Before we jump in and start using WhatsApp chatbots, we should understand the basics of WhatsApp Business API.
Why do we need WhatsApp Business APIs (WABA) ?
WhatsApp Business APIs enable large and medium businesses to send messages to their audience over WhatsApp on behalf of the business. There is a process for WhatsApp to identify and validate the business and give the business to its APIs. We had written an article previously on how to get your business verified by WhatsApp which you can check here: https://help.hellotars.com/en/articles/4130797-facebook-business-account-verification
Types of messages in WhatsApp
A business can send 2 types of messages using WABA:
- Template message: A message triggered from the WABA number to an audience
- Session Message: A response to a user initiated message. In our case, the messages that are in the chatbot come under this category.
Why are Template messages important ?
For a user to interact with the chatbot, the user would need to send a message to the WABA number. Once the message is sent, the chatbot conversation starts automatically. Now there is a major drawback in this: How will the business make the user start conversations. There can be a lot of ways to do that e.g.
- Sharing the WABA number link over SMS
- Sharing the WABA number link over Email
- Putting up a QR code of the number wherever possible
But these methods are not proven to be the most effective ones.
The best method is to send a WhatsApp message to the user which will increase the probability of the user sending a message and starting the conversation. The trigger to initiate a conversation is happening in that particular channel itself rather than the redirecting the user from other channels such as SMS or Emails.
Template Messages are the one we should go for to start a business initiated conversation.
To prevent spam, WhatsApp has a set of policies and rules on the following:
- Who can we send the template messages to?
- What are the types of template messages we can send?
- Quality Rating and Messaging Limits
Who can we send the template messages to?
This is the most commonly asked question by anyone who is starting with template messaging. WhatsApp has a strict policy that states -
In order to initiate a WhatsApp message to a person, you must first receive opt-in permission confirming that they wish to receive future messages from you on WhatsApp. The opt-in must
- clearly state that the person is opting in to receive messages from you over WhatsApp and
- clearly state your business’ name.
You are solely responsible for determining the method of opt-in, that you have obtained opt-in in a manner that complies with laws applicable to your communications, and that you have otherwise provided notices and obtained permissions that are required under applicable law.
You can check out the complete policy here: https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/business-policy/?lang=en
Until recently, this was done using a third-party channel. However, in July 2020, WhatsApp updated its policy and announced that third-party opt-ins are no longer mandatory. This means that a customer can contact your support team directly through a WhatsApp message thread to ask to receive notifications.
It’s important to note that, even with this change in policy, storing opt-ins and ensuring that each customer you contact through WhatsApp has agreed to receive messages on that channel is still your responsibility.
What are the types of template messages we can send?
WhatsApp does not allow any type of message to be sent out to the users and the message that you need to send has to be approved by the WhatsApp team. WhatsApp has guidelines of what type of messages are likely to be approved by them. Here’s an explainer on the same: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/message-templates/guidelines/
Quality Rating and Messaging Limits
WhatsApp rates your number based on:
- The messages abide by WhatsApp policies
- Follow Opt-ins
- The messages are highly personalized and useful to users. The business is not sending open-ended welcome or introductory messages.
- Messaging frequency: You are not sending customers too many messages a day.
Based on these factors WhatsApp categorizes your number in tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3. This article from Facebook explains the benefits of each tier and how you can improve your quality rating (only check the portion from quality rating and messaging limits): https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/api/rate-limits
You can check out the pricing per message for your region here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/pricing