If you've gotten to this article it means you've firmly decided that you need a WhatsApp API account for your company. Now, you need to choose a WhatsApp Partner to get it from. In this article, we compare WhatsApp Partners by discussing WhatsApp Phone Numbers, WhatsApp API Features & WhatsApp API Pricing. We'll focus on four WhatsApp API Partners Twilio WhatsApp API, MessageBird WhatsApp API, Nexmo WhatsApp API & Infobip WhatsApp API.
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- Porting an Existing Number to a WhatsApp API Partner
- Buying / Renting a Number from a WhatsApp API Partner
- WhatsApp API Partner: Business Profile Management
- WhatsApp API Partner: Contact Management
- WhatsApp API Partner: Messaging
- WhatsApp API Partner: Template Messaging
- WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Set Up & Monthly
- WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Session Messaging
- WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Template Messaging
- WhatsApp Partner Comparison: Pricing Comparison
- Applying for a Twilio WhatsApp API Account
- Applying for a MessageBird WhatsApp API Account
- Applying for a Nexmo WhatsApp API Account
Why You Need a WhatsApp Partner?
You would think that creating a WhatsApp Account for your business would be as easy as creating a Facebook page, but that is not the case. WhatsApp Business API accounts are only available through WhatsApp API Partners. Why? Here's the short version.
When creating the WhatsApp Business programs, WhatsApp had two priorities:
- make money from WhatsApp API pricing
- keep the amount of spam on the WhatsApp platform low
In order to kill two birds with one stone, WhatsApp decided to offer WhatsApp Business API account through WhatsApp Partners only. Since most of the WhatsApp API partners are business SMS service providers, they already have access to high volume clients. They also have the manpower to ensure only the best brands get on WhatsApp.
Basically, you'll need to choose a WhatsApp partner and it's an important choice because it will be hard to switch.
WhatsApp Partner Selection Criteria
It's important to carefully select a WhatsApp API Partner because once you assign a number to a WhatsApp API account you can no longer migrate this number to a new WhatsApp API account with another partner.
Before you pull the trigger and apply with a partner you'll want to evaluate the partner on the following criteria:
- can the WhatsApp API partner provide you a number with the desired country code or port your number?
- does the WhatsApp API partner support all the WhatsApp API features you want to use?
- does the WhatsApp API partner pricing and pricing model make sense for your use case and messaging volume?
In the sections below we will discuss numbers, features, and pricing individually to help you come out with the best decision.
WhatsApp Partner Comparison: Phone Numbers
Phone number is an important consideration when selecting the best WhatsApp API Partner for your business. Also consider if you want to use an existing number for your company WhatsApp API account or if you want to use a brand new number.
Porting An Existing Number to a WhatsApp API Partner
We tried to narrow down which WhatsApp Partners are able to port numbers and which aren't but we weren't able to get a straight answer in most cases. Theoretically, all partners should be able to port a number.
Each WhatsApp partner has its own requirements for porting. Some providers can only port mobile numbers while others can port landline or even 1-800 numbers. Specific porting instructions will depend on the provider that you go with.
When porting a number you'll want to double-check with the WhatsApp API Partner if they are porting the number for the purposes of WhatsApp or also for Voice and SMS capability.
Of the partners, we evaluated in this post it seems that Infobip WhatsApp API is the one that is most porting friendly, as Infobip does not offer an off the shelf number to buy for this purpose.
Buying / Renting A Phone Number from a WhatsApp API Partner
If you don't have an existing number to use there are WhatsApp API Partners that will be able to either sell or rent you a number. The countries where these partners can acquire numbers for you are a little bit patchy.
Because of SMS spamming a plenty of countries have enacted laws about selling companies SMS numbers and the permissions they would have with those numbers. We've done a quick analysis of which WhatsApp Partners provide numbers where, but we do recommend you check with the partner in case anything has changed.
