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.
So, let's get started!
What is 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 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.
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.
What are the features of WhatsApp Business API?
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 on WhatsApp:
- Businesses should convey the necessary information to the customers and provide the 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 WhatsApp 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.
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.
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 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 WhatsApp Business Solution 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 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.
What is the pricing of WhatsApp API?
The WhatsApp Business API pricing is based on countries and regions. These rates can be divided into two categories:
Business-Initiated Rate: When a business initiates the conversation (using a WhatsApp message template).
User-Initiated Rate: When the user initiates the conversation (and the business replies to the message within 24 hours).
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 Commerce and WhatsApp Business Policies and being a well-renowned business. WhatsApp tends to only verify notable brands.