If you want to approach a customer first, you can only do so by using so-called WhatsApp Business template messages.
It’s important to understand that WhatsApp Business API doesn’t allow you to just contact any user at any time with any language. There are certain rules set by WhatsApp that are implemented to prevent spam and misinformation.
The most important rule is that you can only freely contact people within 24 hours (using so-called Session Messages). After 24 hours of your last interaction with a customer, you can only send pre-approved notifications called Template Messages. Not only Template Messages need to be reviewed and pre-approved by WhatsApp, they cost you money, too.
Two Types of Messages
Once you’ve signed up for WhatsApp Business API, there are exactly two types of WhatsApp messages you can use–Session Messages and Template Messages. Let’s talk about them in greater detail.
Like we mentioned before, Session Messaging only allows your business to reply to customers’ messages within a 24-hour window. The window closes after 24 hours, and you can no longer just freely message your contacts. Instead, you would need to wait until they contact you first, or use a Template message to reach them.
Also, Session Messages can never be used to message someone first. You will always need them to contact you first, or reach out to them using Template Messages.
Session Messages are fully customizable and do not require a pre-approval from WhatsApp before sending a message as long as the messages abide by WhatsApp Business Policy and WhatsApp Commerce Policy. You can think of Session Messages as your typical messenger’s experience where you just type and send any message you’d like.
If your business gets contacted by a customer on WhatsApp first, then the 24-hour messaging window opens and you can freely reply to such client using Session Messages. You do not need any approval from WhatsApp to do that.
Keep in mind that Session Messages support different types of content, including text, URLs, media, contacts, location, and more.
In exactly 24 hours after your last interaction with a customer, the window will close and you will absolutely have to use Template Messages to reach this client proactively. So, let’s talk about Template Messages.
If you’d like to contact a client whose 24-hour window is already closed, you can do so by using Message Templates.
In order to do so, you would first need to create Template Messages, submit them to your Business Solution Provider of choice for review, and get them approved. Only then can you actually broadcast Template Messages to your clients.
Most businesses use Template Messages for so-called transactional notifications like delivery, status order, and other updates. However, your business may choose a different purpose for Template Messages, as long as it’s compliant with WhatsApp Rules.
Just like Session Messages, Template Messages, too, support different types of content, including text, URLs, rich media, media, and even interactive Message Templates that are close to chat bots.
How to Really Use WhatsApp Message Templates
You can write and submit for review any Template Messages that you like, however, not all of them will be approved. Hence, it’s important to understand some basics and best practices of Using Template messages, so that you don’t waste time creating templates that will get rejected eventually.
Kindly keep in mind that both your BSP and WhatsApp have the right to deny any template message that you submit for pre-approval.
The most important aspect of your template message is content and purpose. If the very purpose of your message is pure advertisement, marketing, or spam–if will for sure get rejected.
The purpose of the template message must be clear for the receiving user–for instance, a status or delivery update on their order.
The second important consideration is formatting. Your Message Templates must be written in the correct format. If your message does not look good, has no commas, has grammar and spelling mistakes, then its credibility diminishes and WhatsApp will consider it spam.
The third thing to keep in mind is language. Only certain languages are currently supported for Template Messages, and you have to explicitly choose your language when submitting a template message for review. The message must then be in exactly this language. A mix of two or more languages will for sure be rejected.
Fourth–you can include a URL, but the domain in your link must absolutely belong to your business.
Pricing for Template Messages
Template Messages can be both free and paid.
The first 1000 conversations a month are always free. For most small businesses, it is more than enough to satisfy their needs without ever paying for extra Template Messages.
However, if you go over 1000 conversations a month, WhatsApp will then charge a small fee for each additional Template Message sent. The fee depends on whether the message is user-initiated or business-initiated.
Each user-initiated message costs $0,04. That’s every conversation that you initiate in response to a user message.
Each business-initiated message costs $0,08. That’s every conversation that you start by sending a message to a user first, outside of the 24-hour customer service window.