The ultimate guide to WhatsApp Cloud API 2023
In May 2022, Meta announced the new cloud-hosted version of WhatsApp Business API. The release of WhatsApp Cloud API to all businesses means enterprises now have two ways to send and receive messages at scale, either by working with one of WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs) or accessing the API service directly from Meta.
WhatsApp Cloud API offers similar features to the WhatsApp Business API (also known as on-premise API). It is designed for medium and large businesses to:
connect with thousands of customers via agents or bots
integrate WhatsApp with CRM and e-commerce solutions
send bulk WhatsApp messages
sell and get paid on WhatsApp, etc.
Soon, the Cloud API will provide the same key features as the on-premise API, including sticker pack management and user change notifications.
The hosting type is the main difference between WhatsApp Cloud API and on-premise API. Previously, businesses could only use a BSP that provided on-premise API (e.g., 360dialog, Twilio) to get WhatsApp API. Now, BSPs can choose to offer the WhatsApp Cloud API hosted by Meta. Companies can get it from a BSP that provides WhatsApp Cloud API (e.g., SleekFlow) or build their own business messaging tools with in-house developer resources.
Some good-to-know back-end differences that do not affect the user experience:
So which one should you get? Meta recommended that most businesses use the Cloud API for easy implementation and maintenance.
There are two ways to sign up for the Meta WhatsApp Cloud API, through the Embedded Signup provided by any WhatsApp BSP or by setting up an account on Meta for Developers.
No-coding Embedded Signup offered by WhatsApp BSPs
If you sign up through WhatsApp BSP’s website, you can get on board with a streamlined signup process. There are only 3-5 steps, and you do not have to leave the site.
You can start messaging customers immediately and reach up to 250 unique contacts in a 24-hour period. Upon verifying your Facebook Business Manager account, you can increase your messaging limit and send up to 100,000 messages daily.
Below is an example of the Embedded Signup process provided by a WhatsApp BSP, SleekFlow:
Connect to WhatsApp Cloud API with in-house developer resources
The creation of a Meta app requires software engineering skills. You will need to perform API calls to send and receive messages and create a Webhooks endpoint to receive message notifications.
You will need to switch between Meta for Developer, your webhook server (e.g., Glitch), and the WhatsApp application for testing.
The video below demonstrates how developers can get started with the WhatsApp Cloud API.
Meta does not allow independent software vendors to develop the WhatsApp Cloud API on behalf of clients. Failure to comply with WhatsApp's Commerce Policy may result in suspension or termination of access to the API.
Like the WhatsApp Business API, the WhatsApp Cloud API does not have an interface. Some WhatsApp BSPs offer bundle services - if you sign up through a BSP like SleekFlow, you will get access to a fully-developed messaging platform.
A WhatsApp BSP can offer more than allowing you to send and receive messages. You can do a message blast, automate order confirmations, route conversations to specific agents, share product catalogs, get paid via WhatsApp, etc.
Alternatively, you can hire a team of developers to build your messaging tools. Some independent software vendors that provide solutions like shared inboxes and chatbots may offer Cloud API connection, but that is not authorized by Meta.
Selected and verified by Meta, a WhatsApp BSP has an established partnership with WhatsApp. Some WhatsApp BSPs would have exclusive access to incentive programs. For example, BSPs with large messaging volumes get a discount and pass that to end-users. You end up paying a lower price per conversation.
Besides, WhatsApp BSPs may have access to Beta features first, depending on the use case. For instance, SleekFlow is working with Meta to bring new features to all its users, including uploading inventory to Facebook, sharing WhatsApp catalogs, and placing orders on WhatsApp.
1. Timely and personal support for your WhatsApp Business account
Software changes happen quickly. At some point, you will be running into problems using the WhatsApp Cloud API. Just to name a few:
Messages are sent but not delivered
Temporarily blocked for policy violation
API service downtime
Unapproved message templates
Messaging limit issues
Official Business Account (green tick verification) request is rejected
WhatsApp BSPs know the ins and outs of the WhatsApp Business Platform and WhatsApp Cloud API. Most of them provide excellent customer support and guidance. On SleekFlow, account managers help enterprise users scale their businesses. They also handle any questions or queries you might have. As a partner, WhatsApp BSPs can escalate unresolved issues to Meta after investigation.
In contrast, there is relatively limited support from Meta by Developers, including documentation, guidelines, and community forum. Raising a support ticket is not an option.
Independent software vendors cannot resolve any issues related to the WhatsApp Cloud API. Businesses must troubleshoot on the Meta by Developer platform when facing API connectivity issues.
2. Industry-specific WhatsApp Business solutions and consultations
Would you like to connect WhatsApp to the rest of your technology stacks, such as e-commerce solutions, O2O platforms, and customer service systems? Working with a WhatsApp BSP, you can take advantage of their industry knowledge for specific use cases.
In SleekFlow, we customize the WhatsApp Business solution for different industries, including but not limited to retail, automotive, e-commerce, travel, finance, telecom, beauty & wellness, real estate, education, logistics, and service providers. Businesses can consult a social commerce expert to identify pain points and customize the messaging strategy tailored to their needs. Based on our experience working with more than 5,000 enterprises globally, we have a lot of use cases for sharing.
There are no charges to access WhatsApp Cloud API on the Meta by Developer platform. You only need to pay the conversation-based pricing. The price varies depending on your customer’s country code and who initiates the conversation.
If you get the WhatsApp Cloud API from a WhatsApp BSP, you will also be charged a monthly license fee. For example, SleekFlow charges US$ 15 per hosted number. Considering how working with a BSP can save significant time and cost to invest in infrastructure and hire-in house developers, it is a good deal.
Register a new phone number and get the Meta WhatsApp Cloud API on SleekFlow now.