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Differences between WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp explained

Which version of WhatsApp should you use?
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You probably already know about WhatsApp, the world’s biggest messaging app. Over 2 billion people use it regularly to message friends, family, and, now more than ever, businesses. 

What you might not know about are the different accounts WhatsApp offers to help businesses get in touch with those 2 billion active users. A business account in WhatsApp means you can create branded business profiles to give customers extra information about your business, such as your website, a brief description, the office hours when a customer can expect a response, and more. 

Additionally, for larger businesses or those looking to integrate WhatsApp into their existing customer communication systems, there’s WhatsApp Business API, which offers more advanced features and customization options. 

Let’s explore these accounts and what they offer, as well as when and why you should use them as part of your omnichannel strategy.

Overview: Key differences of WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

The main difference between WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp is that the business solution offers a free app for small businesses and a paid API solution for larger ones that allow businesses to use rich messaging to communicate with users. Standard WhatsApp messaging is for personal use to keep in touch with friends and family.  

This chart compares the main differences between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API.


Standard WhatsApp 

WhatsApp Business App 

WhatsApp Business API 



Small businesses  

Medium to large enterprises 

Messaging tools 


Enhanced (quick replies, away messages, labels) 

Advanced (chatbots, automated messages) 

Message templates 

Not available 



Business Profiles 

Not available 







Available through the App store/Google Play Store 




Businesses own and operate WhatsApp Business accounts themselves. You can set up a verified (optional), branded profile and use it to chat with WhatsApp users that have opted into business communications. The WhatsApp business solutions provide robust features like business profiles to give customers extra information about your business, like your website, a brief description, the office hours when a customer might expect a response, and more. They’re great options for business that want to differentiate their channel offerings.  

The WhatsApp experience that will best suit your business depends on your customer base and company size. 

Now, let’s dig into the key features of these different accounts.

WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp Business API features compared

Comparison of features between standard WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp Business API.

Standard WhatsApp

Standard WhatsApp is a user-oriented WhatsApp account for individuals to send messages worldwide. A standard account in WhatsApp lets people sign up via their phone number in the WhatsApp app and get an account linked to their number. 

Standard WhatsApp is freely available for both Android and iOS, and is used for one-to-one messages, voice calls, and video calls via a phone number. Users can also create group chats between multiple people.

The regular WhatsApp messenger doesn’t offer much functionality for businesses. Very small business owners like solopreneurs and single-member LLCs might find this personal WhatsApp version sufficient for their needs but will likely need to scale once their business begins to grow. 


WhatsApp Business

A WhatsApp Business account is for small to medium businesses. This free app version of WhatsApp can be downloaded by up to four employee phones or used in a browser via WhatsApp Web

With the WhatsApp Business App, customers can message a business number over WhatsApp, and business staff can open the app to reply. It’s that simple. You can also send a greeting message and pre-define some common responses for staff to send. 

We’ll explore the advantages of using a business account a little later. In the meantime, here are the main features small- and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of with WhatsApp’s business tools.


What’s the difference between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business App?

A WhatsApp Business account isn’t the same as a normal WhatsApp account. While standard WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business are both free, WhatsApp Business is geared towards small to medium businesses while standard WhatsApp is for personal use.  

Note that your business account can’t use the same phone number as your standard messaging account if you have one. It needs a unique phone number for your business.  

WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business can be on the same phone, if you do this, it’s a good idea to use a phone with dual SIM capability so you don’t run into compliance issues mingling your business and personal contact lists. 

If you have a business account and a personal account, use two phones or a dual SIM phone for compliance to keep your business and personal contacts separate. Illustration shows a hand holding a yellow phone with a messaging app; phone is shown with two SIM cards.

Key benefits of WhatsApp for businesses

Here are the main features small- and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of with WhatsApp’s business tools.


Chat with customers quickly 

Businesses can offer short links and QR codes so customers have one-tap access to direct chats with an agent. This streamlines the user experience by making chats quick, simple, and convenient.


Label conversations for transparency

Business accounts can label their customers depending on the type of conversation, such as whether they’re a new or existing customer, a sale or a complaint, and more. This becomes especially useful when you have a large customer base.


Reach many people at once

Speaking of large customer bases, the WhatsApp Business app has a feature called Broadcasts that ups your business messaging efficiency by allowing you to contact up to 256 users simultaneously. 