For Nexmo WhatsApp API, numbers can be provided for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey & the United Kingdom country codes.
For Messagebird WhatsApp API, numbers can be provided for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom country codes.
For Twilio WhatsApp API, numbers can be provided for Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain & the United Kingdom country codes.
For Infobip WhatsApp API, you'll need to bring your own number to port. In addition, none of the above WhatsApp Partners provides numbers for Egypt, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. For these countries, you need to procure your own number and then request to port it with your WhatsApp Partner of choice.
Now that we've got phone numbers out of the way, let's talk about WhatsApp API features how and how those compare among WhatsApp Partners.
WhatsApp Partner Comparison: Feature Support
You would think features are not something to worry about when selecting a WhatsApp Partner, sadly that's not the case.
Signing up for a WhatsApp Business API account through a WhatsApp Partner, means access is to the partner API. In other words, you're connecting to the Twilio WhatsApp API, Messagebird WhatsApp API, Nexmo WhatsApp API or Infobip WhatsApp API, not directly to WhatsApp API.
Therefore, even though some features may be supported by WhatsApp API directly, not all WhatsApp Partners will support these features on their API. Aside from the features available through the API, we'll also discuss the possibilities of the management console provided by the WhatsApp Partner.
WhatsApp API Partner: Business Profile Management
A WhatsApp Business Profile consists of a cover photo business name, description, business address, business hours, email address and website. WhatsApp API allows editing these via API, but none of the Partners we studied allow editing via their API.
Amongst these Partners, Twilio and Messagebird allow updating the WhatsApp Business Profile in their console, while Nexmo and Infobip require you to contact them. We are not 100% sure about Infobip as they did not give us access to their console.
When using Twilio WhatsApp API, the Business Profile can be edited from the Twilio Console. Twilio will allow you to edit the company description, address, email, and website from the Console. Editing the display name or logo requires contacting Twilio.
MessageBird WhatsApp has a similar console, with a few additional options.
MessageBird allows editing the profile picture, status, email, address, description, industry, and website. Interestingly, there is also an option to enable two-factor authentication as the first step to applying for an Official WhatsApp Business Account.
Changing the display name requires contacting MessageBird. Overall, when it comes to editing the business profile, MessageBird WhatsApp API has the edge over other WhatsApp API Partners.
Managing your Business Profile is important, but contacting the WhatsApp API Partner to make changes to the profile is not a big deal as it shouldn't happen too often. Contact management is something that will happen more often.
WhatsApp API Partner: Contact Management
Contact management is a key element of a WhatsApp API solution. According to WhatsApp Policy, there are two ways to add a new contact in a WhatsApp CRM:
- import a WhatsApp user that has opted in via a form
- a WhatsApp user send the first message.
To facilitate contact importing WhatsApp API has a contact verification function. An API call that checks if a phone number has a WhatsApp account connected to it. As of this writing, none of the partners we studied have enabled this feature through their API.
Luckily a WhatsApp user can send the first message, to become a contact. Handling this interaction is simple right? Not quite. Unlike using Facebook Messenger for Business WhatsApp doesn't send a large package of profile data. Do you get the name? Maybe.
The WhatsApp API documentation says sending the profile name (WhatsApp User profile name) is optional. Naturally, none of the WhatsApp API partners we've studied have implemented this yet – when chatting you'll need to ask for the name manually for now.
Last but certainly not least, you'll want to create WhatsApp Groups and add your contacts to those groups. WhatsApp Groups over WhatsApp Business API is still in beta. So WhatsApp API Partners don't support this one yet either.
It sounds like bad news for contact management, however, we've been following these WhatsApp API Partners for a while and they add features quickly. We've seen this when it comes to messaging, so we're confident contact management will improve soon.
WhatsApp API Partner: Messaging
Something even more important than contact management is messaging. After all, you add a contact and ask their name once, but your company could have thousands of messaging interactions per day.
