Essential Guide: Whatsapp Business API

Here’s the essential guide to the WhatsApp Business API you’ve all been waiting for! “What is an API?” you might ask. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It refers to a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other.

For example, you’re at a restaurant and you are deciding what to eat by looking at the menu. The kitchen at the back is in charge of preparing all food orders. The critical missing link here is the waiter – also known as the API –  who will communicate your order to the kitchen and deliver the food back to you.

Similarly, that’s what the WhatsApp Business API does! However, as illustrated above, the WhatsApp Business API only works as a messenger. Therefore, in order to use the WhatsApp Business API, businesses will need to choose a provider and integrate it with software.

There are many other things you can do with the WhatsApp Business API, utilizing WhatsApp links, which make it even easier for customers to contact them and use a WhatsApp Manager to better manage the surge in conversations!

Introduction to the official WhatsApp business API

Verified WhatsApp business accounts

Businesses need to use an Official WhatsApp Business Account in order to have their business name, instead of their business phone number, displayed even if the customer has not saved the business’s phone number yet.

Official WhatsApp Business API

For that reason, WhatsApp Business Accounts without the verification tick will only be shown as a phone number to the customers.

not using the official WhatsApp Business API

Currently, WhatsApp business verification is only limited to a small number of businesses participating in a pilot program. Nonetheless, businesses should still try to request approval from the relevant WhatsApp providers.

After all, according to hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

WhatsApp template messages

There are two types of WhatsApp Business Messages: Template Messages and Session Messages. 

WhatsApp Template Messages are pre-approved message templates for outbound notifications like delivery alerts and appointment reminders.

Template Messages cannot be used for marketing. You must use a WhatsApp Template Message if more than 24 hours have elapsed since the user’s last response to you. Any other types of messages sent outside the 24-hour window will fail to reach the user.

Template Messages are charged at a different rate depending on the country you sent to.

Here are the charges for some popular countries: 

the charges for some popular countries

Creating template messages

When using WhatsApp providers such as Twilio, each template will need to be approved before it can be sent out. The approval process usually takes around 1 to 2 days for each template.

When creating a message template, you must add the following:

  • Name: A message template name can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores. No other characters or spaces are allowed.

  • Type: Select the appropriate template type from the drop-down list. The template type must fall under one of the template type options, e.g. appointment update, issue resolution, payment update, etc.

  • Translations: All message template translations must be provided by you in the format below. The element name will be the same for all translations. When sending a message template from the WhatsApp Business API, you will specify the language you would like the message template to be displayed in by using the language field.

  • Variables: The correct format for variables is this string: {{#}}, where # represents the variable index. Note: variables must begin at {{1}}.

Formatting template messages

WhatsApp allows for basic formatting in message templates. Here are the formatting rules:

FormattingDescriptionSymbol Example
Italic textItalicize your message with an underscore on both sides of the text_text_Welcome to _SleekFlow_
Bold textPlace an asterisk on both sides of the text*text*Your total is USD *19.90*
Struck through textTo strikethrough your message, place a tilde on both sides of the text~text~This is ~better~ best!
Monospace text / codePlace three backticks on both sides of the text“`text“`This is ~better~ best!

Template message variables

When submitting a text-based template message for approval, you can add unique variables, to personalize messages to your customers. Do note that each template message needs to contain at least one variable.

The variables are represented by numbered placeholders such as ‘{{x}}’. Each variable can be replaced with text that contains letters, digits, special characters, or spaces. 

However, variables cannot contain the following:

  • New lines

  • Tabulators

  • More than four consecutive spaces.

For example, if you want your customer to receive this message:


You would need to submit the following template:


Do note that WhatsApp will not approve templates with floating variables. Floating variables are lines with just variables and do not contain texts. Please surround the variables with information so it is clear what kind of data is inserted. 

WhatsApp session messages

As mentioned above, there are two types of WhatsApp Business Messages: Template Messages and Session Messages. 

WhatsApp Session Messages are any messages sent and received in response to a user-initiated message.

These messages cost USD$0.0055 per message regardless of the message’s destination country.

A messaging session starts when a user sends you a message and lasts for 24 hours from the most recently received message.

You can wait for users to message you, or you can send a Template Message to invite the user to respond. 

WhatsApp session message pricing

What can you do with the WhatsApp Business API?

The possibilities are endless! Businesses can integrate the WhatsApp Business API with platforms like SleekFlow to access more functions and increase workflow efficiency.

Here is a list of some features businesses can expect to use:

Broadcast notifications, event confirmations, and promotions


With the broadcast function, businesses can send out mass, but personalized, messages to their customers.

Undoubtedly, this saves businesses a lot of time as marketers will no longer have to copy and paste each text individually while ensuring the customer’s name is spelled correctly!

For example, logistic firms can use this function to notify their customers of deliveries, educational firms can also use this to send out seat confirmations for seminars, and supermarkets can use this to send out flash promotions.

Multiple agent customer support


Gone are the days where customer support agents need to fight for the one phone with the WhatsApp Business app installed!

With the WhatsApp Business API, multiple agents can access the businesses’ WhatsApp phone numbers at the same time.

Hence, this not only allows more customer service agents to serve more customers at a time but also allows cross-functional team collaboration.

Automated messaging rules


Through WhatsApp Business API, businesses can automatically assign incoming chats to various agents based on specific rules.

Undoubtedly, this will markedly improve team efficiency as customer service agents can spend more time attending to customer needs instead of manually assigning chats.

Furthermore, with SleekFlow, chats also be automatically reassigned to a different agent if the initial agent’s status has been set to “away”.

Thus, it reduces the customer’s waiting time while ensuring sufficient breaks for customer service agents.



For the purpose of efficiency, use a chatbot! Generally, chatbots can be used to cut down the amount of time used for customer service by screening the customer’s needs.

Following this, the customer will then be routed to the relevant department automatically to get the best answers to their queries.

Lead generation tools

lead generation tools

Next, businesses can make their WhatsApp number more accessible by adding it to a live chat widget on their websites.

As customers enjoy the convenience, lead generation rates may increase as more conversations are launched by clicking on the WhatsApp icon on the widget.



Lastly, use a single platform like SleekFlow to manage your customer service workflows. 

Integrate various messaging channels as well as add a myriad of customer relationship management software, or even your calendar, payment gateway, task management, etc.

Essentially, make SleekFlow your go-to platform for all things customer!

Unleash your WhatsApp Business potential today!

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Getting started

Firstly, businesses will need to choose a WhatsApp provider. These providers will process the business’ WhatsApp Business Accounts and Template Messages by sending relevant information to WhatsApp.

Understandably, there are many different providers in the market that businesses can choose from, and it might get a little overwhelming. To simplify the selection process, we have chosen two providers – Twilio that provides the Official WhatsApp Business API, and Chat API that provides the Third-Party WhatsApp Business API.

Although SleekFlow provides and supports both WhatsApp Business API options, we recommend Twilio’s Official WhatsApp Business API for utmost stability and legitimacy. Find out more about their similarities and differences from our in-depth guide.

Following this, businesses will then have to choose a platform solution that best fits their needs. Businesses who are looking for a holistic customer experience platform can consider using SleekFlow! SleekFlow has user-friendly web and mobile versions that integrate well with the WhatsApp Business API and other messaging apps. In addition, SleekFlow also has added capabilities of integrating with the existing CRM stacks to ensure a smooth onboarding process and experience. Have a customized function in mind? Talk to our customer success teams!

We hope that you found this essential guide to the WhatsApp Business API was helpful. Check out our other blog posts to know more about WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business providers!

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