Over the past few years, messaging apps marketing has been gaining more and more attention across industries. Apps 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 leader of the messaging app category. 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 apps in 133 countries worldwide:
No surprise businesses - including yours 😉 - want to get in on the action.
WhatsApp is proving to be the easiest and the most frictionless way to encourage customer engagement or provide customer support and ensure smooth customer communication.
The issue is that the API function is still in its BETA stage and access remains limited. To put your chances of getting your WhatsApp API application approved into perspective, we’ve put together a clear guide that not only takes you through the process step by step but also helps to up your chances by making the right choices along the way.
Who Can Get 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’s 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 WhatsApp Business App. At the moment, the approval to get the API integration for small businesses is, unfortunately, highly unlikely.
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 stay away from government-ran or political organizations. It’s probable they want to avoid being associated with or supporting particular political views as well as 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.
On the other hand, industries favored by WhatsApp include real estate, financial services, eCommerce, retail, travel & hospitality, education, and telecommunications.Think you got a shot?Keep reading!
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 pretty quickly so trying to keep 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:
A. Sign Up Directly
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 to 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 reach all details of this process on the official Facebook support pages.
B. Use a Solution Provider
Working with WhatsApp Business solution provider will help you get approved faster and with significantly less work on your part. For instance, with Landbot, this process takes about a week. Speaking of Landbot, what is our role in all of this?
Landbot acts as a managing intermediary, overseeing the application as well as 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.
2. Provide Basic Information
When you decide to apply a solution provider, the next step requires you to submit basic information about your company and intensions you have with WhatsApp services:
- Company Name
- Region Where You Plan to Provide the WhatsApp Service
- Country of Company Head Quarters
- Intended Use Case
- Volume Predictions (messages/day)
- Time to Market (when to do you intend to launch the service)
The brand approval process can take up to 2-3 weeks.
3. Activate Your Number(s)
Once your brand is approved, you will need to provide further information to activate your phone number.
You may use a new number or continue using the old one. However, if it’s new, you must register the number with WhatsApp Business App first.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 messages via your phone.
Instead, you can manage them via a dashboard or system of your solution provider.
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
Those who applied for WhatsApp Business API directly and not via a provider, have created their own docker server which can be technically challenging for some.
If you are wondering whether you can use more than one phone number, the answer is YES.
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.
What can you expect after the API Client application process and number activation is done and dusted?
💬 HSM Message Template Setup
Next, you will be required to design HSM message 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 in 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 the 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.
To Sum Things Up…
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 is most definitely worth the patience. After all, of all the messaging channels, WhatsApp has the strongest and most involved user base sending 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, integrating API is a way to go.
Landbot can not only help you apply but also give you the means to:
👉 Build rule-based WhatsApp chatbots (without coding)
👉 Design NLP-driven Dialogflow Whatsapp assistants (also without coding).
If you wish to find out know more, read up on our no-code WhatsApp Business API Solution or go ahead and apply for early access!