If Viber is popular with your customers, you've probably been wondering how to use Viber for business. You're probably asking yourself questions like how do I get a Viber Business Account? What is the difference between Viber Business Messages & a Viber Bot? This guide will explain Viber, Viber Bots, and the best ways to use Viber for Business.
Already have a Viber Bot and want to start messaging customers now? Head over to our documentation for a step by step guide to connecting your Viber Bot with respond.io.
What is Viber?
One of the first messaging apps, Viber launched in 2010 even before Line and Messenger. It is free to use and focuses more on calling compared to others. The VoIP feature called Viber Out, allows users to call mobile and landline numbers.
In 2014, Rakuten acquired Viber for $900 million. At the time Viber had 300 million users compared with 1 billion today. Although only 260 million are active monthly. Viber's popularity is concentrated in Eastern Europe and Asia.
There are three main panels in the Viber app. The Chats panel contains conversations with contacts, Viber Bots, and Viber Communities. Like Facebook Messenger, ads will occasionally be shown in the chats list.
The Calls panel shows contacts and recent calls. Here users can add new contacts or invite friends to Viber. Using Viber Out the apps key feature, users can make calls to contacts through Viber or place calls to a contact phone number using credits.
The More panel contains everything else like settings. It is also used to promote the Sticker Market. Although the Sticker Market is not as large as stickers on Line, the price for sticker packs is rather expensive. And of course to promote Viber Out.
Viber Public Accounts and Viber Communities
Longtime users of Viber will be familiar with Viber Communities and their predecessor Viber Public Chats. Viber Public Chats used to be attached to Viber Public Accounts. Viber Public accounts were created for brands to be able to use Viber for Business.
Users could follow a Viber Public Accounts or have 1-to-1 chat with Public Accounts. Since Viber Public Accounts have been replaced with Viber Bots, Public Chats have been replaced with Viber Communities.
Viber Communities are an outsized chatroom commonly used as fan pages by celebrities and businesses. They work similarly to a Public Chat, but have additional features like polls, which is a great way for brands to interact with their audience.
Viber Communities are found in the main chat list, right next to all the private and group chats. In a way, it makes brands and public figures feel more reachable. Viber claims communities are driving growth, but it seems like Viber Out is the feature making gains.
Viber Out is a VoIP feature that allows calls to mobile and landline numbers. It works similar to Skype, where users buy credits or monthly subscriptions for calls. Viber’s user base continues to expand by attracting users that use Skype for calling.
Viber has chipped away at Skype's market lead by targeting users calling home to places like the Philippines and Tajikistan with cheaper prices. A Viber subscription plan for the Philippines gives users 180 calling minutes, compared to 120 minutes with Skype.
The Viber Out feature is driving user growth in Eastern Europe and Asia. With over 2.3 million Filipinos abroad and over a million Tajiks that use apps like Viber to call home the company is just getting started in attracting this user niche.
Where is Viber Popular?
From 2011 to 2019, the number of Viber registered users rose from 19 million to over 1.17 billion. However, this includes all users who have ever downloaded Viber. To get a better look at Viber’s popularity let’s take a look at Monthly Active Users (MAUs).
Viber doesn’t regularly release MAU numbers. From the sources we found, the picture doesn’t look bright. Tech Crunch reported 300 MAUs upon Vibers’ acquisition in 2014 and 99 Firms reported 260 MAUs in January 2019.
Now, it isn’t all bad news. Viber is the fastest growing messaging app in European countries like Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia, Cyprus and Albania. They are getting more downloads this year than competitors.
In the Philippines, Myanmar and Mongolia, Viber is growing faster than local competitors like WeChat and LINE, but Messenger continues to grow faster. Viber claims the majority of smartphone users in Myanmar are on Viber, but we can’t verify that.
Viber has launched several initiatives to grow these markets. In Myanmar, the company is incorporating payments and e-commerce. In the Philippines, it’s developing a COVID-19 chatbot. In Hungary and Ukraine, Viber has a money transfer service called Moneytou.
Meanwhile, Viber's growth has slowed in Switzerland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Estonia, Latvia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Last year Viber was one of the top 3 fastest growing messaging apps in each country.
If your customers are in Ukraine or Hungary where the app is dominant, southern Europe where the app is a true contender, or in areas of Asia where Viber is pushing hard to grown, you should consider getting a Viber Business Account.
Viber for Business: Accounts
The Viber Business section of the Viber website can be quite confusing, they show many different products for business. For messaging customers, there are two types of accounts Viber Business Messages and Viber Bots.
Viber for Business: Viber Business Messages
Viber Business Messages allows businesses to message customers using their phone numbers. It is usually used by large companies to send a large number of transactional messages, like user authentications and status alerts.
The great thing about Viber Business Messages is they without an internet connection, by using SMS as a fallback. The only drawback? It’s designed for large businesses and costs about €300 to start. For smaller businesses, we suggest using Viber Bots.
Viber for Business: Viber Bots
Viber Bots can be used as business accounts to allow customers to interact with your brand. As the name implies, Viber Bots can use automated messaging, they can also connect to a customer support platform to message customers manually.
Viber Bots are relatively similar to other messaging app business accounts, but have one feature we haven’t seen anywhere else – a customizable keyboard! You can customize the keyboard a user sees when they interact with your bot, how insane.
