WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API: Which one is right for your business?

Mohamed Elbadwihi
Published October 23, 2022
Last updated February 8, 2024
WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API: Which one is right for your business?

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If you’re considering using WhatsApp to communicate with your customers, WhatsApp offers two main options: the free WhatsApp Business app with basic features for smaller businesses, and the paid WhatsApp Business API for larger enterprises or those requiring advanced capabilities like bulk messaging and chatbots. This WhatsApp Business app vs WhatsApp Business API distinction ensures every business finds the perfect solution for their communication needs.

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

  • What is the WhatsApp Business app
  • What is the WhatsApp Business Platform?
  • Comparison of WhatsApp Business App & WhatsApp Business API
  • Which one is right for your business
  • How to get started

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 WhatsApp Web.

WhatsApp Business Features

Personal WhatsApp App

  • 1 to 1 text messaging
  • Media sharing (Images, audio, and video)
  • Voice and video calls
  • Group chat

WhatsApp Business App

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  • Everything from Personal WhatsApp App
  • Business Profile
  • Quick Replies
  •   </div>
    
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    Example header 2

    • Automatic Welcome & Away Messages
    • Product Catalog
    • Broadcasts
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    WhatsApp Business App Limitations

    The WhatsApp Business app, while great for smaller businesses, does have some limitations to consider:

    Scalability & Team Management

    The WhatsApp Business app is well-suited for smaller businesses but faces challenges in scalability and team management.. It allows only five devices per account, including one phone, limiting use for larger teams. All employees must share a single account, which can hinder individual tracking and transparency. Without a team inbox, managing high conversation volumes efficiently is tough.

    Marketing & Automation

    WhatsApp Broadcasts are capped at 256 users per list, necessitating multiple lists for bigger audiences. The absence of advanced features like chatbots and automated replies limits proactive customer engagement.

    Features & Functionality

    The app’s basic interface offers limited formatting options and poor rich media support, potentially affecting branding and presentation. There are data privacy concerns due to the automatic syncing of all saved phone numbers. Additionally, the app restricts use by political entities, law enforcement, and certain service providers.

    Additional limitations

    The app provides limited insights into customer interactions and campaign performance, making advanced analytics challenging. Compliance with record-keeping requirements is difficult in specific industries. Moreover, the risk of account suspension is high if unsolicited messages are sent or limits are exceeded.

    Overall, the WhatsApp Business app has its pros and cons. While it excels for personal interaction with customers but might not be ideal for large-scale operations or businesses requiring advanced features and automation. Consider these limitations when deciding if it fits your needs correctly.

    What is the WhatsApp Business Platform?

    The WhatsApp Business Platform, most commonly referred to as the WhatsApp Business 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 API does not come with an official app or interface. You’ll need to use third-party apps like Rasayel 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, the WhatsApp Business Platform 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.

    WhatsApp Business API Features

    Similar to the WhatsApp Business app, the WhatsApp Business API allows you to create a business profile where your customers can see information about your business, set up quick replies to your most commonly asked questions, automatic greeting and away messages, create a product catalog, ,broadcast messages, and organize your messaging with labels.

    However, there are some key differentiators that make WhatsApp Business API a more robust and scalable option:

    Team inbox and collaboration — While the WhatsApp Business app limits the number of people that can use the same account to five, there are no limitations on how many team members can access the WhatsApp Business Platform at a time. With a shared team inbox like Rasayel, 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 chatbot that your audience can interact with for their most common queries, or before they speak with a human. Automation 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 from 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 media types at once, and interactive WhatsApp messages with buttons 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.

    WhatsApp Integrations — The WhatsApp Business Platform can be connected to any tool you wish; whether it’s your app, your CRM, your Shopify or 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 HubSpot and Zapier, which allows you to connect WhatsApp to over 6000 online apps and platforms.

    Tags & Assignments — Depending on the tools that you use to connect your WhatsApp Business 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 team inbox: Rasayel. It’s got all the features I just mentioned. Would you like to give it a shot?)

