If you are planning to apply for WhatsApp API, make sure you get it from a good WhatsApp Business Solution Provider. Diving into this topic can feel daunting - there are plenty of BSPs to choose from, all with different features, pricing, and limitations. In this article, you will learn what WhatsApp Partners are, how they can help your business, and what to look for when choosing a WhatsApp Partner.
What is a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
You would think creating a WhatsApp Business API Account for your company would be as easy as creating a Facebook page. That is not the case. You can only sign up for a WhatsApp API account through WhatsApp Partners.
Why WhatsApp Collaborates with Partners
Why doesn't WhatsApp offer its API directly to most companies? When creating WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp had 3 priorities:
- To make money. WhatsApp has become free after it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. Having pledged to never have ads on WhatsApp, Facebook needed a new business model to monetize the purchase. The answer? WhatsApp Business API.
- To keep WhatsApp's headcounts low. The company was famously acquired for a very high price with only 100 or so headcounts. And Facebook intends to keep it that way.
- To keep spamming low. The most valuable thing that WhatsApp has is the massive number of users - WhatsApp hit 2 billion users in early 2020. If there's one thing we learned from email & SMS, it's that companies want to use them to spam their customers. Spamming will affect user experience and drive its users away. WhatsApp is well aware of the importance of protecting its platform from spamming. So it wants to be able to control the companies that have API access to its platform.
To achieve all these goals, WhatsApp decided to offer WhatsApp Business API accounts through WhatsApp Partners only. A WhatsApp Partner or WhatsApp Business Solution Provider is a service that helps you connect to WhatsApp API.
How WhatsApp Partners Work
Outsourcing the process to Partners is less resource-intensive and cost-effective because it eliminates the need to hire additional employees.
Plus, Partners have the resources to help WhatsApp vet companies allowed on the platform. Many Partners are SMS Providers with access to high-volume clients. This means they have the manpower to ensure only the best brands get on WhatsApp.
Signing up for a WhatsApp Business API Account through a Partner means the access is to the Partner's API, not directly to WhatsApp API. For instance, you will be connecting to Twilio API and Vonage API.
Remember, not all WhatsApp Partners are created equal. Your experience with WhatsApp Business API can vary depending on which Partner you choose. Below, we’ll help you wade through the good, the bad, and the ugly to find the Partner that meets your needs.
WhatsApp Business Solution Provider: Functionalities, Pricing, and Restrictions
While WhatsApp Business Solution Providers have made WhatsApp API accessible to businesses, some of their pricing practices and functionality restrictions are less than ideal. In this section, we'll explore the good, the bad & the ugly of WhatsApp Partners.
WhatsApp Business Solution Provider Functionalities
If you are new to WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Business Solution Provider is your friend. WhatsApp Partners are ready to provide guidance with every step of the way. From figuring out messaging rules to porting numbers to verifying your WhatsApp Business API account.
Let's face it. WhatsApp Business API is hard to understand. WhatsApp has complex, at times confusing rules when it comes to messaging. For instance, WhatsApp Business API doesn’t allow you to send a message anytime or in any format you want.
WhatsApp is still tweaking the rules and it can be difficult to keep up with them. WhatsApp Partners are well equipped to help you understand them and keep you updated on any rule changes.
Furthermore, some Partners will help you by giving you a phone number or porting a number you already have. Depending on the chosen Partner, you can port a mobile number, a landline, or even a 1-800 number.
WhatsApp Partners can even help you with WhatsApp Business verification to obtain the green checkmark. It's not possible for businesses to get verified on their own. But WhatsApp Partners can request WhatsApp verification on your behalf.
While many WhatsApp Partners are here to provide good service and help your company become successful, some Partners have less-than-ideal pricing practices.
WhatsApp Business Solution Provider Pricing
Some pricing practices of WhatsApp Partners are not ideal for businesses. For instance, certain Partners require businesses to pay a markup. Others keep their pricing details private.
A WhatsApp Business Solution Provider is free to set up its own pricing. Thus, many Partners charge businesses a price different from what they actually pay WhatsApp to make a profit. The markup varies from one Partner to another. So you should find out if you’re overpaying.
However, comparing WhatsApp Business pricing is difficult. Many WhatsApp Partners don’t put their pricing information publicly on the website. Hidden behind a layer of Contact Us, you need to call or email them to learn about their prices.
Contacting Partners can be a stressful experience. When you contact them, you may go through aggressive questioning about your use case. Everything you say can be misinterpreted as spamming, which is prohibited by WhatsApp.
It’s not just Partners that are responsible for the complex WhatsApp Business API Pricing - WhatsApp changes the price at its discretion. For instance, WhatsApp has been testing a new conversation-based pricing model in Mexico.
While markups and non-transparent WhatsApp pricing can be a real headache, you can work around these pricing issues with proper research. Plus, we’ll help you choose the cheapest WhatsApp API Partner based on your use case in this article.
What you should worry about are Partners’ restrictions on WhatsApp API functionality. Below, we’ll discuss the functionality restrictions that can affect your experience with WhatsApp Business API.
WhatsApp Business Solution Provider Restrictions
Some Partners have restrictions that can affect WhatsApp API functionality. And they are hard to circumvent. This includes limited support for WhatsApp API features and third-party software.
