WhatsApp is a leading messaging app with over 1.5 billion people using it every day. It is, therefore, a smart business decision to leverage WhatsApp for business communications.
If you’re looking to understand how WhatsApp Business APIs work, how it differs from the WhatsApp business app, and how it can help SMBs, you’ve come to the right place. We aim to give you a quick primer on everything you need to know before you get started.
At the end of this article, you will be able to fully understand what WhatsApp Business API is, how to create a WhatsApp API account, WhatsApp broadcast, manage contacts, and the best practices for sending WhatsApp API messages.
Business communication on WhatsApp
To help set up business communications on WhatsApp, Meta, (formally known as Facebook) launched WhatsApp Business API or WhatsApp API in 2018.
Table of Contents
What Is WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp API was launched to help medium to large companies that wanted to use WhatsApp to communicate with multiple customers at scale. WhatsApp Business API enables businesses to automate communications with automated replies, WhatsApp chatbots & interactive messages.
In short, WhatsApp Business API helps businesses to create a personalized communication flow that works best for their customers.
Example: Using automated reminders and WhatsApp Chatbot, 21K School increased their new customer acquisition up to 172% in 11 months using WATI.
WhatsApp Business App
WhatsApp Business App & its WhatsApp Business Web extension are free-to-use apps aimed to help small business owners. It helps small businesses connect with customers and offer their products and services and support them through their journey. But it has limited capabilities and is not built for scale.
Features Of WhatsApp Business App
● Canned/quick replies
● Dedicated WhatsApp Business App
● Conversation labels
● Set away messages
● Dedicated business profile/hours
● No integration with other systems like Chatbot, CRM
● One person usage
How is WhatsApp API different from WhatsApp Business App?
- WhatsApp API is built for businesses that want to scale. Since WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses, it does not support features like bulk messages to customers/leads.
- automatically trigger messages via integrations & APIs.
- multiple logins & support dashboard.
On the other hand, WhatsApp API comes with a lot of chat automation features. For instance, unlike WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp API has no app or front-end interface and needs to be integrated directly into business software.
WhatsApp API can only be accessed via WhatsApp Business Solution Providers or BSPs.
WhatsApp Business API Solution Providers: BSPs
The WhatsApp Business API Platform is not available for everyone yet. Facebook has chosen 40-50 third-party solution providers to distribute WhatsApp Business API to every other business.
BSPs offer whatsApp APIs for businesses to build their solution on top of WhatsApp APIs. These BSPs can help you communicate with your customers using whatsApp APIs for the approved use cases of customer support and time-sensitive, personalized notifications.
WATI, as a WhatsApp API provider (BSP), on the other hand also provides you with a complete WhatsApp CRM with a dedicated Team Inbox to manage communications. You can just integrate it with your WhatsApp Business API number and you’re ready to use all the features of WhatsApp Business API directly via WATI.
Key Features of WhatsApp Business API
● Integrations with tools like CRM, analytics, and third-party apps
● Green Tick, verified WhatsApp Business profile
● Messages Broadcast for bulk notifications
● No app or interface, use via BSPs or CRM
● WhatsApp Chatbot & interactive messages support
● Multi-agent access for customer support
Sounds interesting for far? You can Sign Up with WATI to get WhatsApp Business APIs. We’ll take you through the Sign Up process in a later section.
Now, let’s dig deep into the different aspects of WhatsApp Business API.
Is WhatsApp Business API right for you?
This is the most important question to answer before you get started!
The most straightforward answer usually is that businesses with 1-5 people are usually able to manage with the free WhatsApp Business app. As your business scales, it is recommended to move to the WhatsApp Business API.
But making a decision seems far more complex than that. Let us help you to figure out what’s perfect for your business.
You must go for the WhatsApp Business API if-
● You are a large business and have more than 300 active customers with who you want to engage on WhatsApp.
