores. Like Chat Links, QR Codes will only work with the app installed, so add a Telegram logo above the QR code.
Although Telegram doesn’t provide QR Codes out of the box, they can be made with any QR Code generator using the t.me link. Alternatively, we can generate a QR Code for you if you connect your Telegram Bot to our business messaging platform.
Telegram for Business: In-App Search
Unlike other messaging app business accounts, you don’t need a verified Telegram bot for users to search for your brand in-app. Once your bot is created any user should be able to search in Telegram, find it and send a message.
Although in-app search may not create the bulk of your traffic, this is the most likely way hardcore Telegram users will find your brand. Now that you know all about acquiring customers as Telegram Contacts, let’s explore messaging them.
Telegram for Business: Messaging Customers
Messaging customers on Telegram is relatively straightforward. Although other messaging app business accounts place limits when you can message and what you can send, Telegram doesn’t place any such limitations on brands.
Telegram for Business: 1:1 Messaging
Since Telegram doesn’t have a messaging window like other messaging apps, you can message customers any time after they become a contact. The key things to know about messaging customers on Telegram are about sent/read receipts.
Since Telegram provides sent, delivered, and read status on personal accounts you would expect Telegram business accounts have the same functionality. However, Telegram does not provide message status updates via the Telegram Bot API.
This means, whichever business messaging platform you connect a Telegram Bot to will not be able to show you if the Telegram Contact has read your message. To add fuel to the fire there is one extra issue you should know about.
Whenever a Telegram user messages your Telegram Bot, every message they send will be marked as read automatically. So it may create the impression that you have read the message but haven’t replied.
Telegram for Business: Broadcast Messaging
Like 1:1 messaging, Telegram doesn’t create any limitations for broadcasting. You can send rich media like pictures, videos, files, and text to an unlimited number of Contacts. But remember, you’ll need to get them to message you first to become Contacts.
Keep in mind, Contacts can block your bot if they don’t like what you send them. Once they’ve blocked you, there’s nothing you can do. Even if you try to send them a new message, you’ll receive a notification that says Forbidden: bot was blocked by the user.
Last but not least, just like 1:1 messaging you’ll need to connect your bot to a business messaging platform to send a broadcast. So make sure the software you chose has broadcast capabilities.
Telegram for Business: Group Messaging
Group messaging has become important for some business use cases like sales. And 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 you connect your Telegram Bot to. While we haven’t enabled group chats on our platform yet, you can help us do so by upvoting the feature request.
Is That Everything You Can Do With Telegram Business?
If you're getting started with using messaging apps for business and chat automation we recommend you read these three articles:
- The Ultimate Guide to Messaging Apps for Business
- How To Automate Customer Chats
- Telegram Channels vs Telegram Groups