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WhatsApp Business API: Getting Started

Updated: Mar 20

This is the ultimate guide to WhatsApp Business Platform in 2022.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover:

And lots more.

So, if you want to use WhatsApp for your business, you'll love this updated guide.

Let's get started!

 

Intro to WhatsApp Ecosystem

WhatsApp offers three products:

  • WhatsApp Messenger

  • WhatsApp Business App

  • WhatsApp Business Platform

Take a look at the features of each product. Then, decide which one goes best with your business.

What Are the Features of the WhatsApp Messenger?

  • WhatsApp Consumer App is the most popular product of WhatsApp

  • It is for individuals, not companies. It can't be used for commercial purposes.

  • The App is free of charge. The user can even have global communications for free.

  • Users can host audio or video calls.

  • They can share media and all types of files.


What Are the Features of the WhatsApp Business App?

WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses. It aims to connect firms with customers. The App is free of charge, and it offers features like:

  • Automated messages for greetings and away messages.

  • Quick replies to ease the repetitive responses.

  • Labeling of customer chats to stay organized.

  • Business Profile Catalog and Cart feature to facilitate commerce.


Automated Greeting on WhatsApp Business App

WhatsApp Business App has some flaws. For example:

  • Only one user can manage customer conversations.

  • It doesn't allow integration with a third-party application like a chatbot.

What Are the Features of the WhatsApp Business Platform?

WhatsApp Business Platform is an "Application Programming Interface." So, it needs integration with a third party. It allows:

  • Multiple Users: an unlimited number of agents can manage customer conversations.

  • Integration: It integrates with any external system.

  • Auto Notifications: You can automate notifications by integrating the platform with internal systems such as the shipment system.

  • Mass Marketing Campaigns: share targeted campaigns with opt-in customers.

  • WhatsApp Cart and Facebook Catalog: You can integrate WhatsApp with the Facebook catalog. So, clients can have a complete e-commerce experience while chatting through the Cart feature.

WhatsApp Business Platform Use Cases
WhatsApp Business Platform Features and Uses

 

Why Use WhatsApp Business Platform?

WhatsApp has many benefits for brands as follows:

Increase Sales

WhatsApp is a personal and direct channel. So, it offers a higher conversion than websites and call centers. You can use Conversational Commerce to qualify leads.

Increase Customer Satisfaction

WhatsApp is where your customers exist. You can use it to reach clients via their favorite channel.

WhatsApp will raise customer satisfaction because:

  • They don't have to wait in a call center queue.

  • A chatbot is available 24/7.

  • They can easily reach a human agent thanks to autorotation.

Conversation Distribution on WhatsApp
Conversation Distribution from a chatbot to a live agent

Decrease Costs

WhatsApp helps you save time and money since:

  • As statistics show, a messaging agent can be 3 to 5 times more effective than a call center agent.

  • Chatbots can solve at least 30% of customer inquiries.

  • WhatsApp hosting is less expensive than other channels.

 

How Can you Use WhatsApp Platform for your Business?

Customer Support

Companies can use WhatsApp for Inbound customer support.

So, your customers don't have to wait in a call center queue anymore.

You can use WhatsApp to provide instant service through chatbots or human agents.

Chatbots

  • Offer a self-service interface for customers.

  • Guided flow or NLP power the service.

  • When the bot can't handle a customer's intent, it will hand it over to a human agent.

WhatsApp Chatbot
Self Service through WhatsApp Chatbots

Multi-human Agent Interface

  • An Agent Console helps distribute chats between support agents.

  • It enables your agents to communicate with clients at the same time.

Businesses can answer all the FAQs from clients on Whatsapp.

For example, a customer may ask about working hours and shops' locations. A chatbot can reply 24/7.

It's not enough to activate the solution to provide customer support on WhatsApp. You need a Conversation Management Platform.

It offers you an agent interface to manage the chat. It also provides a chatbot for automating interactions. So, if you don't have one yet, you should consider BusinessChat.io.

Conversations Management Platform
BusinessChat.io Platform

Automatic Notifications

Brands can automate different notifications through template messages.

There are ten types of template messages:

WhatsApp Template Messages
Types of WhatsApp Template Messages

For example, a business can share a confirmation message after the client shops on the website or send cart abandonment reminders. Then, the brand can ask for the shipment and payment details.

Notifications on WhatsApp
Cart Abandonment on WhatsApp

E-commerce

E-commerce on WhatsApp
E-commerce Features on Whatsapp Business Platform

WhatsApp is part of Facebook and Instagram's ecosystem, which allows:

Integration between Facebook Catalog and WhatsApp Business Platform

Allows businesses to provide clients with a whole e-commerce experience without building a new catalog.

Product List Messages

Enable a brand to share a curated set of 30 products from their catalog.

