WhatsApp Business API (2021) | The Ultimate Guide

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You may have heard of WhatsApp Business API… How does it differ from WhatsApp Business accounts? What are its features? And more importantly, how can businesses utilize it to serve their customers better? 

This article will introduce you to WhatsApp Business API features, the differences between Template Messages and Session Messages, how automated messaging works, and other WhatsApp Business API FAQs. 

Now, let’s dive in.

What is WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp Business API enables advanced business functions, like automated and template messages. In addition, it allows companies to utilize WhatsApp Business accounts more comprehensively and to their fullest extent.

In addition, you can broadcast on WhatsApp through WhatsApp Business API. Broadcasting messages through WhatsApp is a common practice for businesses to send out updates and recent promotions to a selected group of customers in one go. 

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imBee Broadcast – Select a Contact Group

Automated messaging function simplifies manual and complex operating procedures and saves time from performing countless repeated tasks. 

For example, the WhatsApp Broadcast function uses the unique template message from the WhatsApp Business API to automatically send out the message to a specific group of recipients at once.

WhatsApp Business API: Features

To use WhatsApp Business API, you’ll need to connect it through third-party software. 

However, users cannot download WhatsApp Business API from App Store or Google Play. Instead, you have to connect the API through a WhatsApp Business API provider. 

As a third-party provider, imBee‘s WhatsApp API connection service is available for use. imBee software supports additional features, such as helping businesses enable multiple users using the same phone number to manage all conversations in WhatsApp simultaneously. Users can also design various customized broadcast message templates to enhance the messaging experience.

imBee-Overall-Functions

Business Account Verification

Merchants who use WhatsApp Business API can directly apply to WhatsApp to receive their business account verification. The WhatsApp Business account will get a green tick label displayed next to the brand name if the application is successful. This official verification badge strengthens the customer’s trust and confidence in the merchant’s brand and validity.

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The Business Profile page of WhatsApp Business API contains critical business information, such as the company name, business type, brand description, business hours, company address, company website, and company email. 

The green tick label beside the brand name signifies that this WhatsApp account has been officially certified and truly represents the brand. Hence, customers communicating with a badged account gives them the confidence to avoid scams or get false information from fake accounts.

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The brand names of large industry powerhouses are highly recognized and well-known. To reassure existing and potential customers and maintain a degree of legitimacy, these corporations should opt to use the official WhatsApp Business API account to obtain the verified badge.

Most of imBee’s customers also stated that they prefer to use WhatsApp Business API to WhatsApp Business due to the improved brand image that this feature helps portray.

Multiple Login 

To elevate the enterprise experience, WhatsApp Business API supports multiple logins through the same phone number, allowing numerous chat agents to manage incoming WhatsApp messages simultaneously. 

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imBee Feature: Assigning Chat Ticket & Routing

In addition, this feature facilitates collaboration across time zones and locations. It enables agents from different locations to take over the conversations and work around shifts under different time zones. No matter where the agents are, business team leaders can keep track of each team member’s working progress and their overall performance.

Multinational companies usually minimize their human labor costs by outsourcing customer service functions or setting up overseas teams. The multi-login feature can help since businesses will simply need to have a single account.

Furthermore, specific inquiries from customers might require the knowledge of certain team members to answer. The multiple-user login function from WhatsApp Business API and the Routing function from imBee can solve this issue. imBee allows users to distribute and assign customer inquiries to the appropriate personnel to answer, letting topic experts answer particular questions correctly.

imBee-Routing-Example

WhatsApp Broadcast 

WhatsApp Business also comprises the Broadcast Message feature, allowing businesses to send these blast texts to a maximum of 256 WhatsApp users. However, the target recipients must add the business’ phone number beforehand to their address books to receive the message correctly.

Yet, many customers hardly save business’ phone numbers into their contact lists and simply use a WA.Me Link to send messages without adding their number in advance. 

As a result, there might not be many available target audiences for this Broadcast Message feature. Further impaired with the limit of 256 contacts will not attract merchants to use a feature with significant limitations.

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(WhatsApp Business – Broadcast Message) 

One way to overcome this limitation is to use the Broadcast Message function of the WhatsApp Business API. Businesses can import the phone numbers to broadcast the messages without being restricted by the number of recipients and the address book requirement.

For more information on the Template Message, please refer to the later sections below.

Now, let’s look at some practical business applications of using the WhatsApp API Broadcast function. For instance, educational institutions can notify students of classroom venue changes; logistics companies can send real-time status updates of the packages; financial companies can send personal and corporate bank account updates to their clients.

Automated Notification 

WhatsApp Business API can be linked to the corporate website and effectively replace the traditional e-mail and SMS notifications. For example, businesses can use WhatsApp API to automatically send confirmation messages to a customer’s personal WhatsApp, such as detailed information on website shopping, member registration, and event sign-ups. The contacts collected from sending confirmation messages will help pave the way for future interactions.

Subsequently, merchants can use imBee’s tagging function to group contacts into various categories. Later, they can send the latest updates and product information to related customer tag groups with similar characteristics.

Apply Tags

Cloud Storage

WhatsApp Business API can store customer information on the company’s cloud system, allowing the business to save all their customer’s personal contact information and conversation records. Cloud storage is a relatively secure and protected storage method than WhatsApp Business that keeps data inside the mobile phone application.

WhatsApp Business API: Message Types

WhatsApp Business API lets companies send two messages to customers: (1) Session Messages and (2) Template Messages.

Session Message 

A Session Message is free of charge, just like any other message sent through WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business. Businesses can wait for customers’ inquiries and respond with Session Messages, and merchants can also actively send a paid Template Message to customers. Furthermore, users can send various media formats via a Session Message, including texts, images, audio recordings, and video.

