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, such as utilizing WhatsApp links that make it easier for customers to contact your business and also incorporating a WhatsApp Manager to better manage the surge in conversations!

What is WhatsApp Business API?

So, what exactly is WhatsApp Business API?

In overly simplified terms, WhatsApp Business API can be explained as an upgraded version of WhatsApp Business App.

WhatsApp Business API is a tool, specially designed for businesses to power communication with customers all across the globe safely and effectively. While the WhatsApp Business App supports small businesses with basic functions such as business profiles, auto-replies, labels, and more, the options are rather limited, especially for those dealing with a greater number of clients and daily inquiries.

Great things come with a price, and indeed, WhatsApp Business API is a paid solution; however, it is only reasonable to say that the value is way over its worth. Other than the security and reliability it brings to both businesses and customers, WhatsApp Business API offers a wide range of additional features including quick replies, chatbots, multiple logins, mass broadcasting, personalized messages, and many more to help businesses sell better online.

How is WhatsApp Business API different from WhatsApp Business App?

Considering the differences between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business App is crucial. If a budget is required for this messaging solution, it will only make sense for business owners, marketers, customer support, or sales to truly weigh the pros and cons of each option, ensuring that the decision caters to the business needs.

WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API

The differences, at one glance, can be summarized as shown in the table above. To understand each of the distinct features in-depth, read on.

7 advantages of WhatsApp Business API

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.

As we work through these 7 advantages of WhatsApp Business API, the benefits of WhatsApp Business API will be as clear as day.

Verified WhatsApp Business accounts

When using the WhatsApp Business App to contact customers, only the phone number will be displayed.

In contrast, WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to have an Official WhatsApp Business account, showing the business name instead of the business phone number, displayed even if the customer has not saved the business’s phone number yet.

Official WhatsApp Business API

On top of that, there will also be a tiny green verification tick next to your business name to show authenticity and reliability.

not using the official WhatsApp Business API

With the WhatsApp business verification applied, you can avoid your WhatsApp Business account from being banned, saving the time and effort to go through all the hassle and suffering the consequences of never being able to use that number on WhatsApp again.

Read more about the steps for unblocking your WhatsApp account here.

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 Template Messages in some popular countries: 

the charges for some popular countries

Creating template messages

When using WhatsApp providers such as Twilio or 360 Dialog, 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:

Templatetext.png?w=791&ssl=1

You would need to submit the following template:

templateexample.png?w=791&ssl=1

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$0.0224 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 then wait for users to message you, or you can send a Template Message to invite the user to respond. 

WhatsApp session message pricing

Interactive messages

WhatsApp offers interactive messages to encourage customer engagement. They provide the users with simpler options to communicate the products or services they need from your business.

Remember how back in the school days when we used to prefer multiple-choice questions over long-answer questions for exams? The same goes for this!

This fully explains why interactive messages tend to have significantly higher response rates and conversions compared to informational, text-based messages.

List messages

WhatsApp list messages

WhatsApp enables businesses to engage customers using list messages with up to 10 options, making the message flow simple, consistent, and efficient.

Reply buttons

WhatsApp reply buttons

Up to 3 options can be provided for the users. This means that business users can design 3 buttons for the customers to select. It can even be combined with list messages when customizing an interactive message flow!

An important note when using interactive messages is that they can only be sent within 24 hours after the user-initiated message is sent. Also, the customers will not be able to select more than one option at a time, but they will be able to return to previous text messages.

WhatsApp Broadcast

Broadcast-API

With the broadcast function, businesses can send out mass, but personalized messages to their customers to offer details about events or promotions.

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 spelt 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 logins

Multiple-Agent-API

Gone are the days when 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 does not only allow more customer service agents to serve more customers at a time but also allows cross-functional team collaboration.

Chatbots

Chatbot-API

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.

Automated messaging rules

Automation-API

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 can also be automatically reassigned to a different agent if the initial agent’s status has been set to “away”.

This in turn reduces the customer’s waiting time while ensuring that the customer service agents have sufficient breaks and rest time.

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.

Integrations

Integrations

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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Who should consider using WhatsApp Business API?

The useful functions of the WhatsApp Business API are extremely attractive, but it is still vital for business owners to consider the suitability of its usage based on their working industry.

1. Retail

Iphone 13 Pro inquiry on WhatsApp Official

The sale of goods and services directly to consumers makes the retail industry a rather fast-moving sector in the world of businesses. As digital technology drives customers towards online shopping and inquiries, O2O retail techniques are no longer an unfamiliar option to most retailers.

For retail businesses, the large number of daily incoming messages from customers can be quite overwhelming and time-consuming to manage. This makes WhatsApp Business API the most appropriate solution as it allows for automation, chatbot, and broadcasting, while at the same time making the account appear more trustable and reliable.

2. Automotive

Car servicing appointment on WhatsApp Official

Before going for a test drive, customers are bound to acquire information about the vehicle that they are interested in. If the customers call in and the line is constantly busy, it may result in a massive loss of leads over time. In this case, the list messages and reply buttons on WhatsApp Business API are definitely useful to save manpower in attending to these new and potential customers.

Also, WhatsApp Business API will be able to ease the procedures of scheduling and making appointments as they progress, thus improving customer satisfaction.

3. Telecommunication

Telecom customer support on WhatsApp Official

Telecom service providers almost always receive over millions of inquiries every day. Most of the time, these customers desire an immediate, personalized response, taking a toll on the customer service team.

Similarly, these challenges of dealing with complex operational processes and related problems can be dealt with by using WhatsApp Business API.

4. Fintech

Fintech product demo booking on WhatsApp Official

Blooming ecommerce and the demand for fast, secured digital payments are propelling the fintech revolution. With the integration of advanced technologies including AI, data science, and more, businesses in the field surely understand the importance of having a stable and efficient chat management platform.

The WhatsApp Business API will be a fine addition to their deployment of various sophisticated tools for decreasing the response time of messages while delivering financial services of the utmost quality, security, and privacy.

Explore how AQUMON leads the fintech industry with WhatsApp Business API on SleekFlow.

5. Human Resources

HR communication on WhatsApp Official

Human resources are all about managing human capital and guiding each individual to their fullest potential. The amount of communication and interaction on top of other paperwork and tasks can cause an unbearable volume of workload. Not to mention that the questions from employees or operational procedures are often repetitive.

This problem can no doubt be solved effortlessly using the WhatsApp Business API. Why repeat the excessive steps when the time can be utilized more efficiently with other duties?

How to create a WhatsApp Business API account?

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 three providers – Twilio and 360 Dialog which provide the Official WhatsApp Business API, and Chat API which provides the Third-Party WhatsApp Business API.

Although SleekFlow provides and supports both WhatsApp Business API options, we recommend 360 Dialog or Twilio’s Official WhatsApp Business API for utmost stability and legitimacy.

Find out more about the comparison between Twilio and Chat API here.

WhatsApp Pricing Calculator

We understand that the maths can get a bit confusing, that's why we have the WhatsApp Pricing Calculator for you to calculate your messaging costs!

WhatsApp Pricing Calculator

Getting started with WhatsApp Business API through SleekFlow

Upon deciding to incorporate the all-mighty WhatsApp Business API, 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. There will be more amazing features to come too!

For now, let us just run you through the process of applying for the WhatsApp Business API on SleekFlow with this detailed step-by-step guide, so you can get a clearer idea of how things work once the collaboration begins.

Step 1: Navigating to channel settings

Go to channels, click Add button on WhatsApp.

Adding WhatsApp channel

Step 2: Select WhatsApp Official to connect

You will then be directed to a compared table listing features of Third-party WhatsApp and Official WhatsApp.

Check the below features and "Select" Official WhatsApp to process:

  • Faster and reliable connection compared to Third-party WhatsApp

  • Green tick badge verification (*subject to WhatsApp approval)

  • Required to buy a new virtual phone number

  • Require approval from WhatsApp: 2-3 weeks verification & application period

  • Up to 100,000 messages/day with a registered template message without risk of getting blocked

  • The pay-as-you-go charges for sending template (HK$0.4/per msg) and session messages (HK$0.04/per msg)

Connecting to WhatsApp Official

Step 3: Apply for WhatsApp Official

You are required to fill in the information on the application form to process.

FieldNote
First NameFirst Name of company representative making the application.
Last NameLast Name of company representative making the application.
Company NameFull name of your company. Only companies can apply for WhatsApp API accounts. If you are an individual, please connect with WhatsApp App Integration.
Company WebsiteYour official company website. e.g. https://testing.com
Company EmailEmail that your company used for the application.
Mobile NumberYour contact number. *The number is for notification if there are issues when applying for Official WhatsApp
I prefer my new WhatsApp number to start withStart with 3: Monthly rate at US$6 include Call forwarding service Start with 6: Monthly rate at US$15 with SMS service (*No call forwarding)
Facebook Business Manager IDWhatsApp Accounts are attached to Facebook Business Manager for authentication.
I’ve completed Facebook Business VerificationChoose "Yes" if you have done this before. Check this article if you are not sure about the verification status.
Business Registration Supporting DocumentUpload Business Registration Supporting Document for WhatsApp verification.
WhatsApp Business API application form

Step 4: Processing application

After submitting the application form, we will send a system email to you to complete TWO action steps for processing the application.

Application for WhatsApp Official Business API under review
  • Top up US$20 of WhatsApp credits

We will use the credits to purchase a new virtual phone number as requested in your application form for the Official WhatsApp Business account.

You can use the remaining top-up credits for the sending charges of template or session messages.

Top up USD20 of WhatsApp credits
  • Complete Facebook Business verification

If you have not verified your Facebook Business account before, you must complete it for the application of the Official WhatsApp Business account.

In some cases, the Facebook Business verification icon can be greyed out, but the process can be enabled by linking your account to Facebook for Developers.

Step 5: Approve Twilio request

After completing the above steps, you will receive another email asking you to approve the Twilio request on your Facebook Business Manager.

Navigate to your Facebook Business Manager Settings > Requests > Received and “Approve” Twilio to message on behalf of your Facebook admin.

Please reply to our Customer Support team after you have completed this step.

Approving Twilio request on Facebook Business Manager

Step 6: Application successful

We will assist in connecting the Official WhatsApp Business API to your platform's channel after completing all the procedures above.

Official WhatsApp account connected

Your Official WhatsApp account is now ready to use!

How Singtel leverages WhatsApp Business to drive customer experience

Across social media, news, blogs, and more, customers have been known to prefer texting businesses as compared to emails or calls. To match the pace of these contemporary trends, Singtel has taken full advantage of WhatsApp Business by implementing many, if not all of the features to boost the level of customer satisfaction.

Below are some main aspects or features of WhatsApp Business API that have offered great assistance to Singtel:

  • Automated workflow with the chatbot on WhatsApp Business

  • Multi-logins for multi-user management

  • Enhanced customer experience

Singtel, as a prominent industry leader, has redefined client-facing roles using WhatsApp Business API as the key to driving business growth. As customer relationship holds great importance in a thriving business, their decision to dive deep into social commerce serves as a great reference for all.

Therefore, if your business has yet to explore the powerful potential of conversational commerce, now's probably a good time!

Have a customized function in mind? Talk to our customer success teams!

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