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The Complete Guide to WhatsApp Message Templates for Your Business

Niloofar Kavousi
October 10, 2022

What a WhatsApp message template is

A WhatsApp message template is a customizable message that you create to initiate a conversation with your customers. Templates must be approved by WhatsApp in advance and can be sent to your customers if they have already opted in to receiving messages from you over WhatsApp. Once WhatsApp approves your templates, you can use them for as many customers as you want. For example, a payment confirmation message that can be customized for the name of the customers and the amount that they have paid is a message template. It can look like this:

Hi {{1}}, we have received your payment of {{2}} for a total of {{3}} bags. The expected delivery date is {{4}}.

In this article, we talk more about what message templates are and how you can use them in your business to improve your customer communications and support.

User-initiated messages and business-initiated messages (Message templates)

There are two types of messages for businesses using WhatsApp: user-initiated messages and business-initiated messages.

User-initiated messages are the messages that your customers send to you to start a conversation with you. For example, they might start a conversation by asking you for the price of your products or how to set up an electronic device that they’ve purchased from you. For these messages, WhatsApp gives you 24 hours to send free-form replies to your customers.This is called the 24-hour customer service window.

The second type of messages are business-initiated messages, also known as message templates. These are the messages that you use to initiate a conversation with your customers outside of the 24-hour customer service window. There are two conditions to meet before you can send a message template to your customers:

Firstly, you must have already obtained a consent from your customers that clearly states that they are opting in to receiving messages from you over WhatsApp and clearly mentions your business name. The method of obtaining an opt-in from your customers is up to you. Here are five main methods:

  • SMS
  • Website (e.g. as part of a sign-up form)
  • In a WhatsApp thread
  • By phone (manually, or by using an interactive voice response (IVR) flow)
  • In person or on paper (customers can sign a physical document to opt in)

Secondly, WhatsApp must have previously approved your message templates before you can send them to your customers. Whenever you create a new WhatsApp template, you must submit it to WhatsApp for review before you can use it. Once WhatsApp approves your templates, they’ll notify you by email and you are able to use them indefinitely, unless your customers opt out of receiving messages from you. Please refer to the “How to apply for WhatsApp message templates and use them in Rasayel” section below for more information.

There are many reasons for businesses to send a message template to their customers. For example, if your customers buy a product from you, you might want to send them a confirmation message stating that you have received their payment and thank them for their purchase. Another scenario would be when an airline company wants to notify its passengers of a flight delay. We will talk more below about the classifications of WhatsApp message templates. 

Components of a WhatsApp message template

A simple message template includes texts as well as placeholders for variables or parameters that you'd fill in later to customize your message for each customer. Variables and parameters are defined using curly brackets and a number in between them, as shown in the following example:

“Hi {{1}}, your order for {{2}} for a total of {{3}} is confirmed. The expected delivery is in {{4}}.”

When you want to use the template above to send a message to a customer you can customize it to say the following:

“Hi Alex, your order for five meals for a total of $30 is confirmed. The expected delivery is in 2 days.”

For information about how to make the text bold, italic and other formatting changes, please refer to this page.

WhatsApp message template formats

Message templates can be in three formats;

Text-based message templates; These messages are entirely in text format. The example under “Components of a WhatsApp message template” section is a text-based message template.

Text-based message template to start a conversation

                            

Media-based message templates; These messages include a photo, video or voice message. In the example below, a business has sent its customer the shipping information of a product as an image.

A media-based message template. Source: Meta

Interactive message templates; With an interactive message template, you can ask your customers to take a certain action like visiting your website, claiming a discount or calling a number. You could also ask them questions and give them options of answers to choose from.

You can use a communication platform like Rasayel to send message templates to your customers for various reasons:

  • Run campaigns (also known as bulk messaging and broadcasts) — If you want to make an announcement to your customers, for example about a new product launch.
  • Automated notifications — You can automate sending template messages to customers under certain situations that you define. For example, if they have abandoned a shopping cart on your online store, then they can get a notification about it.
  • Proactive messaging — You can create various kinds of templates for your business needs to start a conversation with any customer outside of the 24-hour customer service window.

Categories of WhatsApp message templates

There are three major categories of message templates that WhatsApp allows businesses to send:

Marketing messages

  • Promotional offers: These are messages to let your customers know about discounts and other promotions.
  • Product announcements: You can create messages to let your customers know about new product launches.

One-time passwords

  • Send codes that allow your customers to securely access their accounts.

Transactional messages

  • Account updates: Notify your customers of a change to their account settings such as password change, change in their membership etc.
  • Order updates: Notify the customers that their order is placed, changed, on the way, etc.
  • Alerts: Notify the customers of something informational such as business hours or hours of availability.

Requirements and best practices for writing WhatsApp message templates

Below are some of the requirements and best practices to have your templates approved. WhatsApp’s message template guideline provides more information on this.

