In today’s digital communication world, WhatsApp has become a leading communication platform for companies worldwide. While the app has become a critical part of several companies, many have reservations about using WhatsApp business and business API, the business versions of the app. This article was created to help guide how companies can apply for and benefit from WhatsApp Business API in 2023.

WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business: What should companies do?

As a company owner, you should first understand how WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business differ from each other. WhatsApp Business is a free-to-use platform specifically designed to facilitate companies' customer communications. WhatsApp Business allows business owners to easily communicate with and manage a group of customers worldwide. One of the main advantages is the much more in-depth business profile that allows owners to add their location, website address and business hours. This helps to keep your company on people's radars and increase the visibility of your business.

In addition, WhatsApp Business allows companies to easily communicate with their customers on social media platforms and websites using widgets and WhatsApp links. Additionally, WhatsApp Business has several features like automatic replies & broadcast messages that allow companies to communicate with their customers much more efficiently. However, it is also important to note that WhatsApp Business has strict regulations against business owners and doesn’t give the same level of freedom as WhatsApp. For example, WhatsApp’s Business Policy prohibits organizations that are involved in terrorist activities or other illegal activities.

WhatsApp Business as a customer service channel

WhatsApp Business is predominantly used as a customer service tool by most businesses. This is because it allows companies to communicate with a larger group of customers in a much more personalized and efficient way. Since WhatsApp is the most used messaging app globally, it is also much more accessible from the client’s perspective. It's also much easier to customize business profile pages so that you can add your store location and opening hours and a custom logo. This makes it easier for the customer to connect with you and learn more about your company. WhatsApp Business also allows businesses to create groups and share notifications to specific customer segments efficiently. For a more detailed view check out our blog on how WhatsApp Business can add benefit to your business as a customer service tool.

Is WhatsApp Business free?

One of the main reasons businesses choose WhatsApp Business is that it is free to download. WhatsApp charges businesses on a conversation-based pricing model. Businesses are not charged for conversations that were initiated by the customers, i.e. if a business replies to a customer within a 24-hour window, that conversation is not billed. However, if a business wishes to notify its customers of new changes or replies to a customer after 24 hours, then the conversation is charged.

WhatsApp also doesn’t charge for the first 1000 business-initiated conversations each month. This helps small businesses as it would cover most of their costs.

What is WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp Business API is the iteration of the business app that was developed for medium to large businesses. The API, which provides much more features & integration opportunities to businesses, is considered far superior to the regular WhatsApp Business app because it provides a higher level of functionality & customization. In addition to this, WhatsApp Business API provides businesses with the flexibility to add custom chatbots and automation features to their customer service portfolios.

Since WhatsApp Business was designed for small business owners, it doesn’t offer as much functionality as WhatsApp Business API does. For instance, WhatsApp Business does not offer chatbots or extensive automation support to businesses. Chatbots can be a major selling point for any company as it allows businesses to build strong customer relationships. Moreover, WhatsApp Business only allows businesses to use four devices simultaneously and this severely limits how many users businesses can add. While the base WhatsApp Business is excellent for small businesses, it is definitely not meant to be used for large companies as it lacks many features.

Benefits of WhatsApp Business API for companies

Businesses that wish to use WhatsApp Business API must connect with a certified WhatsApp Business Service Provider, like Gallabox. These BSPs will act as WhatsApp’s representatives and help businesses create their own WhatsApp Business membership. WhatsApp API can act as a complete customer relationship management system as it allows businesses to

i.   create website chatbots

ii.  add more users and use a shared team inbox to collaborate better

iii. respond immediately with automatic replies

iv. broadcast important notifications with template messages and

v.  completely act as a unified customer relationship portal.

This makes WhatsApp Business API a more complete solution for businesses, and if used properly, can have a huge impact on a business' growth and success.

What are the factors to be considered while applying for WhatsApp Business API?

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits provided by WhatsApp Business API, it's also important for business owners to understand the factors that they need to consider before applying for WhatsApp API. Since Meta (formerly Facebook) & WhatsApp has several business policies that they consider during the approval process, an understanding of the two main factors will show whether your business is eligible for application. The two main factors include,

Business Size

One of the first things that you should consider is the size of your business. Since WhatsApp Business API was created with medium and large enterprises in mind, WhatsApp gives preferences to companies that have a significant demand for communication tools like Chatbots and Template Messages. Another factor to consider is that WhatsApp chatbot integration is a long and complex process. Small businesses that have low volumes of the communication might not get the same benefit from integrating chatbots into their workflow.

Having said that, small businesses that are in the growth phase might not be satisfied with the features present in the basic WhatsApp Business. If you are one such business that is looking to boost your communication strategy, you can contact Gallabox to make the approval process much easier.

Industry Policies

Since WhatsApp’s commerce policy clearly states the nature of businesses that could use the API system, it is critical to understand if your business domain falls under any of the prohibited industries like real-cash gaming businesses, casinos, adult entertainment companies, alcohol/tobacco dealers, etc. Gaining an understanding of what businesses are not allowed to do using WhatsApp is vital in order to have the smoothest approval process.