The only caveat is that chat agents will need to reply to the customer within 24 hours from when the customer last responded. The message business replied within 24 hours is a Session Message, free of charge. If the customer sends a new WhatsApp message to the merchant, it will reset the 24-hour time limit. It then allows the chat agent to have a renewed 24-hour window to reply. 

Facebook has a public price list showing that Session Messages are complimentary messages. In essence, imBee will not charge any additional fees per se.

Interactive Message 

There are two types of interactive messages, (1) List Messages and (2) Reply Buttons. Businesses can only use this feature within 24 hours since the customer sends out the most recent message. 

After subscribing to the imBee service, merchants can set Interactive Message as one of the Auto Replies messages. It is a Chatbot-like feature that helps facilitate immediate communication.

Merchants can simultaneously use these two interactive messages. Users can only choose one option when replying to these two types of messages, but they can click on other options again when entering other chatbots.

List Messages 

Each list message can create up to TEN action items. It provides direct options for users to choose when creating a Template Message to properly communicate their needs to the business. 

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Reply Buttons

When using interactive messages, up to THREE reply button options can only be displayed at a time. Users can easily select the information they want to know more about and get answers faster than waiting for the agent’s manual response.

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Template Message

Template Message is a paid messaging feature used together with the Broadcast Message function of WhatsApp Business API. Before sending out the Template Message, merchants need to create and apply a message template through WhatsApp and wait for approval. 

When a company wants to send a message to a customer after 24 hours since receiving the customer’s last incoming message, it can only send a paid Template Message. The business can no longer send a free Session Message.

Merchants also have to set the variables when creating a Template Message properly. Only after substituting with the respective variables can agents then send out Template Messages.

There are three types of Template Messages, (1) Text Message Template, (2) Media Message Template, and (3) Interactive Message Template.

Text Message Template 

A Template Message consists of only text.

WhatsApp-Business-API-Template-Message-Text-Example

For example, if you want your customer to receive the following message: 

Hi John! Thanks for being our valued member from June 2021. We’ll send you feature updates every month to keep you informed.

Companies should submit the following template message for approval: 

Hi {{1}}! Thanks for being our valued member from {{2}}. We’ll send you *{{3}}* *updates* every {{4}} to keep you informed.

Media Message Template

Businesses can send out a Template Message attached with images to customers. Using the picture format is one way to enhance interaction and conversation flow with the customer, attracting their attention more than text messages do.

For example, a restaurant could send menus to upcoming guests to confirm their dish selections to prepare the ingredients and plating in advance. To make it more enticing, restaurants can send out photos of the plated food to the guests. 

Interactive Message Template

The interactive message template provides clickable buttons for customers to select from, including Action buttons and Reply buttons. This function is similar to the Interactive Message under Session Messages. The difference is that only merchants can actively send out the Interactive Message Template to the customers to start the conversation. On the other hand, it is customers’ inquiries that trigger the Interactive Messages under Session Message.

When the merchant wishes that the customer clicks on external links or calls them, they can formulate interactive template messages using Action buttons. One Action button corresponds to one action, i.e., Help Centre, Talk to a Business Rep, Watch Demo Video.

WhatsApp Business API Template Message Example

When the merchant wants to receive a customer’s reply on a particular matter, it can use Reply Button. For example, a request for the customer to confirm a scheduled itinerary, merchants can create a Template Message with quick Reply Buttons showing clickable options, such as “Confirm Attendance” and “Cancel Appointment.”

WhatsApp Business API: FAQs

Is an automated reply considered a Template Message? 

No, it is not. 

Companies can use imBee’s chatbot to set up responses such that specific keywords found in the customer’s message would trigger automated replies based on the merchant’s pre-set answers. The chatbot will respond quickly when the system detects that a customer sends a message to the business.

Auto Replies enable businesses to respond to basic and standard inquiries quickly. It reduces the effort needed to reply to repetitive general questions that any team member can answer quickly. 

In addition, it simply takes a few seconds for the chatbot to give these automated responses compared to a live agent who might reply after several hours or business days. 

Are automated notifications considered Template Messages?

Yes, they are. Message notifications containing detailed information such as delivery notifications, appointment confirmations, and update notifications issued by the merchant have to use a specific template. 

This feature assigns the customer’s personal information to specific variables, which converts the broadcast message into a personalized message containing particular data of the recipient. Enterprises can send the overall broadcast message template to all pertaining customers through WhatsApp Business API.

For more details, please reach out to our Customer Service Team.

Do Template Messages support the use of emojis? 

Yes! You can use emojis in Template Messages.

Is there a maximum number for making Template Messages?

Yes, there is an upper limit. Businesses can only create up to 250 template messages for each WhatsApp API account.

WhatsApp Business API: Conclusion 

As a business representative looking to amplify your firm’s digital growth and presence, using WhatsApp Business API enables your team to utilize the full potential of your WhatsApp Business account. 

Not only can your business enjoy the benefits of being a verified merchant with a green badge, but you can also explore an array of other helpful and cost-effective features like Interactive Messages and Template Messages! These functions would facilitate an effortless communication flow between you and your customers – improving customer service experience and staff retention.

Businesses can get connected to a WhatsApp Business API service today with imBee. We support the original functions of WhatsApp API and provide extra functionalities like Digital Invoice and Receipt, Monitoring Dashboard, Scheduled Messages, and many more. 

Our mission is to help companies manage sales and services from multiple channels and integrate them into one unified platform. Better sales, happier customers!

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