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Written by
Katy Ratican
26 Apr 2023
16 minutes

What is WhatsApp Business? Your complete guide to how it works

Your complete guide to WhatsApp Business, its features, benefits and why you should use it with an advanced phone system
Guide to WhatsApp Business

Businesses are moving away from mass-market advertising platforms to ones that are more direct, personalised and engaging. Topping the list of these new channels is WhatsApp Business, which has several features that small businesses in particular would love. If you’re considering using it, it’s good to know what WhatsApp Business is and the best ways in which you can use this dynamic tool.

WhatsApp Business offers small businesses a wide range of advantages, from improved customer service and outreach capabilities to streamlined organisation and analytics. This detailed guide will explain what is WhatsApp Business and help you unlock the power of the world’s largest messaging platform for your small business.


What is WhatsApp Business?
Difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp Business: SMS with added power

WhatsApp Business vs SMS

WhatsApp Business: Putting small businesses in charge

12 WhatsApp Business features you should know about

The benefits of WhatsApp Business

What you need to run WhatsApp Business

How to use WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp Business app vs WhatsApp Business API

Should you use WhatsApp Business?

How WhatsApp Business can support your business marketing

Using Chalkboard with WhatsApp Business

Using virtual numbers with WhatsApp Business

Why use your Chalkboard number with WhatsApp Business?

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business is a free-to-download app that was built with the small business owner in mind. Rolled out in 2018, it enables small businesses to communicate more efficiently with their customers by providing them with useful features such as automated messages, quick replies and away messages.

You have tools to automate, sort and instantly respond to messages. You can use the platform to send multi-media messages directly to your customers and at scale, in a highly cost-efficient manner. Since businesses can verify their presence, it also makes them appear credible.

Difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business

Now that we know what WhatsApp Business is, let’s understand the differences between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business. These include the features offered, the way in which messages are delivered and the requirement for a separate phone number.

WhatsApp is geared towards personal use, allowing users to communicate with friends and family, share photos and videos and send voice messages. It also allows users to create group chats and share their location with others.

WhatsApp Business, on the other hand, is designed specifically for business use. It requires a separate phone number although both can be used on the same device. It provides a suite of tools to help businesses engage with customers and manage customer relationships.

WhatsApp Business comes with features such as automated greeting messages, quick replies, away messages and business profiles. Additionally, WhatsApp Business allows businesses to integrate with various customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

WhatsApp Business: SMS with added power

If you’re a small business owner, you already know the power of SMS. It has become an incredibly effective channel of communication to send updates, reminders, alerts and notifications.

SMS can be used to communicate with customers, colleagues and other business contacts. Businesses can use it to advertise products and services. With its convenience and immediacy, SMS is an effective way to reach out to people in a timely manner.

Why should you be interested in WhatsApp Business? Because it offers much more than conventional SMS. Just like SMS, your messages will be read instantly and there’s little friction in accessing the platform since your users are already there. Plus, it’s an exceptionally easy-to-use platform that your users are already familiar with.

Unlike SMS, WhatsApp Business empowers you to automate several functions, share multi-media messages, have greater security, access cloud storage and use analytics to measure and improve your outreach.

WhatsApp Business vs SMS

WhatsApp Business and SMS are both used to communicate with customers, but they have some key differences.

WhatsApp Business is an app that allows companies to effectively communicate with their customers. WhatsApp messages are sent over the internet and can be used to share videos, pictures, documents and other multimedia. Unlike SMS, WhatsApp Business messages are backed up in the cloud and can be accessed from any device.

In addition, WhatsApp messages are more secure than SMS because of end-to-end encryption that ensures only the sender and receiver can see messages.

SMS is a text-only messaging system used primarily for short messages such as alerts or notifications. These are sent over a cellular network and can only include text, not multimedia. Additionally, SMS messages are not backed up in the cloud and can only be accessed from the sending device.

Overall, WhatsApp Business provides companies, especially small businesses, with a more efficient, secure, cost-effective and user-friendly way to communicate with their customers compared to SMS.

WhatsApp Business: Putting small businesses in charge

There’s another difference between WhatsApp Business and SMS that small business owners in particular should know about. That relates to autonomy.

If you have to conduct an SMS campaign for marketing or customer relationship management including order notifications and appointment reminders, in all likelihood, you would need external help. You may have to use an SMS marketing agency to create, deliver and monitor your campaign.

But with WhatsApp Business, you can manage almost all aspects of the platform. Unless you’re dealing with thousands of customers and have to manage multiple campaigns at the same time, either you or someone in your team can easily handle it.

You don’t have to rely on an external agency or unnecessarily spend on marketing. In that sense, WhatsApp Business empowers small and independent business owners with marketing autonomy.

12 WhatsApp Business features you should know about

Now that we know what WhatsApp Business is and how it’s better than SMS, here are its 12 features that can help your small business.

1. Business profile

You can set up a business profile with a ‘verified’ badge next to it to give helpful information to your customers. This can include your business description, address, website and email address. A verified business account gives you credibility and makes it easy to gain a customer’s loyalty.

