Guides & Tutorials10 min read

The Definitive Guide to Using WhatsApp for Business

What is WhatsApp Business, and how can you leverage it in your business?

Niloofar Kavousi, Rasayel
Today’s customers want to engage with businesses on the platforms they already use and love. By talking with customers on their terms, you open up opportunities for deeper relationships and increased revenue. One of the best ways to stay connected with your customers is to use the world’s most popular messaging app, WhatsApp.
In this article, we talk about what WhatsApp Business is and how it can transform your business and customer support.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp, the messaging application that we use for daily conversations with friends and family, was launched in 2009 and soon gained popularity in every part of the world. In 2018, WhatsApp launched its WhatsApp Business products as a channel for businesses to reach their customers. Today, more than 2 billion people are using the app worldwide and according to the Head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart, around 175 million people contact businesses through WhatsApp today, and the number is growing.
WhatsApp Business is a powerful tool that can make your customer support experiences smooth and efficient. Regardless of the size of your business, it can take your customer support to the next level and help you drive up your sales. WhatsApp Business consists of two main products:

1. WhatsApp Business App

This is an app that you can download on your phone from the Play Store or the Apple Store, and is useful for business owners who want to personally manage conversations with customers. Similar to the traditional WhatsApp app, the WhatsApp Business app is free to use and allows you to send and receive text and multimedia messages with your customers. In addition to that, it allows you to:
  • Create a business profile with a description of your business, website and location
  • Add a catalog to your profile to showcase your products and services
  • See your customer engagement statistics (the number of sent, delivered and read messages)
  • Create greeting messages, quick replies to common questions and away messages

Shortcomings of WhatsApp Business App

While the above features make the WhatsApp Business App a great tool to connect with your customers easily, it does have its shortcomings. For example, it doesn’t allow you to talk to your customers as a team since business profiles can be accessed on one phone only, and conversation at scale is not possible. Moreover, if you are using or planning to use other tools like a CRM or a customer support platform, the WhatsApp Business App does not integrate with them. For those purposes, you need to use the WhatsApp Business Platform.

2. The WhatsApp Business Platform

Also known as WhatsApp Business API, the WhatsApp Business Platform consists of APIs (short for Application Programming Interface) that allow businesses to stay in touch with their customers on WhatsApp, while bypassing the limitations of the WhatsApp Business App. Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, the WhatsApp Business Platform doesn’t come with an official phone app or chat interface. This means that you must connect the WhatsApp account of your business to a business tool of your choice (for example, an omnichannel inbox, or a CRM) to chat with your customers.

Benefits of using the WhatsApp Business Platform (API)

  • Chat with your customers as a team: With the WhatsApp Business API, multiple team members can log in to your account and talk to customers.
  • Create a business profile, increase your brand visibility: By using the WhatsApp Business Platform, your customers can click on your profile to see the description of your business, your URL, office location and hours of operation.
  • Connect your product catalog to your WhatsApp account: You can create a catalog and connect it to your account to send single product messages and multi-product messages to your customers on WhatsApp. Your customers can then browse items and add them to a cart without leaving the chat.
  • Connect your business account to your other tools: Omnichannel customer support inboxes (such as Rasayel) allow you to connect WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, SMS, and other channels in one single place. These tools can also connect WhatsApp with your e-commerce store (e.g. Shopify), giving you all of the information you need to sell and support your customers more efficiently.
  • Run ad campaigns and answer your potential customers on WhatsApp: Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social media platforms in the world. The WhatsApp Business Platform enables you to create ads on these channels that include an option for your audience to chat with you on WhatsApp. Being present on these two platforms, and supporting your customers on the most-used messaging app in the world can help you drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Send bulk messages: With the WhatsApp Business Platform, you can automate bulk messages to an unlimited number of people, as long as they are transactional messages, such as flight status updates to a large number of passengers. For more information about bulk messaging, please refer to the “Best Practices for Using WhatsApp Business Platform” section below.
  • Create a WhatsApp Chatbot: WhatsApp chatbots are third-party tools that simulate a human conversation and engage with anyone who contacts you on WhatsApp. Chatbots can use pre-programmed rules (or artificial intelligence) to answer customer questions about your products, their shipping status, payment requests, and more. These automated responses can save your team a lot of time, and your customers can receive instant answers.

