WhatsApp has made life easier for businesses wanting to expand on the chat app. Both WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API do the job – but what’s the difference between the two? And which one is suitable for your business? Find out.
WhatsApp, the world’s largest chat platform, launched WhatsApp Business to help businesses sell and interact with their customers better. While this model sustains for small businesses, it’s not viable for bigger organisations.
This is why WhatsApp introduced WhatsApp Business API for medium and large businesses. The communication platform is designed both to benefit you from a commercial perspective. However, knowing the difference between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API can help you figure out which one suits your business needs the most.
If you are wondering how both of them differ then you’ve reached the right place. Let’s get started!
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What is WhatsApp Business?
A platform built by the WhatsApp Team, WhatsApp Business is an app mainly aimed towards small and medium enterprises. Since regular WhatsApp didn’t have features needed by a business, the WhatsApp Business app can help them host themselves seamlessly on the platform.
You can now use the new app to display your product catalogues, generate leads, deliver important notifications, collect feedback, and offer customer support to your users.
Think of your WhatsApp Business Account like a live chat tool, with limited functionality. You can also set up away messages to communicate to your customers that you’re away and will get back to them shortly.
The process to get your WhatsApp Business account
- First, download the WhatsApp Business app. It’s a different one from your usual WhatsApp app. The logo will have the letter “B” inscribed onto it.
- After that, enter your verified business number. The one that you’ve communicated to your customers or that you’ve specified on your site or even your visiting card.
- Next, enter your company’s name and set a profile picture that conveys what your business stands for.
- Give your website address, email address and even the address of the office.
And you’re good to go! You can have your business account ready within just a few minutes.
Before we jump into what the WhatsApp Business API does, let’s first understand what an API is at all.
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What is an API?
API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. You can connect various platforms using an API.
It allows two sets of software to form an integration. In simpler words, an API allows two or more software to connect with each other.
Let’s take an example. Imagine you’re planning a trip to the Mauritius islands and you want to book a reservation in a hotel, you will visit Trivago to book a room. The process which allows you to access Trivago’s site and make a reservation is possible because of API.
Therefore, the connection between the platforms is made possible by an API.
Now, what is WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp created WhatsApp Business API to enable larger businesses to operate and communicate with their bigger customer base effortlessly. While WhatsApp Business did the work, it did not allow larger firms to hold more than 2 active sessions at a given moment. This hindered connectivity as they weren’t able to reach most of their customers with the simple WhatsApp Business app.
Since it’s impossible to manually answer and communicate with customers at scale, WhatsApp Business API allows you to automate your conversations and send bulk notifications.
With a WhatsApp Chatbot.
Using a WhatsApp Chatbot for faster communication.
While the WhatsApp Business app could only automate a single response after your business hours, a conversational AI chatbot can do a lot more. A customer based in Australia operates in a different time zone than you are if you’re a US-based company.
But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to provide the same quality and standard of service to the Australian customer as you do for the ones in your home ground.
Using a WhatsApp Chatbot (powered by APIs), you can automate your most frequently asked queries and answer your customers’ questions around the clock. This way, your business becomes truly global.
If the chatbot is unable to answer a question, your agent can pick up the conversation seamlessly and answer any additional customer queries.
There are two types of communication format WhatsApp API follows:
- Session messages – A “session” is said to begin when a customer reaches out to the company with queries. This is a 24-hour window during which you can easily communicate and resolve for the customer.
- Template messages – Once the 24-hour window is closed, you can use templates to only send notifications and reminders to users who have opted in for them.
WhatsApp’s Business APIs are divided into Template APIs and Text APIs. Each other these APIs powers a specific campaign.
To dive deeper into this concept, let’s get to know what the different kinds of campaigns are. There are three kinds of campaigns a company can run with WhatsApp Business API.
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Types of WhatsApp Business API campaigns
- Outbound campaigns – A company sends an outbound message to a customer. These messages could be notifications, reminders or payment confirmations.
- Inbound campaigns – This is when a customer reaches out to the company. This could be in the form of feedback or a query.
- Outbound + Inbound campaigns – This is when the company sends a template to the customer and the customer acknowledges it by sending a reply or asking a query.
Now that we know about the kinds of campaigns, we can get better clarity on Template APIs and Text APIs.
- Template APIs power your outbound campaigns. You can send templates in the form of payment confirmation, notifications, etc. to the customers.
- Text APIs power inbound campaigns. They allow you to reply to your customer with ease.
WhatsApp is careful about not allowing companies to turn their platform into a wasteground of spam. Outbound campaigns cannot be used to send promotional content.
WhatsApp has been very careful about giving access to WhatsApp Business APIs to not compromise on the quality of user experience.
How do you build a WhatsApp Chatbot?
- First, you need to find a third-party provider that will fulfil your business needs. You need to consider the cost, facilities, design, etc. There are many third-party providers such as Verloop.io, Twillo, DialogFlow that will enable you to make your own WhatsApp Chatbot.
- After you reach out to the company, the process is simple. You will have to enter your necessary company details and the duration of your plan.
- The plan can be renewed or changed as per the third-party company’s policy.
