Blog / zoko alternative: Why zoko costs more than you think and you should choose another WhatsApp business solution

zoko alternative: Why zoko costs more than you think and you should choose another WhatsApp business solution

BLog Header Image

By Johannes Mansbart


Updated on January 11, 2024

WhatsApp Market Comparison

zoko alternative: Why zoko has high hidden costs and you should choose another WhatsApp business solution

What is "zoko"? Zoko is a WhatsApp business tool based in North Carolina, USA. The support and product team of is based in India. Zoko was included by the famous startup network "YCombinator" in its "Badge of 2022" and thus first gained notoriety last year.

In the meantime, zoko has also achieved a certain level of recognition in this country and is increasingly being used by D2C eCommerce brands. Zoko is - besides hello charles and Chatarmin - the only WhatsApp marketing provider that has focused on WhatsApp for D2C Brands (with Shopify Techstack).

In this blog, we cover zoko's supposedly cheap but in reality very high costs. And show you the optimal zoko alternative with Chatarmin. If you want to better understand the exact zoko costs and why Chatarmin is the perfect zoko alternative for your D2C brand's WhatsApp marketing, feel free to book your slot with me:

zoko WhatsApp Tool - Hidden Costs Make the Tool More Expensive Than It Seems

In principle, it should be noted that zoko offers a solid product at fair prices. However, the cost structure is well-hidden by the expenses of the zoko Flowbuilder "FlowHippo" and is extremely expensive at €0.006/"Operation."

This is illustrated by the following simple calculation for a shop with 15,000 WhatsApp opt-ins and the standard flows:

  • Shipping Information
  • Welcome Flow Chat Start
  • Abandoned Checkout
  • Abandoned Browse
  • Three Influencer Flows/Month
  • Opt-out Flow
  • Opt-in Flow
  • Restock Flow
  • Post-purchase Automation

For simplicity, let's assume 10 "Operations" per flow, which could look like this, including If/Else splits and delays:

WhatsApp Versandinformations-Flow fürs Thank You Page Widget, Shopify & Shopware.

The shipping information flow is one of the slimmest flows that a D2C brand typically sets up for WhatsApp lead generation.

Now, let's move on to the direct price comparison between zoko and Chatarmin, with nine active flows, 15,000 leads, and 1.5 WhatsApp campaigns/month.

We assume that the company uses "zoko MAX," which should be the standard for a database of this size. We assume that, on average, the lead goes through 15 "Operations in Flows" monthly, meaning that the "Fair Use Limit of 500,000 monthly operations" is not exceeded. If this is the case, zoko charges an additional €0.006 per "Operation," becoming the main cost factor when scaling the account.

So, zoko only charges a flat fee of €399.00 monthly, plus €5.99 per flow through FlowHippo pricing.

Here is the price comparison between zoko and Chatarmin:

Monatliche Standard-Kosten€399,00+€199,00+
Kosten für Kontakte€0,00+€300,00+

For a database of 15,000 leads and conventional volume, zoko and Chatarmin cost approximately the same. Due to Chatarmin's focus on eCommerce and our Shopify & Klaviyo WhatsApp integration or our apps for Gorgias, Freshdesk, or Zendesk, Chatarmin should be the standard for every e-commerce brand.

With us, you get hands-on support in a shared Slack channel, instead of an incomprehensible support team from India.

In principle, it should be noted that zoko offers a solid product at fair prices.

Problems we have with zoko, or weaknesses that zoko reveals, are:

  • no shop integrations other than Shopify
  • no native CRM integrations for your CRM tool like Klaviyo, Emarsys, Omnisend, Sendinblue and co.
  • no pleasant, modern UI/UX
  • Indian support team
  • Indian product team that has no focus on needs of D2C brands from other regions
  • Pricing is extremely confusing and complex
  • Exploding prices when you scale thanks to hidden "FlowHippo" pricing
  • No Thank You Page optin widget for offering post-purchase shipping info via WhatsApp
  • slower and slower product development
  • Very limited "starter" solution that quickly becomes much more expensive
  • no chat-filter for flows and campaigns which makes customer support impossible

These are the advantages of WhatsApp marketing provider zoko:

zoko is a solid tool, as their hundreds of clients can confirm:

  • Start with favourable pricing
  • Shopify integration
  • Good API integration for custom implementations and webhooks

Still, in this blogpost we are dissecting zoko's intransparent pricing strategy, and are showing the weaknesses of the WhatsApp-Marketing-Tool "zoko".

zoko WhatsApp tool - an operational pain in the ass

One problem we need to outline is the following: When you are checking up on your clients' chats manually, in order to sort, check, or just connect with them you won't be able to. Why is that? zoko neither has a ticketing system, nor lets you filter chats for flow- or campaign engagement. Now, let's have a look what the "perfect" customer support setup should look like.

You can choose from three principal setups, generally speaking:

  • manual support, ask&order case: If you have high-aov, high-need-of-explanation, products, you won't have a lot of traffic, leads will be more expensive, and you will be able to handle customer support quite well. It will be more expensive, but fewer tickets. Now, in this case, you can just opt for a "manual solution", checking up on your WhatsApp inbox every once in a while
  • hopping skins/separate channels: If you are at around mid- to high six- to low- to mid-seven figures, you can still offer separate channels, and will be fine. You can manage those 20-40 daily support tickets, offering telephone, email and WhatsApp support, quite well. One customer success manager can just use all your inboxes and manually grind through them. At this stage of the scale of a d2c brands business, most often you will still see founders to the manual footwork, speaking, engaging and serving clients.
  • customer support suite: Cracking a cool mill in annual revenue will lead to scalability issues in customer support, using above-mentioned support setups. In that case you will want to use one of the countless many customer support tools and be happy. Just pull together all API's such as IG DM's, FB DM's, Email, WhatsApp & Co., and you will be fine. Introduce a ticketing system and delegate the work to a (possibly remote) client success team.

Now, what is the problem with zoko, in all those cases? Right, it fits nowhere. Even our small Chatarmin clients manage to scale up to lists of thousands of WhatsApp leads. One outbound marketing campaign will crack zoko's chat-system since you have no idea who wrote what, when, and where. Your zoko inbox will be filled with all those campaign target leads, no chance to serve them in a structural way, whatsoever. Your support team - or you - will cry.

Moreover, zoko obviously does not offer any apps or integrations for standard customer support tools such as Gorgias, Customer, Zendesk or Freshdesk. Thus, the only chance you have is two WABAs, one in your support suite, and one in zoko for WhatsApp marketing, which is suboptimal, to say the least. In the end, you will neither be happy on the one- nor the other side.

We at Chatarmin solve this topic by:

  • introducing custom apps for zendesk, gorgias and freshdesk: Use Chatarmin instead of the native WhatsApp integration in order to have your full customer support suite, and Chatarmin marketing magic, using only one number and one WABA
  • introducing a filter system for flow-traffic and campaign target leads: Simply filter your chats for tags, behaviour and in-flow- as well as campaign-interactivity. Let your support team work in a structured and efficient way, or do it yourself without any unnecessary tears
  • introducing auto-responders and chatbot faq's: so that you can either bot-deflect up to 90% of your customer support tickets in WhatsApp, making use of static or dynamic chatbots. Or, simply tell your customers to go somewhere else, in need of client support. Buzzword-trigger standard requests so the customer doesn't have to wait and converts faster.

In the end, this operational scalability bottleneck is a massive argument for many zoko clients in quest for a zoko alternative, leaving for the goods, joining Chatarmin as the best zoko WhatsApp alternative.

zoko WhatsApp costs: This is how much the WhatsApp marketing tool zoko costs.

At first glance, zoko seems to be the cheapest of the WhatsApp tools mentioned above. If you take a look at the zoko website, you will get the following price overview:

The zoko WhatsApp pricing seems harmless and affordable at first glance.

