Conversational Messaging, Messaging Channels, WhatsApp Business API

What is WhatsApp API – All Your Queries Answered

Since its launch in late 2009, WhatsApp has emerged as the world’s most powerful messaging app. Between 2009 and 2013, WhatsApp amassed 200 million monthly active users. By July 2021, this number crossed 2 billion+. Every day, over 100 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp. Further, users check the app 23 times a day, and 80% of WhatsApp messages are seen within 5 minutes.

WhatsApp is one of the most powerful communications tools available today. And yet, many brands refuse to see its potential for brand-customer communications!

Through WhatsApp, your brand can stay connected with customers via timely, meaningful, two-way conversations – no matter where they are. With the WhatsApp Business app, small and medium businesses (SMBs) can easily leverage the reach, ubiquity and immediacy of WhatsApp to share useful information with customers on-the-go. But if you are a mid-sized or large business (MLB) looking to cost-effectively and scalably boost sales and enhance global customer support, the WhatsApp Business API is perfect for you.

But what is WhatsApp API?

And how to integrate WhatsApp API with your communication stack?

This detailed guide will answer these two critical and common questions. And if you are an Indian company, keep reading to find answers to other queries like:

  • How is WhatsApp API different from the WhatsApp business app?
  • What are the benefits of WhatsApp API?
  • I want to know about the availability of WhatsApp API in India
  • Who is the best WhatsApp API provider in India?
  • Tell me about WhatsApp API pricing in India

But let’s start by addressing the first question: What is WhatsApp API?

What is WhatsApp Business API

For businesses of every type and size, WhatsApp provides two solutions: a business app and an API. For SMBs, the app provides an easy, convenient, low-friction way to interact with customers on-the-go. This explains why in April 2021, the app was downloaded 16 million times worldwide, and why every day, about 175 million people message a business account via WhatsApp.

For MLBs looking to and engage in meaningful, contextual conversations with customers anywhere, at any time and on their preferred channel – the WhatsApp API is ideal. Launched in August 2018, the API is already popular with many MLBs, with top global companies like BMW, Uber, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Netflix using it to communicate seamlessly with their huge global customer base.

These and many other large brands leverage WhatsApp’s reach and popularity to:

  • Share information and answer questions
  • Nurture leads
  • Send automatic updates and alerts
  • Provide support with chatbots
  • Re-engage existing customers with personalised offers and recommendations

The API makes it easy to connect with audiences, offer personalised experiences, increase sales, and even garner customer loyalty – cost-effectively and at scale. WhatsApp API is so versatile that you can even run ads and build shopping experiences directly into WhatsApp conversations.

However, the API cannot be directly downloaded. This is what differentiates it from the business app which can be directly downloaded from here. The API also doesn’t have a front-end interface. Rather, it must be integrated into your customer communications stack.

But how to integrate WhatsApp Business API?

This guide will address this question a little later. For now, what you need to know is that if you are a mid-size or large company looking to integrate WhatsApp into your business, the easiest way to do it is with a seamless, low-code platform like Gupshup. Once you do this, you can immediately start engaging with customers, addressing their questions and concerns, encourage conversions and repeat sales, and even send automatic updates, alerts and notifications.

Interesting read: How to connect WhatsApp Business API via Gupshup

Benefits of WhatsApp API for Mid-size/Large Businesses

Support for Multiple Use Cases

With a WhatsApp API, MLBs can talk to customers anywhere in the world on their preferred channel to:

  • Share important information, e.g. business address, description, website, email address
  • Send timely notifications and alerts
  • Drive incremental sales
  • Offer efficient, seamless customer support through conversations
  • Boost brand equity and recall value

Engage in Personalised, On-brand Conversations

WhatsApp is already immensely popular all over the world. By implementing the WhatsApp Business API in India or elsewhere, your MLB can easily access a readymade, powerful communication channel to engage in personalised interactions with any customer, anywhere in the world. Chat with them on their preferred channel, and personalise every conversation by leveraging key attributes like customer name, location, or contextual cues based on purchase or conversation history.

With the WhatsApp API, you can easily add a click-to-chat button to your business website or Facebook page, so customers can directly contact you via WhatsApp’s low-threshold, familiar interface.