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Difference between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API
Both of them serve their individual purposes and are suitable according to business requirements. Here is a clear difference between the WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business API:
1. Size of the organisation
WhatsApp Business – Ideal for small businesses looking to serve a relatively smaller circle of customers.
WhatsApp Business API – Great for bigger organisations looking to seamlessly sell and communicate with a larger audience.
2. Number of allowed users
WhatsApp Business – Max 4 live sessions allowed from 4 different devices, need to manually respond
WhatsApp Business API – Unlimited users can be catered to at one time, automate and send bulk notifications
WhatsApp Business – Downloadable on App Store and Play Store
WhatsApp Business API – Can only be accessed and set up through third-party
WhatsApp Business – Free
WhatsApp Business API – Charged per message sent or template used
WhatsApp Business – Limited functionality, can only automate welcome and away messages
WhatsApp Business API – Complete automation with smart chatbots
6. Flexibility in communication
WhatsApp Business – Regular text with attachments and emoji features enabled, flexible communication, no approval needed
WhatsApp Business API – Operates with text and rich media messages called Sessions and Templates, message templates require prior approval from WhatsApp
What are the pros and cons of using WhatApp Business and WhatsApp Business API?
Both WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API are designed to serve specific purposes. While both boast of WhatsApp’s signature capabilities, there are a few things to keep in mind when assessing their benefits and limitations.
Here are the pros and cons of using a WhatsApp Business account:
- WhatsApp end-to-end encryption provides robust security to any communication happening on the app. Any data – pictures, videos, audio, text messages are only shared between you and your user.
- It’s completely free and can be easily installed through App or Play Store.
- WhatsApp Business enjoys a simple and user-friendly interface easily navigable by your customers.
- It offers higher personalisation. You can harness WhatsApp Business to form lasting 1-1 relationships with your customers.
- It’s a great tool for small businesses looking to go online and serve their customers on the popular platform.
- WhatsApp Business allows limited conversations. There is no scope to scale or expand communication.
- You can only have one business account accessible on one device at a time.
- It does not have a monitoring and approval system. This means that there is no way for customers to avoid spam messages, which in turn affects their user experience drastically.
- You can not integrate your WhatsApp Business account with other tools like your CRM.
WhatsApp Business API
Besides friendly user interface and security, WhatsApp Business API solves many problems WhatsApp Business wasn’t able to. For one, you can get the verified green badge on your business profile! Now, let’s take a look at the perks and downsides of using WhatsApp Business API:
- Reach out to a wider range of customers and communicate with them using smart conversational AI.
- Unified dashboard to track communication happening on multiple windows.
- Allow multiple users to access the business account from multiple devices.
- It is highly customisable according to business needs.
- WhatsApp Business API seamlessly integrates with third-party applications like your CRM and online aggregators like Shopify.
- Easily track and measure KPIs.
- WhatsApp follows a strict verification process before approving message templates which can limit you from pushing out any promotional content.
- As an API, WhatsApp does not provide any front-end interface for you to operate on. You will need to get access to the API from a third-party provider.
What is the difference between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API?
|Capabilities||WhatsApp Business||WhatsApp Business API|
|Suitability||Personal communication with friends and family||Small businesses with a small customer base||Large organisations that need to engage with many customers at once|
|Access||Available on Play Store and App Store||Available on Play Store and App Store||Through a third-party WhatsApp API provider|
|Agent: User Interaction||1-1||2-1||Multiple-1|
|Pricing||Free||Free||Message and template-based pricing, reach out to your provider|
|Verified Business||No||Needs approval||Needs approval|
|Green Badge||No, only phone verification||No, only phone verification||Yes|
|Business Profile||No||Yes||Yes, mandatory|
|Message Approval||No||No||Yes, templates need to be approved by WhatsApp|
|Proactive Messaging (Outreach)||No||No||Yes|
|WhatsApp Pay||Yes||Yes||No, payment gateways can be integrated|
|Automation||No||Limited, only welcome and away messages||Yes, WhatsApp Chatbot can easily automate FAQs and common queries|
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What’s right for your brand – WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business API?
Now, you know the difference between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API. So, which one is suitable for your business? We tell you.
You should choose WhatsApp Business if…
- You have a new business and are operating solo or with a small team.
- Your customer base is small and you only need to attend to a limited number of queries at a time (<20 messages a day).
- Hiring a customer support team isn’t your priority.
- You don’t have the investment bandwidth at the moment.
You should choose WhatsApp Business API if…
- Your business is thriving with an accelerating customer base.
- You have an overflowing inbox of support tickets that are hard to resolve in time (>50 messages a day).
- Handling support queries single-handedly is difficult for you.
- FAQs take up a good chunk of your support team’s bandwidth.
- Expanding your support process is a priority.
Both WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API solve different purposes. It all comes down to which product is suitable for your specific use case. Either way, businesses today can not afford to overlook WhatsApp as an online business channel for its immense potential for growing and expanding your operations.
WhatsApp simplifies communication. Whether it’s communicating during the buyer journey or post-purchase, the chat app has made it very easy for businesses to connect and resolve user issues in real-time.