A step by step guide to understanding & implementing Whatsapp API for Business

Jan 08 , 2020
Part 1 –What is it?

Whatsapp is undeniably the most used app of all times. For businesses it was an inaccessible opportunity owing to the ad-free promise the app had made – until now. The newly launched Whatsapp Business API could very well change the landscape of marketing in the UAE as a business messaging channel. As of now, it is in limited public preview and so one needs to first understand how it works, how it can be relevant to a business, and how it can be turned into a fruitful advertising platform.

Overview

The Whatsapp API for Business is now allotted to very few companies. In the UAE alone, there are just a handful of businesses that have been granted access. To get access, businesses have to submit their brand for consideration on https://www.facebook.com/business/m/whatsapp/business-api

After access is granted, a Business Profile has to be created. Then a unique entry for your business with relevant information visible to customers that are communicating with you will be created by WhatsApp. This will allow people to easily identify your business by its category and find details such as location, website, working hours etc. The business profile will allow two-way communication with customers. It will also give message templates needed for sending notifications to users.

Now, a user must first agree to receive messages in WhatsApp by opting into them via a third-party channel. It could be any communication channel your business uses – website, app, email, SMS, location etc.

Apart from this, there are various manual checks that have been implemented to ensure that any message sent by the business is spam-proof and relevant.

WhatsApplets replace all forms of communication being conducted over SMS, with added features such as rich media, attachments, integration with third-party systems and more.

Message types

  • Outbound Messages: These are Whatsapp Template Messages. Customers who sign up for receiving outbound notifications can be communicated to directly via your verified account. This can be used to provide account updates, service notifications, order updates etc. Only approved message templates can be sent to customers.These cannot be used for promotional purposes and are manually verified. Any message to customer which is initiated by the businessor a message which is not a response to a customer query beyond the allotted 24 hour window becomes a paid notification.
  • Customer Care: These are Whatsapp Session messages which are initiated by the customer. Customers can message a verified business account with queries/complaints/requests. The responses to these can be automated/manual. These can be in atemplatedformat or a natural conversation. Any response to an inbound message from a customer within 24 hours of the customers message qualifies as a customer care message. These are free for you to send.

    Below are some examples of how you can invite users to message you. WhatsApp does not charge any fee for sending such messages.

Whatsapp Chatbot

There are a range of internal uses to be explored by businesses for internal usage, as Whatsapp also enables access to group chats. According to the complete API reference, one can do the following:

  • Set up webhooks with SSL certification
  • Using Whatsapp IDs send messages, use notifications, and work with groups
  • Upload, retrieve, or delete messages and media from user chats and group chats

From what it looks like, Whatsapp API for Business promises to deliver a spam free environment for people interacting with businesses. It lets customers choose what type of promotional info they want to receive. It would be really interesting to see how businesses in big cities like Dubai are going to use it to tap in on the popularity of the messaging platform.

To know how Whatsapp API for Business can prove useful for companies in the UAE, head to Part 2 of this article – 7 benefits of using Whatsapp API for Business. If you have already read Part 2, head to Part 3 – The Implementation.

Part 2 – 7 Benefits of using Whatsapp API for Business

To know more about what Whatsapp API for Business is, read Part 1 here.For information onwhatsapp API on-boarding and implementation for companies in the UAE, head to Part 3.

Whatsapp API for business has been clearly designed to help customers get only the information they are seeking and that too with their consent. So how does a platform that gives customers the power to choose what they see, benefit businesses? Here’s a list of what could work in favour of companies seeking to reach out to their audience through Whatsapp.

  1. Customer Support:Whatsapp API for Business enables customers to start conversations with companies and this can help them ask support for purchase details, delivery information and other updates. If executed well, companies can easily connect their existing CRM tools like SalesForce, FreshDesk, including live chat agents like ZenDesk to Whatsapp Business API Client.
  2. Navigation & Discovery: The platform can help customers discover relevant products and services by connecting search APIs with the Whatsapp Business API Client. In simpler words, it not only gives customers the power to reach out to businesses but also discover more.
  3. Transactions: By integrating internal APIs to the Whatsapp API Business Client, businesses can enable purchases and bookings through WhatsApp. This will help make things easier for customers.
  4. Online Payments:Whatsapp API Business can even help customers make online payments. All businesses have to do is provide dynamically generated payment links through WhatsApp.
  5. Invoicing: Taking things to the next level, the platform can be used to send purchase invoice and bill details as an attachment through WhatsApp. This can solve the problem of “missed-mails” as customers never forget to check Whatsapp messages, as opposed to mails which can get lost in an over-flooded inbox.
  6. Delivery Updates& Reminders: Customers can be saved the distress of having to log in to their mail to know the status of their shipment. Shipment details and automated updates through WhatsApp can truly make life easier for buyers. They can be also reminded of upcoming events or tasks.
  7. Custom use cases:Bots and automated processes can be designed for collecting feedback from customers, enabling conversations, gathering data, and extracting leads. Depending on the specific requirements of customers and internal teams, such methods can be used.