When it comes to WhatsApp API Partner messaging you'll want to evaluate these elements:
- message status support
- rich messaging support
- template messaging support
WhatsApp API makes messaging synch by supporting sent, delivered and read receipts. Luckily the WhatsApp API Partners we evaluated support those as well. We assume that most WhatsApp Partners would support this.
Rich messaging can be a little more spotty. Originally when we first tested our Twilio WhatsApp API account, it didn't support WhatsApp audio which was a big problem in Latin America. Thankfully that has since been rectified.
All the WhatsApp API Partners we reviewed here support both WhatsApp Audio messages and location receiving. Meaning, a WhatsApp contact can share their location with your company.
The only rich messaging feature we found missing was WhatsApp Stickers. Which is a shame, because WhatsApp stickers can be used for amazing WhatsApp marketing campaigns. We hope WhatsApp API Partners will add sticker support soon.
WhatsApp Business Partner: Template Messaging
Pay special attention to WhatsApp Template Messaging features, this is the only way messages can be sent after 24 hours. Review the WhatsApp API Partners on the following criteria:
- ability to send template messages
- template message request/creation
- retrieving a list of approved template messages via API
- template message localization
In the early days, only some WhatsApp API Partners had the ability to send templates. Thankfully, all the WhatsApp API Partners we reviewed here have the capability. However, before sending a template message, one will need to be requested or approved.
In general, template messaged can be created via WhatsApp Partner console, via WhatsApp Partner API and by contacting the partner. At this time, none of the WhatsApp API Partners we reviewed enable template message creation via API.
This is kind of disappointing, the ultimate WhatsApp CRM should allow you to create right from the dashboard. The good news is, through Twilio WhatsApp API or MessagingBird WhatsApp API template messages can be requested via console.
Twilio WhatsApp API has a simple interface to display existing template messages and where new template messages can be requested.
MessageBird WhatsApp API has a similar interface to Twilio. The Messagebird template manager shows a list of templates that have been approved or rejected previously.
New template messages can be requested in the console as well. We must say, MessageBird WhatsApp API has a cooler template message creation tool than Twilio.
At this time, it's not possible to request new template messages via the Nexmo WhatsApp API console. We think the situation is the same with Infobip WhatsApp API as well. If you notice either of these partners updated their console, let us know. 🙂
Two more features to double-check with template messaging are:
- template message retrieval via API
- template message localization
When running a customer service console on top of your WhatsApp Partner API, retrieving templates is important so an operator to select and send them. Of the WhatsApp Partners we've studied, only MessageBird WhatsApp API has the capability.
Template message localization allows the creation of template message language variations. Using this feature, WhatsApp will deliver the variation that fits the users' locale. Only Nexmo WhatsApp API supports this so far.
Once you've confirmed a set of WhatsApp API Partners offer all the features you need, it's time to compare their pricing models and overall cost.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Best WhatsApp Partners
WhatsApp API pricing is complicated, the final price you pay will depend heavily on the pricing model implemented by the WhatsApp Partners. We've seen partners with three pricing models:
- per message
- message bundles / plans
- per monthly active user
WhatsApp Partners using per message pricing will have different rates for WhatsApp Session Messages and WhatsApp Template Messages. While Partners with message bundles will include a certain amount of each in their package plans.
WhatsApp Partners using monthly active monthly users will charge for the amount of WhatsApp users you have conversations within any given month.
Differing pricing models and fee structure can make it difficult to compare WhatsApp API Partner pricing. To make a pricing comparison between partners easier, we have broken down their prices into the following fees:
- set-up fee
- monthly fee
- messaging fee
Below we will compare:
- Twilio WhatsApp API Pricing
- MessageBird WhatsApp API Pricing
- Nexmo WhatsApp API Pricing
- Infobip WhatsApp API Pricing
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Set-Up And Monthly Fees
The first factor to consider when selecting a WhatsApp API Partner is the setup fees and the monthly fees.
