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The difference between WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business Platform/API

Mohamed Elbadwihi
October 23, 2022

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

- What is the WhatsApp Business app?
- Who is it for?
- What is the WhatsApp Business Platform/API?
- Who is it for?
- Summary of the differences between WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business Platform/API
- How do I get started?

WhatsApp is the most popular social messaging app on the planet, with over 2 billion active users, and more than 100 Billion messages exchanged on the platform every day. In addition to being used for personal communication, WhatsApp is used by businesses, large and small, to sell and market their products, support their customers, and build relationships with their audience.

If you’re considering using WhatsApp to communicate with your customers, there are two main options you’ll be choosing from — the WhatsApp Business app, and the WhatsApp Business API/Platform.

What is the WhatsApp Business app?

The WhatsApp Business app is a mobile phone application that provides additional features over the regular, and more personal, WhatsApp mobile app. It can either be accessed through the mobile app, or through WhatsApp Web.

Similar to the personal WhatsApp app, the WhatsApp Business app supports:
- 1 to 1 text messaging
- Media sharing (Images, audio, and video)
- Voice and video calls
- Group chat

In addition, the app offers:

Business profile — On the WhatsApp Business app, you can create a more detailed profile for your business. Your contacts will know they’re communicating with a business, and will be able to see information such as your website, address, type of business, and more

Quick replies — Quick replies allow you to save your most common responses, so you don’t have to type out the same message over and over again.

Automatic welcome and away messages — On the WhatsApp Business app, you can set automated messages that are sent to customers when they first message you, or when they contact you outside of your office hours. 

Labels — Labels (tags) help you organize your chats, so you’ll be able to keep track of them with ease.

Product catalog — Product catalogs give your customers an easy way to browse your store directly within WhatsApp, complete with descriptions, pictures, and pricing.

Broadcasts — With this feature, you can send mass messages to a limited list of contacts (256 people). For more information on how bulk messaging works over WhatsApp, please refer to How to send bulk messages on WhatsApp.

Who is it for?

The WhatsApp Business app is built for micro-businesses that don’t have too much messaging volume, and don’t need complex features such as a team inbox, automations, bots, or integrations.

Although WhatsApp now supports up to 4 devices linked to the same WhatsApp Business app, only one phone can be linked at any given time. The remaining devices cannot be mobile phones. It’s not practical for more than 1 person to use at a time. If you’re running, say, an eCommerce business, and you’re planning to have a big sale, you’ll need to make sure you’ll be able to support the influx of messages that come your way, and consider whether the WhatsApp Business app will meet those needs. 

Here’s a quick checklist you can use to help you decide if the WhatsApp Business app is the right fit for you —

It is a good fit if:

▢ WhatsApp is your primary customer communication channel

▢ You are a 1 person team, or only 1 person on your team will manage all customer communications

▢ You want an app that is free to use

▢ You want simple automated welcome and out-of-office replies

▢ You want to be able to send one-off bulk messages to some of your contacts (A maximum of 256)

▢ You want the option to call your customers over WhatsApp

▢ You don’t need to connect it to any other software, such as your CRM or your Shopify/eCommerce store

▢ You don’t need to use it on more than one phone at a time

▢ You don’t need team notifications

▢ You don’t need team collaboration features (private notes, assignments, etc.)

▢ You don’t need complex automations or bots

If you said “YES” to all of the above, then the WhatsApp Business app is the best fit for you at this time. If you said “NO” to any one of these, or if you’re curious about the WhatsApp Business Platform/API, continue reading.

What is the WhatsApp Business Platform/API?

The WhatsApp Business Platform, or API, is made for small, medium, and large businesses that need more than what the mobile Business app offers. It allows you to fit WhatsApp to the exact needs of your team, and your company. Unlike the WhatsApp Business app, WhatsApp Business Platform/API does not come with an official app or interface. You’ll need to use third party apps like Rasayel in order to take full advantage of the platform.

You should note that the WhatsApp Business Platform has a few restrictions, such as the 24-hour response window (learn more), and the approval process for message templates (learn more). These are more than made up for by the immense array of advanced features that the platform offers. 

Similar to both the WhatsApp personal and Business mobile apps, WhatsApp Business platform/API supports 1-to-1 text messaging and rich media sharing. It does not support group chats or voice and video calls, as those features are most suitable for personal use.

In addition, you can use the WhatsApp Business Platform for:

Business profile — On the WhatsApp Business Platform, as is the case with the mobile app, you can create a more detailed profile for your business. Your contacts will know they’re communicating with a business, and will be able to see information such as your website, address, type of business, and more.

Quick replies — Quick replies allow you to save your most common responses, so you don’t have to type out the same message over and over again.

Team inbox and collaboration — There are no limitations on how many team members can access the platform at a time. With third party inboxes and mobile apps, you can assign conversations to teammates, tag each other, discuss customer queries using private notes, and more.

Complex automation — Since the API provides you with complete access to WhatsApp’s Business features, the opportunities here are limitless. You can choose to create a simple auto-responder for incoming messages, or build an elaborate chat-bot that your audience can interact with for their most common queries, or before they speak with a human. Automations can either be done programmatically (if you’re a technical person, or have a tech team to help), or it can be done through existing third party platforms like Rasayel or others, depending on your needs.

You may choose, for example, to send a WhatsApp message whenever someone signs up on your website, or to send order confirmation messages if they buy something off of your eCommerce store. 

Interactive messages — An exciting and often underrated feature of the WhatsApp Business Platform is the ability to send complex messages containing multiple types of media at once, and buttons that your customers can click. You’re more likely to get a response from someone if all they have to do is to tap an option on their screen, instead of asking them to type out a message.

For more on interactive WhatsApp messages, check out One Stop Guide for Interactive WhatsApp Messages.

Integrations — The WhatsApp Business Platform/API can be connected to any tool you wish; whether it’s your own app, your CRM, your Shopify/eCommerce store, or your spreadsheet. You can use this to either perform actions (such as sending a message) based on a certain trigger outside of WhatsApp (such as an order being placed), or to bring contextual data into your WhatsApp chat, such as your customer’s order history, past interactions with your team, and more.

Rasayel, as an example, integrates with Zapier, which allows you to connect WhatsApp to over 2000 online apps and platforms. 

Tags, assignments, custom data, and other features — Depending on the tools that you use to connect your WhatsApp Business Platform/API account, you’ll be able to do much more over WhatsApp. Tags, assignments, custom data attributes, automated triage, notifications, mentions, and more — You name it. The platform is limitless, so you can fit it to your exact needs. (I hope you don’t mind — I have a personal preference for our own WhatsApp inbox for teams: Rasayel. It’s got all the features I just mentioned. Would you like to give it a shot?)

Advanced Broadcasts — With WhatsApp Business Platform/API, you can create bulk messaging campaigns for promotional/marketing purposes, announcements, and more. The number of contacts you can send bulk messages to is between 1000 and 100,000, depending on the quality rating of your account (briefly, that means the less spammy you are over time, the higher quality your account becomes). For more information, check out How to Send WhatsApp Broadcast Messages.

Who is it for?

WhatsApp Business Platform/API was built for teams. If you’re a team of more than one person, you may want to consider switching to the WhatsApp Business Platform. More importantly, if you have a high messaging volume, or if you need automations, integrations, and a way to work together as a team in selling, marketing, and providing support to your customers — the WhatsApp Business Platform is for you.

At the very least, be aware that there will be a point in your business journey when the WhatsApp Business mobile app is no longer enough. This point differs from business to business, and from team to team. It may be the case that a 1 person team will opt for the WhatsApp Business Platform/API due to the nature of their business processes or workflows, or that a 4 person team will find that the mobile app serves them just fine.

Here’s a checklist to help you decide. WhatsApp Business Platform/API is a good fit for you if:

▢ WhatsApp is your primary customer communication channel

▢ You are a growing team (more than 1 person, up to 100 or more)

▢ You are willing to pay for WhatsApp

▢ You don’t need to make WhatsApp voice/video calls

▢ You want automations, from simple messages to full-scale bots

▢ You want to send bulk marketing or promotional messages

▢ You want to automatically embed WhatsApp into your existing workflows (e.g. Sending order confirmation messages)

▢ You want to connect it to other software you use, such as your CRM, Shopify/eCommerce store, or Zapier

▢ You want to access your chats from an unlimited number of devices, both desktop and mobile

▢ You want need team collaboration features (private notes, assignments, notifications, etc.)

▢ You want visibility of your team’s WhatsApp chats with customers

If you said “YES” to some of the above, then the WhatsApp Business Platform/API might be the best fit for you.

Summary of the differences between WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business Platform/API

Features

WhatsApp Business app

WhatsApp Business Platform/API

1-to-1 text messaging

Yes

Yes

Media support (Videos, images, audio)

Yes

Yes

Voice and video calls

Yes

No

Away and out-of-office messages

Yes

Yes

Business profile

Yes

Yes

Broadcasts

Limited (256 contacts)

Limitless (Up to 100K contacts)

Number of users

1 user on one phone and 4 linked devices (laptops)

Unlimited

Team inbox

No

Yes

Collaboration features

No

Yes (Varies depending on the communication platform)

Private team notes

No

Yes

Tags

Yes, Basic

Yes, Advanced

Quick replies

Yes

Yes

Automations

No

Yes

Integrations

No

Yes

Filters, views, rules

No or limited

Yes (Varies depending on the communication platform)

Advanced search

No

Yes

Bots

No

Yes

Marketing campaigns

No

Yes

Advanced and custom-built features

No

Yes

How do I get started?

If you’ve made up your mind on which flavor of WhatsApp is a better fit for you, here’s where to begin.

WhatsApp Business app

You can download the app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. [links]

Then, refer to our “How to get Started on the WhatsApp Business app” for a step-by-step guide to setting up your account!

WhatsApp Business Platform/API

There are two ways to go about this — either on your own, or by getting free guidance. At Rasayel, we happen to be WhatsApp experts. We offer you a free consultation to walk through your needs, answer your questions, and help you decide if WhatsApp is the right fit for you, and if it is, to guide you through setting everything up for your business.

You’ll need to decide on what communication platform/WhatsApp team inbox fits your needs best. Rasayel’s WhatsApp inbox for teams is built with businesses like yours in mind, and we’d love to offer you a demo and a free trial. If Rasayel isn’t a good fit for you, we’ll do our best to guide you towards something that fits you better.

You can reach out to us on WhatsApp at +13024070488, or book a free call with one of our WhatsApp experts:
Europe, Middle East, and Africa
North and South America

You can also learn more about WhatsApp Business Platform by reading the following:

What is the WhatsApp Business API 

How do 5 brands use WhatsApp for selling 

The complete guide to WhatsApp message templates 

Good luck in growing your business on WhatsApp!

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