WhatsApp Business API

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WhatsApp Business API

With over 2 billion users and a 98% open rate, WhatsApp is something you cannot miss out on. Realizing this potential, WhatsApp has started catering to businesses by giving them access to tools they can leverage to scale their business on WhatsApp.  The WhatsApp Business API is one such tool.

What is the WhatsApp Business API?

The WhatsApp Business API is an API launched by Facebook in 2018. It is used to scale up customer engagements over WhatsApp with special features. It is primarily created for medium and large businesses to engage and interact with their customers all over the world securely and reliably.

Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, the WhatsApp Business API is only an API with no app or front-end interface. It can be integrated and used with your business software (like the Engati platform).

Difference between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business App?

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. 

WhatsApp API

WhatsApp Business App

Meant for medium to large scale businesses

Meant for small scale businesses

Automated conversations & chat replies

Manual replies needed except for the preset greeting message

Can integrate other software such as the Engati WhatsApp chatbot to streamline the conversations with customers.

No such integrations are possible on the business app.

It has a back-end interface.

It has a front-end interface. 

Allows multiple logins.

Doesn’t allow multiple logins, and needs dedicated manual operation. 

Can be used free of cost.

Has a fixed price per conversation.

Broadcast limited to only 256 recipients.

Broadcasts can be sent to over 10000 recipients at once.

Does not support broadcast campaigns.

Supports automated broadcast campaigns like abandoned cart/check out campaigns and order updates.

Users cannot apply for green tick

Users can apply for a green tick.

WhatsApp Business API
Source- SendBee Blog

Features of the WhatsApp Business API

Opt-in

Using the WhatsApp business API, you can only send messages to WhatsApp users who have already messaged your business or have provided consent to receiving messages from your business.

Businesses must abide by the following requirements when obtaining an opt-in feature to message customers:

  • Businesses should uprise customers with the necessary information and consent option to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp
  • Businesses should mention the business name and identity that a person is obtaining to get messages from. 

Session messages

These are messages sent within the 'service window.' WhatsApp allows you to send messages to your customers within 24 hours of receiving a message from them. These messages can include text, emojis, stickers, links, images, videos, and documents. 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. 

Message templates

These are predefined templates that one can personalize to send broadcasts and notifications to different customers. These templates must be pre-approved by WhatsApp before sending them to your customers. This makes it easier for businesses to A- send homogeneous communication to their customers, such as seasonal offers, promotions, or discounts, and B- communicate with selected customers or customer groups rather than sending individual messages to each of them.

Buttons

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. 

End-to-end encryption

WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means only you and your customers can read them.

Integrations

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.

Why use the WhatsApp Business API?

You can use the WhatsApp Business API to build intelligent WhatsApp chatbots to scale up your customer engagements over a platform that your customers prefer and spend the most time using.

Message templates are another major reason why businesses use the API. It helps businesses reach customers outside the 24-hour window and can even be used to broadcast messages to WhatsApp users who haven’t interacted with the business yet.

These templates can be used to send broadcasts as well as notifications to customers about order and payment confirmations, account updates, shipping details, etc.

Who can use WhatsApp Business API?

Not everyone can get access to WhatsApp Business API. Meta (owner of WhatsApp) has clearly defined the eligibility criteria for WhatsApp Business API that an entity needs to fulfil. Thereby, two key elements are important to bag the eligibility:

  1. Size of the business

WhatsApp Business API is also referred to as "WhatsApp Enterprise" and is much more complex than WhatsApp Business App. Hence, a business must be a well-established, medium to large enterprise to get approved for using WhatsApp Business API. Individual enterprises and small businesses can use WhatsApp Business App, available for free on respective App stores.

  1. Industry/ Business Type

WhatsApp Business API exempts a few industries and entities from using its services. This includes political parties or individual leaders, software vendors, real cash industries such as gaming and gambling; adult content and entertainment; arms, alcohol, tobacco, supplements, and other medical drugs. The industry you operate in depends on availing of the API services for the business. Other than that, they support real estate, financial services, eCommerce, retail, travel & hospitality, education, and the telecommunications industry at large.

Check the WhatsApp Commerce Policy on their website for more details. 

How to get access to the WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp does not manage business accounts directly. It outsources the distribution of the WhatsApp Business API to its approved partners, the Business Service Providers.  You can apply for a WhatsApp Business API only through a Business Service provider. You can also apply for an API account by partnering with a third party solution like Engati.

With Engati you can get your WhatsApp Business API from providers like 360Dialog, Kaleyra, Vonage (Nexmo), Clickatell, and Twillio.

Disclaimer- 

One must own a business phone number that will 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 allows you to migrate from the App to API, but going back from the API to App is not possible.

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.

Pricing of WhatsApp API?

The WhatsApp Business API rates are based on countries and regions. These rates can be divided into two categories:

Business-Initiated Rate: When a business initiates the conversation

User-Initiated Rate: When the user initiates the conversation

The cost per conversation for business-initiated messages in India is the lowest at ₹ 0.4843, and CPC for user-initiated conversations is the lowest in Turkey at ₹ 0.2199. For India, it costs ₹ 0.2906. 

The CPC for both business-initiated and user-initiated conversations is the highest for the Netherlands at ₹ 10.8867 and ₹ 6.5320, respectively. 

How to verify a WhatsApp Business API account?

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's Commerce and Business Policies and being a well-renowned business. WhatsApp tends to only verify notable brands.

Bonus - Join the live webinar on 8th Dec!

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