How to apply for WhatsApp Business in 2023: A step-by-step guide

The following is the step-by-step guide for applying for WhatsApp Business:

Choose a Business Service Provider

The first step is to choose a good Business Service Provider (BSP) who can complement your business and assist you through the whole process. A leading BSP like Gallabox can ensure hassle-free WhatsApp API integration.

Verify your Documentation for Whatsapp Business API

The second step is to ensure that all the critical business details that you’re planning to use for your WhatsApp Business API account are accurate. Two of the main details that will be verified by WhatsApp are:

  • Address Verification
  • Business Name Verification

Setup your Business Profile

The third step is to set up your WhatsApp Business profile. Download the WhatsApp Business application and enter your phone number and follow the steps to complete the set-up. You can check out how to open a WhatsApp Business account here.

  • Providing Basic Information

Business owners need to provide basic information like business name, address, website & business hours. Customers will trust businesses that have fully fleshed-out information.

Verify your account with Phone Number

The next step is to verify your WhatsApp Business account with the phone number provided through IVR, call or message.

Get green tick verification

Your WhatsApp Business Service Provider will get in touch with WhatsApp and assist you with your business verification. Once all the business details are verified and WhatsApp is convinced that your business doesn’t violate any of its internal policies, it will add a Green Tick next to your Business Name.

Note: Getting a Green Tick verification might take some time for small & medium businesses, however it shows customers that your business is trustworthy and reliable.

Setup your Whatsapp Notifications

Once you create your WhatsApp API profile, you can set up template messages (which need to be pre-approved by WhatsApp) & send them as automated broadcast notifications to several customers in bulk.

Template messages are highly powerful business-initiated conversations that can be customized to suit any given scenario. For more details about WhatsApp Notifications and how Gallabox can help you reap their maximum benefits, you can check out our latest blog.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing

Unlike WhatsApp Business which is completely free, WhatsApp API charges businesses based on the number of conversations that they partake in. This conversation-based pricing is charged in a 24-hour rolling window and it will differ based on:

User-Initiated Conversations

When users initiate conversations, businesses can freely reply to the chat within 24 hours. Your business will not be charged for any conversation made inside a 24-hour rolling window. However, if you reply after 24 hours, it will become a business-initiated conversation.

Business Initiated Conversations

Business owners will be charged for each business-initiated conversation. This charge will differ based on your country code. It’s also critical to note that you cannot send free-form messages when you initiate conversations and can only send pre-approved template messages.

For more details on how WhatsApp charges businesses, you can look at our detailed blog on WhatsApp API’s conversation-based pricing.

WhatsApp Business API: Frequently Asked Questions

Is WhatsApp Business API free?

WhatsApp Business API is not free! Most WhatsApp Partners charge business owners for setting up and integrating WhatsApp API services. However, there are some partners like Gallabox that offer free API/chatbot set-ups and ensure low integration/maintenance costs in a bid to help small-to-medium businesses.

Note: WhatsApp uses a conversation-based pricing format to charge businesses, this charge doesn’t vary between partners.

How can I get WhatsApp Business API?

Business owners need to connect with WhatsApp Business Partners to apply for WhatsApp Business API. However, the process is much simpler than it was previously. All you need to do is maintain a good amount of business-initiated conversations and verify all the business details. You can then fill up all the details requested by your WhatsApp partner to create your own API account.

How does the WhatsApp Business API work?

As the name implies, the API is an application interface that can be built on top of existing customer relationship platforms. Since APIs don’t have a front-end or a specific platform, businesses need to have an existing communication framework (many WhatsApp Partners including Gallabox can help set up no-code workspaces).

FaceBook Meta also offers a cloud API option that doesn’t require a robust framework but has limited options.

How can I integrate WhatsApp Business into my website?

One of the best ways to integrate WhatsApp Business into your website is to generate click-to-chat WhatsApp links that can be added to the website. You can also add a chat widget to your website.

Some WhatsApp Business Partners like Gallabox also allow business owners to create no-code chatbots that can be completely automated to provide 24/7 assistance to all of their customers.

Is my business eligible for WhatsApp for Business?

WhatsApp has created a strict business and commerce policy that prohibits businesses in several domains including healthcare, recreational drugs/tobacco, real-cash gaming, weapons, and adult content.

In addition, WhatsApp also restricts businesses from using several message types including but not limited to marketing communications and newsletters.

The complete list can be viewed on the official WhatsApp Commerce Policy page.

Who can use the WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp Business API can be used by businesses of all sizes. The recent introduction of WhatsApp’s cloud API has ensured that all businesses across the world (except the ones in domains prohibited by WhatsApp) can use WhatsApp Business.

What kind of messages can I send with WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp Business API, much like WhatsApp, supports text, images, videos, locations, links, interactive list messages and contacts. All of these formats can be sent as normal chats, bulk broadcast messages and group messages.

Set up WhatsApp Business API for your company with Gallabox now!

There is no doubt that WhatsApp Business API is far superior when it comes to business communications. Businesses that have partnered with WhatsApp Business Partner Gallabox enjoy the following benefits:

  • Easy set-up,
  • No coding required,
  • 24/7 technical assistance and
  • Affordable costs.

So, don’t waste time and sign-up now for a free trial.

Further reading

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