Over the past few years, messaging apps marketing has been gaining more and more attention across industries. Messaging services such as WeChat and Facebook Messenger have been welcoming and enabling companies to use them as communication channels from the start. In 2018, WhatsApp finally joined the race, with brands worldwide jumping at the chance to apply for WhatsApp Business API.
This was a game-changer.
Well, WhatsApp is the uncontested most popular messaging app. In 2020, the app surmounted its own record of monthly active users, which grew from 1.5 billion in December 2017 to 1.6 billion in April 2019 to 2 billion in April 2020. Currently, WhatsApp is the leading messaging app in 133 countries worldwide:
No surprise businesses — including yours 😉 — want to get in on the action.
WhatsApp is proving to be the easiest and most frictionless way to encourage customer engagement or provide customer support and ensure smooth customer communication and user experience.
To ensure precisely the latter, WhatsApp currently limits the number of businesses on WhatsApp Business API. So we’ve put together a clear guide to applying for WhatsApp Business API, which takes you through the process step by step and helps to up your chances by making the right choices along the way.
If you are in a hurry, get a quick overview of the process in the video below:
Who Can Get the WhatsApp Business API?
As mentioned, not everyone can get WhatsApp Business API. So, before you dig deeper into the article, make sure you have a chance of getting approved at this stage. We don’t want you to waste your time. There are two key factors likely to influence your eligibility:
A. Business Size
Since WhatsApp API integration is a complex and lengthy process that is still being tested, the service is intended for well-established medium and large businesses. This is the reason why many call it “WhatsApp Enterprise.” If you are an individual entrepreneur or run a small business, you are best to use the many features of the WhatsApp Business App. At the moment, the approval to get the API integration for small businesses is, unfortunately, highly unlikely.
The industry in which you operate is another factor playing a decisive role in the early stages of the application process.
For example, WhatsApp is trying to avoid government-ran or political organizations. They probably want to avoid being associated with or supporting particular political views and becoming tied up in more election scandals like the ones that took place in Brasil and India. Kudos to them for trying to be socially responsible!
Other industries that are not supported by WhatsApp API include independent software vendors, real cash industries such as gaming and gambling; adult content and entertainment; arms; alcohol and tobacco, as well as supplements and other medical drugs. You can review the full WhatsApp Commerce Policy on their website.
Think you got a shot?
How to Apply for WhatsApp Business API
As you can see, WhatsApp is “picky” about who gets to try it. It’s understandable. Since its beginnings, WhatsApp has been incredibly user-oriented, focused on delivering safe and quality experiences. With business messaging, things can get bigger than big quickly, so keeping a close eye on everything is probably the best strategy.
1. Select Application Route
There are two ways you can apply for WhatsApp Business API:
Direct Sign Up
While the official WhatsApp Business API website offers you the option to sign up directly, going down this path isn’t particularly efficient. If you are a medium company, it's downright too labor-intensive and technically challenging.
For instance, you will most definitely require a developer to set up the API. Though, if this is what you are looking for, you can follow all steps of this process on the official Meta Business Help Center.
Through a Solution Provider
Working with a WhatsApp Business solution provider (BSP) will help you get approved faster and with significantly less work on your part. For instance, with Landbot, this process takes between one to two weeks.
Speaking of Landbot, what is our role in all of this?
Landbot acts as a managing intermediary, overseeing the application and setup. Most importantly, once you are approved and ready for action, it provides you with a codeless WhatsApp chatbot builder, testing channel, and campaign manager.
Landbot as a BSP
When you, as a client, are ready to move on with Landbot as a WhatsApp Business solution provider, the process goes as follows:
- Complete contract sent from our side (in Business plans only). If you’re already a Landbot customer, you can upgrade your plan to Business in your subscription section.
- Next, for Business plans, we configure the payment to be done and start the integration with an onboarding with Customer Success. After the payment is processed, the onboarding is automatically done once the integration is requested.
- We follow Customer Success guidance for the integration (sharing all the documents with SunCo) in order to get their green light to move forward with the Facebook Business Manager ID, Number and Display name provided.
- Finally, you’ll have to delete WhatsApp (if needed) from the regular WhatsApp App and receive an SMS verification code to conclude the verification and start using WhatsApp via your BSP’s (us!) system.
