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How to Use WhatsApp for Business – A Step by Step Guide

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

4 billion people in the world have a smartphone. Out of that, 2 billion people use WhatsApp and 68% of these people say that WhatsApp is the easiest way to connect to the business.¹

What does it mean?

It means that most of the potential customers/ buyers/ users of your businesses are using messaging as a channel of communication and more specifically WhatsApp. Moreover, 61% of customers² don’t want to install a new app or migrate to a new messaging platform just to communicate with a business.

So, if you have not started using WhatsApp as a messaging channel to communicate with your customers then you are missing out on a great opportunity to sell and provide great customer support. WhatsApp Business is on track to become the go-to messaging channel for customer care, with the use of WhatsApp Business APIs forecasted to increase 5,400%³ by 2024.

In this article, we try to help you understand and decide between WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business API.

Here is the table of contents to help you navigate through the blog easily.

  • What is WhatsApp business?

  • WhatsApp business or WhatsApp API, which one is for your business?

  • How to create and set up a WhatsApp Business account

  • WhatsApp Business features and how to use them

  • How to create a product catalog on WhatsApp business

What is WhatsApp business?

WhatsApp Business is a free to download app that was built to help micro-size businesses communicate more efficiently and securely with their customers. It has all the features of normal or consumer WhatsApp messenger, along with features like quick replies and labels to help businesses automate, sort, and quickly respond to customer messages.

In 2018 WhatsApp also released WhatsApp APIs. This was done with an aim to provide medium scale businesses and large enterprises with the functionalities to integrate WhatsApp business with their CRM, automate processes and messages through their existing tech stack, have unlimited broadcast messages, assign repetitive tasks to bots, use contacts from their own databases instead of relying on phone contacts, and much more.

We will talk about the major differences between the two in the next section to help you decide which one is better for your business.

WhatsApp Business app or WhatsApp API – which one is for your business?

WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp APIs are usually differentiated mostly on the basis of business size, but that’s not are other factors that a business should consider while comparing both.

WhatsApp Business App: Here are a few data points that will help you decide if WhatsApp Business App is for you.

  • Company Size: Micro Business( 1-6 employees). It is not possible to use the WhatsApp Business app for multiple users, which means only one person will be able to respond to the queries with the registered number.

  • Customer Persona: Mobile or B2C customers who require immediate assistance while making a purchase. These are mostly millennials and Gen Z users who are online shoppers and expect a response in real-time or within 10 mins.

  • Business Requirement:

    • Low query volumes or having only one agent to respond to the queries. (As there is no multi-user feature in WhatsApp business app)

    • Need only basic automation features like greeting messages, away messages, and quick replies.

    • Low broadcast message requirement. You can broadcast a message to only 256 contacts and you have to manually add all these contacts to your phone to broadcast the message.

    • Don’t need chatbots.

WhatsApp Business APIs: Here’s how to decide if WhatsApp Business APIs are right for your business.

  • Company Size: SMB (>11-250 employees), medium-size business (250-5000 employees), and enterprise (5000+ employees).

  • Customer Persona: Customers looking for quick answers while they purchase from an e-commerce store, book tickets, track orders, or even want to chat instead of calling customer service of a company. Again, businesses that have mostly Gen Y and Z as their customers (which comprises ~60% of the world’s population)

  • Business Requirement:

    • High query volumes which require multiple support agents to answer the queries. Unlike WhatsApp Business app, WhatsApp API provides an option to have multiple users to reply to a query.

    • Need to integrate WhatsApp Business with your CRM or CSS. WhatsApp Business API provides this integration so that your support or sales team can use one tool to monitor and answer all the queries instead of relying on the WhatsApp Business app itself.

    • Needs to automate the process like order status, cancellations, and refunds using chatbots on WhatsApp.

    • Needs to use custom message templates and send bulk notifications without any limit.

    • Looking for a solution to add contacts through APIs instead of adding contacts manually to your phone.

    • If you want to reduce overloading IVRs and want to deflect calls using WhatsApp chat. Example: You can give the customer an option to “press 1” to continue the conversation over WhatsApp.

So, if you are looking for a messaging solution that has WhatsApp API integration which can automate the process with bots, then do try out Freshchat.

To know more about APIs and best practices, check out this blog on WhatsApp API. And if WhatsApp Business app is suitable for your business requirements, scroll below to understand how you can get the most of it.

How to create and set up a WhatsApp business account?

Setting up a WhatsApp business account is a simple 4 step process.


Before setting up a WhatsApp Business, you will need a smartphone running Android or iOS (obviously) and a new number. A new number because WhatsApp doesn’t allow WhatsApp Messenger and WhatsApp Business app to have the same number. But if you want to use your WhatsApp messenger number for the WhatsApp business app, you can do so by migrating the same number to WhatsApp business (as shown in the image below).

