I admit I'm living in a messaging bubble, but I feel that WhatsApp Business has become a piping hot topic recently. Business owners & managers I've spoken with want business WhatsApp. Yet few know how to get a business account on WhatsApp, not to mention how to get started with using WhatsApp for Business. If you don't know anything about WhatsApp Business, this post is for you. We'll cover types of WhatsApp Business Accounts, WhatsApp Business Pricing, WhatsApp Business Limitations, and how to get started depending on the type of business you have.
- Types of WhatsApp Business Accounts
- WhatsApp Business Pricing
- WhatsApp Business Messaging
- WhatsApp Business Broadcasts
- WhatsApp Business Automation
- WhatsApp Business CRM
- WhatsApp Business: App vs API
- WhatsApp Business: Infographic
Before we go deep into the topic, let me provide some context. There used to be a time when WhatsApp cost 99¢ per year. Then, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook. After the acquisition, WhatsApp became free and pledged never to have ads. So the big question, how was Facebook going to monetize its 19 Billion dollar purchase of WhatsApp? What was the WhatsApp business model going to be?
The answer? WhatsApp Business. Businesses were already using WhatsApp before business WhatsApp was even available. Using WhatsApp Groups was especially popular with salespeople. Charging companies to use WhatsApp for business made sense as a WhatsApp Business Model. In January 2018, WhatsApp introduced WhatsApp Business.
Types of WhatsApp Business Accounts
This is where things get a little complicated. WhatsApp created two different types of business accounts. One for small business and one for at bigger companies.
WhatsApp Business App allows small business people to separate their personal and their business WhatsApp conversations. With the app, they can interact with local customers and quickly respond to messages. The app even has some automation features.
To create a WhatsApp Business App account download the app onto a phone with a sim card. Keep in mind, you will need a separate sim card for business WhatsApp, you can not use the same sim card as your personal account.
Getting started with the app is as quick as buying a sim card. The downside is that you can only have a single user, whoever is holding the phone at the time. Having an extra phone for your business WhatsApp is useful so you can pass it around.
WhatsApp Business API is for larger companies to interact with a global customer base. At first, only enterprise-level companies could get access to WhatsApp API. The API was used for use cases like WhatsApp booking & notifications on KLM.
Recently, smaller companies have started being accepted for API accounts for simple use cases like customer support. Creating a WhatsApp Business API account still requires being approved by a WhatsApp partner though.
Since the account is just access to an API, the full potential your account will depend on your WhatsApp Solution Provider. The API also comes with pricing and messaging limitations designed to prevent spam messaging and encourage swift responses.
WhatsApp Business Pricing
The amount you pay to use WhatsApp for business will depend on the type of account you create.
WhatsApp Business App Pricing is simple. WhatsApp doesn't charge for using the app, but there are some associated costs. You'll need a dedicated phone number because using the same number for personal and business WhatsApp is not allowed.
If you have a dual sim phone, you can buy an additional sim card to insert and assign that number to WhatsApp Business App. If you don't have a dual sim phone, you'll need to purchase a new phone for this purpose.
Remember the app can only be installed on a single device. For multiple people to have access, buy an extra phone you can pass around. If you need multiple users across multiple devices, go for an API account.
WhatsApp API Pricing is charged per message. Until WhatsApp makes their API available directly (or at least adds more partners), you'll need to pay two fees for messaging. A fee to WhatsApp and a fee to the WhatsApp partner you opened an account with. Both fees are collected by the partner.
The good news is as long as you respond to contact within 24 hours, WhatsApp doesn't charge you for messaging.
WhatsApp API accounts are still only available through partners; generally, these are SMS providers. These partners typically charge their standard SMS fee for every message on top of WhatsApps messaging fee. Here is a sample of Twilio WhatsApp pricing.
As long as you respond within 24 hours it counts as a session message. Session messages are free to send while template messages incur a fee. Last but not least, WhatsApp never charges for incoming messages.
WhatsApp Business Messaging
Messaging is a good place to start discussing WhatsApp Business limitations. WhatsApp designed the app and API with specific categories of businesses in mind. The limitations associated with these two account types reflect that.
WhatsApp Business App Messaging his designed to get small businesses onto WhatsApp Business. There are no messaging limitations. As long as you have the contacts number, you can send a message. Yes, using the app, businesses can send the first message over WhatsApp.
WhatsApp does not limit the app on the number of messages sent or on types of content. As long as the other person does not block you, you will be able to send messages to them.
