How Treinta Uses Messaging To Help Latin America’s Microenterprises Grow And Prosper

Feb 14, 2022
Jeff Koyen, Forbes

In Latin America, an estimated 50 million microenterprises—businesses with 10 employees or fewer—represent about a third of the region’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

The vast majority of these small businesses are nondigital, with 90% still tracking their sales and expenses the old-fashioned way: in ink. For Treinta, a biz-tech startup based in Bogotá, Colombia, this presents an opportunity.

“Our mission is to include and educate [microenterprises] on how digitizing their accounts, and leaving the pen and paper on the side, will help them grow their businesses and understand and make use of their data,” says Marcela Porcell, growth strategist at Treinta. “It's a really big market that’s never been … given these tools.”

While Treinta connects with its 3 million customers through its app and email, WhatsApp drives its most important B2B communications. But WhatsApp wasn’t designed for business use and it certainly wasn’t meant for high-volume customer service.

That’s why Treinta turned to Connectly, a conversation management platform that brings robust commercial tools to WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

“We use Connectly for communicating with our users,” Porcell says. “We send news about promotions, new products launching and … what we’re developing for them to manage their business better.”

The results? “It’s about 10 times better performance in terms of traffic for us with this channel than any of our other channels,” Porcell says.

Below, Porcell, who works at the company’s headquarters in Bogotá, shares more about Connectly’s central role in helping Treinta modernize Latin America’s microenterprises.

Supporting The CX Team

Ninety percent of Latin America’s microenterprises may be nondigital, but that doesn’t mean they’re cut off from the modern world. Smartphone usage is widespread across the region.

“Our founders saw that although microbusinesses had everything written down with pen and paper, they all had smartphones and they were checking on social media and chatting via WhatsApp,” Porcell says.

It’s not just digital natives who are in question here, either. WhatsApp “has been adopted by all generations,” Porcell adds.

Treinta built its app with this in mind. Business owners can send queries and support requests on the app itself, as well as through traditional channels like email—but supporting WhatsApp was critical for Treinta.

“It’s easier for [business owners when] we use channels they already use on a daily basis,” Porcell says.

But, as noted above, WhatsApp wasn’t built to be a commercial application, handling multiple conversations spanning days or even weeks.

At Treinta, Connectly helps the Customer Experience (CX) team troubleshoot issues that may begin in WhatsApp but eventually move to other channels.

“The CX team has access to our Connectly platform,” Porcell says, “and they help us keep aware of what [questions] they answer and what problems they have. This has been helpful.”

Meeting Diverse Technological Needs

The realities of sometimes-spotty connectivity and of a lack of the newest devices in parts of Latin America are front and center for Treinta.

“We have farmers that live in nonurban areas and have little or no access to technology,” Porcell explains. “Because of the diverse environments of the microbusinesses … they need a solution that adapts to their conditions.”

He adds: “We started as an Android app in order to get to all of the different kinds of smaller microbusinesses.”

Treinta was also designed to work on older models. In fact, the app itself doesn’t even require an always-on internet connection.

Prepaid cellphone plans—popular across Latin America—can also present a challenge.

“For example, you buy X amount of internet [access] and then you wait until it’s consumed,” Porcell explains. “It can be one or two days before recharging again. For these two days, it’s important that our users can still manage their business.”

Here, Connectly helps again. In a typical WhatsApp feed, old messages are pushed to the bottom. By providing a dashboard for conversation management, Connectly ensures that even two-day-old messages are held in a current conversation.

“For us, it has been a really important channel,” Porcell says. “Treinta’s users have a lot of questions. This helps us interact with them.”

Connectly Plus WhatsApp Equals Secret Weapon

Treinta’s partnership with Connectly is paying off: Its WhatsApp messages regularly return open and engagement rates that are 10 times higher than those of other channels.

“We always have at least 80% of the people open and read it,” Porcell says. “At least 60% click on these communications.” Emails, on the other hand, are read by a “maximum” of 20%, Porcell says. And no more than 5% of recipients will click on them.

Responding to this high engagement rate, Treinta made the decision to treat WhatsApp as a very important outbound channel. It’s reserved for only the most important messages. For example, when Treinta wanted to announce its new Web portal, it sent a WhatsApp message via Connectly. Over the next few hours, it saw a spike in traffic coming from recipients.

“We use this channel carefully because it’s something that our users are going to see,” Porcell says.

Time Saved And An Expanding Mission

Named for a promise that users will save 30 minutes in bookkeeping tasks each day (“treinta” means “thirty” in Spanish), Treinta has already surpassed its founders’ expectations.

“We have grown a lot, and we have a lot of different products,” Porcell says. “I think we need to change the name because our mission is bigger than just saving time.”

Whatever the future holds—Sesenta? Ciento Veinte?—WhatsApp and smart messaging will no doubt remain core functions. With Connectly as its partner in managing customer conversations, Treinta is well-prepared to serve Latin America’s 50 million microenterprises.

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