So, thanks to zoko, you can start with scalable and DSVO-compliant WhatsApp marketing, sales and support from around €35.00 per month. Contrast this with the following quote from a marketing agency friend:

"What zoko does extremely well are the hidden costs. The FlowHippo costs add up extremely. What amazes me is that my clients sometimes pay over €1,000.00 a month or more for zoko and still stick with it. I think they are afraid of migrating to Chatarmin."

So what does the pricing of the WhatsApp marketing tool zoko look like? What you can see, however, on closer inspection, is this:

The "zoko Pricing" is divided into four packages:.

  1. Starter
  2. Plus
  3. Elite
  4. Max

In addition to the basic costs of €35.00 to €400.00, there are also some additional costs. Let's now take a closer look at the zoko pricing packages individually:

zoko WhatsApp Tool STARTER Package Costs

  • €35.00 basic costs
  • €0,015 in additional costs per "conversation". That's 30-45% (Austria and Switzerland) or 12-22% (Germany) higher costs than actually called out by the WhatsApp Business API.
  • So the cost per collected WhatsApp lead for D2C Brands in the DACH region is around €00654 instead of the usual €0.054. That may not sound like much, but it adds up and is already €150.00 extra cost for 10,000 monthly collected leads.

zoko WhatsApp Tool STARTER Package Features

  • There is no flow builder in the zoko STARTER package.
  • Flow applications are extremely limited in the zoko STARTER package
  • no individual flows
  • The included zoko flows in the zoko STARTER package are:

  • Abandoned Checkout
  • Collect Reviews
  • COD to Prepaid
  • COD reconfirmation
  • Marketing Opt Out
  • Reorder Products
  • Upsell Products
  • Order Confirmation
  • Shipping Confirmation
  • Order Delivered
  • Shipping Update
  • Email Support only
  • fast upsale to "Plus
  • no Shopify plugin

NOTE: I'm happy to quote Joel Ramilison of the respected retention marketing agency Inbox Marketing here:

We could never use FlowHippo's free flows because they don't control the opt-in tag. So you have to put the test in yourself and because you change the flow, it becomes a paid flow. This means that you really have to pay for every flow operation. Actually, they are meant to be free flows. (Apparently there is no opt-in obligation in their main client countries, so we are the exception)."

**To start with, the "Starter" package from zoko is sufficient for your basic WhatsApp marketing, but you will quickly become frustrated with the limitations of zoko Starter. And the additional costs per WhatsApp conversation will annoy you. These are the ones that usually have to be outperformed when scaling your WhatsApp success case.

zoko WhatsApp Tool PLUS Package Costs

The technical limitations and "META Premiums" will quickly drive you to the zoko PLUS package. Here, too, the technical limitations are still very great, but the tool can already do a lot more.

  • €60.00 per month
  • €0.003 "META Premiums, i.e. surcharges on the WhatsApp Business API cost catalogue only as of 5,000 monthly conversations
  • Additional costs if the "zoko Fair Use Limits" are exhausted
  • from 5.000 conversations additional €0,003/conversation
  • from 5 support agents additional €15,00/agent
  • from 5 segments additional €0,99/segment
  • additional costs of €5,00 for the "Shopify Plugin
  • ATTENTION additional costs FlowHippo
  • 2.500 "Operations" for €15,00, thereafter €0,006/operation

In principle, we think these costs are fair, but far too complicated. It gets really exciting with the "FlowHippo" costs. This is the name of the zoko Flow-Builder, and its hidden costs are really something.

We will now devote a special paragraph to these:

zoko WhatsApp tool additional costs FlowHippo: Why zoko is actually expensive as hell.

For every step your leads complete in "FlowHippo", you pay cash money. To deepen your understanding of this, here are three completely ordinary flows from the zoko FlowHippo Flowbuilder:

The Optout Flow is one of 19 standard flows that zoko comes "STARTER" with.

The zoko Optout Flow is one of 19 standard flows that the initial zoko "STARTER" package comes with. Here, zoko is still an affordable WhatsApp tool.

The "Order Confirmation" flow is also one of 19 "free flows" in zoko STARTER.

The zoko Order Confirmation Flow is already part of the paid "FlowHippo" optin from zoko WhatSApp.

Recover Abandoned Checkout" Flow already shows you how many "operations" are in FlowHippo, and why zoko WhatsApp is so expensive.

The zoko FlowHippo Abandoned Checkout Flow is already part of the paid "FlowHippo" optin from zoko WhatSApp.

So you can see from these three standard flows alone - you would probably add one or two optin flows - that your client can easily do 15, 20 or more "operations" per month.

At 20 operations per month, that's €585.00 in additional costs for 5,000 leads. With 35 operations per month and 10,000 leads, that's €2,085.00 in additional costs.

The "2,000 free operations" worth a paltry €15.00 are of little consequence.

Optionally, instead of the FlowHippo standard costs of €9.99, there is the possibility of paying more, namely between €34.99 and €2,699.00. This makes the costs for the "operations" cheaper.

Zoko is therefore well aware that the FlowHippo cost factor is

  1. extremely well hidden and
  2. extreme scaling factor and cost leverage

when using zoko as a WhatsApp marketing tool.

zoko is expensive as hell "at scale" and very few people understand that when they sign a contract. If you work in CRM yourself or manage the email marketing of your D2C brand, you will know how many flows it takes to cover the entire user journey in an automated way.

Now, if you do WhatsApp for D2C Brands and have Shopify and Klaviyo techstack, you know that

  • Search Abandon
  • Browse Abandon
  • Cart Abandon
  • Checkout Abandon
  • Postpurchase Flow
  • Sunset Flow
  • Optin Welcome Flow
  • Optout Flow
  • Campaign Flow

usually belong to the standard CRM repertoire of your CRM in email marketing. If you want to use WhatsApp for D2C brands and along the customer journey, just a fraction of these use cases is enough to make the costs for zoko explode into limitless.

zoko WhatsApp Tool PLUS features

  • Low basic costs
  • high flexible costs
  • no API and webhooks connections
  • Shopify plugin extra
  • no CRM integrations
  • no integrations for alternative shop systems
  • Unclear additional costs

**In summary, FlowHippo's pricing leaves an extremely bitter taste to an otherwise quite solid, if technically very limited zoko PLUS package.

zoko WhatsApp Tool ELITE Package Cost

  • €109.99 per month
  • €0.001 "META Premiums, i.e. surcharges on the WhatsApp Business API cost catalogue only as of 100,000 monthly conversations
  • Additional costs if the "zoko Fair Use Limits" are exhausted
  • from 100.000 conversations additional €0,001/conversation
  • from 10 support agents additional €12.00/agent
  • from 10 segments additional €0,99/segment
  • additional costs of €5,00 for the "Shopify Plugin
  • ATTENTION additional costs FlowHippo
  • 2.500 "Operations" free of charge, afterwards €0,006/operation

Here are the features of zoko ELITE:

  • Extremely high and hidden FlowHippo Pricing
  • 1,000 free conversations per month
  • Email & WhatsApp support from the Indian customer support team
  • base cost of €109.99
  • no surcharge on WhatsApp Business API conversation costs
  • no agents for the customer support case
  • no API & Webhooks features for custom applications
  • no Zapier, CRM, or other connections with zoko PLUS
  • extreme product limitations in building flows and interoperability of your MarTech stack

We can't recommend "zoko PLUS" to any professional marketing or CRM team, because the FlowHippo costs explode and the tool is very limited due to missing API integrations and therefore can't communicate with the rest of your shop or CRM technology. This prevents advanced segmentation and serves to cannibalize your different marketing channels, especially email.

Let's move on to the next package, "zoko MAX".

"MAX" is the largest and most expensive package of the WhatsApp marketing tool zoko. Bigger - and therefore apparently "better" - is not possible with zoko.

zoko WhatsApp tool MAX package costs

  • €399.99 per month
  • €0.0005 "META Premiums, i.e. surcharges on the WhatsApp Business API cost catalogue as of 5,000,000 monthly conversations
  • Additional costs if the "zoko Fair Use Limits" are exhausted
  • from 5.000.000 conversations additional €0,0005/conversation
  • from 30 support agents additional €9.00/agent
  • from 20 segments additional €0,99/segment
  • additional costs of €5,00 for the "Shopify Plugin
  • ATTENTION additional costs FlowHippo
  • 2.500 "Operations" for €15,00 afterwards €0,006/operation
  • As described above, the costs here go up to a confusingly high level.
  • With this package, zoko costs a high five-digit amount, do the math! You should be able to do this easily by now thanks to this blog post

zoko WhatsApp Tool MAX Package Features

  • low basic costs of €399,00
  • advantageous conditions for scaling zoko costs
  • extremely high FlowHippo costs
  • technical limitations as no CRM systems and no shop systems other than Shopify are integrated

zoko ELITE is in any case only recommended from a seven-digit WhatsApp list, all companies that offer WhatsApp as a DSGVO-compliant and scalable means of communication in support, sales and/or marketing in the DACH region are far from this.

Conclusion: That's why the WhatsApp marketing tool zoko is so expensive: FlowHippo and Flow Operations are unaffordable.

With totally well-hidden additional costs of €0.002 to €0.006 per flow step, i.e. per singular triggered flow operation of your customers, zoko becomes extremely expensive extremely quickly.

With a customer database of 5,000 customers and a total of 100,000 flow operations, which is a totally realistic calculation example, we are at zoko costs of at least €34.99 zoko basic costs and €585.00 FlowHippo costs. That's €619.99 in tool costs for a comparatively small list of 5,000 leads. Scaling profitably here is going to be difficult and more difficult for D2C Brands' WhatsApp marketing.

Then there are the META costs, which trigger another €0.015 for the zoko STARTER package in addition to the variable WhatsApp Business API costs.

And all this in the smallest and cheapest standard package.

With a list of 15,000 leads and the zoko ELITE package, the zoko tool costs are a paltry €109.99, but the FlowHippo costs are already around €2,085.00 for 350,000 flow operations.

Are you prepared to pay these horrendous prices? Especially since you are not and were not transparently informed about this from the beginning?

the zoko alternative: Chatarmin from Austria. Transparent, fair prices. Shopify & Klaviyo Integration for D2C Brands WhatsApp Marketing

We at Chatarmin boast maximum transparency. You can view our prices on our Pricing Page at any time with full transparency.

There are no additional variable META costs.

There are also no hidden costs like the zoko FlowHippo amounts.

A list of 5,000 leads costs €399.00 in our "Smarter Package" with Shopify and Klaviyo integration (which is not even available at zoko). That is about 50% of the zoko costs of over €600.00.

The bigger the cost, the more extreme the difference becomes. With the WhatsApp marketing list of 15,000 leads described above, the Chatarmin costs amount to €499.00. zoko already charges over €2,000.00 here with normal use.

Monthly Costs€35.00+€82.00+
Additional Conversational Costs
Shared Slack-Connect Channel
Flow Operations Costs
Progressive Agents Costs
Segment costs
Modern and user-friendly UI/UX
Klaviyo integration
Shopware integration

Conclusion: zoko is expensive as hell, but hides its costs skilfully well

A migration from zoko to another WhatsApp marketing tool costs no more than 15 minutes of work and possibly two to three days of waiting time.

In addition, when you create - or migrate - your WhatsApp business account, we offer to import and synchronize the complete Shopify and Klaviyo history of your database. This way you have complete transparency between your "source of truth" or your "customer data panel" Klaviyo, your shop system Shopify, and your WhatsApp tool Chatarmin.

You can see how a collaboration with Chatarmin usually begins in the following video

Contact us for your 25-minute consultation, calculate your case, and see if a migration or which tool is right for you:

Book a slot with Johannes, our CEO!