Note: If you have an existing WhatsApp Messenger account, you can easily migrate your account, including chat history and media, to a new WhatsApp Business account. But later if you want to move from WhatsApp Business app to WhatsApp Messenger, you can’t move the chat history from WhatsApp business back to WhatsApp Messenger.

Download and set up the WhatsApp for business app

1. Download the WhatsApp Business app from the Google Play Store or App Store

2. Verify your business phone number.

3. Set your business name and category. To add description and address, click on “Show more options”.

4. Build your profile: You can enter all these details while setting up your WhatsApp business account or you can go to settings to fill it later.

Once you click on the edit (pencil) icon, you can add/edit details of your business. From here you can update:

  • Profile image

  • WhatsApp business phone number

  • Your business’s description and location

  • Business category

  • Working days and hours

  • Email and website address

  • Your business’s status

WhatsApp Business features and how to use them [With message template examples]

1. Messaging Tools

Messaging tools help build key conversations with your customers and help you engage with them with automated messages. With the WhatsApp business messaging tool you can set up automated greeting messages, away messages, and build quick replies to answer frequently asked questions.

  • a) Greeting message Automated greeting messages help you introduce your business to your customer. Here’s how you can set up a welcome message for your business.

    • To set up a greeting message.

      1. Go to Business Tools > Greeting message

      2. Enable Greeting Message

      3. Tap on the edit icon and add your message

      4. Tap on “Save” to save the changes.

  • Greeting message templates:

    • Hey there! Welcome to our store. What can we help you with today?

    • Woof! Welcome to <Business name>. I’ll reply immediately- unless I am out for walkies!

    • Welcome to our store We are here to help you.

    • Hi there looking for <product name>? We’re here to help you!

    • Hi!! Are you looking for <product name>? We’ve got deals for every occasion.

    • Welcome to our restaurant! Would you like to see the menu?

  • b) Quick replies – Quick replies let you save and reuse messages you frequently send so you can easily answer common questions in no time. You can easily access a quick reply by typing “/” with the shortcut (“/bestselling” in the below exam.

    • To set up a greeting message.

      1. Go to Business Tools > Greeting message

      2. Enable Greeting Message

      3. Tap on the edit icon and add your message

      4. Tap on “Save” to save the changes.

  • c) Away message – Away messages as the name suggests are messages which are sent during the hours that your business is closed. It helps your customers know when to expect a response and create a better customer experience.

    • To set up an away message

      1. Go to Business Tools > Away message

      2. Tap on “set away message” to enable away message

      3. Tap on the edit icon and add your message

      4. Set the schedule and add recipients.

      5. Tap on “Save” to save the changes.

  • Away message templates:

    • Hello we’re so happy that you texted <Business name>. We can’t wait to talk shop when we’re back in the store. We work Monday to Friday, 9 am – 7 pm

    • Hi, thanks so much for reaching out! We’ll be thrilled to answer your questions during our business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.

    • Hi! <Business name> here. You’ve just missed us! We’ll be back in action during shop hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm

    • Heyo! Looks like you’ve visited us on a weekend. We’ll be back on Monday. Happy weekend

2. Labels

With labels, you can organize your conversations, making it easier to find your chats and messages. You can create labels with different colors, and you can add labels to an entire chat or to certain messages within a chat.

3. Catalog

Catalogs are a mobile storefront for businesses to showcase and share their goods, so people can easily browse and discover something they would like to buy. Previously, businesses had to send product photos one at a time and repeatedly provide information – now customers can see their full catalog right within WhatsApp. This makes business owners look more professional and keeps customers engaged in the chat without having to visit a website.

For each item in its catalog, a business can add information including price, description, and product code. The catalog feature is currently available to businesses using the WhatsApp Business app on both Android and iPhone in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S.

  • To add a product or service to a catalog

    1. Open the WhatsApp Business app > More options > Business tools > Catalog. If creating a new catalog, tap “Add Item”.

    2. Tap the green plus icon, then Add Images.

    3. Tap “Gallery” to upload images from your Photos or Camera to take new images. You can upload up to 10 images.

    4. Provide a product or service name. You can also provide optional details such as price, description, website link, and product or service code for the uploaded product.

    5. Tap on “Save”.

Final thoughts

If you are a micro-business that has just started using a messaging channel to take orders, address customer queries, where the customer base is small, you can work without any kind of automation and one person can handle all the queries, then WhatsApp Business is right for you.

But if you’re a medium scale business, enterprise, or even a small business looking to expand, sell and provide support to a large customer base, then you should definitely go for WhatsApp APIs as it provides better integration, automation, and control over your messaging.

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