Twilio WhatsApp pricing has no set-up or monthly fee. The Twilio WhatsApp API charges on a per-message basis, with no minimum charge.
MessageBird WhatsApp pricing has two monthly plans which are billed annually. MessageBird WhatsApp API does not have a set-up fee.
The $50 MessageBird Essential package includes 15k session messages and charges $0.02 per session message once you exceed this volume.
The $150 MessageBird Essential package includes 50k session messages and charges $0.005 per session message once you exceed this volume.
Nexmo WhatsApp API pricing has a $2,000 set-up fee. Nexmo charges $900 in monthly fees, with a separate rate for India, at $450 per month. Unlike MessageBird, no message allowance is included in this monthly fee.
Infobip WhatsApp pricing also has a $2,000 set-up fee. The monthly fee is $1,500, which includes 100,000 monthly active users (MAUs). The price per additional MAU is $0.016.
If you want to trial WhatsApp for your company or have a low volume of messages consider Twilio. For companies that want to send higher volumes, review our per message comparisons in the next section.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Session Messaging Fees
Any message sent within 24 hours of a customer's message. will be considered a session message. Comparing session messaging rates is important if you plan to use WhatsApp for inbound sales or customer service.
Comparing the per-message cost is difficult since some WhatsApp Partners price with message bundles while others don't. To compare we've calculated the per-message prices for each partner slightly differently.
For session messaging, Twilio WhatsApp API pricing is the simplest. It has a fixed price of $0.005 USD per message.
MessageBird WhatsApp API has an Essential and Pro package. The $50 Essential Package includes 15k session messages with a $0.02 per message fee thereafter. The $150 Pro package includes 50k session messages with a $0.003 per message fee thereafter.
The Nexmo WhatsApp API has a $0.007 US per-message fee or $0.0024 in India. Keep in mind that Nexmo WhatsApp pricing also includes the hefty monthly fee we outlined above.
Infobip WhatsApp pricing is a little more complicated because they price per active user. We created a graphic to break down how theses WhatsApp API Partners compare at different volumes of messaging.
The Best WhatsApp Partner for 0-10,000 session messages is Twilio WhatsApp API. Companies with small volumes of session messages will find Twilio WhatsApp API flexible and cost-effective.
The Best WhatsApp Partner for 10,000-15,000 session messages is MessageBird Whatsapp API Essential. Since the package includes 15k messages at the fixed rate of $50 USD. It is cheaper than Twilio WhatsApp API at this volume of messaging.
The Best WhatsApp Partner for 15,000-30,000 session messages is Twilio WhatsApp API. With its flat rate of $0.005 USD, Twilio WhatsApp API is cheaper than MessageBird WhatsApp API at this volume of messaging.
The Best WhatsApp Partner for 30,000-300,000 session messages is MessageBird WhatsApp API Pro. At $0.003 per message for 50,0000 session messages and $0.005 per additional message, Messagebird WhatsApp API is offering the Message Rate as Twilio WhatsApp API with a discount on the first 50k messages.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: Template Messaging Fees
Sending messages to WhatsApp contacts 24 hours after their last incoming message requires using a WhatsApp template message. Template messages are strings of text, with placeholders, pre-approved by WhatsApp.
Businesses typically send fewer template messages to a given user per month than they do session messages because template messages are generally used for notifications or to restart customer service conversations after 24 hours.
In general, a template message pricing is the WhatsApp Template Message Destination Charge, but may also include the standard messaging fee from the WhatsApp API Partner. In this article, we compare based on WhatsApp's First 250k message rate.
Twilio WhatsApp pricing is simple for template messaging. Twilio charge their regular $0.005 messaging rate on top the of the WhatsApp Destination Charge.
MessageBird WhatsApp API charges the session messaging rate you get with your plan, on top of the WhatsApp Destination Charge.