    Advanced WhatsApp Broadcasts — With WhatsApp Business API, you can create bulk messaging campaigns for promotional and 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). ‍

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

    FeaturesWhatsApp Business appWhatsApp Business Platform/API
    Tags✅ (Basic)✅ (Advanced)
    1-to-1 text messaging
    Media support (Videos, images, audio)
    Voice and video calls
    Away and out-of-office messages
    Business profile
    Quick replies
    Filters, views, rules❌ or limited✅ (Depending on the communication platform)
    Team inbox
    Collaboration features✅ (Depending on the communication platform)
    Private team notes
    Automations
    Integrations (CRMs, Zapier, etc.)
    Advanced search
    Bots
    Marketing campaigns
    Advanced and custom-built features
    API for developers
    BroadcastsLimited (256 contacts)Unlimited*
    Number of users1 user on one phone and 4 linked devices (laptops)Unlimited

    Which is right for your business - WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp Business Platform

    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, automation, 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.

    You’ll want to use WhatsApp Business App 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 contacts)
    • 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 automation or bots

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

    Choosing Between the App and API - A Checklist

    Here’s a checklist to help you decide. WhatsApp Business 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 or video calls
    • You want automation, 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 or eCommerce store, or Zapier
    • You want to access your chats from an unlimited number of devices, both desktop and mobile
    • You need team collaboration features (private notes, assignments, notifications, etc.)
    • You want visibility of your team’s WhatsApp chats with customers

    How to 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. You’ll need to decide on what WhatsApp team inbox fits your needs best.

    Rasayel’s 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.

    WhatsApp Business App

    You can download the app on Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Then, refer to our complete guide to the WhatsApp Business app for a step-by-step guide to setting up your account

    WhatsApp Business API

    There are two ways to go about WhatsApp Business API— 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.

    Conclusion

    Choosing between the WhatsApp Business app or WhatsApp Business API depends on the specific needs and scale of your business. The WA Business app is ideal for small businesses or solo entrepreneurs who require a simple, straightforward tool for customer communication with basic automation and broadcast capabilities.

    On the other hand, the WhatsApp Business API is better suited for medium to large businesses or those with growing teams, requiring advanced features like complex automation, team collaboration tools, integration with other software, and high-volume messaging. Understanding the distinct features and limitations of each option will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals and customer engagement strategies.

    FAQ

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        <p>No, WhatsApp Business API is not free. It operates on a pay-per-message model, where charges are based on the number of messages sent and received. The cost can vary depending on the region and the message type (template vs session messages).</p>
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        <p>No, you cannot use the same phone number for both the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API. You need to have separate phone numbers for each service.</p>
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        <p>To move from the WhatsApp app to WhatsApp Business API, you&rsquo;ll need to first register and get approval for using the API. Once approved, you can migrate your account to the API platform. If you need help migrating your number or have any questions, don’t hesitate to <strong><a href="https://wa.me/13024070488" target="_blank" >get in touch with us</a></strong>!</p>
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    <div id="body4" class="accordion-collapse collapse" aria-labelledby="head4" data-bs-parent="#accordionFAQ">
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        <p>The main difference lies in their target users and features. WhatsApp is designed for personal use with basic messaging features, while WhatsApp Business is tailored for businesses, offering additional features like business profiles, automated messages, quick replies, and labels.</p>
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    <div id="body5" class="accordion-collapse collapse" aria-labelledby="head5" data-bs-parent="#accordionFAQ">
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        <p>Businesses use WhatsApp Business accounts to communicate efficiently with their customers, provide customer support, market their products or services, and facilitate transactions. The additional business features help in managing customer interactions more effectively.</p>
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        <p>WhatsApp Business allows businesses to create a profile and use various tools for communication and customer management. These tools include automated greetings, away messages, quick replies, labels for organizing chats, and a catalog to showcase products or services.</p>
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    Learn more

    <p>If you'd like to learn more about how WhatsApp can help you grow your business, please reach out to us on WhatsApp at <a href="https://wa.me/13024070488">+13024070488 (Click to chat now)</a>.</p>
    
    <p>We also offer a free consultation session where we review your use case, answer any questions about WhatsApp, and help you build a strategy to make the best out of the platform. Book a call with us here. We'd love to speak with you:</p>
    
    <p><a href="https://calendly.com/rasayel-for-you/grow-over-whatsapp?utm_source=blog" target="_blank"><b>For Europe, the Middle East, and Africa - Book a call!</b></a>
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    <p><a href="https://calendly.com/rasayel-for-you/grow-over-whatsapp?utm_source=blog" target="_blank"><b>For North and South America - Book a call!</b></a>
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