Run Ads for Marketing and Promotions

Once you implement the API with an intuitive platform like Gupshup, you can easily run ads that click to WhatsApp from Facebook or Instagram to converse with potential customers, and gently guide them towards a sale. You can also re-engage existing customers with enticing personalised offers and tailored recommendations that they have opted-in to receive.

Send Timely Notifications and Updates

Did you know that many customers prefer to contact a company over WhatsApp, instead of through their website or social media page? They also prefer to be contacted by companies via WhatsApp, since it is both low-friction and low-disruption. With the WhatsApp API, you can easily send timely alerts, updates, reminders, confirmations, and recommendations. Send product shipping status, appointments reminders, booking or payment confirmations, verification codes, limited-time discount codes, special offers, and more. Utilise inbuilt template messages so you don’t have to design messages from scratch.

Build Shopping Experiences into WhatsApp to Drive Incremental Sales

The WhatsApp message API for India is a great way to drive incremental sales by building shopping experiences into WhatsApp conversations. Answer customer questions, provide product options and address pain points to smooth the buyer journey. By engaging on a channel that customers are already comfortable with, you can help them out, while also (gently) moving them towards conversion, checkout, sales, and even repeat sales.

Also read: How to use WhatsApp Business API

How to Integrate WhatsApp API in Website

Without a front-end interface, the WhatsApp API cannot be simply downloaded, much less used in a plug-and-play manner. Instead, end-users are required to take the API endpoint and integrate it into their business software.

So, how to integrate WhatsApp business API in the website? There are two ways.

#1: Apply Directly on Facebook

Get started by filling out the form on Facebook for Business here. Facebook will manually review your application. This process can take a few weeks to a few months. To prevent delays, make sure you provide all required information. Also, do:

  • Create a WhatsApp business account via Facebook Business Manager
  • Verify your business client account in Business Manager
  • Set up a line of credit for this account
  • Install the WhatsApp Business API client (a set of Docker containers, database and media volumes)
  • Set up a command-line tool (e.g. Terminal) or an app to perform cURL requests (e.g. Postman)

Once your business is verified, Facebook will review your compliance with the WhatsApp Terms of Service and WhatsApp Commerce Policy before granting you access to the API.

The WhatsApp API client runs on any Internet-connected machine that can run Docker for Linux, either in a virtual machine or on a Linux server. You can either choose the on-premises installation or use AWS or another standalone solution. After successfully installing the API client, your business can start integrating with the WhatsApp Business API like common REST APIs via HTTPS and receiving incoming messages using Webhooks.

Once the client is running, log in as “admin” to complete the setup and update your settings. Then register your business phone number by sending an API call to the account endpoint. You will need to send your WhatsApp business account a message from the test phone number to enable the Customer Service window to send any type of message within a 24-hour window.

If this method sounds too complicated, there is an easier and faster way: use an official WhatsApp Partner or Business Solution Provider (BSP).

#2: Use a WhatsApp Business API Provider in India (or your location)

As one of the leading WhatsApp business solution providers in India, Gupshup can help you get started with the WhatsApp business API in India in just a few steps. Even WhatsApp and Facebook recommend this route.

Gupshup’s low-code platform offers a free sandbox environment so you can test the WhatsApp API before purchase. The solution comes with readymade, pre-approved templates to send messages quickly and at scale, and data-rich analytics to measure effectiveness, performance, and ROI. Gupshup works on a pay-as-you-go model, so there’s no need to make a large monthly fee commitment.

Gupshup is one of the best WhatsApp API providers in India because it is already vetted by Facebook and part of its Partner Network. So if you want to build a custom integration of WhatsApp with your tech stack, working with a WhatsApp API provider in India like Gupshup is your best bet. Make the most of the API to provide customer support, send timely notifications, and verify and onboard users via WhatsApp. You can even integrate the API with your CRM or ticketing system.

Key Advantages of Gupshup’s WhatsApp API Low-code Platform

Easy to Scale for a Global Audience

An intuitive, no-code platform like Gupshup is the best way to leverage the WhatsApp API (India/international) to scale up your customer communications and send all kinds of messages at a low cost to a broad audience.

Send Different Kinds of Messages

Send standardised welcome messages, appointment reminders, product delivery information, two-factor authentication messages, notifications, alerts, and many other kinds of messages through WhatsApp. Choose from a range of pre-approved templates to set up quickly, and send messages with a very high open-rate.