Shopping on WhatsApp
Product Lis Messages on WhatsApp

Product Display page

Each item has a PDP accessed via the PLM. A PDP includes more details, up to ten images, and CTAs.

Cart Management

A user can build a cart and send it to the Business. The sent cart comes as an 'order message.'


WhatsApp Business Platform Cart Feature

Check out our article for more details concerning the e-commerce experience on WhatsApp.

Marketing

WhatsApp allows targeting opt-in customers with marketing messages.

If you want to send a message to a client outside the 24hour window, you need to use template messages.

Marketing on WhatsApp Business Platform

Template messages allow marketers to nurture their leads until they become customers and remain loyal. Brands can also use template messages to share non-transactional messages with clients.

In fact, statistics show that WhatsApp has 4X better ROI than SMS and email.

WhatsApp offers a second tool for marketers: Ads that click to WhatsApp. This is how it goes:

  • Create an Ad

  • Select WhatsApp as the channel to receive messages

  • Once a client clicks the Ad, he will move to a WhatsApp conversation with a chatbot.

Ads that Click to WhatsApp
Facebook and Instagram Ads that Click to WhatsApp

In fact, we made a complete post about how to create Ads That Click to WhatsApp and why it is beneficial. But here are a few important benefits:

  • A chatbot is available to qualify customers 24/7.

  • A business can automatically get the client's WhatsApp contact number and information.

  • You will get more leads instead of losing them because of forms and landing pages.


 

What Are WhatsApp Terms of Use and Policies?

WhatsApp set measures and guidelines to keep the platform spam-free.

Terms of Use

Opt-In Rules:

You can only send outbound messages to users who have opted to receive notifications from your Business. So, always make sure you adhere to the WhatsApp Opt-In Guidelines.

Message Rules:

Actually, there are two kinds of conversations on WhatsApp:

  • User-initiated conversations: when a starts a conversation with your Business. Then, your company has 24 hours to reply to that message.

  • Business-initiated Conversations: a business starts a conversation with a user after the "24-hour window."

WhatsApp Rules an policy
Types of WhatsApp Messages

So, every time a user sends a message to your WhatsApp channel, a 24-hour window will open. Within this 24-hour window, you can send any message to the user with absolutely no constraints.

A 24-hour window will reopen every time the user sends a message. Take this example:

  • A user sends a message to chatbot *24-hour window will open*

  • User says nothing for 9 hours *There are 15 hours left in the 24-hour window*

  • After 8 hours, the user sends another message *24-hour window will reopen*

Messages inside the 24-hour window are also called "Session Messages." But what about messages outside the 24-hour window?

You need to use WhatsApp Message Template for that.

Firms have only the right to notify their customers through a message template. You also need manual approval from Meta for each template message.

WhatsApp Rules and Policy
WhatsApp Message Rules

Template Messages:

Firms have only the right to notify their customers through a message template. You also need manual approval from Meta for each template message.

To send a message to a user outside the 24-hour window, you need to use a WhatsApp Message Template.

But you can only send a message according to particular situations. Otherwise, it is not allowed by WhatsApp.

In total, there are ten types of template messages. Here are a few examples of template messages on WhatsApp:

WhatsApp Template Messages
WhatsApp Template Messages

Business Policies & Compliance

Since WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, it can't view the content of your chats. Instead, WhatsApp relies on customer feedback. It has also set a series of measures to control conversation quality.

WhatsApp also has other measures:

WhatsApp Verified Account
Official WhatsApp Business Account
  • Some companies can't use the platform. Meta excludes drugs, weapons, and cigarette traders.

Quality Rating:

It shows how your customers have received messages in a rolling window of the past 24 hours.

WhatsApp Quality Rating
Quality Rating on WhatsApp

Messaging Limits

It determines how many unique users your Business can send messages to daily.

  • It determines how many unique users your Business can send messages to daily.

  • It includes new conversations as well as existing ones with users.

  • It doesn't limit your brand's number of messages. So, it limits the number of users you can message.

  • It also doesn't apply to messages sent in response to a user-initiated message within the 24-hour window.

WhatsApp Messaging Limit
Messaging Limit in a rolling 24-hour window

Capacity Rate:

Capacity Limit is imposed on each available API endpoint and will return the appropriate HTTPS error codes (e.g., 429, 503, etc.) depending on the system's state.

For more details about WhatsApp Business Policy.


How Can Clients Start a Conversation with WhatsApp Business API Number?

Use WhatsApp Entry Points to encourage clients to reach you on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Entry Points are any activity that leads the customer to start a WhatsApp chat with your brand.

Take Facebook and Instagram Ads that click to WhatsApp as an example.


Facebook and Instagram Ads that Click to WhatsApp

Other methods include:

Offline Organic Awareness:

  • Product packaging

  • Offline advertising mediums. For example, billboards, search, signage, etc.

