WhatsApp Business API - Everything You Need to Know (2022)

November 25, 2021
WhatsApp Business API - Everything You Need to Know (2022)

At Tellephant, we get quite a few questions about the differences between the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business API. This blog aims to explain everything you need to know about the WhatsApp Business API and understand the differences between the App and the API.

Differences between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp offers three different products - WhatsApp App, WhatsApp Business App, and WhatsApp Business API. The WhatsApp App is the usual App that pretty much all of their users use, and everyone is generally familiar. You have a phone number, create an account, and you can start chatting with people right away. Similarly, WhatsApp Business App also works in setting up. You can swap your regular account to a business account and vice versa without any issues. WhatsApp Business App gives you additional features, like listing business info and products, setting up a few quick replies, working hours, and an auto-reply.

WhatsApp Business APIs work quite differently. For one, there is no front-end interface/app that you can use for this. Instead, users will have to use the WhatsApp APIs to integrate it into their business software or use the interface provided by their Business Service Provider (BSP). The WhatsApp API is geared more towards medium to larger companies for reasons that will become apparent as we dive deeper into the service in this blog.

What You Can Do With An WhatsApp Business API Account

Now that we've covered the basics of setting up your account and the key differences between the App and the API let's get into what you can do with the WhatsApp APIs. 


One of the API features is being able to reach out to customers using template messages proactively. Template messages are nothing but Highly Structured Messages (HSMs), which need to be pre-approved from WhatsApp before you can start sending them out to customers. These messages are customizable and can be personalized with customers' details. These messages aren't just limited to text. Still, you can have media, documents, locations, quick reply buttons, and CTA buttons as well. For more details on templates, you can check out this WhatsApp template submission guide

There are a few limitations with reaching out to customers, however. For one, WhatsApp doesn't allow promotional or spam-like messages (you can find out more about promotional messages on this WhatsApp Promotional Message blog)

WhatsApp does still want to protect its customers and still has checked in place for this. Further, before you can reach out to customers, you need to obtain consent from users to reach out to them. Outreach could be as simple as customers ticking a checkbox where they agree to contact you once they share their details or even messaging you on WhatsApp first.

Chatbots and Integrations

With WhatsApp's Business APIs, you can set up chatbots to automate conversations, and customer experience flows on WhatsApp. Plus, with the ability to integrate with third-party apps and platforms using APIs, you can essentially have complete, end-to-end conversations with customers directly on WhatsApp. For instance, in the case of e-commerce, by integrating with Shopify, you can start by showing customers your products, letting customers add items to their cart, and checkout on WhatsApp itself. Plus, by integrating with payment gateways, like Razorpay, you can even allow customers to pay for their orders and send them confirmation messages, all from a single chat.

Additionally, WhatsApp even allows for human escalation. Some customers may not like speaking to a bot, or a bot may not be enough to address their issues/queries. In this case, customers can request a human agent to take over the conversation and handle customer issues. With this escalation option, you can resolve customer queries effectively, giving customers the option to choose between both, according to their needs and preferences.

The Types of Messages

There are mainly two types of messages you can send using WhatsApp's Business APIs - Template messages and Session messages

Template Messages

Template messages, or Highly Structured Messages (HSMs for short), are nothing but pre-approved messages that you can send out to users. By pre-approved, we don't mean that there's only a specific set of approved messages from WhatsApp that you can send out to customers. Instead, it just means that these template messages you send out need to be approved by WhatsApp before you can start sending them out to users. These templates can be personalized according to your need and based on the customer you're reaching out to. Submitting templates for approval is quite an easy process. It can be done relatively quickly using the Template panel in our GUI.

There are a few restrictions/limitations that WhatsApp has in place for these messages. For one, WhatsApp doesn't allow promotional content to get across (except in a select few countries where they're experimenting with promotional messaging. To find out more about that, you can check WhatsApp Promotional Message). Keeping aside the select few countries where promotional messaging is allowed, WhatsApp strictly requires templates to be transactional. Another thing to keep in mind is that content that looks spam-like and doesn't seem to have an apparent reason for the message will be rejected by WhatsApp.

To give you a better idea of the types of messages you can send out, these are the categories templates that should fall under - Account Update, Alert Update, Appointment Update, Auto Reply, Issue Resolution, Payment Update, Personal Finance Update, and Reservation Update.

Along with the type of content you can send out, another point to keep in mind is that you must have a customer's consent before reaching out to them with these messages. This can be done either by having them check a box on your website when they share their details that say "I agree to receive updates on WhatsApp," or if they fill a Google Form with their details and check the same sort of agreement, or even message your number first.

An HSM message essentially looks like this:

Hi {{1}}
Your order number {{2}} is out for delivery and will reach by {{3}}.

This template follows all the guidelines outlined by WhatsApp for template messages - it has a clear purpose as to why the customer is receiving, it's updating a customer about their order, isn't promotional, and doesn't look like spam (You can find out more about templates and submitting templates in this WhatsApp Template Submission Guide).

When you send out the template, you can fill in the variables (in this case, three variables {{1}}, {{2}}, and {{3}}) according to the customer's details. Essentially, once sent, the message would look like this on the customer's end:

Hi John
Your order number 12345 is out for delivery and will reach by the 4th of April.

Where {{1}} is “John”, {{2}} is “12345”, and {{3}} is “the 4th of April”

With templates, there are different kinds of messages you can send - plain text messages like the example given above, media templates (where you can send out documents, images, videos, and locations along with text), and button templates (where you can send quick reply buttons and CTA buttons as part of the message).

