WhatsApp Business API: The Ultimate Guide (Aug 2021)

If you’re looking to enter the WhatsApp ecosystem for business needs, WhatsApp Business API seems like it’s almost a must-have.

12
 min. read
August 21, 2021
WhatsApp Business API: The Ultimate Guide (Aug 2021)

In 2009, a new instant messaging app, named WhatsApp, was launched in the US. It sounded a little quirky, had a few new features compared to BBM, and was gradually customized to run on different operating platforms.

Twelve years later, the app has over two billion users across 180 countries who send 60 billion messages daily. Of the total users, the app has added nearly half of them in just four years (2016-2020) and will be adding millions of new users every year.

The app became so popular that people who owned small and medium businesses used it to communicate with their customers, suppliers, and employees. They typically used to have a separate group for customers to handle all their orders and queries.

In 2018, the messaging app launched WhatsApp Business and Whatsapp Business API to enable businesses to communicate with their customers. The former was designed for small companies, while the latter was built for medium and large organizations to communicate with their customers and offer professional support at scale.

 

What is WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp Business API is developed for medium and large businesses enabling them to reach their customers or a wide range of users. This product comes with numerous useful features that facilitate big corporations to establish direct one-to-one communication with their customers.

WhatsApp Business API is a potent tool for commerce among businesses looking to get in touch with their existing customers and a few more among the two billion users. Its ability to enhance customer experience transforms it into one of the best places to conduct business, particularly in the pandemic.

It is fast gaining popularity among several medium and large businesses. According to UK-based market researcher Mobilesquared, the messaging channel will experience more than 5,400% growth among medium and big companies in five years between 2019 and 2024.

The report also stated businesses in 10 countries spent the most in 2019, accounting for 68% of the total spending in that year. They were Argentina, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Menlo Park-headquartered instant messaging behemoth is updating WhatsApp Business API with new features to onboard businesses faster, provide users with new types of information to receive from companies, and more features for quicker response and feedback.

 

What are the differences between WhatsApp Personal, WhatsApp Business & WhatsApp Business API account?

Here are some differences between WhatsApp personal, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API.

Notification

The WhatsApp Business account shows a different notification than the personal account, saying,

"This chat is with a business account. Click to learn more."

WhatsApp Business API account has a notification that says

"BotSpace may use another company to store, read, and respond to your messages. Click to learn more." 

Profile

In WhatsApp personal app, a name, cover photo, and a description are required.

In WhatsApp Business, a profile needs to have a cover photo, the name of the Business account, location, area of work, description, working hours, website link, and product catalog.

In WhatsApp Business API, a profile can have all the same things as a WhatsApp Business account. 

Product Catalogue

There is no product catalogue in WhatsApp Personal App.

In WhatsApp Business, a product catalog feature is included that enables a business to create an online showroom or a storefront of your business.

You can add pictures of your products and services and add pricing, descriptions, and a code.

In WhatsApp API this feature is coming soon.

Messaging Automation

WhatsApp personal does not have this.

WhatsApp Business comes with messaging automation to help small businesses to save time and communicate efficiently with their customers. The app allows companies to send:

  • automated greeting message
  • automated away message
  • quick replies are easily accessible but not automated.

WhatsApp API comes with advanced automated features that enable them to:

  • automate an entire message flow
  • automate sales process with WhatsApp bots
  • automate proactive notifications
  • automate interactive voice response system to direct calls to WhatsApp 

WhatsApp Labels

The WhatsApp personal app does not come with a label feature.

The WhatsApp Business app comes with five standard labels—New customer, New order, Pending payment, Paid, and Order complete—which enable a business to mark their customers as per the labels they create visually. One can make more labels with new names and colors.

The WhatsApp API does c

Statistics

WhatsApp personal app does not provide statistical details of messages received and sent. It just shows when a message was delivered and read.

Whatsapp Business app only shows the status of messages sent, messages delivered, and messages read.

WhatsApp Business API gives a more detailed analytics of messages sent, delivered, received, and read. It shows the overview and charts of the information.

What is the Difference between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API?
Difference between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

Who Can Get WhatsApp Business API?

It is not possible for everyone to get the business app. Before you start digging into the article, make sure you have a chance of being approved at this point. We want you to be productive. We will cover the eligibility in the following part of the article.