Not all WhatsApp Partners will support features available on WhatsApp API. Some WhatsApp Partners integrate WhatsApp API with their proprietary API. So it’s technologically challenging to include any new features from WhatsApp.
Furthermore, some Partners don’t allow you to use third-party CRM software. Accengage, Conversocial, Facelift, Genesys & Falcon.io sell WhatsApp API account along with their in-house CRM software. They don’t offer the WhatsApp API account alone.
In some cases, businesses are not aware of these restrictions until they have signed up. So, choose your WhatsApp Business Solution Provider carefully because it will be hard to switch.
What happens if you want to change your API Partner? Luckily, now you can migrate your phone number to a new WhatsApp API account with another Partner. Given that the source and destination Facebook Business Manager IDs are the same.
We have explained WhatsApp Partners’ functionalities, pricing, and restrictions. However, it can still be challenging to jump to a conclusion. In the next section, we will help you identify what type of WhatsApp Partner is the best for your use case.
Choosing a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
Now you should have a good overview of the possibilities that WhatsApp Partners offer. We will help you make an informed decision by breaking WhatsApp Partners into three approachable categories.
SMS providers vs Other WhatsApp Partners
Choosing between these two types of WhatsApp Business Solution Provider can affect your WhatsApp API experience. SMS providers were already using their own APIs before selling WhatsApp accounts. Therefore, their WhatsApp API will be similar to the one their Legacy SMS API.
SMS Providers integrate their API with WhatsApp API. This has a con: Including WhatsApp's updates in their own API is sometimes a complex process.
Some businesses are already using an SMS provider such as Twilio or Vonage for other communication channels. In this case, paying for their WhatsApp API is a good idea.
There is a second group of BSPs composed of CRM vendors, chatbot agencies, and self-service bot platforms. Choosing this option instead of SMS providers is synonymous with faster updates. But why is this so?
These partners usually go for a proxy API, very similar to WhatsApp's. Because they share the same infrastructure, updating their API is a much simpler process. In other words, they don't have to face the complications of dealing with two significantly different APIs.
Knowing the differences between these two types of BSP is useful, but there are more things to consider. For instance, how do they price their product?
Per-message vs Monthly Plan WhatsApp Partners
Some BSPs like Twilio only charge you for the messages you send. But in most cases, the pricing model will be a monthly plan - from Message Bundle to Monthly Active Contacts plan. Depending on your use case, choose the pricing model that suits your company best.
Per-message plans are a common choice for businesses that send a low message volume every day. In this case, committing to a monthly plan could bring unnecessary extra costs. On the other hand, this pricing model wouldn't be cost-effective for bigger message loads.
Moving to monthly plans, these are usually the preferred option for bigger companies. MessageBird API offers MAC plans for businesses working only with a limited amount of clients. Additional MACs come at an extra cost.
Other BSPs like Wati or Clickatell offer message bundle plans. For a fixed price, you can send a number of monthly messages. It's a popular choice for customer support since it requires sending many session messages per month.
Before buying WhatsApp API from a Partner, there is something to keep in mind: Some partners like Infobip or Vonage will charge a set-up fee. This means that you will have to make an upfront payment if you want to have access to the API.
But extra costs do not always end there. As mentioned, most BSPs will put a markup to their Message Templates, and even to their Session Messages.
Markup vs non-Markup WhatsApp Partners
WhatsApp charges Message Templates' price based on the recipient's country code. All Message Template fees can be found in WhatsApp's Official Price List. According to WhatsApp, the pricing will move from notification-based to conversation-based in February 2022.
Although this list is important, you should also confirm if your BSP has a markup fee, and how much it costs. This information is not always available on their websites, but we are familiar with the following ones:
- Twilio: Both Message Template and Session Message have a $0.005 markup per message.
- MessageBird: Both Message Template and Session Message have a $0.005 markup per message.
- Vonage: $0.0069 markup per delivered outbound message.
- 360dialog: No markups.
Not paying markups is always good news for any business. When a company needs to send thousands of Session Messages and Message Templates, the costs can skyrocket quickly.
We have explored the different types of WhatsApp API Partners. And now that we know them a little bit better, it's time to decide what makes the ideal WhatsApp Business Service Provider.
Final Thoughts on WhatsApp Partners
As of today, there are 68 WhatsApp Business API Partners, all of them with different features and prices. And in respond.io, we have broad experience working with them. These are our recommendations.
Firstly, we encourage companies to apply for a BSP that offers a proxy API. This way, the newest WhatsApp features will appear quickly on your WhatsApp Account. However, if you were already familiar with an SMS provider, you can use their WhatsApp API to keep it simple.
Secondly, we believe that paying a monthly fee is a better choice than paying per message. The truth is, a business that uses WhatsApp API probably has to send thousands of daily messages. If that's not the case, then paying only for a handful of messages per month could be your best option.
Lastly, we recommend choosing a WhatsApp Partner that doesn't apply markups on messaging. So, is there any BSP that meets the three requisites?
The answer is 360dialog. We recommend it for Sales, Support, and Notifications for every business. With unlimited Session Messaging and no markups on Template Messaging, this is respond.io's top choice.
You’ve made it to the end! That’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp API costs. If you enjoyed this article and you'd like to learn more about WhatsApp Business, check out our articles on: