Ever thought of using WhatsApp Business but not sure where to start? It can be confusing when WhatsApp has two different WhatsApp Business Accounts made for businesses of different sizes. In this article, we’ll be answering questions like what is WhatsApp Business Account, how to decide which account is best for you and how to create the right account for your business.
- What Can You Do with the App Account?
- Messaging With The App Account
- Business App: How to Create a WhatsApp Business Account
- Verifying a Business App Account
- What Can You Do with an API Account?
- Messaging With The API Account
- WhatsApp API: How to Get a WhatsApp Business Account
- Get Verified as a WhatsApp Official Business Account
Types of WhatsApp Business Accounts
Before WhatsApp Business Accounts were introduced in 2018, small businesses were using their personal WhatsApp to communicate with customers. This became an opportunity for Facebook to monetize WhatsApp and fill the market gap.
Today, there are two types of WhatsApp Business Accounts for businesses of different sizes – WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business API. Both platforms have different features made for their intended target market group.
Before deciding which WhatsApp Business Account is for you, there are a few criteria to consider. It’s important to review these points carefully as there is no one-click method to migrate back after you’ve signed up with a platform.
First, businesses have to consider the number of users they want to onboard. For small businesses, the app account is sufficient for single or double users. Meanwhile, large businesses with multiple teams of agents need an API account for customer service.
Second, businesses of different sizes have different messaging needs. Large corporations send thousands of transactional messages a day via the API account, while a small business owner may message only a small pool of contacts per day with the app.
And lastly, businesses need to consider the resources they have for their messaging needs. The business app is free to use but the API account costs a lot more with different pricing plans.
To help you better understand each platform, we’ll be walking you through the features, benefits and limitations of using the app account and API account.
Business App Account: One to Two Users
The WhatsApp Business App is a free-to-use messaging app created for small businesses. If you are a regular WhatsApp app user, you’ll notice the business app interface is similar, with the addition of several business tools and features.
What Can You Do with the App Account?
In a small business, it’s common for the owner or a team member to interact with their customers directly. Instead of a complex platform, the business app is simple to use and is made for single users.
For every WhatsApp account, it requires its own number. This number has to be different from your regular WhatsApp account and can only be used on one device at a time. If you use it on a different device, you’ll be logged out from the previous device.
Alternatively, you can use WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop as a workaround method to add another user. However, you’ll be limited to just messaging and have no access to the other business tools in the app.
While the user limit may seem like a drawback, the app has other perks like allowing businesses to showcase their products with the Catalog feature and has more flexibility with messaging as long as it’s compliant with WhatsApp’s Commerce Policy.
Messaging With The App Account
The app account allows unlimited 1:1 messaging, broadcasting and group messaging for free. On top of regular text, businesses can send rich media files including pictures, videos, gifs and documents which is essential for delivering engaging content.
Plus, businesses are allowed to send the first message over WhatsApp in a 1:1 chat. This is a valuable feature for a business messaging app as it lowers the barrier for businesses to approach a customer first.
On top of having 1:1 conversations, businesses can message up to 256 people at once with broadcasting and group messaging. If there are more than 256 contacts, businesses can create additional broadcast lists and groups.
If this fits your requirements so far, we’ll show you what you need to set up your business app account in the next section.
How to Create a Business App Account
To start, you need a spare phone and a spare SIM on hand. If you use your regular WhatsApp number to register for a WhatsApp Business account, it’ll convert your WhatsApp account to a Business account. This is reversible but you’ll lose your chat history.
A dual-SIM phone is also usable but for privacy reasons, we would only recommend it if you are handling the account alone. If you plan on passing the phone around in your team, it’s best to have a second phone.
Once you’ve sorted that out, it’s time to create your WhatsApp Business App account. After you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be prompted to set up your account by completing your Business Profile with the following details:
- Business Profile Picture: A clear, well-aligned picture to represent your brand
- Business Name: A name for customers to identify your business
- Industry: Select from the drop-down list or type in the search bar to find a suggestion. You can add more than one category but three is the maximum.
- Business Description: Describe what you do in 512 characters.
- Operating Hours: Schedule your operating hours. This would be helpful when you set up your Away Messages.
Depending on your business, some fields like location, email and website are optional. For instance, location is optional for online businesses, emails can be redundant if you are already messaging on WhatsApp, and not every small business has a website.
Verifying a Business App Account
Once done, you’ll notice the account has not been verified as a business. This is common for small businesses or app account users as WhatsApp claims that only notable brands get verified as an Official WhatsApp Business Account.
Even so, all the features in your account are available and ready-to-use. Unlike Kakao or LINE, there’s no verification process for app users to earn a badge or upgrade their WhatsApp Business Account. To get verified, consider the API account instead.
WhatsApp API Account: Teams of Users
The WhatsApp API account is a paid platform for large businesses with multiple teams of users. Unlike the app, the API account has no front end interface. Instead, you’ll need to connect the API to a WhatsApp CRM like respond.io via a WhatsApp Partner.
What Can You Do with an API Account?
The API account supports multiple users, which is ideal for businesses with multiple teams. However, there’s also a higher chance of spamming when a company has more resources. To prevent this, there are more messaging limitations with an API account.
Generally, using an API account and sending any form of messages is a paid feature. Different WhatsApp Partners have different pricing models – per message, message bundles/plans or per monthly active users.
Messaging with the API Account
With messaging, 1:1 chats work differently with an API account. Businesses must use Template Messages to initiate a private chat with a contact. Otherwise, they can only reply to a customer’s direct message within a 24-hour window using Session Messages.
After 24 hours, businesses will no longer be able to reply to these messages unless they use a Template Message to restart the conversation. This messaging window ensures that businesses reply to their customers in the shortest time possible.
Unlike broadcasting with the app, broadcasting with WhatsApp API requires using pre-approved Template Messages. There are strict guidelines to follow, including using only text and it must not include promotional content.
Lastly, there’s also a limit to the number of users you can message daily. Some of the factors include their account’s quality rating and the collective number of users messaged within 7 days.
Generally, messaging with an API account is more restrictive to ensure the quality of customer service over WhatsApp. However, to support a large number of messages and users, an API account is required and here’s how you can apply for one.
Applying for an API Account: Pre-Requisites
While the business app can be downloaded and signed up instantly, the process of getting an API account can take up to a week. Before you start applying, make sure you have the following ready for your application:
- Facebook Business Page
- Facebook Business Manager ID
- Verified Facebook Business Page
- A working phone number (If porting is possible)
As WhatsApp is part of the Facebook family, you’ll need a Facebook Business Page for a WhatsApp API account. If you don’t have one, create a Page first. The Business Page must belong to your end business and not to a third party or agency.
Then, locate your Facebook Business Manager ID by logging in to your Business Manager. Next, select Business Settings and Business Info. You’ll find the Business ID under your account name. Save this ID as your WhatsApp Partner will request for it later.
At this stage, start your business verification process in the Business Manager. It’s recommended to complete this step now as your WhatsApp Partner would check if your Facebook Business Page is verified during the application process.
Go to your Business Settings and click on the Security Centre. Below Business Verification, click on Start Verification. The button is greyed out when you don’t have any app associated with your business. To trigger the button, here’s the workaround method.
After clicking on Start Verification, follow the steps as outlined on Facebook. You may not receive a confirmation right away but Facebook will send you a notification once your review is complete. You can also check your status from the Security Centre.
Finally, you’ll need a working number for your API account. Depending on the WhatsApp Partner, some of them are able to port your existing number while the others would require you to sign up for a new number with them.
Once you have all the pre-requisites checked, applying for an API account at a WhatsApp Partner is a straightforward process. But first, you’ll need to choose a WhatsApp Partner that fits your business’ needs.
Applying for an API Account: Choose a WhatsApp Partner and Fill Out Forms
With so many options out there, it can be hard to decide. To simplify things, we’ve partnered with a WhatsApp Partner for the cheapest WhatsApp API account on the market. This offer is only available to respond.io’s customers.
Then, fill up the application form and provide all the details as requested by the WhatsApp Partner. You’ll need to provide some basic information about your business such as email, company name, Facebook Business Manager ID, phone number and so on.
With our designated WhatsApp Partner, number porting is possible so you can use your existing number to apply for the API account. The only instance where it’s not advisable to use an existing number if it has been registered with another WhatsApp account.
Migrating back and forth between different WhatsApp accounts is a patchy process and you’ll lose important information like chat history and contact details. If you decide to do so, it’s best to import the contacts to respond.io first and then delete the old account.
Applying for An API Account: Approve The WhatsApp Partner
Upon submission, it will take about 3 to 5 days for your WhatsApp Partner to open an account for you on their portal. They will send you a confirmation email once the account is created.
Then, you’ll need to approve the WhatsApp Partner messaging on your behalf. Click the notification link in your email or log in to your Facebook Business Manager. Then, go to Business Settings, find your Requests and click Approve under Received.
Lastly, businesses who port their numbers using our WhatsApp Partner need to register and activate the number via an SMS code or phone call. In other cases where the WhatsApp Partner provides the number, they will activate it on your behalf.
After your number is activated, connect your account to a WhatsApp CRM like respond.io. Use the API Token received from the WhatsApp Partner, add it to respond.io. Now, your WhatsApp API account is connected and ready to use.
How To Verify WhatsApp Business Account for WhatsApp API
Finally, businesses looking to verify their account as a WhatsApp Official Business Account can only do so via their WhatsApp Partner. It's important to know that approval is not guaranteed and only notable companies have an Official Business Account.
However, it’s worth giving it a shot if your business meets the pre-requisites below:
- A valid Facebook Business ID
- A Facebook-verified business
- No violation of WhatsApp’s policies, especially WhatsApp’s Commerce Policy
- WhatsApp Business Account with Quality Tier 2
In case you’re wondering, it’s not possible to upgrade to a WhatsApp Verified Business Account by paying. To increase the chance of getting promoted, here are some recommendations:
- Having some ad spend in your Facebook Business Ad Account
- Grow your Facebook and Instagram following to at least about 10k likes/followers to indicate brand awareness
Once you’ve submitted your interest, the WhatsApp API Support Team will review the process and it’ll take up to 7 days for the results.