  • Message template name — The name field is limited to 512 characters. The names can only contain lowercase letters, numbers, and underscores. No other characters or empty spaces are allowed. Here are a few examples of acceptable and unacceptable template names:
    Acceptable names:
     order_confirmation, welcome_message
    Unacceptable names:
    Order_confirmation, welcome-message, away message
  • Content of the message template — Your message must provide context, be relevant and have a call-to-action. The content field is limited to 1024 characters. Your message cannot contain newlines, tabs, or more than 4 consecutive spaces. A template can only be edited when it is in a state of Approved, Rejected, or Paused. Any template can be edited once per day, up to 10 times per month. Under “Components of a WhatsApp message template” in this article, we already talked briefly about how to create message templates that include placeholders for parameters and variables.

  • Language — When submitting a message template for approval, you must specify the language of your message. Here, you can find the list of languages that WhatsApp supports for message templates.
  • Quality rating — Once your message template is approved and you use it for your customers, you will be able to see its quality rating. WhatsApp has three main quality ratings for template messages: High (green), Medium (yellow) and Low (red). WhatsApp determines your template quality rating based on how they were sent in the past 24 hours and received by the customers. To do this they use quality signals that they get from the customers, such as the number of blocks, reports, and the reasons users provide when they block a business. Therefore, it is important to maintain a high quality rating by sending messages that are relevant, not spammy and in the right context.

Here are some examples of approved templates:

  • “Your message reached us while we were not available. May we contact you concerning your question again? If so, please reply to this message with YES.”
  • “We received your message! However, we are currently unavailable. May we contact you regarding your question when we return? If so, please reply to this message with YES.”
  • “Hello {{1}}, this is a gentle reminder to update your subscription information under the name {{2}}. Thank you.”

WhatsApp pricing for business-initiated messages (message templates) and user-initiated messages

WhatsApp has a conversation-based pricing. A conversation is a window of time that starts when your first message to a customer is delivered, and ends 24 hours later. All the messages exchanged between you and your customer in this period of time is considered one conversation. In other words, if you receive a message from your customer (user-initiated message), a conversation starts from the time you send your first reply to them and ends 24 hours after. If you send a message to your customer to start a conversation with them (business-initiated conversation), the conversation starts from the moment your message is delivered until 24 hours later.

Business-initiated conversations and user-initiated conversations have different pricing depending on the country code of your customer’s WhatsApp number.

On this page, Meta provides examples of how businesses are charged for conversations.

That being said, your business’s first 1,000 conversations in a month are free of charge, regardless of whether they are business-initiated or user-initiated conversations. These are called free-tier conversations. If you do not use all of your 1,000 free tier conversations each month, they do not carry over to the next month.

Moreover, if you are running ads with call-to-action buttons that click to WhatsApp or Facebook pages, the conversations that your customers start with you won’t be charged. Only the first conversation that starts from these entry points is free of charge. Subsequent conversations with the same user will be charged.

An ad on Instagram that lets users message the business on WhatsApp

In this page, under “Rate Cards”, you can find more information about the pricing of the messages depending on the regions and countries of your customers.

How to apply for WhatsApp message templates and use them in Rasayel

How to create a template in Rasayel in 3 steps:

To create a WhatsApp message template from your Rasayel inbox follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Settings, click on Channels and select your WhatsApp channel.
  1. In your WhatsApp settings page, scroll down to the Message templates section. Click on + Add new template.
  1. You can now craft your template. First, fill in the Template name, Template language, template category. 
  1. You can choose to either create a simple text-based template, or a complex template with images, videos, documents, buttons, and more. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a preview of what your template will look like on WhatsApp. For more information on creating templates, please refer to “Requirements and best practices for writing WhatsApp message templates” 
  1. When you’re ready, click the Submit template. It can take anywhere between a few minutes up to a few days for WhatsApp to approve it. You’ll be notified by email when your status is approved or rejected. 

How to send a message template to a customer from Rasayel:

  1. Go to Contacts and look for the customer you wish to send a template message to. You can also type Ctrl + K to launch Rasayel’s quick search.

Then, select the customer you wish to contact, and click on New message.

  1. You’ll be taken to the inbox and the customer’s conversation box will open. Under Select a channel, choose the WhatsApp number you wish to send your message from.
    Then, click on Use a message template.
  1. A list of all your approved templates will appear. Select the template you’d like to send to your contact, fill in the template variables, and click Send.
  1. That’s it! Your template has now been sent to your contact.

Final thoughts

If you want to start a conversation with your customers on WhatsApp outside of the 24-hour customer service window, then you need WhatsApp message templates. They can be in various formats like lists, reply buttons and product messages to cater for your needs. They must be approved by WhatsApp in advance and can be sent to the customers if they have opted in to receiving messages from you. Rasayel lets you create WhatsApp message templates and submit them to WhatsApp for approval. Once approved, you can use your templates to send broadcasts, proactive messages and automated notifications to your customers from your Rasayel inbox.

Read our “What Is the WhatsApp Green Tick and How to Get One?” to learn about obtaining the green tick for your WhatsApp.

Read our How to collect whatsapp business opt-in to learn about obtaining opt-in from your customers.

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