● You are finding a solution to use WhatsApp for sending automated notifications to your customers (think status notifications, purchase updates, etc.)
● You want to use WhatsApp as a channel to acquire new customers, improve your customer support, or offer a personalized buying experience.
● You require more than 2 people to manage your expected conversation volume.
● Agent’s time spent on each conversation and response times are critical to your business and you need third-party automation tools to improve your overall team efficiency.
● You require a WhatsApp conversational commerce and an automation platform.
The Components Of A WhatsApp Business Account
There are two major components of WhatsApp Business API:
1. WhatsApp Business Profile
2. Phone number
WhatsApp API for Business: Business Profile
A WhatsApp Business Profile provides customers with more information about your business. Businesses can optimize their business profiles by updating their cover photo, description, address, email, and website.
Above you can see how the Business Profile of the WhatsApp Business platform looks. A WhatsApp API Business Profile shows information about your business.
Businesses can easily optimize their business profiles by updating their cover photo, description (about the services), business address, email & website.
WhatsApp Business API: Phone Number
A phone number should be associated with your WhatsApp Business API account. The phone number tied to WhatsApp Business API needs to be able to receive calls or SMS as it requires SMS for OTP verification.
WATI encourages using a phone number that’s not in use for another WhatsApp Messaging app or WhatsApp Business App account. Phone number migration from the App to API is possible, but going back from the API to App is not allowed by WhatsApp.
Getting Started With WATI
WATI powered by WhatsApp Business API comes loaded with features like broadcast, multi-login, and chat automation that is essential in business communication.
- WhatsApp Chatbot & Chat Automation- WhatsApp API Chatbot can be enabled on your WhatsApp Business number via WATI’s No-Code intelligent chatbot builder. With the WhatsApp chatbot, you can automate FAQs and general support queries about your products/services.
To learn more about building WhatsApp Chatbots, [Read] How To Build A WhatsApp Chatbot For WhatsApp Business API Number
- Team Inbox & Multi-Agent Login Support- WhatsApp API features on WATI help you set up multi-login for a single WhatsApp number. Without scanning QR codes, you can add multiple agents to your support dashboard for communication & support.
A dedicated Team Inbox on WATI allows you to manage all your sales, and support chats.
- WhatsApp Broadcast & Personalized Campaigns- While broadcast on WhatsApp Business App is limited to 256 recipients, WhatsApp API broadcasts allow up to 100K recipients based on your Tier.
[Read More] About WhatsApp Business API Account Limitations & Tiers
You can broadcast personalized campaigns via your own CRM database, Excel and Google Sheets.
Though, we recommend you to broadcast WhatsApp messages only to those who’ve opted in to receive WhatsApp messages from your business.
[Read More] About WhatsApp Business Opt-In
WhatsApp API Messaging- WhatsApp API allows you to send different types of messages to your customers.
A. WhatsApp Message Template: WhatsApp Message Templates for Business are message formats for common reusable messages a business may want to send. You can also add quick replies to WhatsApp message templates.
Note: Businesses can use only Message Templates for sending notifications to customers. Each message template must get approval from WhatsApp itself before coming into use.
Quality Rating- The WhatsApp API Account quality rating shows the message quality that your customers have received in the past 24 hrs. There are three different quality states:
Green: High quality
Yellow: Medium quality
Red: Low quality
If your quality reaches a low quality, your WhatsApp Business Account status will change as flagged or restricted.
B. WhatsApp Session Message: WhatsApp Session messages are any messages sent and received in response to a user-initiated message to your application.
A messaging session starts when a user sends your application a message and lasts for 24 hours from the most recently received message. You can wait for users to message your app, or you can send a Template Message to invite the user to respond.
C. WhatsApp Interactive Messages: Interactive messages give your customers and clients a simpler way to answer or interact via buttons with your conversation on WhatsApp.
They are mostly used while making chatbots so that it gives users a cleaner look and an easier way to select and answer in the conversation. Interactive messages are also text-based but have a higher response rate compared to regular text messages.