With all these benefits, the platform clearly opens up a sea of opportunities for brands. However, with no HTML extensions, complex features such as billing and user sign-in are not possible. The lack of UI components will also prove as limitations for product listings and call-to-actions. Further, the cost of sending a Whatsapp message template is higher than that of an SMS.

However, the platform is still in its nascent stage and in the days to come, one can (hopefully) expect more changes and additions while still keeping its spam-free promise intact. The fact that Whatsapp is the most popular app out there is reason enough to overlook any limitations the platform currently has.

What are your thoughts on using the platform to reach out to more potential customers? Let us know in the comments.

If you are a Dubai, UAE company looking to make the most of Whatsapp API for Business, and want to know how to get on to the platform for on-boarding and implementation, read Part 3.

Part 3 – The Implementation

Read Part 1 – What is Whatsapp API for Business and Part 2 – 7 Benefits of using Whatsapp API for Business before you read Part 3 – The Implementation.

Now that we know what Whatsapp API for Business is and the benefits businesses can reap from it, let us take a look at how one can get on to the platform and smoothly transition to business and technical implementation.

Here is an overview of the end-to-end process.

Setting up WhatsApp Manager within Business Manager and managing WhatsApp paid notifications

  • Go to https://business.facebook.com/ and login
  • Select your business and go to ‘Business Settings’
  • Add people and assign roles to a WhatsApp Business Account
    • Select WhatsApp Accounts
    • Assign yourself as a WhatsApp Business Account Admin by clicking ‘Add People’ to update your WhatsApp Business Account alreadymigrated from the Dev Portal. Optionally, add other People. There are 2 types of roles that can be assigned to People in WABA: (a) Admin: An admin controls the account and can edit settings, people, accounts and tools. (b) Developer: A developer has control over settings in the account.
  • Update your WABA (Whatsapp Business Account)
    • Click ‘Setup’ and then ‘Edit’
    • Update your migrated WhatsApp Business Account
    • Modify your Account name
    • Select Messaging For your business name
    • Select your Time Zone
    • Select your Currency
    • Click “Done”, to agree to the terms of service
  • Request a line of Credit
    • Click ‘Setup’ and Click on ‘Request WhatsApp Line of Credit’
    • Follow the steps there after. Note: You must complete this step even if you already have an existing line of credit

    • Select the Country and enter the legal entity name and click Next

    • Enter the Business Address and details before moving to the next step

    • Click Skip

    • Submit application

    • Upload form

  • Attach payment method to Whatsapp Business Account
    • Click ‘Setup’ and then ‘Edit’
    • Select your approved line of credit for Payment Method. Note: Your WhatsApp Line of Credit Request must be approved before completing.
  • Verify Phone Number
    • Go to Setup inside your WABA and click on WhatsApp Manager
    • Verify your migrated phone number is listed and Approval Status is Connected
  • Verify Message Templates
    • Click on Message Templates
    • Verify your migrated Message Templates (HSMs) are each in Approved Status
  • View Analytics under the ‘Insights’ tab
    • Select the phone number you want to view
    • Select the country and time period to get the information required
    • You will see Messages details: Messages Accepted and Messaged; Delivered immediately

Read on to know more about how to get started. The following guide is a must read before performing an installation.

Whatsapp Business API Guide

Getting Started — Quick outline of how to get started and next steps

Network Requirements — Network requirements necessary for the WhatsApp Business API client to connect to WhatsApp servers

Phone Number — Verify and register your business’s phone number

Display Name — Display your business’s name when talking to your customers

Volumes — Securely store WhatsApp data while using Docker

HTTPS Setup — Set up and use HTTPS endpoints

MySQL – Environment variables Coreapp and Webapp can use to connect to the MySQL database

Users endpoint — Create, manage, and use access tokens and user accounts for added security

Backup and Restore Settings — How to backup and restore your WhatsApp Business API client

Deploying WhatsApp on AWS — Create an Amazon Web Services cloud to run the WhatsApp Business API client

Rate Limits — WhatsApp Business API endpoint rate limits scenarios

Understanding How to Get Opt-in for WhatsApp — How to present your users with opt-in for messaging

WhatsApp Web Business Tool — Using the graphic user interface to access some of the WhatsApp Business API client’s settings and features

Postman Collection — Import our WAE Developer Collection into Postman to quickly test the WhatsApp Business API

Tips and Tricks — WhatsApp Business API Client tips and tricks

Message Templates

Message Templates are message formats for common reusable messages a business may want to send. Businesses must use Message Templates for sending notifications to customers.

This allows a business to send just the template identifier along with the appropriate parameters instead of the full message content.

Follow the below links to learn more about message templates: