Popular messaging app WhatsApp has announced two new developments for its WhatsApp for Business app, which is only available for Android at present. Firstly, the Facebook-owned company is opening up the WhatsApp Business API for more businesses, with an aim to reach potential customers at scale. Secondly, Facebook ads are getting a new click to WhatsApp shortcut to connect advertisers with users - however, this feature will initially not be available in India.
With the WhatsApp for Business API opening up, businesses across the board will have a new avenue to reach customers. Companies can use this API to send customised notifications with relevant, non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders, event tickets and more. These messages will be chargeable at a fixed rate; a company spokesperson told WSJ that the charges would be between half a penny to 9 cents (about 34 paisa to Rs. 6.18) per message, depending on country. The API can also be used to reply to customers for free - however, businesses will have to pay to reply to messages after 24 hours of receiving the last customer response.
An example of WhatsApp for Business API opening up is its integration with popular customer service and support ticketing service Zendesk. This integration will help companies add WhatsApp alongside their business Twitter and Facebook accounts to manage message replies right from the same dashboard. This way, brands will be able to provide real-time customer support to multiple users at the same time.
The company said it has tested the WhatsApp Business API over the past few months with 20 companies, and will be opening it up gradually. So not all organisation will have access to it in one go, but it should be rolled out for all enterprises over the next few months.
Several months after it was first spotted, Facebook is rolling out the ability to redirect users directly to WhatsApp chat from ads they see on Facebook. "When a person taps on an Ad that clicks to WhatsApp, they will be transferred to a prefilled WhatsApp chat where they can message your business quickly," according to a blog post. Businesses managing these Facebook ads will be able to view metrics including the number of conversations started and the number of messaging replies. As mentioned above, consumers in India should not expect to see the Facebook ads with WhatsApp shortcut anytime soon.
Officially announced back in September last year, WhatsApp for Business gives users the ability to request for information such as shipping information, procure boarding passes, and more using conversations on the platform. Some businesses are also providing real-time customer support. An iOS version is also reportedly in the works.