With over 2 billion active users and a 98% open rate, WhatsApp is the go-to channel for all your customer communication.
If you're reading this, you're likely aware of the platform's potential and are interested in leveraging it for your business, whether you're an SMB or an enterprise looking to scale.
In this article, we'll cover the basics of the WhatsApp API, including how to create broadcasts, automate your marketing and customer support, and best practices to keep in mind as you skyrocket your business to new heights. 🚀
So, let's get started!
What is WhatsApp Business API?
What’s WhatsApp Business?
You’re probably familiar with WhatsApp, the most used communication mobile app.
WhatsApp Business is simply another variant of the popular app, allowing business to set up profiles and engage with their customers through various specialised features.
...and what are APIs?
On the other hand API i.e. Application Programming Interface is a set of rules and protocols that allows different software applications to communicate and interact with each other, enabling them to share data and functionality.
Let’s make sense of this definition with an example:
Think of an e-commerce website offering PayPal as a payment option. This integration utilises the PayPal API, where PayPal and the website are two software applications interacting with each other, sharing data and hence enabling payment via PayPal on the website itself.
This makes for a seamless payment process, and significantly enhances the overall user experience.
WhatsApp Business API
The WhatsApp Business API is an API that is used to scale up customer engagements over WhatsApp with special features. It is primarily created for medium & large businesses to engage & interact with their customers all over the world securely & reliably.
WhatsApp API integrates with your business software just like how any other API does - like a plug-and-play integration.
What is the difference between WhatsApp Business API & WhatsApp Business App?
The primary difference between the two lies in required level of automation and existing size of consumer base.
The WhatsApp Business App is meant to be used by small businesses. It’s perfect for businesses with a relatively smaller consumer base, as it needs more manual engagement on the app. It helps personalize the customer experience, although it cannot be scaled.
The WhatsApp Business API is used by medium and large businesses that need a business suite that integrates with their other systems, software, and data. This is used by businesses with a larger number of users that need to be engaged at scale.
Here’s a detailed comparison between the WhatsApp API & the WhatsApp App.
What are the features of WhatsApp Business API?
Only customers who have ‘opted-in’ i.e. provided consent to receiving messages from your business can receive messages utilising the WhatsApp Business API.
Businesses must abide by the following requirements when obtaining the opt-in on WhatsApp:
- Convey the necessary information to the customers and provide the consent option to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp
- Mention the business name and identity that a person is obtaining to get messages from.
These are messages sent within the 'service window’ i.e. a 24 hour window set by WhatsApp that starts after receiving a message from the customer. These messages can include text, emojis, stickers, links, images, videos, and documents.
After 24 hour window expires, businesses can't send messages unless customers have provided consented, but can respond to customer-initiated conversations.
Businesses cannot send messages to their customers beyond the window of 24 hours. Post that, the API automatically closes the session window from the last message sent by the customer. Although, businesses can initiate the conversation with customers who have opted in for communication with consent.
You can personalize your broadcasts and notifications by utilising predefined WhatsApp templates, after obtaining approval from WhatsApp.
Utilising these templates come with plenty of benefits, the key ones being
- Consistency: Templates enable you to have consistent messaging across any content you present to your customers. Along with that, templates also allow for consistent posting and communication.
- Personalization: You can interact with selected customers and groups thanks to the dynamic nature of message templates
- Efficiency: With consistency and personalization, the amount of resources consumed greatly reduces, also allowing for simpler and more effective customer engagement.
WhatsApp message templates allow you to send interactive buttons within the message that your customers can use to reach a webpage or call you up.
It makes it simpler for customers to select from the predefined action buttons to carry forward the communication rather than manually typing a question.
For example, suppose you book a flight ticket from service providers like Make My Trip, Trivago, or Goibibo. They generally allow you to select from the predefined buttons to get or request more information.
Like WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means your business and customers can rest easy knowing only you two can see the messages shared between you.
The WhatsApp Business API can be integrated with your chatbot platform (Engati) and other backend systems like your CRM, ticketing system, and other marketing platforms. This allows the business to benefit from automation to communicate with its customers with ease.
Is WhatsApp Business API right for you?
If your business has 1-5 people, you can easily manage everything with the WhatsApp Business App. However, as your business scales, it’s good to switch to the API!
Consider choosing the WhatsApp Business API if:
- You want to use WhatsApp as a channel for personalized customer acquisition and engagement.
