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With more than two billion users , WhatsApp is not only the most popular messenger app for talking to friends and family. Businesses are increasingly turning to WhatsApp as well to connect with their customers on their favorite channel.
The WhatsApp Business API allows medium and large businesses to get in touch with their customers worldwide. While getting access to the API used to be complicated, there are now many solution providers who make it easy for any business and budget.
To give larger businesses a secure, scalable solution tailored to their needs, Facebook introduced the WhatsApp Business API in August 2018. This application programming interface (API) allows businesses to receive and answer unlimited WhatsApp messages from their customers. In contrast to the WhatsApp Business App, the API is not an out-of-the-box solution and doesn’t come with its own front-end interface. Businesses integrate the WhatsApp API’s endpoint to their customer communication software, for example the customer messaging solution by Userlike.
Is Business API Free ?
To certain extent you can say that Business API is free, but frankly not exactly. WhatsApp charges huge setup cost and WhatsApp policy doesnt allow everyone to take Business API. Its only for big companies like Apple / IBM / Walmart / Tesla. The street corner shop guy would never get his application approved.
Types of Messages allowed in Business API
Promotional messages, spam and broadcasting (sending bulk messages, e.g. newsletters) are generally prohibited in WhatsApp Business. This includes coupon codes, gifts, upselling and cold call messages but may also apply to certain words or phrases that make a message sound too promotional.
But there are some more rules in place that ensure customers have an experience that’s relevant and provides value.
You can only send messages to people who (1) have already sent you a message or (2) have actively consented to receiving WhatsApp messages from your business (e.g. by entering their phone number or checking a box to indicate consent).
Template Messages play a major role in communication over the WhatsApp Business API. They allow you to automate large parts of your service process by sending out predefined messages in large volumes, for example order confirmations, appointment reminders or shipping updates.
These types of messages are strings of text and placeholders for automatic personalization (e.g. the name or date). WhatsApp Business provides a selection of pre-approved template messages for common service scenarios.
You can also create your own template messages for individual use cases. WhatsApp wants to prevent businesses from using templates messages to send promotional bulk content to customers outside of the 24-hour service window. That’s why all template messages need to be approved by WhatsApp before you can start using them. This process typically takes one to two weeks. Whatsapp also charges a small fee for all template messages you send after the 24 hours passed.
Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, which is free, the API is a more advanced solution that comes with a paid model. However, the costs vary considerably by provider so make sure to compare providers first. These are the different costs you can expect:
Monthly fees. Access to the API is available through providers for business software. At Userlike, you can get access to the WhatsApp Channel from $90/month .
Setup costs. Because the API integration is technically more complex than other channels, many providers charge a one-time setup fee in addition to the monthly fee. The service provider Vonage, for example, charges €1,000 per number. Userlike doesn't charge a setup fee.
Costs per message. Messages sent by customers are always free, and so are the answers that you send back to them within the 24-hour service window. You can still answer requests outside of this 24-hour period but only through a predefined template message. For every template message that’s sent outside of the service window, WhatsApp charges a small fee. This fee varies by country and monthly volume of messages sent. In the India this fee is about 30 paise per message template. Check out the full message template pricing overview Official WhatsApp Pricing Page. Some providers such as WATI also charge additional fees for message templates on top of that.
Are you wondering why WhatsApp open rates are so much higher than for email? It's because the app is still free of spam and newsletters.Keeping it that way is a priority for WhatsApp as opening the platform for businesses carries the risk of upsetting their user base – and losing the pole position as the most popular messaging app .
Who can use WhatsApp Business
To protect users and prevent unwanted trading on its platform, WhatsApp follows a strict commerce policy . Some of these restrictions are evident (e.g. weapons, drugs, gambling). Others are somewhat surprising (e.g. contact lenses, wigs, food supplements). So check the list carefully and make sure that your product or service is compliant.
WhatsApp only grants few, notable businesses direct access to their API. Think Apple or Procter & Gamble.
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