  • QR codes for users to initiate a conversation.

  • Voice by offering a WhatsApp channel when the customer reaches your call center.

Online Organic awareness:

  • Organic search engine listings for the contact us page or landing page.

  • Google AdWords campaigns.

  • Your company website.

  • Web buttons to open chats from the owned brand website.

  • Email & text messages: offer call to action via wa. me links within the brand's App.

WhatsApp Entry Points
20 Ways to Grow WhatsApp Opt-in List

 

How to Activate WhatsApp Platform?

Verify Facebook Business Manager

Provide company information such as:

  • Company name

  • Website URL

  • Industry

  • Use case

  • Operating region

  • Country of company headquarters

  • Facebook Business Manager ID

  • Official mailing address or phone number.

Then, submit for verification.

This article specifies all the steps of verifying your Facebook business manager account.

Verify Your WhatsApp Number

  • Apply WhatsApp by submitting your info to WhatsApp for approval. The approval process takes 3 to 14 days, depending on the partner.

  • Activate your Business Number by adding a phone number to your account.

WhatsApp verification
Example of a Verfied Business WhatsApp Account

Pro Tip: Take your time choosing the number, as you can't change it later.

Get your WhatsApp Instance Live

You have two options to get your WhatsApp Instant Live:

Over the cloud API

You can activate the service quickly. Just follow the simple steps provided in WhatsApp's documentation.

On-premise API

On-premise API hosting is complicated for some businesses. For example, banks. It is hard to implement it for their internal technical teams.

On-Premise Hosting and Cloud API
Differences between On-Premise Hosting and Cloud API

You can ask for Business Solution Provider support, but it may be costly.

What Is A Business Solution Provider? A BSP is an authorized organization appointed by Facebook. It aims to support businesses with the technical integration of the WhatsApp Platform that needs on-premise deployment of the WhatsApp API.

Choose Your Conversation Management Platform

To manage client chats on WhatsApp, you need to choose a conversation Management Platform. The right platform, such as BusinessChat.io, offers capabilities like:

  • You can view and manage all customer conversations in one place.

  • You can build a chatbot to automate replies.

  • You have an Agent console interface to support high productivity through different features. For example, the ability to share files of all types.

  • You can share outbound marketing campaigns with your opt-in customers.


Take a look at our guide to choosing the right Conversation Management Platform.

 

How much does WhatsApp Business Platform Cost?

The WhatsApp business platform is a paid service.

The pricing of the WhatsApp Business Platform depends on three things:

  • WhatsApp's conversation-based pricing model

  • Hosting on WhatsApp cloud API pricing

  • Hosting on WhatsApp Business Solution Provider pricing

  • Conversation management platform pricing

What is Conversation-based Pricing on WhatsApp?

In February 2022, WhatsApp has released a new pricing model called conversation-based pricing.

WhatsApp Pricing
WhatsApp Conversation-based Pricing

With this pricing model, you pay per started conversation. As we explained above, there are two types of conversations: user-initiated and Business-initiated.

Each time a conversation starts, you need to pay.

The price of a user-initiated conversation is generally lower than business-initiated conversations. The prices differ per customer country.

WhatsApp Conversation Pricing
Cost Per Conversation in USD per Country

In general, the price for a user-initiated conversation is between $0.01 and $0.08. The price for a business-initiated conversation is between $0.01 and $0.14.

Also, the first 1,000 conversations per month are completely free.

WhatsApp Conversation Pricing
WhatsApp Conversation Pricing

What is Business Solution Provider Pricing?

The hosting of the WhatsApp API instance is free of charge. But hey, it's only free if you use the API Cloud of Facebook. The solution will be launched during the first half of 2022

If you choose to host your WhatsApp API instance through one of WhatsApp business solution providers, it will not be free at all and will be rather expensive sometimes.

The pricing of BSP depends on the one you choose.

Here is an example that shows the overall cost of having a WhatsApp business solution based on Twilio's pricing:

WhatsApp Conversation Pricing
Twilio's Pricing

As per our exhaustive comparison, 360dialog remains the most reliable and competitive BSP in the market.

Business Solution Provider Pricing
360 Dialog Pricing

What is Conversations management platform pricing?

The price of your WhatsApp Conversation Management Platform depends on the one you use.

Most conversation management platforms define pricing by the number of conversations or contacts your Business has.

BusinessChat.io Pricing

BusinessChat.io offers you an unlimited number of chats and contacts in all plans.

Conversations Management Platform
BusinessChat.io Pricing

Take a look at BusineesChat.io pricing here.


 

Now it's Your Turn

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the WhatsApp Business Platform.

Now I want to turn it over to you: Are you going to implement WhatsApp Platform for your Business? Which Conversation Management Platform will you use?

Let us know by leaving a quick comment below right now.