After knowing about WhatsApp API and its features, pricing is the next most important thing to know. Though WhatsApp Business App is free to use, this is not the same with WhatsApp API. So, to understand the entire pricing model for WhatsApp API, you first need to be familiar with the various charges incurred for using the API. In this article, we’ll cover all the topics listed below and break them down into easily understandable bits of information:
- WhatsApp Business pricing: A basic understanding
- WhatsApp Business API pricing
- WhatsApp Cloud API pricing
- WhatsApp API for Sales team
WhatsApp Business pricing: A basic understanding
WhatsApp has 3 variants for businesses: WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp Business API, and WhatsApp Cloud API. While the WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses with 1-2 salespeople, WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API are for large-scale messaging. Additionally, WhatsApp Cloud API is hosted on Meta's cloud servers, and WhatsApp Business API is hosted on a WhatsApp partner's or business's server.
You can visit our blog to learn more about WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API. If we look at the two variants from the perspective of the cost, the table below will help you understand the difference in pricing.
Pricing Comparison: WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp Business API
WhatsApp Business API pricing
If you are opting for a WhatsApp Business API account, you need to understand that you can’t access it directly. Instead, you must purchase a number from a WhatsApp Partner or Business Solution Provider (such as Twilio) and connect it to a WhatsApp-integrated CRM.
WhatsApp Business API pricing includes 3 components: WhatsApp API fees (User-initiated or business-initiated), Partner API pricing, and message inbox price.
WhatsApp charges BSPs to host the WhatsApp API on their servers. The expense is transferred to end users, along with BSP costs. Certain partners may even impose a setup fee or a markup per communication. Additionally, connecting to a CRM or a message inbox might cost you.
In short, using on-premise WhatsApp API incurs a price that is a combination of WhatsApp API fees, BSP charges, and messaging inbox costs.
WhatsApp Business API pricing based on partner
We discussed how WhatsApp charges per conversation in the previous section. It is now time to discuss pricing from the perspective of the BSPs. Below are the pricing models used by the BSPs in addition to the WhatsApp fees:
- Message bundle
- Per-monthly active users
In this blog, we are focusing only on the pricing model of Twilio - A WhatsApp business partner.
Pricing by Twilio
Twilio maintains a per-message pricing model or ‘pay-as-you-go pricing’ to ensure that you only pay for what you use.
Twilio charges an amount of $0.005 per message sent and received apart from WhatsApp conversation fees. This markup per message is applied to both WhatsApp Template Message pricing and Session Message pricing.
Make sure you visit our blog on getting WhatsApp API through Twilio for a comprehensive idea about the WhatsApp partner.
WhatsApp Cloud API pricing
Unlike WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Cloud API is hosted on Meta servers and is free to access. However, the users will be charged based on conversations.
What are conversations?
The conversation can be defined as the message threads (not individual messages) sent between the user and the business within the 24 hours window. These threads are initiated upon successful delivery of messages sent to customers.
This type of conversation-based pricing is segmented into two categories:
- User-initiated: User-initiated conversations are the conversations initiated by customers. (For example, your customer sends you a query or your prospects request a demo.) When businesses respond to these messages within the 24-hour messaging window, the charges incurred by the businesses will be user-initiated conversation fees.
- Business-initiated: Business-initiated conversations are those initiated by businesses or messages sent after the 24-hour messaging window expires. For example, promotional messages sent to a prospect. Business-initiated conversations require message templates.
WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model - 2023
WhatsApp has introduced a new pricing structure according to the following timeline of 2023.
Effective March, 2023: Implementation of free entry point conversations
Updates have been made to the free entry point conversations. User-initiated messages within these conversations will now have an extended duration of 72 hours instead of the previous 24-hour window. During this period, no new conversation categories will be allowed to be opened, even if a business sends a template within 72 hours. Standard pricing is applicable to Ads that utilise the Click to WhatsApp feature. While the conversation that originates from the ad is free. It is important to note that the ad itself is not free and will be subject to the regular pricing structure.
