Brands looking to differentiate themselves from the crowd and stand out are having a tough time of it right now.
Facebook ads are becoming less effective.
Email open rates are down.
And the continued growth of behemoths like Amazon are pulling market share away from less-established brands.
However, there is one way to quickly differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Customer experience is the new battlefield for more brands and fast becoming more important than even price for today’s consumers.
And one of the most effective ways of improving the customer experience today is to leverage Messaging apps.
WhatsApp alone has an active user count that rivals the big social networks.
However, they outperform them thanks to the 1:1 nature of each engagement.
WhatsApp and other messagings apps have some of the highest engagement and click-through rates compared to any digital channel.
These channels are responsible for billions of dollars worth of direct sales despite being only a few years old.
And some of the biggest brands in the world, like BMW, Unilever, and Disney are flocking to them to capitalize on the levels of engagement they can bring.
The question every brand trying to answer right now is how can they get in on the action?
Well, the answer’s simple. You need to sign up for a dedicated business account.
And we’re going to explain how you can apply to get access to the WhatsApp Business API today.
The difference between WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business API
Before we get onto the application we should explain the difference between WhatsApp’s two business service offerings.
WhatsApp offers both a Business App, and access to their Business API.
Both are obviously aimed at businesses over individuals, however, they differ greatly in what kind of business they help.
In short, the WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses that require little more than a manual way to converse with their customers.
You can sign up for the service directly by downloading the WhatsApp Business App from the app store or play store. and it’ll handle all the basic needs of simple messaging.
The WhatsApp Business API however, isn’t for small mom and pop stores. It’s for large enterprise businesses that need a complex conversational solution
Brands who run complex operations will find the Business App insufficient.
They need the Business API.
It’s the only way you’re able to;
- Handle complex automations for multiple use cases (cart abandonment, welcomes, sales sequences etc)
- Have multiple brand advisors or support agents provide the best level of service to each customer through the same WhatsApp number
- Integrate your WhatsApp data with your other business tools for the most complete, rounded view of each customer
- Organise, respond, and handle large volumes of conversations and notifications
The Business API turns WhatsApp from something that’s nice to have into an approach that can handle almost every facet of customer communication.
Here’s a visual breakdown of the difference between WhatsApp Business App and API. If you want a more in-depth explanation, be sure to check out our full article on the topic here.
In this piece, I’m not going to be covering the basic WhatsApp Business App. The focus here is on how to apply and get approved for access to the WhatsApp Business API.
What you need to know before applying for the WhatsApp Business API
Before getting on how to apply there’s a few things you need to know.
1. WhatsApp Business API has no dashboard
WhatsApp’s Business API offering isn’t a “signup and start using” kind of a service.
It is, in fact, simple access to the WhatsApp API.
This means you need one of two things to turn that API into a visually understandable, and easily amendable dashboard.
The first is to have an in-house team of developers build and maintain a full interface that can interpret the API.
It’s harder (and more important) than it sounds as it needs to visually manage customer conversations, automated notifications, automated response, handovers between human agents and bot, customer segmentation and tagging, orders, booking, and more.
The second is to partner with a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider like Jumper.ai. Business Solution Providers offer a platform that offers the easy to manage visual representation of the API.
They give you the ability to effortlessly go live on WhatsApp and scale your operations without the hassle of constant to and fro with your internal or outsourced tech team.
Using Jumper.ai you get the following benefits:
- Experience: Our team has a years of experience creating conversational solutions across the customer journey for large enterprise brands.
- Conversational Commerce leader: Jumper is the only platform that offers multi-channel support and fully-integrated solutions for conversational commerce
- Efficiency: Shorter onboarding and launch timeline.
- Scalability: Our solutions come with burst protection and load management to help you rapidly scale your operations on Whatsapp.
- Expansion: Our solutions work across the customer journey, from lead gen to product consideration, from purchase to cart recovery, from post sale updates to loyalty and customer re-engagement.
- Cross-team: Our solutions are built to give your customers the best experience through a combination of Human, automations and machine learning and give you teams more efficient tools to better manage customer expectations and gather value insights.
- Reach – With Jumper you can reach more customers and expand your brand experience across other social, messaging and brand channels – Messenger, Google AdLingo, iMessage, Google Assistant, Google RCS, LINE, Brand website, influencer blogs, and more.
2. Be careful who you partner with
In another article we outlined how there are, generally speaking, 3 kinds of WhatsApp service providers.
- The legit, approved WhatsApp business Partners (BSPs)
- The resellers who use a single legit account to run multiple brand’s on a single WhatsApp cloud instance.
- The hackers who use virtual machines to present the (incorrect) belief that you’re getting the full WhatsApp API service
The short version is the latter two in that list will get you banned when you’re caught.
Only providers on the approved list of BSPs are allowed to inform and advise brands like yours on how to use WhatsApp and help you get set up.
Jumper is an approved WhatsApp Business Solutions Provider (BSP). .
And if you want a full list of approved BSPs, the best thing to do is check with your Facebook account manager.
These are the only people with a 100% up-to-date list of the approved BSPs. Even the publicly published lists aren’t completely accurate.
3. Read through and understand WhatsApp Business policies.
Some marketers have a tendency to storm their customers and subscribers with all kinds of promotions. While we all understand the motivation, it often results in poor customer experience which leads to unsubscribes, dissatisfied customers, and poor reviews.
We saw this happen with Facebook Messenger bots.
Too many marketers abused the system and ruined the overall experience.
They took it to such a level that Facebook had to limit the page messaging subscriptions to only select businesses.
They then had to implement the 24+1 rule to ensure customers only received messages from businesses they truly wanted to engage with.
This removed the all-too-common instance of customers getting spammed for months because they once messaged, clicked an ad, engaged with an offer, or whatever.
WhatsApp offers an even greater level of reach and engagement than Messenger did.
So, to prevent any similar spamming tactics, WhatsApp has strict rules governing promotional uses to protect the platform from spammers and ensure the end user continues to enjoy the platform.
If you genuinely care about your customer’s experience, you don’t have to worry too much. The TL;DR version of WhatsApp API’s rules are to provide a quality experience for your users.
To ensure that they have the option and ability to opt-out at any time and that you’re not spamming them.
There are of course a number of other, more specific considerations to be made which you can read here -> WhatsApp Business Rules and Regulations.
However, if you’re doing everything you can to make the experience as easy and effective for your customers as possible, you should be fine.
We’d also recommend consulting the BSP you partner with for advice on how to best use the channel.
A step-by-step guide to applying (and getting approved) for the WhatsApp Business API
Before you head straight to WhatsApp and begin the application procedure there are a few preliminary things you need.
Chief among them is a verified Facebook Business Manager.
Step 1 – Create and Verify Your Facebook Business Account
To verify your business, head to your Facebook Business account and look for the Business Settings option.
Scroll down the left hand Nav menu until you see security settings.
On that screen, you’ll need to click on the option to verify your business.
Click on the “Start Verification” option and provide all of the information that’s requested.
You’ll have to follow 5-steps of providing various business and contact details as listed here to verify your account.
Some of the steps may require you to provide legal confirmation of the business name and your ownership.
Upon completion and submission, you’ll have to wait a little while for Facebook to double-check and verify everything.
If your business couldn’t be verified, you can resolve it by following the troubleshooting steps listed here
Step 2 – Setup a WhatsApp Business Account:
After your business verification is approved, your Jumper.ai account manager will set up the WhatsApp Business account on your behalf.
All you have to do is share your Facebook Business Manager ID with your Jumper account manager. They’ll then be able to set up your WhatsApp Business Account.
Alternatively you can also create the WhatsApp Business Account on your own by following the steps listed here.
Once the account is created, you’ll receive a final policy review.
You can check the status of the account by navigating to the Settings tab in your WhatsApp Account.
Step 3: Setup a phone Number and Display name for your WhatsApp Business Account.
To be compliant with the WhatsApp Business API rules and regulations, all of your messages have to be linked to a single phone number and display.
You don’t have to wait for the WhatsApp Business Account to be approved for this. You can get these steps underway while your account is in review.
Let’s first look at how to set up a phone number for your account.
First, head to your Business Manager and click on WhatsApp Manager.
Then you’ll need to select the business you want to set the phone number up for.
After you’ve clicked through to the relevant business, click on phone numbers in the top right and “Add Phone Number”.
Enter the phone number and display name.
These are what your customers will see within WhatsApp when they receive a message from you.
When selecting your phone number and display name, there’s a few things you need to be aware of.
For the number…
- You can choose either a mobile or landline number, but it must be owned by your business
- This is the single number where customers will connect with you all of your future messages will show, and it will be verified by WhatsApp.
- WhatsApp will check this though;
- An SMS one-time-password for mobile numbers
- A voice one-time-password for landline numbers
To make things easier for you and your customers, we recommend using your primary support contact number for your WhatsApp number.
Your display name also has a few rules and regulations you need to be aware of.