2. Quick replies

Create customised quick replies to save time when responding to frequently asked questions. Remember that a significant proportion of questions are going to be predictable. For example, you can create answers to questions such as “What are your business hours?” “Do you accept online payments?” or “Is there home delivery?”

3. Automated greetings

Businesses can create greeting messages that users will receive when they initiate a conversation or after 14 days of inactivity. These messages allow you to greet the customer and introduce your company without any delays or waiting time.

4. Away messages

Let customers know when you’re away or unavailable with custom away messages. You can edit and decide when you want to send these messages. Select from after-work hours, custom schedule or always send.

5. Label contacts

You can organise your contacts and categorise them using labels for easy access. This makes it easy to search for your contacts and keep them organised and grouped.

6. Message statistics

WhatsApp Business gives you crucial metrics for better communication management. You can find out how many of your messages were sent, read and delivered.

7. Catalogues

A standout feature of WhatsApp Business is its Catalogues. Now you can easily showcase your products for your customers to browse. Group them on your WhatsApp page and you won’t have to send every product, price or description like you used to do before.

8. Interactive messages

With interactive messages, you can create easier and more seamless user journeys. There are two kinds of interactive buttons that you can use on WhatsApp Business. With CTA, a user clicking on it will be directed to a webpage or phone call. With quick reply, users can choose from pre-written messages without having to manually type them.

9. List messages and reply buttons

Along with the other interactive messages, WhatsApp Business also gives you list messages and reply buttons. List messages have up to 10 options, allowing people to simply click on their chosen option instead of typing it out manually. With reply buttons, customers can select from up to three options.

10. Integration with Facebook Shop

You can link your WhatsApp Business account to your Facebook Shop. This allows you to create seamless and customised shopping experiences for your users. For small businesses, this is a highly helpful tool to retain customers and reduce the time from product discovery to purchase.

11. WhatsApp payments

Payments are the next big frontier in the digital world and WhatsApp is getting on board. This is excellent news for small businesses since customers will be able to discover and buy through their WhatsApp Business account. The payment service from WhatsApp is currently available in Brazil, India and for some users in the US but it will be rolled out widely soon.

12. WhatsApp business directory

Before a potential customer can browse your products or buy from you, they need to discover you. That’s what the WhatsApp business directory aims to do. While it’s currently operational only to select businesses in São Paulo, a greater rollout can be soon expected.

The benefits of WhatsApp Business

These advantages are enough to convince any small business owner, freelancer or consumer-facing startup to try WhatsApp Business.

Amplifies business visibility

With over two billion users, WhatsApp is the largest messaging platform on earth. You could be a fitness trainer in Manchester or a health food startup in Sunderland. Now you have an opportunity to showcase your business to the whole world and gain customers in over 100 countries.

Improves response time

Customers want immediate answers to their queries or service requests. Email and social media take their time and not everyone will be able to call you. WhatsApp Business empowers you to give quick responses, which will go a long way in improving customer service and your business’s reputation.

Verified conversations

Credibility is the cornerstone of loyalty. On WhatsApp Business, customers know they’re talking to a verified business. This allows you to establish your unique brand identity by sharing your phone numbers, address, website and even promotional offers.

Multimedia content

SMS is primarily for text. With WhatsApp Business, you can share images, videos, documents and text messages. Now you can send dynamic, engaging and customised content to your customers. Importantly, customers can further share that content with others in their network, which will widen your reach at no cost to you.

Two-way communication

How many people respond to promotional emails? How many users respond to social media posts? WhatsApp Business is different. The communication is both synchronous and customised. Users can individually communicate with the brand with the utmost privacy.

Chat organisation

If you use the regular version of WhatsApp to chat with your customers, those will get mixed with your personal conversations. On WhatsApp Business, you can organise all your customer interactions in one place. Additionally, you can use labels or colours to mark them by the department. This will help you retrieve them faster.

Better conversion chances

After a customer starts interacting with you on WhatsApp Business, you send them notifications about new products, limited-time sales or promotional offers. This reduces your overall marketing costs and makes your customer engagement more personalised and productive. By analysing how customers react to your offers, you can further tweak them.

Enhanced security and privacy

WhatsApp Business protects the privacy of its users. Businesses can only send messages after a customer has opted in to receive them. Messaging on the platform is end-to-end encrypted and comes with two-factor authentication.

Pre-written templates

Whether it’s a notification, update or reminder, you can use message templates for routine messages. Businesses can also automate their replies for enhanced customer experiences. All these save you time and effort.

What you need to run WhatsApp Business

You can start using WhatsApp Business using the following steps.

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

  2. Enter your phone number into the app.

  3. If you already have a WhatsApp Messenger account, you can transfer your data to the Business account. Note that you cannot have both apps open at the same time on one device – if you try to do this, you will only be able to use the one linked to your phone number. In other words, you need a dedicated number for WhatsApp Business.

  4. If you don't already have a WhatsApp Messenger account, you will need to verify your phone number in order to create a profile.

  5. Once your number has been verified, enter your business name, and category (e.g., clothing and accessories, food etc.), and upload a profile picture.

  6. You should now see a screen similar to WhatsApp Messenger, with options for chats, statuses, and calls. The next step is to complete your business profile by providing additional information about your company for customers' reference.

How to use WhatsApp Business

Knowing what WhatsApp Business is is one thing. But how do you use it? Here’s how you can use the platform to make your marketing and customer service more effective.

Take advantage of automation tools

With WhatsApp Business, you can use the power of automation to save you time and manage multiple conversations at once. The app’s automation tools allow you to create automated messages that can be sent to customers when they message your business. For example, you might set up a welcome message or an FAQ list that will automatically be sent out when customers message you.

Use broadcast messages

Broadcast messages are great for sending updates and special offers to all of your contacts. This is an effective way to reach out to many customers at once without having to send individual messages.

Create customer support chats

Customer support chats are great for providing fast and effective customer care. You can use them to answer customer questions or address complaints in real-time.

Analyse your performance

Use analytics tools to measure your performance and track key metrics such as reply time and engagement rates. This will help you adjust your strategy over time and improve the customer experience.

WhatsApp Business app vs WhatsApp Business API

As you get to know what WhatsApp Business is, you will also come across WhatsApp Business API. So, what are the differences, and which one should you choose if you run a small business?

WhatsApp Business is a free-to-use mobile application designed for small business owners who want to communicate with customers through WhatsApp. It allows businesses to create a profile for their business, list products and services, provide customer support and send promotional messages.

WhatsApp Business API is a paid service that allows businesses to send automated messages, such as promotional offers or customer service communication, over the WhatsApp platform. With the API, businesses can customise their messages and target them to specific customers. The API also includes features such as analytics and customer segmentation.

WhatsApp Business is all you need if yours is a small business or if you’re a service professional. If you’re a medium or large enterprise that has to manage thousands of customer interactions through an integrated platform, you would need WhatsApp Business API.

Should you use WhatsApp Business?

If you are a small business looking for an easy and cost-effective way to communicate with customers, WhatsApp Business is an appropriate option. It allows you to send messages, make calls and set up automatic messages. Additionally, it includes features specifically geared towards businesses, such as storefronts and customer support.

Other than being extremely cost-effective, it also allows you, the business owner, to take charge of your customer engagement and marketing. Since you’re already familiar with the platform (just like your customers), there’s no learning curve involved. In a few days, you’ll know how to use the features and analyse your interactions.

How WhatsApp Business can support your business marketing

WhatsApp Business is a powerful tool that can help businesses market their products and services. Here are some of the ways it can help with your marketing efforts:

  • Use automated chatbots: Automated chatbots can save you time and money by answering customer queries instantly. You can also set up automated messages such as “Welcome” messages and offers to encourage customer engagement.

  • Offer discounts and promotions: You can use WhatsApp Business to send out discounts and promotions to existing customers. This will encourage them to visit your store or website more often.

  • Create campaigns: With WhatsApp Business, you can create campaigns and target specific audiences. You can also send bulk messages that will help spread awareness about your business and its offerings.

Using Chalkboard with WhatsApp Business

You can’t set up WhatsApp Business with your personal phone number if it’s associated with a regular WhatsApp account. Plus, it’s not advisable to share your private number with customers and clients.

The right solution is to get a second line for work from Chalkboard that you can use with WhatsApp Business. Using WhatsApp Business with Chalkboard gives you the best of both worlds. Now you can manage your marketing and optimise your business communication using two advanced platforms.

Using virtual numbers with WhatsApp Business

Before you decide to use a virtual number as your WhatsApp Business number, you should know that it’s not always easy to sign up for services using virtual numbers. That’s because several service providers don’t send their verification codes to virtual numbers.

But in certain instances, you can sign up for WhatsApp Business provided you select a credible virtual number and choose to receive a call instead of a message for number verification.

Why use your Chalkboard number with WhatsApp Business?

These are the reasons why more and more small business owners, freelancers and service professionals are using their Chalkboard numbers with WhatsApp Business.

  • Privacy: With a dedicated number for WhatsApp Business and all work-related communication, your personal number stays private.

  • Work-life balance: Once you start separating personal and business communication, it’s easier to achieve work-life balance.

  • Complementary capabilities: WhatsApp Business gives you certain texting capabilities while Chalkboard gives you the power of enhanced messaging.

  • Multiple access points: For both you and your customers, now there will be two access points, which will enhance customer service.

  • Number-sharing: Your team can share a number on Chalkboard to provide seamless access to customers and clients.

  • Remote-friendly systems: Chalkboard gives you a VoIP number that your remotely placed team members can easily use.

Download Chalkboard and select your new number. It’s an affordable virtual number that can be the right partner for your WhatsApp Business outreach.

All information provided in this guide was believed to be correct at the time of publishing. However, please be aware of future changes.

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