Nexmo WhatsApp API also charges their standard messaging fee on top of the WhatsApp Destination Charge.
Infobip WhatsApp API however, does not charge any fee on top of the WhatsApp Destination Charge.
Now that we've explained all the different fees and pricing structure, let's sum it all up.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: WhatsApp Partner Pricing Comparison
Overall, Twilio WhatsApp Pricing is a good option for small companies wanting to pay-per-usage, without costly set-up and monthly fees. If you never anticipate sending more than 1000 messages per day, Twilio WhatsApp API is your best bet.
Companies that are anticipating sending more than 1000 messages per day should go for the MessageBird WhatsApp API.
We will continue to monitor these WhatsApp Partners and their WhatsApp pricing models. We'll also be adding new WhatsApp Partners to this list as we review them.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of which partner to chose. So it's time to apply for an account.
Applying for a WhatsApp API Account
Applying for a WhatsApp API account generally involves three steps:
- Choose or provide a phone number for the account
- Apply for WhatsApp Business API access
- Set up the WhatsApp Business Profile
Keep in mind, most applications will ask for a verified Facebook Business ID in the application. So if you have not verified your business on Facebook, do so before applying.
We'll cover the application process for the WhatsApp Partners we've compared below.
Applying for a Twilio WhatsApp API Account
First, create a Twilio account. Any new account comes with $15 of free credit which will be enough to buy a phone number and test your account.
To create a phone number navigate to the Twilio Dashboard > Get a Trial Number.
Then you'll be prompted with a number in your region. You can select this phone number, or you can search for a different one.
Make sure to use a number with SMS capability. WhatsApp Business will only work with phone numbers that are SMS capable.
Now that you have a Twilio Account and an SMS-enabled phone number, you can apply for WhatsApp API access.
To apply for WhatsApp API access navigate to Programmable SMS > WhatsApp.
When opening this page for the first time, you'll be asked to accept the WhatsApp terms of the service. Now, you can apply for WhatsApp API access.
To apply for WhatsApp API access navigate to Senders > Sign Up to Receive Updates
Confusingly, there is no WhatsApp API Access button. Once you click sign up for updates, you will be taken to a form. This is your WhatsApp Business Account approval form.
Once your account is approved, you'll need to create a WhatsApp Business profile. In the process of creating a WhatsApp Business profile, you will assign the profile to a number (create a sender) then provide brand collateral for the WhatsApp Business profile.
To create a sender navigate to Programmable SMS > WhatsApp > Senders> Plus Sign (+)
Then a form will appear, asking you to assign a number and for brand information.
Once you press submit request, it will take several days to be approved. Once it has been approved you are ready to connect your WhatsApp Business API account to a CRM like Rocketbots.
Applying for a MessageBird WhatsApp API Account
To apply for a MessageBird WhatsApp API account you'll need to create a free account on MessageBird and apply for access.
To create a MessageBird account navigate to the MessageBird sign up page.
Once you're on the MessageBird Dashboard you can proceed to apply for the account.
To apply for the MessageBird WhatsApp API account navigate to the WhatsApp Request page and chose a plan.
At this point, MessageBird will ask you to fill our your business details including legal business name, website, and address. After filling in all the required information, you'll need to wait for the application to be approved.
Once the account is approved, the MessageBird customer success team will contact to you to accept a request on your Facebook Business Page. Once done, you'll be able to choose a phone number and display name on the MessageBird dashboard.
To buy a phone number for your MessageBird WhatsApp API account navigate to the phone numbers module.
You'll need to email their customer success to connect the number you bought to your MessageBird WhatsApp API account. The last step of the process is to verify the number. The customer success team will help you with this process.
Applying for a Nexmo WhatsApp API Account
Nexmo WhatsApp API has quite a hefty monthly fee. However, for that fee, everything is handled by an account manager. To apply for a Nexmo WhatsApp API account all you need to do is contact sales on the Nexmo WhatsApp page.
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