Unlike Viber Business Messages, creating a Viber Bot is completely free and there are no limitations on messaging or amount of contacts. All you need to do to get started using Viber for companies is to create a Viber Bot.
How To Create A Viber Bot
You’re probably wondering how to make a Viber Bot. The only thing you’ll need to create a Viber Bot is a personal Viber account. To start the Viber Bot creation process head to the Viber Admin Panel.
1. Login to the Viber Admin Panel. Enter the phone number registered to the personal Viber account here.
Once done, you’ll be prompted to enter the verification code sent to your Viber account.
2. Add Your Business Details. Add a picture and some basic information about your business. Don’t worry too much as this information can be changed later from the app.
A few things to keep in mind. There is a Map to select your business country, but the search bar does not work. Just move the pin on the map to the business location and the country will change accordingly.
In addition, there is an adult content checkbox, if you check this box your Viber Bot cannot be accessed by users who are not adults.
3. Press Create. Hit Create at the bottom of the form. When your Viber Bot is ready, you’ll get your token.
You’ll notice there is no place here to answer messages sent to the Viber Bot, which is by design. Viber does not offer a platform for answering messages. To start answering messages right away, create a free respond.io account, and connect your Viber Bot.
Viber for Business: Best Practices
You’re probably used to communicating with customers using email, phone, or SMS. Chating over messages apps is a bit different. In this section, we’ll go over some best practices for finding your customers on Viber and messaging them.
Viber for Business: Finding Your Customers on Viber
Although Viber uses phone numbers for User IDs, you can’t just import them into a CRM. To get your customers as Viber Contacts, you’ll need to get them to message you first. This is a limitation created by Viber to avoid spam marketing.
There are a few helpful tools to get your customers to message you first. You can send chat links and QR codes to your existing customers so they send the first message. Or you can attract new customers with Viber advertising.
It used to be that Viber users could also search for your bot inside the Viber App, however, since Viber took away bot publishing. There is no way to make a Viber Bot searchable inside the app anymore.
Viber for Business: Chat Links & QR Codes
In the Viber Admin Panel, there is a QR Code you can scan to start a conversation with your Viber Bot. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to start chatting unless you actually connect your Viber Bot to a CRM using the token.
QR codes can convert offline traffic like foot traffic in a store to Viber Contacts. You can also add the QR Code to your website or emails. Keep in mind that the QR Code only works if users have the Viber app installed on their phones.
Although the Viber Admin Panel doesn’t provide chat links. They can be created in the respond.io platform. They can be easier to add to a website, but just like QR Codes chat links will only work if the Viber app is installed.
Viber for Business: Advertising
Another way to promote a Viber Bots is through Viber advertising. There are several ad formats including desktop ads, post-call ads, ad banners, and promotional stickers. Each of these will take the user to the Viber Bot Profile.
The most interesting advertising format is Viber stickers. When users download branded sticker packs, they’ll be subscribed to the Viber Bot automatically. However, Viber advertising is intended for larger companies, to apply fill in this form.
Messaging Customers Using A Viber Bot
Now that you know how to find your customers on Viber, time to start messaging them. Compared with other messaging apps, messaging customers on Viber is simple. In this section, we’ll discuss 1:1 messaging, broadcast messaging, and group messaging.
Viber Bot: 1-to-1 Messaging
Most messaging app business accounts block replies after some time using a messaging window and don’t provide read receipts. In this way, Viber Bots are more business-friendly. There is no messaging window and read receipts are provided for sent messages.
Messaging windows are becoming popular for messaging app business accounts, they block businesses from responding after 24 hours or so to reduce spammy marketing messages. Viber Bots have no messaging window so you can message customers anytime, even after weeks.
When you do message your customers, you expect to know when they’ve read your message right? Unfortunately, many messaging app business accounts do not provide this data. So business users are left wondering about the status of their message.
Luckily, Viber sends the message status over the Viber API. This means whichever business messaging platform you connect your Viber Bot to can show sent message status. Allowing you to see if a message has been delivered, read, or failed to send.
In addition, some messaging app business accounts will mark the messages sent by customers as read automatically. You can imagine, this will infuriate some customers. Thankfully messages send to your Viber Bot will be marked as delivered but not seen.
Viber Bot: Broadcast Messaging
Once you’ve got 1-1 messaging figured out, you can start exploring mass messaging with Viber. Remember that since Viber Contacts cannot be imported, you’ll need to get your customers to message your first before you can send them a broadcast.
Like 1:1 messaging, Viber doesn’t place on limitations on the content or number of broadcasts you can send. However, you’ll need to make sure that the business messaging platform you connect your Viber Bot to has broadcast functionality.
Although Viber doesn’t place any limitations of broadcasts you want to be careful with broadcasts as Viber Contacts can block you. If your Viber Bot gets blocks you’ll see an error message like: failed to send the message the user is not subscribed anymore.
Viber Bot: Group Messaging
Many companies are using messaging apps for sales by creating groups with salespeople and customers. Although effective, these chats pose a problem for companies as there is no record on them in company CRMs.
One way to deal with this would be to add a Viber Bot into the group chat, so the conversation could be recorded in your messaging CRM. We’ve tested this out, but unfortunately, Viber Bots cannot be added to group chats.
Is That Everything You Can Do With Viber for Business?
We’ve discussed all the most important issues in using Viber for business. Here are some additional articles that will be useful for implementing business messaging at your company: