The most widely-used instant messaging client, WhatsApp, has over 2 billion users and has become the main messaging application used in more than 130 countries or regions, exceeding Facebook Messenger. The WhatsApp commonly known to us is the personal version, used for sending messages, photos, videos or doing voice or video calls with friends and family.
In 2018, WhatsApp Business, a free application for small-scale enterprises was released. If you are currently running an online business and want to expand your trade with WhatsApp Business, this article is for you! Here we will share its functions, usage, and installing steps.
What is WhatsApp Business?
As its name suggests, WhatsApp Business is made specifically for businesses to manage their client database and engage with customers. As this version of WhatsApp is created for business uses, managers could set up their own business profiles, provide basic information about their companies, and utilise functions such as adding client tags and setting up automatic replies based on keyword inputs.
Also, WhatsApp Business supports Dual WhatsApp, which allows simultaneous uses of both versions of WhatsApp (personal and business accounts) in the same device so you can follow up with your work any time.
So, how much does WhatsApp Business charge? WhatsApp Business is completely free. Enterprises only have to download the application to switch their accounts to a business account. After that, you can embark on your conversational customer experience journey!
What is WhatsApp Business API / WhatsApp Official Account?
You may have experienced problems using WhatsApp Business that would significantly lower your working efficiency, such as being unable to share a business account among a few users, or having to manually copy, paste and edit every personal message.
To satisfy the needs of medium to large-scaled businesses, WhatsApp has released the higher-tier “WhatsApp Official Account“. The Official Account provides more advanced client management and communication functions, effectively assisting businesses to reach more potential customers and increasing customer response and conversion rates to a larger extent.
Unlike WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp Official Accounts cannot be initiated simply by downloading a software, but requires technical support from appointed WhatsApp Business API supporters to connect the API to a third-party application for actual usage.
What are the functions and usage of WhatsApp Business API?
1. WhatsApp Business Profile
Enterprises can provide basic information about themselves on the introductory page, such as address, business hours, brand bio, contacts, and websites etc., to boost clients’ confidence and understanding of the business.
2. WhatsApp Multiple Devices
Suppose your business has to manage a large number of messages from customer services. In that case, WhatsApp Official Account allows the logging in of multiple users to the same account to handle such messages. Different customer service personnel could check for previous conversations and follow up on progress, succeeding the last servicing staff to process clients’ enquiries. In that way, customer service teams can effectively work together to provide excellent customer service for clients anytime and anywhere.
3. WhatsApp Auto Reply
Through the WhatsApp Auto Reply function, WhatsApp Official Accounts can set up some WhatsApp Business Automated Messages. Upon first contact by a client, businesses can send a ‘greeting message’ to the client and provide some essential information. If the client contacts you during peak hours or non-office hours, the system will then automatically send a ‘leaving message’, telling them when they will receive a reply.
4. WhatsApp Chatbot / WhatsApp mini-applications
Enterprises can set up WhatsApp Chatbot or WhatsApp mini-applications to converse with clients automatically when redundant enquiries are raised to save time and manpower. Before that, businesses have to specify keywords and requirements based on some of the frequently asked questions from customers. When the users’ enquiry matches with the keywords and fulfils requirements, the Chatbot will automatically supply replies of high quality.
Besides, businesses can sort conversations with the WhatsApp Chatbot. This function sends conversations to professional members of different departments based on the keywords of enquiries for further processing. For example, problems regarding parcel delivery progress are sent to the logistics department, while questions about maintenance are sent to the after-sales department for follow-up.
5. WhatsApp Broadcast Message
WhatsApp Broadcast Message will be the best tool for enterprises to realise marketing automation and/or remarketing. Businesses can send template messages with the WhatsApp Official Account to particular customer groups, reaching 1000 people at most in a single day. You can also include personalised fields in the template message, such as the client’s name and order number to tailor broadcast messages.
6. WhatsApp Verified Business Account
Businesses that use WhatsApp Business API are eligible for the Green Tick official verification. The green tick will be shown beside the brand name, increasing your trustworthiness while preventing others from scamming under the guise of your brand.
WhatsApp Business vs. WhatsApp Business API
Still thinking which is best for your business? Here’s a comparison table between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business.
|Function||WhatsApp Business||WhatsApp Official Account|
|Users||Small-scale businesses||Medium to large-scale businesses|
|Green Tick official verification||No||Yes|
|Allow multiple users||No||Yes|
|Backup||On one device only||Supports cloud backups|
|Broadcast||Yes, to 256 people max per day||Yes, to 1000 people max per day|
|How to use||Free download from app stores||Requires connection to third-party applications by appointed WhatsApp Business API suppliers|
|Application||Not required, immediate use available after download||Approval from Facebook/Meta required|
Does WhatsApp Business API require a charge?
A charge is usually necessary to enjoy the above-advanced functions on WhatsApp Business API. Yet, the required fee varies with different WhatsApp Business API suppliers. Usually, you will have to pay suppliers a one-time API integration fee and monthly system charges.
Besides, Meta (which owns WhatsApp) has its own set of messaging costs. Assuming a client messages the business, every successive message the business replies would be free within the next 24 hours. However, if the last contact with the client is farther than 24 hours, the business will have to initiate a conversation with a ‘template message’, which WhatsApp charges for US$0.0505 each (in the Hong Kong region). Notably, the charge would differ in different countries/regions and the number of template messages sent within the month. You can click here for the complete list of charges by region. Also, when selecting a supplier, do be aware that some API suppliers would require messaging surcharges on top of WhatsApp’s set costs.
How to apply for a WhatsApp Business API? Tutorial on WhatsApp Business
Businesses generally cannot apply for an Official Account from WhatsApp directly, but have to do so through officially appointed Business Solution Providers (BSP) that provides customer and technical support. The following are the steps to applying for a WhatsApp Business API:
- Choose an officially-appointed Business Solution Provider (BSP)
- Apply for a Business Manager account on Facebook
- Complete business verification on Facebook
- Create a WhatsApp Business account on Facebook Business Manager
- Wait for Facebook’s approval
WhatsApp Business web version and download
New or small-scale businesses can download the WhatsApp Business application for free to switch their accounts to a business one and start engaging with clients.
After installing the WhatsApp application on a smartphone, users can use WhatsApp Business Web on their computers.