With more than 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 too, by giving them access to tools that 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 used to scale up customer engagements over WhatsApp with special features. It is used primarily by 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 and has no app or front-end interface. It can be integrated and used with your business software (like the Engati platform).
How is the WhatsApp Business API different from the 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.
What are the features of the 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 below 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.
These are messages that are 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 if they exceed the window of 24 hours. WhatsApp Business API automatically closes the session window from the last message received from the customer’s end. Although, businesses can initiate the conversation with customers who have opted in for communication with their consent.
These are predefined templates that can be personalized for individual customers. You can use these to send broadcasts and notifications. These templates need to be approved by WhatsApp before you can send them to your customers. It makes it easier for businesses to A- send homogeneous communication to their customers, it could be seasonal offers, promotions, or discounts; and B- to communicate with selected customers or customer groups rather than having one on one conversations.
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, if 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.
WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means that only you and your customers can read them.
The WhatsApp Business API can be integrated with your chatbot platform (Engati) as well as other backend systems like your CRM, ticketing system, and other marketing platforms. As mentioned earlier, the API makes it possible to communicate with customers with ease without any human intervention. These intelligent trainable bots can engage with customers and answer their queries with just a few clicks at the convenience of their mobile devices.
What is the use of the WhatsApp Business API?
You can use the WhatsApp Business API to build intelligent WhatsApp chatbots and scale up your customer engagements over the platform that your customers prefer and spend the most time using.
Message templates are another major reason why businesses use the API. This is because they help you reach customers outside the 24-hour window and can even be used to broadcast messages to WhatsApp users who haven’t interacted with your business yet.
The templates can be used to send broadcasts as well as notifications to your customers about order and payment confirmations, account updates, shipping details, etc.
Who can use WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp Business API isn’t really for everyone and not everyone can get access to it either.
Meta (owner of WhatsApp) has clearly defined the eligibility criteria for WhatsApp Business API that am entity needs to fulfill. Thereby, two key elements are important to bag the eligibility:
- Size of the business
WhatsApp Business API is also referred to as “WhatsApp Enterprise" and is much more complex than WhatsApp Business App. Hence, Meta only intends to serve well-established medium and large businesses and approve the usage of WhatsApp Business API. Individual enterprises and small businesses can use WhatsApp Business App available for free on respective App stores.
- Industry/ Business Type
WhatsApp Business API exempts a few industries and entities from using the services, which include political parties or individuals leaders, software vendors, real cash industries such as gaming and gambling; adult content and entertainment; arms; alcohol, and tobacco, as well as supplements and other medical drugs. The industry that you operate in makes a count on availing 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.
What are the components of WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp Business API has two major components.
- WhatsApp Business Profile
The profile makes your WhatsApp account look more professional, it comes in with the green tick verified by WhatsApp, which ensures customers, are engaging with an authentic source. Apart from this, it helps you share your details with your customers. You can add a description, your website, cover image, logo, email, etc.
- WhatsApp Business API: Phone Number
You need a phone number that needs to be associated with your WhatsApp Business API account. The phone number tied to WhatsApp Business API should be able to receive calls or SMS as it requires SMS for OTP verification. Try not to use a number that is already in use with some other account
WhatsApp allows you to migrate from the App to API is, but going back from the API to App is not possible.
How do you get access to the WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp only grants select businesses like Procter & Gamble, Apple, Uber, Singapore Airlines, etc. direct access to the API.
Other businesses need to get access from Business solution providers. Engati helps you get your WhatsApp Business API from providers like 360Dialog, Kaleyra, Vonage (Nexmo), Clickatell, and Twillio.
However, the fastest way to get access to the API would be to choose 360Dialog as your provider when you deploy an Engati chatbot on WhatsApp and click on the prompt to create an account with 360Dialog.
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. It could only be done through an on-premises 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.
Companies that are working with an API that they got from a business solution provider who has the WhatsApp API hosted on Meta’s servers will be able to access all the latest WhatsApp Business API features as soon as they are launched. But those companies that are making use of APIs that are hosted on-premise by the business solution provider will not be able to get access to new WhatsApp API features until their BSPs carry out the API software upgrades manually.
What is the cost of WhatsApp API?
The WhatsApp Business API rates are based on countries and regions. The rates are 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 for India is the lowest at ₹ 0.4843 and CPC for user-initiated conversations is the lowest for Turkey at ₹ 0.2199 and for India, it costs ₹ 0.2906.
Where the CPC for both business-initiated and user-initiated conversations is the highest for the Netherlands at ₹ 10.8867 and ₹ 6.5320 respectively.
How can you 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 recognizable since there is a visible business name present in your WhatsApp profile. You also get a green tick added next to your business’s name which serves as proof of authenticity so that your customers do not need to worry that they might be conversing with a fraudster who is posing as a representative of your business. You can request to get your WhatsApp API account directly from the Facebook Business Manager or you could get it done through the business solution provider that you get your API from.
If you want to get your WhatsApp Business API account verified, you would 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 and iconic brands.
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