2. Provide Basic Information
When you decide to apply through a business solution provider, you’ll need to submit basic information about your company and intentions you have with WhatsApp services:
- Company name;
- Region(s) where you plan to provide the WhatsApp Service;
- Country of company headquarters;
- Intended use case;
- Volume predictions (messages/day)M
- Time to market (when do you intend to launch the service).
At Landbot, depending on the stage of the process or the department you’re talking to, we might not ask for all of the aforementioned information at the same time, but all of it will be required during the setup creation process.
The brand approval process can take up to 2-3 weeks.
3. Activate Phone Number for WhatsApp Business Account
Once your brand is approved, you will need to provide further information to activate your phone number.
You may use a new number or an already existing one. However, if it’s new, you must first register the number with WhatsApp Business App. To proceed with the activation process, you will have to further provide:
- Customer Facebook Business Manager ID;
- The phone number of your WhatsApp Business account;
- Name associated with the number;
- The region for your app (US or EU).
Once your phone number is activated, all the communication is hosted on a virtual server (docker). This means you’ll no longer have access to user incoming messages via your phone, but instead, you’ll manage them via a dashboard or your BSP’s system.
For instance, with Landbot, you will be able to create and manage all WhatsApp campaigns, bots, and live support with:
🗂 WhatsApp Business & Campaign Manager
🤖 WhatsApp No-Code Bot Builder
🧑💻 Multi-Agent Live Chat Manager
If you are wondering whether you can use more than one phone number, the answer is YES. By default, you can register 25 phone numbers for each WhatsApp Business Account.
However, each new number needs a separate docker server. Hence, having more numbers will significantly increase your monthly costs.WhatsApp channel integration takes approximately 1-2 days.
Next Steps in Setting up Your Business Profile
What can you expect after the API Client application process and number activation are done and dusted?
💬 Highly Structured Message Template Setup
You will be required to design Highly Structured Message (HSM) templates. WhatsApp messaging templates are proactive messages sent to users after they opted-in to receive WhatsApp notifications (e.g., booking confirmation, shipping updates, etc.).
Note: Messages you sent to your users in response to their query (reactive messages) are toll-free if sent within 24 hours of the user’s last message. Reactive messages are also liberated from content and format limitations that apply HSM templates.
HSM messages are the only way WhatsApp monetizes its API service and has strict rules about both the form and content of these messages. You require WhatsApp’s approval to be able to put them into practice. Template messages must be:
- Text-based (no images, videos, or GIFs but contextually relevant emojis are allowed);
- Service-oriented (providing clear value to the customer).
If you choose to work with Landbot, you will be assigned your own project manager who will help you along the entire process from initial application to submitting message templates. Having your templates approved takes 2-3 days.
To learn everything you need to know about designing lead/customer message templates, check out our WhatsApp templates dedicated guide 👀!
✅ Getting a Green Tick Badge Next to Your WhatsApp Business Account
Receiving the green tick badge means becoming an officially verified business on WhatsApp and brings along UX benefits, one of which is trustworthiness. However, not everyone is eligible. In general, you need to meet the following conditions:
- Be a well-known international brand;
- Send over 500 messages/day.
Still, even without the badge, getting WhatsApp Business API opens you to a world of possibilities that allows you to improve customer experience and communication.
Leveraging WhatsApp Business API
Applying for WhatsApp Business API is certainly not a quick process, but with the help of the right provider, it can be a smooth experience.
Plus, the value you can derive from reaching your leads and clients where they feel most comfortable and in shorter response times is most definitely worth the patience. After all, of all the messaging channels, WhatsApp has the strongest and most involved user base who send 65 billion messages a day! This is the place you want to be sending messages or even making phone calls.
So, whether you want to use WhatsApp to generate leads, provide customer service, or encourage user engagement using a combination of live agents and chatbots, a WhatsApp integration API is the way to go.
Landbot can not only help you apply but also give you the means to:
👉 Design NLP-driven Dialogflow WhatsApp assistants (also without coding).
If you wish to find out know more, read up on our ultimate WhatsApp Guide or reach out to us!