How to: Get started with WhatsApp Business API

Edee Carey2021-01-21

Messaging apps are becoming one of the best ways to get in touch with customers and end users. One in particular has grown very quickly to be the leader: WhatsApp. Here we explain how you can get started with WhatsApp Business API.

WhatsApp is a global messaging app that many people already have – in fact over 2 billion people.* By getting started and using WhatsApp, you connect with customers where they already are. Furthermore, WhatsApp allows you to have two-way conversations privately and securely with their end-to-end encryption.

More and more businesses want to be a part of this new communication channel. But where do you begin with WhatsApp Business API? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to get started.

What is the WhatsApp API?

Let’s break it down. The WhatsApp ecosystem is comprised of three parts:

  1. WhatsApp, which allows users to communicate person to person.

  2. WhatsApp Business APP, which is for small companies or individual business owners.

  3. WhatsApp Business Solution API, which is for medium to large enterprises.

Who can get access to WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp recommends that the best way to access the Business API is to work with one of their “Business Solution Providers” (BSPs). Today there are approximately 60 BSPs, and LINK Mobility is one of them. If you’re a small business, consider running your customer dialogue through an app on your phone using WhatsApp for Business (App).

When it comes to industries, WhatsApp has specific policies for which ones they will approve. According to their Commerce Policy, the following industries are not supported:

  • Real, virtual, or fake cash industries, like gaming and gambling

  • Adult content and entertainment

  • Supplements, medical drugs, and healthcare products

  • Digital media or subscription sales/renewals

  • Arms and weapons

  • Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs

  • Animal sales

Meanwhile, other industries are welcomed and will be more successful in getting approved for the API integration through a BSP.

Applying for WhatsApp Business API

Follow these four steps to apply for the WhatsApp Business API integration.

1. Sign up with a Business Solution Provider (BSP)

WhatsApp encourages businesses to use a Business Solution Provider. This means less work for your business and shorter time to market. They have developers to set up and maintain the API and a virtual server to host the communications.

2. Provide basic information

In the second step, you will submit general information about your business and how you intend to use WhatsApp Business API. This includes:

  • Company Name

  • URL

  • Industry

  • Region Where You Plan to Provide the WhatsApp Service

  • Country of Company Headquarters

  • Intended Use Cases

  • Volume Predictions (messages/day)

  • Time to Market (when to do you intend to launch the service)

The application process takes about 2-3 weeks, after which you will be notified of your approval status.

3. Activate your number

Next, you need to set up a phone number, provide your number to your BSP, and answer some additional questions:

  • Customer Facebook Business Manager ID

  • Name associated with the number

  • The region for your app (US or EU)

Upon activation, messages will be hosted on a virtual server instead of your phone. Now your number can be used with the WhatsApp Business API.

It’s possible to use more than one phone number, but for each number you’ll need an additional virtual server. Reach out to your BSP to add more numbers.

4. Set up message templates

You can create your own highly structured messages (HSM) template that will need to be approved by WhatsApp before use. These messages can be sent to the end user after 24 hours from your last contact, only if they’ve been pre-approved and you have the opt-in from the customer. If the customer reaches out to your company first, you are not limited to the templates and you don’t need the opt-in within the 24-hour window.

There are strict standards for the templates:

  • They can only contain text, emojis, and variables (numbers in double brackets to signify personalization of a message)

  • They must be service-oriented and provide value, meaning no promotional or marketing material.

Is that it?

Once you’ve completed these steps, you have the possibility to get the green check mark next to your company name to show that you’re an official verified business on WhatsApp. This applies if you’re a well-known international brand and send over 500 messages a day. The green tick is a great feature – customers know they can trust you!

WhatsApp is a key channel when connecting with customers and getting started doesn’t have to be difficult. Use our guide or let us help you get started with WhatsApp Business API today!