€100,000 in 3 months. How to prove WhatsApp works.

Many brands interested in WhatsApp want to test it out first. Learn how Bears with Benefits tested WhatsApp in Italy, before confidently rolling it out across Europe. With key learnings to further boost sales.

Annika Himborn, Bears with Benefits

Annika Himborn
Director Commercial Success and Controlling


average click-through rate (CTR)


average return on campaign spend (ROCS)


generated with Campaigns and Journeys

"I've been doing CRM for 15 years now and WhatsApp has to be the most exciting development I've seen."

edit The goal: test WhatsApp in Italian market

For large, international companies, it’s best to trial WhatsApp in 1 country first. Bears with Benefits, a German brand with a presence in many European countries, decided to start with Italy – so it could decide if a wider rollout would be profitable.

Annika Himborn, Director Commercial Success and Controlling, says Bears with Benefits had been looking at WhatsApp for a while. While email is still a powerful revenue channel for the brand, it saw potential for WhatsApp Business to boost the marketing mix.

“Email is not dead, but we thought WhatsApp sounded super interesting as an additional channel. We talked to Christopher from the charles Sales team last year but weren’t quite ready to immediately implement it. This year, when we’d boosted the team and researched our target audiences a bit more, we decided to give WhatsApp a shot with charles.”

The marketing team identified Italy as the perfect place to trial a WhatsApp channel: as a country with significant mobile phone usage, and a slightly younger target audience. 

It set a goal of achieving a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 4x. 


edit The strategy: build WhatsApp audience

Before it could send WhatsApp marketing campaigns in Italy, Bears with Benefits  needed one crucial thing: an audience. 

To build a WhatsApp subscriber base it used 2 charles "Chat-ins" (website widgets that lead customers into a business's WhatsApp channel).


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Website chat bubble bringing 1,000s of visitors into WhatsApp


The website “Chat-in” is a permanent bubble on the Bears with Benefits site that can take any shape or image, and be animated (you can see ours, in the form of "Typie," at the bottom right of this page 👉👇). This offered customers a 30% off discount code when they joined the WhatsApp channel.


Bears with Benefits also ran an iPhone raffle through this Chat-in to boost WhatsApp opt-ins. 


This opt-in flow segments customers and suggests products



To get to know customers while they opted in, Bears with Benefits set up an automated conversational flow with charles Journeys that was triggered when someone entered the WhatsApp chat.


This asked questions about their preferences, with buttons (automatically adding tags to customer profiles for future campaigns), then led them to the perfect product – leading to more sales. 

The thank you page “Chat-in” is a box on the thank you page shown after someone's made a purchase. It offered 30% off for joining the WhatsApp channel.



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The thank you page opt-in, bringing people into WhatsApp at a time when they're happy after making a purchase



Customers joining the WhatsApp channel on the thank you page also went into a conversational WhatsApp flow. This time, they received an order confirmation and questions to get to know them.



This WhatsApp flow confirms the order and asks questions to learn customer preferences 



In just 3 months, Bears with Benefits gathered 20,000 people into its Italian WhatsApp channel. Annika says, "This is a high number of opt-ins considering it was a very efficient opt-in strategy – just 2 website opt-ins, with no complementary email or social media campaigns. It was also a small test, to see how if we could build significant opt-in numbers in a streamlined way." 

Now, with an established subscriber base, identifiable by tags and custom properties, Bears with Benefits was ready to send targeted WhatsApp marketing campaigns. It knew it would further boost opt-ins when the prelaunch campaign went live – through a "pre-access" Chat-in.  


route The campaign: exclusive WhatsApp prelaunch

Bears with Benefits had carried out some small campaigns but wanted to try out the VIP effect of WhatsApp as an “exclusive” channel. It offered early access to 2 new products, just for WhatsApp subscribers.

“We had 2 very seasonal products we wanted to launch: tanning and slimming products,” says Annika. “Spring was perfect timing: ‘now’s the season to get in shape for your bikini.’”

To gain more opt-ins during the campaign, the team changed the website “Chat-in” bubble from offering “30% off” to “exclusive pre-access.”




Bears with Benefits makes natural beauty supplements (made by women, for women)



Then, new "pre-access" subscribers and existing ones were sent a WhatsApp message through the charles Campaigns feature letting them know there were 500 units available for 1 day only – they could order exclusively on WhatsApp until midnight.

The stock disappeared very fast. “We thought, wow, revenue per recipient has been skyrocketing. How amazing is that? As it turned out, the product was super popular and we went out of stock."


Annika and her team used the chance to offer a waiting list for the next batch of products. 


“We said, okay, let's turn this challenge into an opportunity. We sent another WhatsApp message saying they could preorder – sign up to get the products again in 2 to 3 weeks, 'exclusively available for you on WhatsApp.' We said, ‘buy as much as you can because who knows how long they’ll last this time.’ We also held a 24-hour flash sale on WhatsApp only.”