WhatsApp Business API Messaging is designed to get companies to pay to access their customers over their preferred channel. There is an opt-in rule, meaning outside specific cases you'll need to get your contact to send you a message first before you can message them back.
There two classes of messaging too. WhatsApp Session Messaging & WhatsApp Template Messaging. Anytime you respond to your WhatsApp Business contact within 24 hours, it's considered a Session Messaging.
Everything outside 24 hours is considered Template Messaging. To send a template message, you'll need to get a template approved by WhatsApp first. Marketing templates are usually not approved, although we were able to get a template about feature updates approved.
WhatsApp Business Broadcasts
If you're noticing a trend where the App has more messaging freedom than the API, you're correct. The trade-off has been more messaging freedom in the App, more automation possible over the API. When it comes to broadcast, that App has a clear advantage though.
WhatsApp Business App Broadcasts are quite an asset to small businesses. There are no limitations on the type of content you can send. However, you can only send broadcasts to 256 people at a time.
Although this seems like quite a hefty WhatsApp Business limitation, as long as you stay organized, this feature is quite powerful. Using labels provided in the App, you'll be able to organize people into groups on the fly and send compelling, targeted WhatsApp messages en masse.
WhatsApp Business API Broadcasts are not something WhatsApp promotes. The only conceivable way of sending a WhatsApp API broadcast would be by using template messaging. WhatsApp discourages this in two ways.
First, by limiting template messaging to non-marketing content – second, by rate-limiting template messages to 15 messages per second. We think this will be adjusted in the future as sending template messages en masse to warn people of a power outage, airport disruption or other events are valid use cases.
WhatsApp Business Automation
When it comes to automation, out of the box, the app is a clear winner. It comes with useful automation features. For the API, automation features depend on your WhatsApp Business Solution Provider.
WhatsApp Business App Automations consists of three features that are very useful for small business owners. The Greeting Message allows you to send a quick message to everyone who messages you for the first time. Letting them know what you are about and how soon you will reply.
The Away Message is something you can schedule during certain times of the day. You can use this automation feature to let your contacts know that you are not around and give them an expectation to when you might reply.
Quick Replies are also a godsend. You might think to yourself, how can I respond to all my business messages when I am just one person using an app. Quick replies are canned responses that you can use by typing a "/" into the input bar. They allow you to reply with pre-written messages to messages in a flash.
WhatsApp Business API Automations are possible, but it depends on what you connect to your API account. If you are looking for WhatsApp Business Solution provider, you should consider Rocketbots. We have all the automation features of the app and more.
WhatsApp Business CRM
Once you've done the hard work of promoting your WhatsApp Business account and your prospects or customers are chatting with you over WhatsApp, you'll need a way to manage all those contacts.
WhatsApp Business App Contacts Manager works almost exactly like personal WhatsApp. If the contact is in your phone contacts, the app will show them using the name you have saved. If the contact is not in your phone book, it will just be shown as your phone number.
The app does have one additional feature called labels. Labels work a lot like tags in a CRM. As you're chatting, you can add labels to the contact. Then you'll be able to create groups or WhatsApp broadcasts based on the labels you've assigned to people.
WhatsApp Business: App vs API
The app is all about helping small business thrive, but its not much more than that. Here are some reasons to choose the app:
- Very easy to get started, buy a new sim & download the app
- Message any contact at any time, no messaging limitations
- Send broadcasts to up to 256 contacts, any content is allowed
Once your business starts growing, and you start dealing with a higher volume of messages, the downsides of the app will become clear:
- Account can only be used on one device by one user
- Automation is limited to Greeting Message, Away Message & Quick Replies
- No extendability, a CRM or ERP cannot be connected
An easy way to decide between app and API is how much messaging your business gets. If the volume cannot be handled by just one person choose WhatsApp API. For medium and large size businesses, the API has the following benefits:
- A WhatsApp Business Solution or WhatsApp CRM can be connected
- Allows for unlimited users and devices
- Can be used for programmatic messaging like notifications
All the above functionality makes the API a little more challenging to set up and run. This is because:
- Creating a WhatsApp API Business Account requires approval
- Messaging must be responded to within 24 hours
All in all, WhatsApp Business is an excellent solution for businesses that serve consumers in countries where WhatsApp is critical. If you need any help with creating your WhatsApp Solution, don't hesitate to contact us.
WhatsApp Business Infographic
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