 

How to setup WhatsApp Business API

Some tasks are best left to those who have enough expertise and experience to successfully accomplish that.

The quickest and easiest way to get started with WhatsApp Business API is to let an expert do it for you. You can connect with a Business Solution Provider (BSP) such as BotSpace, which will provide you with a pre-approved WhatsApp Business API with a verified green checkmark at zero upfront payment. 

You need to give these three things:

  • Business Display name
  • A verified Facebook Business Manager id
  • A phone number that doesn’t have any WhatsApp account installed (both personal and business, you can deactivate if it has)

Alternatively, if you want to do it yourself, you will need the following:

  • A verified business
  • A Facebook Business Manager account
  • A WhatsApp Business account
  • A line of credit for the WhatsApp Business account
  • A tool such as Postman or Terminal that can perform cURL requests

Steps to install the WhatsApp Business API client on your own?

Below listed are the steps to install the WhatsApp Business Client:

Set up the environment

WhatsApp Business API client is based on the Docker platform, and it can run on any internet-connected computer system that runs the open-source platform.

You can use the on-premise solution to set up the Docker containers by yourself using the Installation guide. Or you can use Amazon Web Services to set up an entire business API solution with backups, recovery, among other things.

Once the business API client starts working, you can update the application settings. But you can’t access your WhatsApp Business API client’s profile until you have completed your WhatsApp Business API Client registration.

Register your WhatsApp API Client

You will have to register your phone number by conducting an API call to the account endpoint. All you need to do is follow the steps for registration by creating a strong password and obtaining the authentication token. 

Send a test message

After registering your number, you can test the installation by sending test messages to your contacts from your personal WhatsApp number. You will have to send your WhatsApp account a message from the test number to enable the Customer Service window, a 24-hour window in which you can send any type of message to your intended receiver.

After that, send a message to your test phone number to determine the success of the installation. You also can use the WADebug tool to ensure the successful installation of WhatsApp business API. After that, you may change your profile picture, business profile, about section, and more.

Create a backup

You should create a backup to effortlessly restore your materials from another system and set up a strong password for robust protection.

Use message templates

Using message templates is advisable to manage the scale of your customer interface and boost engagement with your customers.

Set up Webhooks

Webhooks are automated messages that are sent by apps when some specific events happen. WhatsApp has its own webhooks that can analyze text, media, status, and location of the incoming files and enable you to process them from people who respond to you on the messaging app.

 

Benefits of using WhatsApp Business API

The WhatsApp Business API provides the following benefits to medium and large businesses,

1. Easy two-way communication

The two-way chat feature of WhatsApp Business API can enable you to answer your customers’ queries, provide all relevant information, and keep them posted on their orders, delivery, payment, and more.

2. Enhances customer experience

WhatsApp Business API gives you a personalized environment to communicate with customers. You can earn their trust and loyalty by providing them with the right information and support. Read our blog post on customer experience and know what you need to do, and what to avoid, to enhance that and ensure customer satisfaction.

3. Wider reach

With a user base of over two billion people in more than 180 countries, WhatsApp Business API gives businesses wider reach to a wide range of potential customers.

4. Brand-verified conversations

When you use WhatsApp Business APIs to get in touch with your customers, it infuses brand identity into the communication and gives it a professional character. You can add your business profile photo, link to the website, contact numbers, store locations, product catalogs, promotional details, and more.

5. Initiate conversation proactively

You can start a conversation by creating message templates and notifying your customers to take the following steps.

6. Robust security with customer messaging opt-in

WhatsApp makes two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption its standard security features to enhance your customers and business security. WhatsApp Business API also verifies your business account and validates your identity to customers when they opt-in to receive messages from you.

Sessions Messages vs. Template Messages

Sessions messages are sent and received after a user sends a message to your business account. You are allowed to reply to the user’s messages with any type of content for free within 24 hours.

A messaging session begins when a user initiates a conversation and lasts for 24 hours from the last sent message. Within the 24-hour time frame, you can respond with any content, including advertising content, promotional messages, and surveys containing attachments and media files. The content is not pre-approved, and you can even send multiple messages in one go.

Running a successful WhatsApp service solely using sessions messages is possible if your users initiate communication and respond within 24 hours.

WhatsApp Business API Session Messaging
WhatsApp Business API Session Messaging

Template messages are paid outbound templates that require to be pre-approved from WhatsApp. These can be sent and received after the 24-hour messaging window has closed, but a business wants to respond to the message(s) of, or initiate a conversation with, a user. As per WhatsApp definition, template messages are “message formats for common, reusable messages a business may want to send.”

They have been purposely designed to prevent businesses from turning the messaging app into a broadcast or marketing platform.

The messages have to comply with strict guidelines, are highly structured, and have to be pre-approved before sending them. But they can be sent multiple times after they are created. They can also be sent to chat-service users for routine notifications. Some good examples of template messages are thank-you notes, welcome messages, and texts to inform about the resolution of issues. 

 

Rate Limit for Template Messages

Messaging limits decide the number of unique users your business can send messages to. This includes new and existing conversations with users. It just limits the number of unique users you are trying to communicate, not the number of messages your business can send.

The rate limit tiers are based on the overall quality rating of the messages and they determine the number of daily messages your business can send to unique users. It is not applicable for messages sent in response to a message initiated by a user within a 24-hour window.

There are three tiers:

Every new WhatsApp Business API-enabled number starts with Tier 1, which permits your business to reach 1,000 unique users in a rolling 24-hour window.

If your business manages to message a total of 2,000 unique users with a seven-day window without being blocked or marked as spam, you will enter Tier 2 that allows you to send 10,000 unique users in a rolling 24-hour window.

After sending messages to 20,000 unique users in the seven-day window, your business will be upgraded to Tier 3, allowing you to reach out to 100,000 unique users in a rolling 24-hour timeframe.

Messaging Rate Limits for WhatsApp Business API

Cost for Template Messages

The cost for template messages varies from one country to another.

Template message fee is always over and above the standard monthly fee.

Even if you can download and install WhatsApp Business yourself, you will need to partner with an authorized BSP to access the WhatsApp Business API and they charge the template fee as per their plans.

At BotSpace, the price for our Base plan is $29 per month for 500 monthly active customers plus $15 for every additional 500 customers. The services include in this plan are:

  • Unlimited team members
  • Broadcasting
  • Pay as you go
  • Community Support
  • Lite Onboarding
  • All Integrations

In our Enterprise plan, we customize price as per user volumes plus $15 for every additional 500 customers. The services include:

  • Volume Discounts
  • Unlimited team members
  • Broadcasting
  • Pay as you go
  • Dedicated Customer Success Manager
  • Custom Integrations
  • Full Onboarding
  • All Integrations 

Interactive Messages and Types

Interactive messages provide your users with a simpler way to find and choose what they are seeking from your business.

In the testing phase, chatbots employing interactive messaging features get much higher response rates and conversions than those using text-based messaging.

There are two types of interactive messages and they are listed below:

List Messages: With a menu of up to 10 options, this type of message provides users with a simpler and more consistent way to make a choice when communicating with a business.

Reply buttons: This type of message includes three options—each a button—which provide users with a quicker way to make a choice when communicating with a business. This offers the same user experience as interactive templates with buttons.

Get your Account Verified (Green Tick)

Do you want your WhatsApp Business account to be an official business account where you can see a green checkmark beside your company’s name? How awesome would that be!

However, there are certain requirements to qualify for a green tick:

  • You must be a business entity
  • You have to use WhatsApp API Approved Business Account
  • You must allow two-step verification
  • Facebook must verify your Facebook Business Manager
  • You are in Tier 2 or Tier 3 messaging level
  • You have to be a famous brand

 At BotSpace, we have helped many of our customers in getting their accounts verified and we will take you through the steps to apply for a green tick verification.

You need to first apply for WhatsApp API access through a BSP such as BotSpace. After the approval of your WhatsApp Business API access, you can contact your BSP to apply for Green Tick.

WhatApp Business API is a great tool for medium and big organizations to remain connected with their customers as well as reach out to new users. This is where official BSPs such as BotSpace enable these companies to access API and boost customer engagement. BotSpace also give you access to a shared inbox, where every team member can view and reply to customers’ messages quickly and easily.

To know how WhatsApp Business API can transform your business and how you can use it to reach more users, contact us for a free consultation.