Session Messages

Once a customer responds to a template or even messages you first, the session window is open. This means that you're able to send customers complimentary text messages and are not limited to only sending templates. Within this session window, you can send pretty much whatever content you want, including promotional and marketing material (obviously, you will still have to adhere to WhatsApp's policies against abusive and NSFW content).

This session window is open for 24 hours from the customer's last message. So, for instance, if a customer has messaged you at 9 AM today, the session window is open till 9 AM tomorrow. Once this window is closed, you won't be able to send free text. However, you can send a template message to customers asking them if they still require assistance, for example. Once they respond, the window opens again.

To give you an idea of what happens in a session, for one, you can use it for all your customer support communication. Suppose a customer messages you asking for help since the session is open. In that case, you can have a conversation with them freely to sort out their issue. Even chatbots fall under this session window. Since a customer messages your number first, the chatbot response falls within the session window. Since chatbot responses are instant, customers can have their entire conversation (whether buying a product or just getting some quick help) within the session. That becomes helpful for you as a business since chatbots can respond any day, any time.

Getting a Green Tick Verification For Your Account

WhatsApp Green Tick Verification

With the Official WhatsApp Business APIs, businesses can get their accounts verified with the green tick. Essentially, this means that accounts will show up with the display name and the verified green tick, even without the end-user saving the business's number on their phone. 

However, there are a few caveats to this. For one, WhatsApp reserves the green tick verification for brands they consider noteworthy. They look for online media presence - from notable mentions, brand recognition, and accolades in media. Even then, there is no guarantee that the verification would go through. However, even if the verification doesn't happen, the account itself is not affected in any way, and the business can reapply after 30 days from the initial rejection to get verified.

This service varies from vendor to vendor. Some vendors charge businesses to get this verification done, with no promises of the verification going through. Each subsequent application will be charged as well. However, at Tellephant, we do not charge for this service (as it is a free process from WhatsApp), and clients can apply for the green tick whenever they'd like, even after getting rejected.  For more details read this How to Get Verified on WhatsApp

Tier Limits

Plus, tier limits in place define how many users you can reach out to in 24 hours. Every business starts as a tier 1 account, where you can reach out to 1k unique contacts in 24 hours. This doesn't limit how many users can reach out to you, though.

As you keep messaging customers with quality messages, your account quality increases which helps in rating. Essentially, there are three ratings - red, yellow, and green. The quality rating ensures that businesses drive high-quality conversations and send high-quality messages to their customers to avoid getting their number blocked or reported by them. When you're consistently blocked or reported by contacts, your rating will drop from green to yellow or red, and your account will get flagged. Plus, your account would be moved to a Flagged status.

However, this isn't permanent, and businesses can rethink their messaging strategy to align with WhatsApp's policies and requirements to get back to a high-quality rating.

If your quality rating is high, you can upgrade to the next tier based on your usage. For one, the total number of users you reach out to must add up to twice the current messaging limit within seven days. For instance, if you message a total of 2,000 users within seven days, your WhatsApp account will be upgraded to a tier 2 status. There are three tiers of business accounts that can be classified under:

  • Tier 1 - Every account starts as a tier 1 account, where you can send messages to 1k unique contacts in 24 hours
  • Tier 2 - Businesses can send messages to 10k unique contacts in 24 hours
  • Tier 3 - Businesses can send messages to 100k unique contacts in 24 hours

Setting Up An Account

Unlike the Apps, setting up the WhatsApp Business APIs is not as straightforward as setting up an account on the App. Currently, WhatsApp has given direct access to its APIs to a handful of large companies. However, businesses that want to connect to the WhatsApp API still have the option to do so via BSPs or WhatsApp partners. It's much easier to get approved for an Official WhatsApp Business Account by applying through them.

The first step of the process is to get your Facebook Business Manager ID-verified. Once verified, You'll need to provide a number that you intend to use for WhatsApp. The number you use should not have a WhatsApp account linked to it, so you'll need to delete the WhatsApp account if you wish to use an existing number or use a new number. Unlike the WhatsApp App and the WhatsApp Business App, once you set up the Official WhatsApp Business API Account, you won't be able to switch freely between the API and the App.

Besides that, there are a few other key differences. As mentioned earlier, WhatsApp API accounts don't have mobile apps, so you'll need to use the GUI provided by the BSP. You can still change your business information and details. However, you won't be able to change the display name once the account is created (at least not freely). You'll need to put in a request to get this done, and there will be another verification process to verify the new display name.

The account will look reasonably similar to a WhatsApp Business Account, with the business's info and details, which will still be editable on the end user's side of things.


Our WhatsApp Business API plans start as low as $29/month with 1000 free conversations every month! Prices can vary from vendor to vendor. Essentially, you'll need to sign up with a BSP to get a WhatsApp API Account. Unlike the Apps, WhatsApp Business API accounts aren't free. BSPs pay WhatsApp from their end to connect WhatsApp's APIs. Each live account is charged per month, regardless of whether the account is being used or not. Each BSP offers different prices, based on what each BSP is charged per account from WhatsApp. On top of that, BSPs will have their additional charges to maintain each account from their end and based on the other features and services offered by them. WhatsApp switch from a notification-based pricing model to a conversation-based model for organizations using its business solution from February 1, 2022 to know more read our article WhatsApp Conversation Based Pricing


You can use Tellephant’s services to enable a WhatsApp Business API Account for your business and consequently work on the process to get your business account green tick verified. For more information, Book a Demo



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