But, before you even think of using WhatsApp for business, you need to tackle one thing — the costs. Being unfamiliar with what you’re paying for can incur additional and unnecessary expenses, which can be detrimental to your business.
There’s no doubt that the WhatsApp Business API pricing can be confusing for many. To help you understand everything you need to know about WhatsApp Business pricing, we will dive deeper into the full breakdown of the costs.
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The WhatsApp Business application is built for smaller companies to support their communication needs.
When using WhatsApp Business, your account is created with your business phone number and is accessed by the dedicated WhatsApp Business app or via WhatsApp Web (not the same as the regular WhatsApp app).
It’s also important to note that there are two different WhatsApp Business Accounts: the Official Business Account and Business Account.
Official Business Accounts are the business profiles that have a green tick alongside their brand names. The Business Account is just a standard WhatsApp Business Account using the business app or the platform.
Even with more robust features such as a business catalog and semi-automation compared to the regular WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business is free of charge and can simply be downloaded from the app store.
WhatsApp Business API
While the WhatsApp Business app is for small businesses with simple marketing needs, WhatsApp Business API is an advanced solution for larger brands.
To use WhatsApp Business API, you have to go through a third-party intermediary, known as a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP), to get an API account. Once you have a WhatsApp API account, you can then begin messaging your customers.
In other words, a WhatsApp BSP allows businesses to have WhatsApp conversations while using their existing business software.
So, how much does it cost?
Well, that largely depends on the BSP you’ve chosen to use! That’s because WhatsApp Business charges your BSP, and your BSP will pass that cost on to you. Bear in mind that your BSP will add their own fees such as setup costs, purchasing numbers, and a centralized inbox.
WhatsApp Business API pricing: Conversation-based pricing model
As of February 2022, WhatsApp shifted its pricing from notification-based to conversation-based pricing. Businesses are now charged per conversation, which includes all messages delivered in a 24-hour session window.
The pricing is further split into two categories, user-initiated conversations, and business-initiated conversations.
Businesses and users can exchange an unlimited number of messages, including template messages, within the 24-hour conversation session without incurring additional charges. Subsequently, after the 24-hour window, businesses can only send templated messages that incur fees.
When a user sends a message to a business, either an inquiry or a customer support issue, a conversation will become user-initiated — once you respond within 24 hours after the first message from the user.
User-initiated conversations can turn business-initiated after the timeframe elapses and the other starts the conversation.
When a business sends a message to a user, once it is delivered, it becomes a business-initiated conversation.
Business-initiated conversations can only be started with a message template. These are pre-approved by WhatsApp such as welcome messages, order confirmations, and shipping updates.
Business-initiated vs user-initiated pricing
If you receive a user-initiated message and respond to it within a 24-hour window, all your conversations with that user throughout the timeframe will be priced based on the user-initiated pricing.
The next window of 24 hours will then depend on who sends the message first and will be priced by user-initiated if the user was the first one to start the conversation. Otherwise, it will be charged based on business-initiated pricing.
There are other factors to consider that affect the pricing of these two conversation types, like the destination of the user’s country. You can check out the full list here.
Other important pricing information:
Free monthly conversations
WhatsApp allows you to have your first 1,000 conversations each month for free. Whether it is business-initiated or user-initiated, they’re all included.
Free entry points
The first entry points from Facebook or ads will not be charged. That means if a user clicks on your click to WhatsApp ad or a call-to-action on your Facebook page, you will not be charged for the first 24-hour window.
After that period, the charges will depend on if the user initiated or the business, and you will be charged accordingly.
WhatsApp Business Solution Provider pricing
Let’s take a look at how service providers may decide to offer their WhatsApp Business API services.
While many BSPs may charge you separately for the WhatsApp fees, others strategically distribute the costs across their subscription plans.
Therefore, the main pricing models for BSPs will vary. Coupled with other personalized services, you may incur more costs from one BSP than you could from others.
One factor to consider is the costs of their plans alongside WhatsApp’s fee. There are three most common pricing models that many service providers use — per message pricing, message bundle pricing, or monthly active users pricing.
Twilio is the most well-known WhatsApp BSP in the market. It is known for its flexible API solutions and a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Twilio stresses the importance of only paying for what you’re using. That said, they charge a $0.05 flat-rate per message fee (both user and business-initiated) and a separate fee depending on the country.
Unlike Twilio, MessageBird follows the monthly active user pricing model. For WhatsApp Business API, MessageBird charges a $0.005 markup per message sent for both user and business-initiated conversations.
Do keep in mind that this $0.005 is on top of WhatsApp’s fees.
For a flat fee, Userlike gives you access to WhatsApp Business API and other channels. WhatsApp API is available from their Team plan which costs $99.
This means that Userlike absorbs all additional fees from WhatsApp when you send messages, whether user-initiated or business-initiated.
However, do keep in mind that you’re also paying for other features, not just WhatsApp API.
WhatsApp Business API: What’s next?
Whether you’re using WhatsApp Business or API, and for customer support, sales, or marketing, WhatsApp is a powerful business tool that remains indispensable.
While there are countless other WhatsApp BSPs out there, we recommend you try out our NovoChat to see how you can streamline your business. We offer the most affordable chat marketing features that allow you to access WhatsApp Business features and more at no extra cost.