WhatsApp Business: How to use the messenger effectively for your business
published on August 9, 2023
WhatsApp Business - The most important points in brief:
WhatsApp Business can be used as a WhatsApp Business App or as a WhatsApp Business Platform (API).
The WhatsApp Business App is free of charge, the costs for the API vary depending on the usage behavior and location of the customers.
A third-party provider is required for the WhatsApp Business Platform, but it offers a lot of added value, especially for large companies.
There are data privacy concerns when using WhatsApp Business App.
Most people only know WhatsApp from private use for sending photos, videos and text messages to friends, acquaintances and relatives. Since 2018, however, Meta has also been offering companies the opportunity to use the messenger for their own purposes with WhatsApp Business. Since then, over 200 million business accounts have already been created in WhatsApp Business. Should you also use WhatsApp Business for your business?
What is WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is designed to allow companies to chat with their customers in a private environment. So, it is another way for customers to contact the company, besides emails, calls or messages via social media. As a rule, customers write to companies via WhatsApp Business and not vice versa. Exceptions are, for example, appointment reminders, birthday greetings, updates, notices of sales promotions and the like.
Why should companies use WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp has over 60 million active users in Germany alone.
WhatsApp messages offer an almost dreamlike average open rate of 98 percent.
The messenger is used an average of 50 times per person per day.
Customer inquiries are answered 60% faster via WhatsApp Business than by mail.
Customer communication is private and without public shitstorms or trolls.
Customer satisfaction is significantly higher when communicating via WhatsApp than via conventional channels.
Two products: WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business Platform (API).
WhatsApp Business comes in two different versions. There is the free WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform. The following applies to both products: If you want to use them, you must first create a WhatsApp business profile.
WhatsApp Business App
WhatsApp Business App is free of charge. It was developed especially for small businesses. It facilitates communication with customers, including automating, organizing and quickly replying to messages.
All the features of the traditional WhatsApp are included in WhatsApp Business App, such as sending messages, photos, videos, GiFs and emojis.
In addition, all important information, such as opening hours, business address and website can be stored in the company profile.
Labels make it easier to find and organize chats and messages.
Message tools, such as automatic welcome messages or preset quick replies, make it possible to respond quickly to customers.
Since June 2023, WhatsApp Business App users have also been able to create ads for Facebook and Instagram in it, without having to have their own Facebook or Instagram account. Only a mail address and a payment method are required for this.
Advantages of the WhatsApp Business App
In addition to the features already mentioned, the WhatsApp Business App offers the following main advantages:
The app is free of charge.
The aforementioned features allow for more efficient customer communication.
The app is easy to use, as it works like the normal WhatsApp.
Disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business App
WhatsApp Business App has to be installed on a smartphone. After that, only up to 4 additional devices can be linked to the business account. Even small teams quickly reach their limits, especially with an increased volume of customer inquiries.
Professional marketing is difficult with WhatsApp Business App, as there is a limit of 256 contacts for “mass emails”, such as a newsletter. While this may be sufficient for very small businesses, the volume of mail is too low for most.
WhatsApp Business App is not 100% compliant with the GDPR. It automatically syncs all contacts stored on your phone with WhatsApp, including the data of customers who have not consented to data transfer to WhatsApp. However, consent is necessary according to the GDPR. In addition, WhatsApp Business App has an automatic backup function, which, if activated, automatically saves chat histories from your smartphone to the Google or Apple Cloud. It would thus be theoretically possible for unauthorized persons to access chat histories with your customers.
How you can use WhatsApp Business App in a DSGVO-compliant way, you can read HERE.
Image source: WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp Business Platform (API)
WhatsApp Business Platform, also called WhatsApp Business API, allows you to connect your company account with an external marketing software. However, this must be a third-party provider approved by Meta (WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, or BSP for short). The difference from the WhatsApp Business App lies in the fact that the API is merely a technical interface without its own interface. This means you do not download an app on your smartphone; instead, you chat with your customers on the desktop using the marketing software that you have chosen and approved.
Naturally, with the WhatsApp Business Platform, all the features available in WhatsApp Business App are also possible. Additionally, the following features are available:
Companies can proactively send information via WhatsApp Business messages using the WhatsApp Business API, thus utilizing WhatsApp as a newsletter channel without the limitations of the app. For example, some supermarkets use this function to send their current brochures as newsletters.
In general, businesses can scale the number of notifications as needed, unlike in the app, and they receive better analytical data.
Through the WhatsApp Business API, businesses can verify their accounts with a green checkmark.
Automations, such as chatbots, can also be used via the WhatsApp Business Platform.
Advantages of WhatsApp Business Platform
In addition to the mentioned features that the API provides as an extra compared to the app, the WhatsApp Business Platform offers the following advantages:
The WhatsApp Business API is DSGVO-compliant, as no contact synchronization or automatic backups are made here. In addition, the personal customer data is not stored by WhatsApp, but by your selected business solution provider. So you can choose a provider that meets your data protection requirements, preferably with a server location in the EU.
As mentioned earlier, there are no message volume limits with WhatsApp Business Platform. You can chat with as many contacts as you want at the same time and send your newsletters to as many customers as you want.
The fact that you chat with your customers via desktop with the WhatsApp Business API makes it easier to answer customer queries, since answers don’t have to be laboriously typed on the smartphone first. It also allows any number of employees to access the WhatsApp account from their own devices, ensuring a quick response even when there is a high volume of customer queries.
Via the API, you can also transfer data to your CRM system, set up analytics and integrate store solutions and HR systems.
Disadvantages of WhatsApp Business Platform
Unlike WhatsApp Business App, there are costs associated with the WhatsApp Business API. The amount of the costs depends on the individual usage behavior and the location of your customers.
Using the WhatsApp Business Platform is not quite as easy and intuitive as the WhatsApp Business App. A third-party provider is needed and the knowledge of how to integrate the technology. The selection of a suitable third-party provider alone can take quite a bit of time, because the costs, services and data protection regulations must be compared and should match your own requirements.
Comparison of WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business Platform (API)
WhatsApp Business: The right solution for small and large companies.
The use of the “normal” WhatsApp is only allowed for private individuals. Commercial use of the messenger was officially banned in December 2019 to avoid spam. So, if you want to use WhatsApp for your business, you will have to resort to one of the two presented business variants. Overall, it can be said that WhatsApp offers the right solution for every business with its business offerings. For small businesses, such as cafés, florists, and the like, and for self-employed people, WhatsApp Business App is perfectly adequate. WhatsApp Business App is perfect for those who are looking for a free solution and want to entrust customer communication to a maximum of five employees. Larger companies with more employees and a larger customer base should rather use the WhatsApp Business Platform. The cost is offset by the added value they have with the API, such as unlimited newsletter sending, chatbot integration and labels for chats. Moreover, using WhatsApp Business Platform ensures data protection compliance and puts you on the safe side.