This blog has been updated as of March 2023.
Is WhatsApp Business free to use? Are there any rules I need to know? How does WhatsApp charge for messages? Know everything about WhatsApp Business pricing here.
In 2023, WhatsApp continues to be the most popular global mobile messenger app. It’s also the third most popular social network worldwide. It has more than two billion monthly active users.
Chances are that you already know the convenience, speed, and personalisation of WhatsApp. For many businesses, it’s a lifeline and an effective way to reach out to customers and meet their needs.
The best way to leverage this is with WhatsApp Business API. So what do you need to know about how to use it, and what will it cost? That’s what you’re going to find out.
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Two Types of WhatsApp for Business
There are two forms of WhatsApp for Business that you can consider. WhatsApp Business App is ideal for smaller companies. The WhatsApp Business API is for medium to large companies.
WhatsApp Business App is free to download for Android and iOS. With this, you can:
- Connect with customers
- Highlight products, services, and offers
- Provide customer service and more.
This means higher levels of trust and engagement.
The WhatsApp Business API can turbocharge the experience. You get scalability, flexibility, and dedicated enterprise features to meet your needs.
The API works with authorised third-party software, from a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider. And so working with such a provider means a set-up and monthly costs. Each provider has varying rates.
Besides, there is also a charge for messages sent by WhatsApp. Before we get into this, it’s important to be clear about the types of messages for WhatsApp Business.
Understanding Session Messages and Template Messages
For the WhatsApp Business API, there are two types of messages. These are Session Messages and Template Messages.
Session messages are those sent and received in response to a message initiated by the user. A messaging session starts when your business receives a message. It lasts for 24 hours in the context of the most recently received message.
An example of a session message is if a user asks you for more information about a product. Or if a user follows up on a sale, or a customer care issue.
However, template messages are formats sent to those who opt to receive messages from your business. They are a useful, efficient, and time-saving form of communication on WhatsApp. Here’s your go-to recipe to create great WhatsApp message templates.
For example, you can use templates for
- Payment reminders
- Shipping updates, and more.
Many businesses find such template messages to be powerful for communication, as it allows businesses to set up a set flow of communication for customers. Consumers, too, have come to depend on them for a variety of needs. Template messages need to be pre-approved by WhatsApp.
New WhatsApp Business Conversation Models
WhatsApp is changing its pricing module from two conversation categories to four from June 1, 2023.
The conversation-based pricing model will expand from two (user- and business-initiated) to four conversation categories. As a result, business-initiated conversations will be classified as Utility, Authentication, and Marketing, while user-initiated conversations will be classified as Service conversations, allowing customers to resolve issues.
In addition to the new pricing model, WhatsApp is introducing “Conversation Metrics,” which will allow businesses to track the effectiveness of their messages. These features will be available in the second half of 2023.
Businesses will soon be able to access performance data informing them of sends, reads, and top block reasons across Utility, Marketing, and Service categories of conversations via WhatsApp Manager.
Marketing messages will have their own click rate, click-through rate, and media views, allowing businesses to assess the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.
Understand the New Pricing System
These four new categories will be applied for template approval starting Apr 1, 2023, and to pricing effective June 1, 2023.
Four New Conversation Category–
1. Utility Conversations
Business-initiated conversations users have opted into facilitating a specific, agreed-upon request or transaction, or update to a customer about an ongoing transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements.
2. Authentication Conversations
Business-initiated conversations users have opted into enabling businesses such as you to authenticate users with one-time passcodes (OTP), potentially at multiple steps in the login process (e.g., account verification, account recovery, password change, etc.)
3. Marketing Conversations
Business-initiated conversations users have opted into that may include promotions or offers, informational updates -such as back-in-stock alerts, or invitations for customers to respond or take action. A marketing conversation is any conversation that does not qualify as utility or authentication.
4. Service conversations
Any user-initiated conversation, such as to resolve their concerns or queries. For example, the customer is facing difficulty with a refund and he needs to talk to an agent. This is where this conversation model comes into play.
Now let’s understand the new pricing system more in-depth
Under Business-Initiated Conversations
Business initiates the conversation using a message template.
Let’s take the scenario of a user whose food order is delayed by 30 minutes because of a roadblock. She had opted in to receive updates from the business.
The business uses a message template to let the user know of the delay.
This initiates a conversation between the two as the user inquires more about her order.
She eventually receives her order, and the conversation has no further development.
In this case, the business is charged for a single business-initiated conversation.