For more information, read this article.
Effective April 1, 2023: Introduction of new template categories
Unlike the previous pricing structure where monthly 1000 free-tier conversations for user-initiated and business-initiated were provided to the businesses, the new pricing structure provides 1000 free-tier conversations only for user-initiated conversations and business-initiated conversations will not be eligible for free tier conversations.
Note: The aforementioned changes will not be applicable to businesses that are managed by Business Solution Providers or businesses that did not utilise the services of a Meta partner to integrate the On-Premises API, until June 1, 2023. However, for all other accounts, these changes will come into effect on April 1, 2023.
Meta also updated WhatsApp Business Manager accounts to reflect the new template categories: Marketing, Authentication, and Utility. The user-initiated conversation is renamed as “Service conversations”. The existing templates of the businesses will be automatically categorised into new template categories.
For more information on the message template category, read Facebook's template categorisation blog.
Effective June 1, 2023: Conversation-based pricing updates
The WhatsApp Business Platform will now offer 1,000 free user-initiated conversations each month for businesses that are taking the trial. However, conversations started by the business are not included in the free tier. Regardless of the number of phone numbers associated with the business, each WhatsApp Business Account will get 1,000 user-initiated conversations every month, and the free tier will reset each month according to the WhatsApp Business API’s time zone.
Starting from June 1st, 2023, four new conversation categories will come into effect: utility, authentication, marketing, and service conversations. These conversation categories will be determined by the type of template message used.
Among these four categories, three of them are business-initiated conversation categories that require customers to opt in:
- Utility conversations- Utility conversations enable customers to complete specific requests or transactions, as well as receive updates about ongoing transactions, such as post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements.
- Authentication conversations- Authentication conversations can be used to help businesses verify the identity of users by having them enter one-time passcodes at various stages of the login process, including account verification, account recovery, and identity validation.
- Marketing conversations - Any type of communication that isn't related to verifying a customer's identity or providing a service can be classified as a marketing conversation. These conversations may include promotional offers, information updates, or invitations for customers to respond or take action.
The fourth category of conversation is service conversation. All user-initiated conversations fall under this category, thus helping them to get their queries answered.
Initiating charges for conversation
When a template is sent, it opens a new conversation of its designated category and incurs the charge of that conversation type, unless the template is sent during an open conversation of the same category. For instance, if a utility conversation is ongoing and a marketing template is sent within that conversation, a new and separate marketing conversation will be opened and a marketing conversation charge will be applied.
However, sending multiple templates of the same category within an open conversation does not incur additional charges.
When no other conversation window is available and a company responds to a user with a free-form message within the 24-hour customer service window, service conversations will be launched.
When a template message is sent or replied to in an open service conversation, this will open a new conversation based on the template category, with the exception of free entry point conversations. During the free window, businesses can send multiple templates of different categories without generating a new conversation.
Get a detailed understanding of the updated pricing here.
The rates for conversations between your business and customers vary depending on the customer's country of residence. Whether the conversation is initiated by your business or the customer, the charges can differ from one country to another.
Read the blog to get country-wise downloadable rate cards for marketing, utility, and service conversations.
WhatsApp API for sales teams
In growing sales teams, conversations are usually initiated by businesses. For example, a salesperson sends a follow-up to clients or starts a conversation with prospects. Hence, the first component of pricing, WhatsApp API fees are business-initiated, which costs more than the user-initiated pricing model.
The second component of pricing is the charges of BSPs. sales organisations that have opted for WhatsApp Cloud API rather than WhatsApp Business API can be in benefit since WhatsApp Cloud API eliminates the charges of BSPs.
The third component is the message inbox price or CRM price. This component is a constant for WhatsApp Business API as well as WhatsApp Cloud API.
With everything said, we recommended you analyse your business volume and sales requirements before you make the right choice of WhatsApp API and start sending messages with WhatsApp-integrated CRM.