How to start using the WhatsApp Business Platform (API)

Now that you know the benefits of using the WhatsApp Business Platform, you might wonder how you can create an account and utilize its advantages. WhatsApp does not directly offer you a way to open an account for its APIs. For that you would need to contact a Business Solution Provider (BSP) like Telnyx to do it for you. You can follow the steps outlined in our support documentation to set up and get started using the WhatsApp Business API.

WhatsApp Business Platform Pricing

Pricing is “conversation-based”. A conversation is defined as all messages (both text-based and media-based) delivered in 24 hours to an individual customer. Your first 1,000 conversations every month are free of charge. After that, you are charged based on the conversation type and region of the customer.
There are two conversation types on the WhatsApp Business Platform, and they are charged differently:

User-initiated conversation

This is a conversation that starts from the time you reply to an inbound customer message until 24 hours later. This 24-hour period is known as the customer service window. The number and the content of the messages that you send in the customer service window is not limited.

Business-initiated conversation

Any conversation that your business starts with a new or existing customer outside the 24-hour customer service window is called a business-initiated conversation. Unlike user-initiated conversations, the content of business-initiated conversations must be approved by WhatsApp beforehand. However, if the customer responds in the 24-hour window, your replies to them do not need to be approved. Please see "Message Templates" under "Best Practices for Using WhatsApp Business Platform" below for more information regarding this.
For both types of conversations, pricing is based on the fixed 24-hour sessions. After each 24-hour session ends, a new one begins when you start either of the two conversation types. For more information on the pricing please visit our pricing page.

Best practices for using the WhatsApp Business Platform

To be successful at using the Whatsapp Business Platform to the best of its potential, you need to bear a few important things in mind;
  • Messaging limits and quality rating; The number of business-initiated messages that you can send starts at 1,000 messages to 1,000 unique customers. This limit increases gradually depending on the quality rating that your customers give you. If your quality rating is medium to high, your limit automatically increases. Therefore, it is important to maintain high quality messages that are personalized and useful to your customers. WhatsApp’s Messaging Limits and Quality Rating page provides more information on this.
  • Obtain opt-in and consent from your customers; If you want to send a proactive business-initiated message to a customer outside of the 24-hour window, you must first have permission from them that states that they wish to receive messages from you on WhatsApp. This must encompass all categories of messages that you will send them such as shipment status, order updates, etc. You have the freedom to choose the method by which you obtain this permission, for example, by SMS, a WhatsApp thread, a sign-up form, etc. For more information, please refer to Get Opt-in for WhatsApp.
  • Message Templates; If you want to start a business-initiated message, whether to an existing customer after your last 24-hour window or to a completely new customer, you must send them what is known as a Message Template. You create your own message templates but before they can be used WhatsApp must approve them. Message Templates are reusable which means that you can send them to as many people as you wish, and they have a few variables that you can customize. The reason for having WhatsApp Message Templates in place is because WhatsApp wants to ensure that its users' inboxes do not get spammed by marketing and promotional messages.

Start building with the WhatsApp Business API

With the WhatsApp Business API with Telnyx, you can reach more than 2 billion WhatsApp users to send notifications and have two-way conversations. If you’re looking for a more out of the box solution, you can utilize Telnyx’s WhatsApp Business API through a platform like Rasayel and still access the full benefits of WhatsApp Business.
Ready to get started? Visit our developer docs or reach out to a member of our team.

More on Rasayel
Rasayel is an omnichannel team inbox that brings all of your customer messages from various channels (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, SMS, Viber, and more) into one place. You can integrate it with tools like HubSpot, Zapier, Shopify (coming soon) and your e-commerce store for full context on every customer conversation. Here's a 2-minute video of how it works.
Telnyx and Rasayel work together to simplify your customer communications. You can install Rasayel for your business here.
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