In today’s time where 61% of the people give priority to messages and updates before and after going to bed is an indicator of how written conversations have become the most preferred medium of interaction over time.
And when talking about written conversations what surely chimes into one’s mind is WhatsApp. Having a huge base of more than 2 Billion users out of which 1.6 billion interact through the app every single month makes it the most trusted and leveraged messaging platform. And with the introduction of WhatsApp for business and API, it has served the same purpose for businesses. Also, the role it has played in the tough times of the pandemic makes it an integral channel for businesses in 2022.
The WhatsApp Business solution not only allows businesses to send usefully, templated notifications to their customers but also to respond and support those who reach out to them on the channel. However, WhatsApp has recently announced changes in its pricing model which has been made effective from Feb 2022. Though to some of you, it might be clear but for most of them out there the changes remain blurred and unclear. This blog is a guide to all the changes that WhatsApp has made effective from February and will also let you understand how it will impact your business in the long run.
The Fundamentals of WhatsApp API
WhatsApp Business API is an application program interface that allows medium and/or large-scale businesses to interact with their customers in a secure, private environment along with allowing a more friendly, leveraging, and informal way of communication. The main idea of the WhatsApp API is to take the WhatsApp API endpoint and integrate it into their business software. This way, the businesses can interact with the customers without any hassle.
To access WhatsApp API, you need to go through an intermediary also known as WhatsApp Partner or Business Solution Provider (BSP) to get a WhatsApp API account because WhatsApp doesn’t give direct access to end-users.
And now that you have a WhatsApp API account, you can further connect the WhatsApp API endpoint with Conversational AI like Convert to start messaging. You can choose the plan that suits your current need and can even shift it to another if needed in the future. But how exactly are the prices decided? and what are the associated costs that play a major role in the same? We’ll be understanding all of this in the next section.
Who are Business Solution Providers? How do they impact the pricing?
To understand the pricing game what needs to be understood is how WhatsApp provides its services to the businesses. And to recognize the same, you must first be acknowledged with business solution providers (BSP) and their role.
WhatsApp is very significant with the companies it grants direct API connections to. For most companies, the only way to connect to WhatsApp API is via Business Solution Providers (BSPs). But what exactly do they do?
The answer to this is simple. WhatsApp Partners provide you guidance at every step of registering your business on WhatsApp. From figuring out messaging rules to porting numbers to verifying your WhatsApp Business API account they’ll be there providing you with a helping hand all the way through. Your experience with WhatsApp API mostly depends on the BSP you choose.
Now talking about the pricing, WhatsApp doesn't directly charge its fees from the businesses BSPs are the source of revenue for them. As BSPs are liable for providing API services and assistance to businesses that are borrowed by them from WhatsApp API directly, WhatsApp charges them for the same. But how do the BSPs get paid?
So, the BSPs pass on this charge to the end-users which in this case are the businesses taking its service by adding certain costs which include set-up fee, markup per message cost, and their cost of services, etc. And this is how the BSPs get paid and also becomes a key aspect of the pricing model. Knowing all of this, let’s dive deeper into the way how all of this comes into play.
Know-how of WhatsApp Business API Pricing
WhatsApp API pricing has evolved. Starting in 2018 with charges based upon notification basis it has now switched to a conversation-based model where it is charging businesses based upon the number of times it interacts with its consumers. This new model of pricing has been made effective from Feb 2022.
Where earlier session-based messages were free and the cost of template messages sent to customers varied by region now WhatsApp will be charging the businesses based on the number of conversations initiated by users or businesses in a specified period. Let's take a closer look at how these models work.
Understanding the Conversation-based Model
Talking of WhatsApp business API, there are two types of conversation models brands/businesses interact through. The first one is based on per-message/notification sent or received and the second one is session-based.
Now the first model i.e, based on the number of messages sent/received is the model that was used earlier where businesses were charged for every message sent. The second model is session-based where businesses are charged for messages sent/received over a time slot of 24-hours. An example of a session-based message could be if a user asks you for more information regarding a product/service. Or if a user follows up on a sale, or a customer care issue, etc. This model of pricing has been deployed by WhatsApp as of now.
How does Conversation-based Pricing work?
Conversations are the key to building effective consumer relations. In comparison to traditional methods of customer resolution conversational method provides a fast and effective consumer experience.
Just like notification-based pricing varies across different countries and regions the same applies to Conversation-based pricing. But conversations carried on in WhatsApp business API can be categorized into two categories which include:
User-initiated conversations: A conversation that initiates in response to a user message. Whenever a business replies to a user within the 24-hour customer service window, that message will be associated with a user-initiated conversation.
Business-initiated conversations: In this, the business sends the first message or continues a conversation outside the 24-hour session. One should keep in mind that this type of conversation can only be started with pre-approved message templates as suggested by official WhatsApp official notice.
The prices for the user and business-initiated conversations are different for every region as notified in the official statement which can be checked here.
Key Changes after February 2022
The following changes have been introduced for businesses using the services of WhatsApp API after the recent update:
Key Change 1: As WhatsApp has moved towards a conversation-based model, WABA API conversations will be priced differently towards user-initiated and business-initiated conversations.
Key Change 2: Each WhatsApp Business Account will receive 1000 Free tier conversations monthly, which can be either user or business-initiated. If you have more than one number linked to your account, these are shared between all your numbers.
Key Change 3: Businesses can send free-form messages within the 24-hour customer service window at user-initiated conversation price. If the company does not respond to the user-initiated message, it will not start the 24-hour conversation session and the company will further not be charged.
Key Change 4: After collecting customers' WhatsApp contact through different channels, you can encourage the customer to Opt-in (agree to receive messages), and then you can update the company's news or send a quality-based message to the opt-in customers anytime through WhatsApp. You should keep in mind that in this case, you can only use pre-approved message templates for sending messages.
How WhatsApp integrated with Conversational AI delivers value
Having known all the changes that have been introduced post-update, you should also understand the role Conversational AI like Convert plays in maintaining large-scale customer relations through the channel which is widely used across the globe.
WhatsApp API allows third-party integration into its channel which is a great opportunity for brands/businesses to create meaningful relationships with their customers. Convert as a Conversational AI, automates lead generation, helps in generating interest, provides efficiency along the process of sales, improves sales and marketing ROI, and much more.
Summing up, it can be said that it is a one-stop solution for all your needs related to customer acquisition in modern times.
After knowing all the key changes introduced by WhatsApp for businesses these are some of the things that should surely be taken into account while opting for a BSP post-update:
Paying a monthly fee is a far better choice than paying per message.
Choose a BSP that doesn't apply markup cost on messaging.
Apply for a BSP that offers a proxy API.
And the service partner that provides all these services is Gupshup integrated with the services of Convert. It not only provides the best service considering sales, support and notifications but also provides the additional benefits catered by Conversational AI. For knowing more about how it can change the way your business used to function earlier, visit www.oriserve.com