You can check out the full list of rules regarding your WhatsApp Business API display name here, however, for brevity’s sake we’ve listed the most common considerations below.
- Your display name must accurately represent your brand. So make it clear, concise, and more descriptive than creative.
- Your display name must abide by WhatsApp policies. So no curse words or funny turns of phrase.
- Your display name must be consistent with external branding. Basically use the same wording in the same order as your primary site.
- Your display name must be obviously related to your brand.
Choose both your number and display name carefully. These are going to represent you brand and help your customers instantly identify your business when you message them.
Once you’ve entered your phone number and display name, follow the below steps.
- Click Next. You’ll see a confirmation that your display name has been sent for review.
- Click Done. Your phone number will have a Name pending review label below Certificate. Once it’s approved, you’ll see a View button.
- Below Certificate, click View. You should now see an available certificate for the phone number.
Step 4: Jumper.ai (BSP) creates your WhatsApp Business API Account.
After you have completed the above steps, Jumper.ai will connect your phone number with your WhatsApp Business API account and complete your account registration.
Step 5 – Approve messaging on behalf of your business
After your account is created, you’ll get a notification within your Business Manager account and through email.
The notification will ask if you want to give Jumper.ai “messaging on behalf” permission. This will link the Jumper.ai dashboard with your WhatsApp Business account so your messages can actually be sent.
To approve the request;
- Click on the link in the email or within Business Manager
- Click on the Business Settings navigation option
- Click “requests”
- Under “received”, find Jumper.ai’s request and click approve
Step 6: Verify your business on WhatsApp
Once you’ve approved Jumper’s messaging on behalf request, you’ll need to verify your business.
This is a simple validation for WhatsApp so they know your business is real and you’re offering something that doesn’t break WhatsApp T&Cs.
Here’s how to verify your business on WhatsApp.
- Head to your business manager and navigate to settings
- Click the security center option
- At the bottom you’ll see a verification section, click “Start verification”.
Follow the prompts to supply all relevant information for WhatsApp to check.
WhatsApp are pretty stringent in their checks. It can take 1-2 weeks for them to double-check everything is above board and accurate.
They’ll be checking everything we’ve outlined above and to ensure that the business itself adheres to the WhatsApp Business and Commerce policies.
If you’ve followed this guide and aren’t on the disapproved list of businesses, you should find a confirmation message within 2 weeks.
A quick note – You won’t be able to start your verification until you’ve approved a “messaging on behalf of” request.
After your business is verified, Jumper will have access to message on behalf of your business.
Step 7 – Create the WhatsApp Business API infrastructure and message templates
While your WhatsApp business account is in review, we can get to work on setting up integrations and automations for your account.
Integrations and automation that’ll allow you to engage with customers, facilitate commerce through live chat, and offer self-serve support through WhatsApp.
At the same time, we’ll also work on your WhatsApp structured message templates and notifications to send to your customers.
Once your account setup is complete and your account verification is approved, you’ll be able to start messaging users through WhatsApp.
Applying for WhatsApp’s Business API is worth it
The application for WhatsApp Business API might look complicated, however most of it can be handled on your behalf by your BSP. The essential stuff for you is to essentially define the use case, finalise your message templates and authorise your BSP to send message on your behalf. We’ll be the first to say that the application for WhatsApp Business API isn’t simple. Nor is it quick if compared to setting up a general Facebook Ads account.
A new channel can look difficult, however if you intend to go Direct to Consumer However, it is more than worth it.
As the fastest growing platform that’s already achieving incredible results, brands who aren’t leveraging the power of WhatsApp are missing out on a huge opportunity.
From a pure metrics standpoint, WhatsApp[ generates far higher open and click rates than even the highest ROI channel of email.
WhatsApp is also far more accessible.
Unlike email, WhatsApp is a much faster form of communication that provides an immediate conversation.
Your users are used to sending short messages to their friends and receiving almost instant replies.
That’s the level of communication they expect. And WhatsApp is one of the few channels providing the customer experience your shoppers want.
There’s nothing out there that has direct access to your customers 24 hours per day.
There’s no other approach to digital marketing that offers such instant – but scalable – communications.
There’s no other channel out there that can compete with the key metrics you need to increase sales.
WhatsApp is, without doubt, one of the most effective communication mediums today, and it’ll grow to become one of the most effective channels in coming years.
You can continue to leverage legacy systems and see average increases, or start future-proofing your business today with the channel your customers are already preferring.
If you want to get started with WhatsApp Business API today, be sure to reach out to our team here.