Reply Buttons- Reply Buttons are messages including up to 3 buttons to choose from. It is more like a question where you are giving answers as options to choose from. This makes it easier and faster for the user to choose from, it is similar to the template message with quick replies.
WhatsApp List Messages– List Messages is a menu with up to 10 options for the user to select from. This gives your customers a whole lot of options to choose from and makes it easier for them to converse with you. This helps in getting quick responses.
[Read More] About WhatsApp Interactive Messages
Third-Party Integrations Like Ecomm, CRM, Apps- WhatsApp API integrations include Apps like Google Sheet, Zapier, Shopify, Pabbly, and Zoho. These are some of the native integrations supported on WATI. you can integrate your WhatsApp Business with your apps using WATI APIs.
[See] WhatsApp API Documentation
[Read More] WhatsApp Catalog API with WATI
Contact Management & WhatsApp Based CRM- With WATI’s APIs or contact management dashboard, you can easily manage your WhatsApp CRM. You can select, filter, and set custom attributes to the data directly from your WATI dashboard.
These are the most commonly used features of WhatsApp Business On WATI. If you have questions about features & support do JOIN A DEMO with our team.
Getting WhatsApp Business API In Under 30 Minutes
It takes only 10 minutes to sign up for WhatsApp API using WATI. You’ll be able to set up your WhatsApp Business API account on WATI within 30 minutes of Sign Up. You’ll also receive a confirmation email on the account setup.
After that, you’ll be able to use the full functionalities of WhatsApp APIs on the WATI dashboard.
To get WhatsApp API Access on WATI, you need to follow these steps –
- Get a Phone Number (should not have an existing WhatsApp Account).
- Signup for a WhatsApp API Provider such as WATI. You can sign up & choose a plan here.
- Complete Facebook Business Verification.
Get a Phone Number
You can buy a new phone number that can receive a phone call or SMS from an international number.
The number should not have an existing WhatsApp Account.
If the number has a WhatsApp account, you must delete the account by following the steps mentioned here.
If you’ve registered with WhatsApp API before, you can even migrate to another provider.
Signup with WATI APIs
You can sign up by choosing a plan.
After you make a payment, you are redirected to the link that allows you to connect with your Facebook Business Manager.
- Click on “Continue with Facebook”.
- Continue with your Facebook login.
- On the next page, click on “Get Started”.
- Proceed to link with your Facebook Business Manager.
- Create a new Facebook Business Account or link an existing one.
- Create a new WhatsApp Business Account (also called WABA).
- Proceed to Step 2 once the account has been set up.
- Fill in your WhatsApp Business Display Name.
- Choose your Industry Category and proceed.
- Add your WhatsApp Number and choose the verification method as “SMS” or “Voice”.
- Input the 6-digit verification code.
- Click on “OK” on the last step.
After completing these steps, you will get your account details via email within 30 minutes.
Verify your Facebook Business Manager
After completing the above steps, you will get your WhatsApp API Sandbox Access, but to get full access, you must complete your Facebook Business Verification.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing
From February 2022, WhatsApp has started charging businesses based on conversation. WhatsApp calls it WhatsApp’s Conversation Based pricing.
1. Business Initiated Conversations-These are conversations where a business gets in touch with a user. These business-initiated conversations will require a message template.
2. User-Initiated Conversations- These are conversations where a user messages a business. When a business replies to this message within a 24-hour window, it is counted as a user-initiated conversation. Businesses can send free-form messages within this 24-hour window.
To learn more about Conversation based pricing, watch this video.
Also, charges vary based on the type of conversations. You can check all the details in WATI’s WhatsApp API pricing.
Great! You’ve made it to the end. Now that you have learned everything you need to know about WhatsApp Business API & its features, let’s apply your newfound knowledge and take your business to the next level with WhatsApp API with WATI.
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