You can send multiple broadcasts if you have more than 256 contacts. However, users need to save your phone number in their contacts, or else they won’t see your broadcast message


Automate messages for efficiency

With lots of customers to follow up with, automation can help agents skip repetitive messages and focus on the important parts of the conversation. 

Three kinds of automated WhatsApp messages you can use via WhatsApp Business include:  

  • Greeting messages: So you can greet new customers or reply to new chats even if you can’t personally answer at the moment.  
  • Away messages: When you get responses or inquiries outside of working hours. 
  • Quick replies: Based on common actions or questions so you can input them into individual chats when you get a frequently asked question (like, “what are your hours?” or “How long do orders typically take to ship?”)
WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API

Standard WhatsApp is for person-to-person communication, while WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp API are business solutions for small businesses to large enterprises.


What’s the downside of WhatsApp Business? 

Because it’s super manual, WhatsApp Business App is great for small companies that need a simple, free way to handle a low volume of customer inquiries. It does have some limitations as well: 

  • No account verification 

  • No integration with existing CRM systems 

  • Limits on the number of people who can answer customer inquiries 

  • Limited automation options and no chatbot integrations 

However, for those businesses that need more functionality, WhatsApp does have a solution: WhatsApp Business Platform (API). We’ll go through that next.  

WhatsApp Business API

The other option for businesses is the WhatsApp Business API, also known as the WhatsApp Business Platform. This solution is for large businesses and independent software vendors looking to integrate WhatsApp messaging into their own products. It's designed to handle much larger conversation volumes. 

After your business has been verified, there are four tiers that each allow for an increasing number of user messages. You can upgrade your tier by hitting the following criteria: 

  • Make sure your phone number status is “Connected” 

  • Keep your quality rating at or above “Medium” 

  • Reach half your daily send limit in a seven-day period with new, unique users 

If you achieve those goals, Meta will upgrade your account status within 24 hours. However, you can’t simply pay to upgrade your tier. 

WhatsApp Business API tiers: 1-1,000 daily messages; 2-10,000 daily messages; 3-100,000 daily messages, 4-unlimited daily messages

There are four tiers in WhatsApp Business API that indicate how many messages the businesses can send per day.


Can I use WhatsApp Business API for my small business, or is it only for larger enterprises?

WhatsApp Business API is primarily designed for medium- to large- enterprises and independent software vendors. For example, if you develop a marketing automation tool, you might want to offer WhatsApp in addition to email, SMS, and RCS

However, smaller businesses can also leverage WhatsApp Business API if they have technical resources to implement and manage the integration. While WhatsApp Business API offers advanced features and customization options, it likely requires a higher level of technical expertise and investment compared to the WhatsApp Business App.


Benefits and features of the WhatsApp Business API

Because it’s an API, this solution integrates with your internal systems rather than using its own interface. It can even connect to an existing contact center to allow live agents to answer questions via WhatsApp without disrupting current workflows. 

With all the additional features, there is a small fee for sending messages via the WhatsApp Business API. 

These are the main features large businesses and enterprises should consider when it comes to this WhatsApp solution. 


Increase support with unlimited users

With the Business API, you can connect one account with unlimited devices and user profiles. This means you don’t need to throttle customer support through the world’s most popular messaging channel. The standard API allows for 1,000 unique daily contacts, and growing that number simply involves reaching out to half that many users in a seven-day period.


Verify your account for increased trust

While anyone can use WhatsApp Business API, there are benefits to launching through a Business Solution Provider (BSP), a third-party company that manages API access, like Sinch. They have the knowledge and expertise to help with onboarding, template approvals, embedded signup for enterprises to onboard in 15 minutes, and additional support features. 

With WhatsApp Business API you need to verify your business before you can start engaging with your customers at scale, meaning WhatsApp reviews the business account. If they approve, you: 

  • Receive a green tick by your business name 

  • Can use a display name rather than a phone number in chat threads 

  • Can send a greater volume of messages 

This verification is invaluable for big businesses, as it gives customers confidence that they’re talking to the actual brand and not a spoof account.


Improve contact management with CRM integration

With the standard business app, you’ll need to manage a traditional, in-app contact list separate from any CRM your business uses. With the API, you can integrate the two so you don’t run the risk of duplicating or omitting important contacts. 