The results: confidence to expand across Europe

The Italy WhatsApp trial was a great success, and Bears with Benefits is now rolling out WhatsApp in all its other markets. It’s excited about the future possibilities of WhatsApp, and aims to replicate even more actions from email to WhatsApp. 

“People are very happy,” says Annika, “We have great registrations in Italy and our campaigns are really going well, with around 85% open rates. The ‘sign up for exclusive product launches’ and ‘back- in-stock’ approaches worked really well. These were two major campaigns that really skyrocketed.”

Bears with Benefits in fact made 10x ROAS, exceeding its goal of 4x ROAS, with a sold-out product and many more preorders. The second “back-in-stock” campaign sent to 8k subscribers made €18 revenue per recipient (RPR)

And now Bears with Benefits is confidently rolling out WhatsApp across Europe. It has already set up charles in Germany, Italy and Spain, and next up are France, Switzerland and The Netherlands.


In addition, the Italy experience will help boost sales in other markets. “We made some very useful learnings in Italy that we’ll take to other markets to make them a success from the get-go. For example we had to do a bit of a mindset change in terms of making target groups small. We had to learn to be very specific and targeted – much more so than with email.”

Another learning Bears with Benefits will take to other channels is to automate customer service replies with charles’ Journeys feature



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Journeys from charles automates WhatsApp conversations to save time and money. You can also analyze revenue generated in the tool.


“We didn’t anticipate that customers would use WhatsApp as a communication channel,” says Annika. “It’s great that they do but we need to minimize the effort on replying to support requests. We have a very slim, sleek customer service set up. We found that Italians in particular have a lot of questions. They want to know everything!


"So we're going to set up automated Journeys that automate the work for common questions – they can be easily triggered by keywords or close keywords. We also want to trial WhatsApp as a customer support tool – our customers love to chat!"


edit The partnership: close, personal, above-average support

Unlike many other SaaS companies, charles puts a great deal of time and investment into client relationships. In this case, the effort is paying off.

“Everybody I've worked with at charles is super helpful. We can approach everybody with all the questions we are having,” says Annika. 

“We love working with Antonio, our Success manager. We get really good advice from him, like ‘this is how you need to do it, you need to make it more specific…’ so many helpful, practical tips.” 

Annika says she has closer contact with charles than other software companies she works with.


“With our other tools, there’s usually a random account manager helping out, but they’re not so present. Antonio has always been there with us. He fixes any issues we have and says, ‘no problem, we’re going to fix it, it’s going to work out.’ And in the end, it works out :)



Free BEARS WITH BENEFITS products at the charles booth at OMR 2023 in Hamburg

Bears with Benefits joined charles at OMR 2023 in Hamburg, offering free giveaways for our booth visitors

“This is something that’s not usually there to that extent with the tools we work with. In the eCommerce world, with all these plug-and-play apps, you usually need to open a ticket and wait for a support team somewhere to respond. You don't have the personal touch we have with charles."

This close relationship also leads to business success and peace of mind. “With charles, we feel sure that a campaign is going to work – and if we have a problem, we have someone we can reach out to. And Antonio will suggest improvements for the next campaign.

“We’re getting a lot of guidance, consultancy and hands-on problem fixing. This is something we really appreciate and which makes charles as a company a lot easier to work with than other tools we have.”

stars How Bears with Benefits mastered WhatsApp in Italy

Step 1: Build an audience

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Bears with Benefits managed to grow its subscribers in Italy to 20,000 in just 3 months. It used "Chat-ins" from charles – website widgets that bring people into WhatsApp. These were a "bubble" on its website and a box on the post-purchase thank you page. It also grew opt-ins through the "pre-access" campaigns.

Step 2: Offer WhatsApp-only pre-access


A WhatsApp message was sent to 20,000 subscribers offering early access to new slimming and tanning products. Customers needed to order before midnight.

Step 3: Offer preorders on out-of-stock items


The product went quickly out of stock. Bears with Benefits took the opportunity to let WhatsApp subscribers preorder the products so they could secure them when they were back in stock.

💛35 What's next?


Expand WhatsApp to all markets: this has already happened in Germany, Italy and Spain, next are France, Switzerland and The Netherlands


Replicate email campaigns in WhatsApp – first-time customer engagement flows are already live in Germany, Italy and Spain


Automate customer service responses with charles' Journeys feature as well as evaluating charles as a possible customer support tool

“We’re all super excited. I’ve been doing CRM for 15 years now and this has to be the most exciting new development I’ve seen. One thing is the revenue, the other is offering the customer an alternative to the usual email stuff where conversion funnels are harder to manage and longer from a customer point of view. With WhatsApp, we are there at the right time, always being super specific and super targeted.

“The team is also super excited about charles. We love the tool. It's very hands on and it's not like you need a rocket science degree to work with it. It's very customer friendly. In my team there are many young people and they get super excited about it – they’re always asking if they can set up another WhatsApp campaign.”

Antonio Lavia charles

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