- Your business is large with 100+ customers and you're looking to quickly scale in the near future.
- You're interested in WhatsApp commerce and selling your products directly on the platform.
- You require at least 2-3 people to manage customer conversations on a daily basis.
- Your live chat agents are frequently answering repetitive customer queries and you want to streamline the process.
- You want to improve the efficiency of your customer communication.
How can WhatsApp Business Solution providers help with the WhatsApp API?
Instead of relying on third-party solution providers to integrate the WhatsApp Business API, businesses can work directly with Engati to get their API set up quickly and easily.
Engati also offers green tick verification services for WhatsApp numbers as part of the process.
WhatsApp Business API examples
It’s evident that integrating the WhatsApp Business API has many benefits. But we understand seeing is believing
Below are some examples showcasing businesses which adapted WhatsApp Business API and the consequent effect it has over them.
Examples of companies using API:
Wish, the famous international e-commerce platform, uses WhatsApp Business API to connect with its customers, providing them with shopping assistance, order tracking and other features, the results of which have been “outstanding” as reported by Peter Szulczewski, CEO of Wish.
Uber India with the aim to provide their ride sharing service to customers in the most convenient manner possible employed WhatsApp business API to enable users to book rides right from WhatsApp.
3. South African Department of Health
MomHealth, a mobile health care platform developed by South African Department of Health and other group of partners created to spread awareness, offer information and provide services to to pregnant women and new mothers.
After adopting WhatsApp, MomHealth noted a 6X more engagement from mothers while incurring a 76% lower cost.
How to apply for the WhatsApp Business API account?
In order to apply for a WhatsApp Business API account, one must own a business phone number and that needs to be linked with the WhatsApp Business API account. The phone number tied to WhatsApp Business API should be able to receive calls or SMS as required for OTP verification. One cannot use a number that is already in use with some other account.
WhatsApp does not manage business accounts directly. It outsources the distribution of the WhatsApp Business API to its approved partners, the WhatsApp Business Solution Providers. You can apply for a WhatsApp Business API only through a Business Service provider, as mentioned before. Instead of going through a tedious process, you can easily apply for an API account by partnering with Engati.
With Engati you can get your WhatsApp Business API from providers like 360Dialog, Kaleyra, Vonage (Nexmo), Clickatell, and Twillio.
Once you have created your account, WhatsApp will allows you to migrate from the App to API, but not from API to the App.
In what ways can the WhatsApp Business API be hosted?
Earlier, there was only one way in which the WhatsApp Business API provided through the Business Solution Provider could be hosted. This could only be done through an on-premise API that is hosted on the business solution provider’s servers. From 2022 onwards, WhatsApp has made it possible for business solution providers to offer Cloud API in which the API will be hosted on Meta’s (formerly Facebook) servers. As of now, Cloud API is only available to certain business solution providers.
What is the pricing of WhatsApp API?
The WhatsApp Business API pricing is based on countries and regions. These rates can be divided into the following categories:
Marketing Conversations: This is a category of business-initiated conversations that mainly includes discount coupons, vouchers, product offers & promotions, etc
Authentication Conversations: This is another category of business-initiated conversations that includes one time passwords, security codes for user accounts, etc
Utility Conversations: Another category of business-initiated conversations that is used for delivery updates, account updates, etc.
Service Conversations: It is also known as session messages are mainly user initiated conversations (where the business replies within 24 hours) to resolve any of their queries or problems.
Cost per conversation in USD, effective from June 1, 2023
You can calculate these costs easily with the help of our WhatsApp Business API Pricing Calculator.
How to get a WhatsApp Business API account verified?
A verified WhatsApp Business API account is also known as an official WhatsApp Business account.
Having an official WhatsApp API account increases your business’s credibility and makes it more recognisable since it shows a visible business name instead of just the number on your WhatsApp profile.
You also get a green tick added next to your business’s name which serves as proof of authenticity so your customers won't need to worry about conversing with a fraudster, posing as a representative of your business.
You can request to get your WhatsApp API account verified directly from the Facebook Business Manager or you could get it done through the business solution provider that you get your API from.
To get your WhatsApp Business API account verified, you need to fulfill the requirements set by WhatsApp. Parts of these requirements involve adhering to WhatsApp Commerce and WhatsApp Business Policies and being a well-renowned business. WhatsApp tends to only verify notable brands.