Consent for WhatsApp marketing is gathered in two ways: WhatsApp users message the business account first, or they opt in to receive messages via a separate channel like email, SMS, QR codes, and more. Contacts who don’t consent to be contacted via WhatsApp can’t be messaged through the API – this is part of how customer experience is upheld on the app.


Wow customers and help agents via automation

If you’re looking for automation, the API is the option to choose. Program your own automation or connect bots to help customers answer common questions and give support teams time to breathe. 

Hook it up to other internal systems to send revenue-generating messages like: 

  • Automated renewal reminders 

  • Personalized promotional offers 

  • Marketing campaign content 

You can also use it to reduce support staff workload by sending automated messages such as: 

  • Delivery updates 

  • Appointment reminders 

  • Payment approvals 

There’s no shortage of ways the WhatsApp Business API can speed up your workflow. And who wouldn’t want their agents spending their valuable time actually assisting customers and solving complex problems?


Types of content you can send via WhatsApp Business API

Don’t assume the WhatsApp Business API just brings one-on-one messaging capabilities to larger businesses - it does so much more. With the WhatsApp API solution, you can build engaging, eye-catching messages to encourage users to interact with you through:  

  • Session chats that give the user control by letting the chat expire after 24 hours of inactivity.

  • Automated templates that might be about upcoming deliveries, promotional offers, appointment reminders, one-time passwords, and more. If you want to send and receive messages from subscribers, you’ll need to have your WhatsApp templates approved first – but most of the time, this takes only minutes.  

  • Broadcasts to multiple users that need to adhere to WhatsApp template guidelines but don’t require users to save your contact info beforehand, unlike the standard business app.

  • Interactive messages with quick replies that make answers convenient for users (they can be sent as broadcast messages, too).

  • WhatsApp groups that you can create and moderate but not message in, and which users must accept an invitation to rather than you being able to add them. 

For more details, check out how to use WhatsApp Business messaging for customer engagement. 

3 business benefits of using WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a simple, convenient place to have real-time chats with customers. It should be obvious by this point that the messaging platform offers several benefits you can capitalize on to grow your business, but let’s break them down to see just why you should adopt this channel. 


1. Your customers are already using it

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app - why not stake a claim to some of the traffic with your own presence? 

There are many ways people can find a business on WhatsApp and start a conversation, like: 

  • QR codes 

  • Embedded buttons in a website 

  • Links to Facebook or other social media pages 

  • Integration with Facebook and Instagram advertisements 

Many businesses use WhatsApp alongside their branded apps because there’s no need for customers to download a new app. Instead, you can provide support, send notifications, promote marketing campaigns, and more via the app that’s already installed on their phones. 


2. It’s more dynamic than standard messaging

Any kind of texting communication with customers is already preferred over options like email. WhatsApp ups the ante by offering rich messaging benefits that foster a stellar customer experience.  

Automation options like quick replies mean less time fussing over small customer issues and more time focusing on the big stuff. And rich media like images, videos, GIFs, quick-reply buttons, and more give end users a top-class experience that will keep them coming back. 


3. You’ll increase trust with customers

With added security and verification features, WhatsApp Business really lets customers know who you are. That boosts trust - and with 87% of customers noting they avoid doing business with brands they don’t trust, that makes a channel like WhatsApp a key component of customer loyalty. 

WhatsApp Business messaging strategy benefits

WhatsApp brings businesses a variety of benefits that can help them grow. 

Take control of your WhatsApp presence to wow your customers

It’s safe to say you know your customers best. You invest in the tools to draw insights from their behaviors and actions, and you know the communication channels they prefer to use. And when it comes to using WhatsApp Business vs. WhatsApp, there’s one solution that has the most potential to help your business. 

To fulfill your goals and expand your vision, invest in a WhatsApp Business API partner that’ll help strengthen your business messaging strategy and keep your customers coming back for more. 

Ready to learn more? Our step-by-step WhatsApp guide is packed with detailed insights about how to get started with your business’ WhatsApp journey. 

Download a step-by-step guide to WhatsApp business messaging e-book

Or, if you’re eager to discuss next steps, let’s chat. Our team is always ready to talk all things WhatsApp and conversational messaging with you!