The moment we have been waiting for is there. WhatsApp Business is made more accessible to companies! Earlier, limited things were possible, namely setting simple welcome messages and automatic responses from the Android app. With the new WhatsApp Business API , companies can now maintain contact with their customers much easier. But beware: as a company you have the possibility to respond for free to messages from users for 24 hours. Do not respond within that timeframe? Then a fixed fee will be charged per message that has been answered too late. In this article, I will talk to you about the latest developments in the field of WhatsApp Business!
From Android app to API
WhatsApp is booming! The messaging service is currently the most popular social media platform with more than 1.5 billion monthly users . A smart move from Mark Zuckerberg, who took over the app in 2014. In January 2018, WhatsApp Business was also officially announced (only available as an Android app). A nice first step for companies that can provide easier service in this way.
The app is, however, particularly suitable for small and medium-sized businesses, as there were no possibilities for large-scale service due to the absence of a link. But that is now a thing of the past with the arrival of the API. The link will help, among other things, to send shipping confirmations, event tickets or event reminders automatically. The API also makes it possible to respond to questions that come in through customer service applications such as Zendesk, MessageBird or OBI4wan.
Small companies that fall under the 3 million users of the WhatsApp Business app can still use it for free to send answers one by one.
More opportunities to get in touch with customers
That sounds good! What can you do with it? Companies with the arrival of the API have more opportunities to connect with their customers via the tool. Customers can:
For example, if you need a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, leave your mobile number on the website, in an app or in the store. This allows the company to send you information via WhatsApp Business account.
Start a conversation
With a click-to-chat button, you quickly ask a question to companies. These buttons come connected to e-commerce websites and Facebook advertisements.
Get real-time support
As a company you can offer real-time support on WhatsApp, so you can quickly answer questions about products. Or can help solve a problem.
The earnings model of WhatsApp
Facebook is eager to get money with WhatsApp. And that is not just. Facebook declined by as much as $ 120 billion in value, because sales fell 13.2 billion dollars lower than expected. The number of daily active users in Europe also fell by 3 million. Add to this the concerns about privacy and abuse of data and you have an explanation for the weakened position of the app.
For a long time it was unknown how money would be earned, but that it was high time is clear. And there was WhatsApp Business! From the beginning, it was communicated that the business app was temporarily free to use. And that in the end, it was necessary to pay for its use. And that is going to happen now. According to Techcrunch, WhatsApp is going to ask large companies for a fee per response if the first message was sent more than 24 hours ago. This would cost around five to nine cents per message.
And yes, it is inevitable that it is coming: Facebook is planning to show ads in WhatsApp. It starts limited because in the first instance they will not be shown between chat messages. You can see them in the status overview of WhatsApp. In this tab, users share updates for 24 hours – similar to Instagram Stories and Facebook stories. From 2019 you will also encounter advertisements here, such as that already happening on Instagram. I suspect it is a matter of time before you will see them in other places within the app.
Can we all start right now? Not yet. Initially, the Business API will be opened to a few hundred companies, including Uber and Booking.com. Also, the API will soon be available at customer service applications, but at what time is not yet known. So just be patient!
In any case, I am enthusiastic, because with the introduction of the link WhatsApp Business will be better and more widely deployable at a business level. And also the earnings model has been well thought out. The consumer remains out of the question and can still benefit from a free app. Thanks to the ‘penalty regulation’, companies will ensure that they respond quickly to questions or complaints.
Keep full control
In addition, it is an incentive not to send too many messages (or spam), because then, of course, there has to be paid. WhatsApp also promises that users themselves keep full control over messages they receive. For example, companies may only send messages to customers who have shared their phone number with the company or with customers who start a conversation themselves. I am curious to see if WhatsApp will have better figures on the fair next year!