Business-initiated conversation lasting 24-hour session
Let’s continue with the above scenario. The business sent the user a template message to share updates on the order status. The user has received her order, and the conversation had no further development.
However, within 2 hours of receiving her order, the user gets another template message from the business asking her for feedback.
In this case, the business is charged for a single business-initiated conversation.
Business-initiated conversation leads to a user-initiated discussion after the 24-hour session
In the above scenario, if the user responds to the business within the 24-hour session, there would be no extra charge.
However, it is possible that the user responded to the business after the 24-hour session had elapsed. If the company responds to this particular user’s feedback, they will start a new 24-hour session.
In this scenario, the business will be charged for a single business-initiated conversation and a single user-initiated conversation.
Business initiates a new conversation after the 24-hour session
Now let’s take the example of the business sending the same user a feedback message template after the 24-hour session had expired; it would start a new 24-hour session.
In this case, the business is charged for two business-initiated conversations.
Business Initiates – User Does Not Respond
When a business initiates a conversation with a user on WhatsApp, the 24-hour rule doesn’t come into play. The company can send messages to the user without any time restrictions until the user responds.
Once the user responds, the 24-hour window begins.
Business Initiates – User Responds Within 24 Hours
The communication can proceed seamlessly if the user responds within 24 hours of the business initiating the conversation. Both parties can exchange multiple messages throughout the 24-hour window without any interruptions.
Business Initiates – User Responds Within 24 Hours and Exchanges Multiple Messages
In this scenario, the user responds promptly and converses with the business, exchanging multiple messages within the initial 24-hour window. It’s essential to note that the 24-hour window is based on when the user sent the message, not when the support team or ticket creation received it. As long as the user sends messages within 24 hours, the conversation can proceed without limitations.
Business Initiates – User Responds After 24 Hours
If the user fails to respond within 24 hours, the business cannot reply to the user until they send another message. This action reopens the 24-hour window, allowing the business to respond within the new time frame.
Companies must be aware of this limitation, as they need to reply within 24 hours to ensure their ability to reconnect with the user.
Business Initiates – User Responds After 24 Hours and Exchanges Multiple Messages
Similar to the previous scenario, if the user responds after 24 hours but continues to engage in a conversation, the business can respond to their messages within the subsequent 24-hour window. However, it’s important to note that any replies sent after the initial 24-hour period will not be received by the user. These replies are still added to the ticket and can be viewed in the ticket interface, but the user will not see them via WhatsApp or email notifications.
Please reply within the 24-hour window to avoid difficulties in reconnecting with the user. In such cases, businesses may explore using the templated messages feature in WhatsApp. This feature, though paid, enables enterprises to send pre-approved messages to users beyond the 24-hour timeframe.
Here’s how WhatsApp Pricing Differs for Different Countries
Make The Most Every Month: Free-Tier Conversations
WhatsApp has a new addition to the pricing system.
Now, businesses will get 1000 conversations for free every month. This means that WhatsApp will not charge for the first 1000 monthly chat sessions businesses have with users.
The quota is refreshed every month. These conversations can either be user or business-initiated.
What if I have multiple numbers registered to the same business account? The threshold still remains at 1,000 conversations per month.
When does the threshold renew? WhatsApp reinstates free and fresh 1000 conversations every month based on the WABA’s timezone.
The Implications for Small and Large Businesses
Many small businesses have yet to scale up their skills and tech stack to make full use of the Internet to reach out to customers. For them, WhatsApp for Business can be a great platform to reach out to and personally connect with their customers.
They can estimate the amount they will have to pay and grow their online presence accordingly.
For larger businesses that already have a robust online presence, WhatsApp for Business can also be a wonderful value-add. It offers speed, responsiveness, and convenience. It also plays a part in boosting the larger digital strategy.
You might be interested in Handling Customer-Communication on WhatsApp the right way
How WhatsApp for Business Delivers Value
There are many ways for you to take full advantage of WhatsApp Business. It makes it simpler to communicate, engage and convert customers.
For example, with WhatsApp Chatbots, you can use virtual agents for automated chats. A customer’s request will be scanned, along with the context. The chatbot responds with a reply designed to meet the need.
There are several use cases for this. Take e-commerce. You can:
- automate lead generation
- get orders placed
- devise a shipment strategy
- and much more.
Another example is insurance. With WhatsApp automation, insurance companies can get help in lead generation, policy selection, quotes, document submissions, and more.
Once you’ve worked out the right WhatsApp Business model and the WhatsApp Business API pricing, you’re well on your way to unleashing a powerful tool.