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Comprehensive Handbook for Business Success on Kakao

Are you a business seeking to establish a robust presence in the vibrant South Korean market? If so, it’s imperative to tap into the immense potential of KakaoTalk, the premier messaging app in South Korea. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the intricacies of leveraging KakaoTalk for business purposes, from setting up a KakaoTalk Channel to effectively reaching your target audience.

Understanding KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk stands as a South Korean messaging app, exhibiting similarities to other regional messaging platforms. One of its distinctive features is Kakao Pay, a digital wallet service akin to WeChat’s offerings. Moreover, KakaoTalk introduces endearing characters known as Kakao Friends, reminiscent of LINE’s character-centric approach.

The 4 main panels of KakaoTalk

The app comprises four primary panels – Friends, Chats, Find, and More. The Friends panel provides a quick view of your contacts and channels, while the Chats panel serves as the hub for ongoing conversations. The Find panel facilitates user discovery, allowing you to add or invite users, along with offering recommendations. Additionally, it hosts an array of public chat rooms, including a special focus on the ever-popular K-Pop scene, where enthusiasts can join, create, or participate in discussions.

The More panel extends the Kakao experience beyond messaging, offering access to other Kakao apps, account settings, a calendar, as well as an opportunity to shop for emoticons and themes. Surprisingly, it also features a persistent music icon, ensuring easy access to Kakao’s integrated music player.

Introducing Melon: The Music Hub

KakaoTalk pays homage to South Korea’s monumental K-Pop industry with its integrated music player, accessible through the dedicated Melon panel. This feature mirrors popular music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Melon, also known as Melody On, is a prominent local music service for purchasing and streaming songs and albums. Following its acquisition by Kakao in 2016, Melon seamlessly integrated into the KakaoTalk app. While users need to create a Melon ID and subscribe to the service, once done, they can enjoy music without leaving the KakaoTalk environment. This integration facilitates easy sharing and playing of songs within chats, posts, and rooms.

Melon Platform within KakaoTalk

Exploring Kakao Public Chat Rooms

K-Pop transcends being merely a genre; it’s a cornerstone of South Korean culture and a topic that ignites impassioned conversations. Consequently, KakaoTalk serves as the epicenter for discussions about K-Pop through its public chat rooms. These rooms can accommodate up to 1500 participants, and akin to Telegram Groups, users can join them anonymously. They are easily discoverable via direct links, QR codes, or by employing specific hashtags and keywords within the Find panel.

KakaoTalk Public Chat Rooms

The Pervasive Popularity of KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk reigns supreme as the most favored messaging app in South Korea, boasting an astounding 87% market penetration among its 51.4 million global monthly active users, as reported in Q4 of 2019. This level of dominance parallels WhatsApp’s popularity in other nations, such as its 85.6% market penetration in the Netherlands. It’s crucial to recognize this high level of user engagement, making KakaoTalk an indispensable platform for businesses aiming to make a mark in South Korea.

KakaoTalk Domestic (top) and Global (bottom) MAUs

Why Choose KakaoTalk for Business?

While WhatsApp holds sway in numerous countries, it has yet to make significant inroads into the South Korean market. Reports from 2019 indicate that a mere 7% of South Koreans utilized WhatsApp, underscoring the unparalleled influence of KakaoTalk. This makes it the unequivocal messaging app of choice for businesses aiming to thrive in the South Korean landscape.

Kakao for Business Key Market: South Korea

Navigating Kakao for Business: Accounts

To embark on your business journey with KakaoTalk, securing a Kakao business account is the first step. Previously, Kakao offered two types of business accounts – Plus Friend and Yellow ID. However, in 2017, Kakao streamlined this system to a single, all-encompassing business account known as KakaoTalk Channel.

Distinguishing KakaoTalk Channel from Business KakaoTalk Channel

When establishing a KakaoTalk business account, you have the option to create either a KakaoTalk Channel or a Business KakaoTalk Channel. The choice largely hinges on the scale of your business, with smaller enterprises finding the basic KakaoTalk Channel to be a fitting choice.

Kakao for Business Channel Tiers

The basic KakaoTalk channel offers an array of features essential for businesses, including a customizable user ID that’s easily searchable within the app, the ability to make posts on user newsfeeds, robust messaging capabilities, channel performance analytics, and even the option to dispatch promotional coupons to customers.

On the other hand, KakaoTalk Business caters to larger enterprises, providing additional features like verified badges and heightened search priority for brand protection. It also introduces recommended channels and KakaoTalk push notifications (Biz Message) to enhance user engagement.

Both types of KakaoTalk Business Accounts offer 1:1 messaging for free, with the KakaoTalk Business Channel necessitating some additional documentation. The simplicity and accessibility of these accounts make them an invaluable asset for businesses seeking to forge meaningful connections with their audience.

Creating a KakaoTalk Channel: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Head over to the Kakao for Business sign-up page to initiate the registration process. Keep in mind that a personal KakaoTalk account is a prerequisite before creating a Channel.

Kakao for Business Sign-Up Page

2. Populate the required details for your Channel and establish a unique search ID.

Opening a New Channel on KakaoTalk Channel Manager

3. With these steps completed, you’re now equipped to engage with customers through the KakaoTalk channel manager.

KakaoTalk Channel Set-Up Complete

In the next section, we’ll delve into the process of upgrading to a Business KakaoTalk Channel, a step that grants access to a host of additional features tailored for larger enterprises. This transition is instrumental in maximizing your business’s potential on the platform.

Guide to Upgrading to a Business KakaoTalk Channel

Transitioning to a Business KakaoTalk Channel comes at no cost. However, only businesses equipped with a valid Korean business registration number and other local credentials are eligible for this upgrade. The specific prerequisites are outlined in detail within the KakaoTalk Channel Manager.

1. Go to the Business Channel Subscription page and click on the Apply button.

Business KakaoTalk Channel Subscription Page

2. Input your business registration number and proceed to upload all required documents.

Completing Business KakaoTalk Channel Subscription

Make certain that the information displayed on your Channel aligns accurately with the details on your documents to prevent any potential rejections. The approval process typically spans 3 to 5 working days, after which the pertinent information will be forwarded to your registered email address. Now that your account is primed, let’s delve into some key best practices.

Kakao for Business: Finding Customers on Kakao

Unlike email and SMS, KakaoTalk doesn’t allow businesses to simply import their customer lists and start sending messages. To curb spam and maintain a positive user experience, KakaoTalk mandates that users initiate conversations with Kakao Business Accounts first. This means businesses need to encourage users to start the conversation.

How to start a chat on KakaoTalk Channel

Starting a Chat on KakaoTalk Channel

There are several tools and features available to guide customers to connect with your business on KakaoTalk:

QR Codes

QR codes provide a convenient way for users to scan and initiate a chat with a Kakao Business Account. By displaying a KakaoTalk Business QR Code, along with the KakaoTalk logo, in your place of business, you can encourage users to scan it and start chatting with your business.

Direct Links

Direct links are useful for promoting your KakaoTalk channel. You can use these links in newsletters or other marketing materials to convert people from your existing customer list into KakaoTalk Contacts.

KakaoTalk Channel Direct Links and QR Code

Website Buttons

Website buttons offer an easy way to encourage users to start a chat when they are already visiting your website. You can add your business’s KakaoTalk channel and chat button to your website, making it a seamless transition from browsing your website to initiating a chat.

KakaoTalk Channel Website Buttons

In-App Search

Dedicated KakaoTalk users often prefer searching for businesses within the app when they want to interact with a brand. To make sure your business is discoverable, ensure that your KakaoTalk Business account is set to allow in-app search. By default, this setting is turned off, so you’ll need to enable it in your Dashboard under Management and Detailed Settings. Be aware that it may take a few days for your channel to become searchable.

Allow Search on KakaoTalk Channel Manager

Kakao for Business: Advertising on Kakao Moment

While QR codes, links, and in-app search are valuable for reaching existing customers, businesses often desire new customers as well. Kakao offers robust advertising tools through Kakao Moment to help convert visitors and prospects into customers.

Create an Advertising Account on Kakao Moment

To start advertising on Kakao Moment, you’ll need to create an advertising account. Here’s how:

  1. Register for a Kakao Moment account through the platform’s direct link or from your KakaoTalk Channel Dashboard.
  1. There are three types of advertising accounts available: Business, Personal, and Overseas. Select the one that aligns with your business objectives.
  1. Once you have chosen your account type, you can start directing more users to your messages.

Kakao for Business: Messaging Customers

With a thriving KakaoTalk Contact list, you can efficiently manage and respond to messages through the KakaoTalk Channel Manager. Alternatively, you can connect a Business Messaging platform via API to streamline your messaging process.

Resonding to Messages on KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk Channel Manager

KakaoTalk provides features within the KakaoTalk Channel Manager designed for effective messaging. These features cover 1:1 Messaging, Broadcasting, and Group Messaging.

Kakao for Business: 1:1 Messaging

A crucial aspect of 1:1 messaging on KakaoTalk is that users are not obligated to follow your KakaoTalk Channel before initiating a chat. However, you can control this function. You can either enable or disable it or specify preferred days and times for enabling chat.

Kakao for Business 1:1 Messaging

Managing 1:1 messaging on KakaoTalk involves using the KakaoTalk Channel Manager:

  • You can organize your contacts into groups.
  • Add labels for categorization.
  • Assign contacts to team members.
  • Monitor and manage the progress of ongoing conversations.

Chat List on KakaoTalk Channel Manager

The platform also offers response templates for frequently asked questions (FAQs). While response templates can be created and sent via the Kakao Channel Manager, they are not available for use in the Kakao Channel Manager App.

A notable omission in the KakaoTalk Channel Manager is read receipts. You won’t know if your Kakao Contact has read your message. However, users will be alerted once you have seen their message, emphasizing the importance of a prompt response.

Kakao for Business: Broadcasting

KakaoTalk Channel Manager includes broadcasting capabilities, but it comes at a cost. General messages are charged at ₩15 (USD$ 0.012) each, while targeted messages are priced at ₩20 (USD$ 0.016) per message.

Kakao for Business Broadcast Messaging

Broadcasting on KakaoTalk comes with specific features and guidelines:

  • Strict advertising guidelines are in place, requiring businesses to declare promotional content.
  • Targeted messages come at a higher cost but allow you to reach a filtered audience.
  • Rich messages can be sent, but they should adhere to the advertising guidelines.

For large organizations with over 30,000 contacts, Kakao offers an advanced broadcasting tool called Smart Messaging. This tool utilizes machine learning to target the most relevant audience, offering a step-up from manual targeting.

In conclusion, KakaoTalk offers a unique platform for businesses to engage with their customers. It demands distinct practices compared to traditional communication channels. By following the best practices outlined in this guide, businesses can effectively find and connect with their customers on KakaoTalk, utilize advertising tools, and engage customers through 1:1 messaging and broadcasting. KakaoTalk’s robust features and functionalities provide a valuable channel for businesses looking to enhance their customer outreach and engagement. Visit our website today!


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