Multiple Agents, One Number

With Gupshup, add multiple support agents on a single WhatsApp Business account/number. You don’t have to manage multiple numbers to scale your support staff, so you can answer customer queries 24×7.

Easy to Adopt and Integrate

Even if you have a dedicated tech/developer team, you need a simple, fast and effective way to introduce WhatsApp into your technology stack. Gupshup provides such a way. You don’t have to worry about long numbers, short-codes, or country-specific telecom regulations. Once you create a Business Profile in Facebook Business Manager and add core information (email address, phone number, social media links, website URL, etc.) to the account, Gupshup will take care of the rest.

Fully-functional and Free Sandbox Environment

Gupshup provides a testing environment loaded with all the platform’s features, so you can test the product and validate your WhatsApp strategy before going live. Try the API before purchase, and if you still need help executing your strategy, talk to Gupshup’s highly-responsive dev support team.

Custom Integrations

If you already have a satisfactory CRM tool and want to integrate it with the WhatsApp API, the Gupshup platform can streamline the process. All your routing logic, user management, and interface stay just the way it is, with an additional channel that allows you to realise your “go where the user is” vision.

Create automated WhatsApp chatbots

If chatbots are a part of your communications strategy, Gupshup’s free WhatsApp bot building tool is an easy and fast way to get started. Leverage the Gupshup WhatsApp API to automate many processes, including customer support, onboarding and eCommerce transactions. You can also set auto-responses for bots to deal with common queries. If a bot is unable to respond to a question, a human agent can seamlessly take over the conversation to interact with the customer and provide a relevant solution.

Track the Performance of Your WhatsApp Strategy

Gupshup’s plug-and-play solution provides a ready dashboard with advanced WhatsApp Business features. Get access to data-rich analytics to gauge the effectiveness of your sales or customer support functions. The Gupshup platform also makes it easy to measure ROI.

Suggested read: All you need to know about WhatsApp messaging templates

WhatsApp API Cost India (and Elsewhere)

The WhatsApp API is available for use by MLBs in India and all over the world. But unlike the WhatsApp business app, the API is not free. The price depends on the WhatsApp partner that will set up the API for your business.

Some partners charge companies a per-message fee for both session messaging and template messaging. Some partners like Gupshup charge a miniscule 0.0010 USD per message for outgoing text/media up to 64KB and all incoming text/media for both template and session messaging.

With session messaging, you can reply to customer messages within 24 hours, and will incur zero WhatsApp fees. However, with template messaging, you will incur a small fee that depends on the country. For example, for India, Gupshup’s WhatsApp fee is $0.0042 per message. This fee is based on WhatsApp’s rate card and depends on message destination and volume.

What about other elements of WhatsApp business API pricing in India? Here’s a quick lowdown for Gupshup:

  • Maximum monthly Gupshup fee per app: Up to $750
  • Additional Gupshup media fee for outgoing media above 64KB (both template and session messaging): $0.001/5MB
  • Outgoing media larger than 5MB: $0.0010 – $0.0200

Conclusion

In many countries, the penetration rate of WhatsApp is well over 50%. So if your business is operating in one of these countries, you have an immense opportunity to connect to your customers, promote your products or services, and provide timely, personalised support through a medium they already love and support.

The easiest way to get WhatsApp API for your business is to partner with a WhatsApp-approved BSP like Gupshup. With Gupshup’s low-code platform, you can integrate the WhatsApp Business API into your communications stack in 5 simple steps. Simply create an access API app, whitelist testers and end-users, test the API, confirm you have a verified Facebook Business Manager ID, and then go live.

Now you can onboard users and start sending messages by integrating the API. The entire process is much simpler and much faster than applying to Facebook which can take weeks or even months. Click here for more details about the integration process with Gupshup.

With Gupshup, you not only get hassle-free, fast setup; you also get pay-as-you-use pricing, world-class technical support, and zero worries about long numbers, short-codes, or country-specific telecom regulations.

Connect with customers on their terms, increase brand recall, and boost sales and profits. With the WhatsApp API, your midsize or large business can do all this and more. To get started with the WhatsApp API for your MLB, #LetsGupshup.

Author Bio: Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.