WhatsApp Business API: What are WhatsApp Notifications / Message Templates?

WhatsApp Notifications „Message Templates“ are (typically fee-based) push messages sent over WhatsApp Business API – they are the perfect complement to the free customer care chat. However, WhatsApp notifications are only permitted in certain cases. Here we’ll explain what’s allowed, what’s not, and how you can successfully use WhatsApp Notification for your customer service.

In the post you’ll find:

1) What are „Message Templates“ WhatsApp N otifications?

The WhatsApp Business API is the WhatsApp solution for innovative customer service, which you can easily implement using MessengerPeople as an official Business solution provider.

The WhatsApp Business solution distinguishes between two main use cases:

  1. Customer Care Chat: when customers write to a company, a 24-hour window is opened, in which the company can respond to the customer with no fees.
  2. Notification (Push-Notifications): these are WhatsApp messages that companies can send to customers for different use cases. These are similar to service SMS messages that consumers sometimes receive from online banking or airlines.

2) Data protection & user consent Message Templates

As usual, the GDPR also applies to notifications. In this case, this means that the user must agree to receive push notifications before the company initiates messaging app contact. This agreement, or active user consent, can take place on your website when a purchase or flight booking has been completed and you ask the customer whether they would like to receive the confirmation via WhatsApp. By clicking on yes, they’ve signalled that they are willing to receive WhatsApp notifications. You can discover more in our article about data protection for customer service .

3) Accepted Message Templates types

Notifications are WhatsApp messages that are based on templates provided by WhatsApp. Only these use cases are currently allowed. As of June 2019, there are 10 types of notifications that we will briefly introduce.

3.1 Account Updates

You can notify your customers about changes to their account settings. This gives your customers the opportunity to react if unauthorized activities have been performed. Notifications can also be used to notify your customers of membership changes.

3.2 Payment  Requests

You can send information about an order via WhatsApp, such as a billing invoice, or a notice that the status of a payment transaction has changed. You can also send notifications when an auction is finished.

3.3 Delivery Status

Keep your customers informed about the status of an order. With shipping status notifications, your customers always know where their product is and when it will be delivered.

3.4 Billing Update

With these notifications, your company can alert your customers about outstanding invoices, missing payments, or other transaction activity in the event of a problem.

3.5 Reservation Update

Another type of notification is updates about an existing reservation. For example, you can use these notifications to notify customers about a change in their itinerary or location, or about changes to hotel bookings.

3.6 Appointment Reminder

From dentist to haircut, with WhatsApp appointment notifications, you can remind your customers of important appointments.

3.7 Travel Update

Inform your customers about updates to an existing reservation or flight status change. Over and over, passengers miss flights because they missed the last minute email about the gate change. If you send the notification via WhatsApp, your customer will have the information on the most important and relevant communication channel for him.

3.8 Ticket Update

Send your customer their ticket for an event, trip or flight, simply via WhatsApp. This can include admission information, travel directions, event FAQs, or a message with a location map to help the customer find their way around the event.

3.9 Alert Update

Notify your customers about important news! This category is the hardest to truly define. News from media outlets or an announcement about the annual summer party of a car dealership are not included and wouldn’t be released by WhatsApp. However, in the event of a malfunction or urgent condition which must be reported to your customers immediately, an alert notification makes sense.

3.10 Issue Resolution Notification

If you have not managed to solve a problem in the 24-hour window, you have the option to continue the conversation later using an Issue Resolution Notification from WhatsApp. This may be the case if the search for a lost package could not be clarified within 24 hours and you have the answer after 40 hour instead. Then you can use the service update to reactivate the customer service dialog. The content must always be related to the previous conversation.

Update Jun 2021: New types of WhatsApp Business messages are now available in Germany and other countries

Starting mid of June, WhatsApp is expanding the types of WhatsApp Business messages that companies and brands can proactively send to those of their customers that opt-in to receive them. This will be rolled out in Germany and the following countries: Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, and the USA.

  • Re-engagement: cart abandonment reminder, back in stock alert, time to reorder alert, reminder to book an appointment
  • Recommendations: upsell and cross-sell product recommendations
  • General marketing: promotional offers

💡 Read more: The wait is over: New types of WhatsApp Business messages are now available in Germany and other countries

4) What content can you send via Message Templates / WhatsApp N otifications?

The following content can currently not be sent via notifications (as of 06/2019).

  • Crosselling, upselling, discounts, promotions
  • Product suggestions or offers
  • Recurring content
  • Notification messages used for cold calling (“Thanks for your interest, do you have a moment to talk?”)
  • Reconnection to customers
  • Request for an app review
  • Request to share a notification with friends
  • Reminders or alerts that are not in connection with a customer’s purchase or a specific event
  • Product or marketing surveys

Generally, WhatsApp will review all notifications you submit within 48 hours. WhatsApp will reject all template messages that do not have correct formatting (spelling mistakes or wrong parameters) or contain suspicious content. For more information, see the WhatsApp Business API guidelines .

5) Media Message Templates

With WhatsApp, you can expand text-based message templates with videos, images and documents (such as PDFs) that can be sent as a company-initiated message. These are “ media message template s”.

Creating your media message template follows the same principle of text-based message templates. They also need to be submitted and approved by WhatsApp prior to being used. You can add your media message templates in our Setup your Message Templates form.

When adding the media message template, you will need to select the “message template type” (“standard message template” or “media message template”). Once you have selected “media message template”, new fields will pop up:

  • Header type/variant: select the media type. If a media content is used, the following file formats are possible: video (.mp4) / images (.png, .jpg) / documents (.pdf) – For all files the maximum size is 25mb.
  • Body text: add the text that will accompany your image or PDF files. The same guidelines as text-based message templates for WhatsApp approval apply. Variables in the text are not possible.
  • Footer text (optional): in case you need to add a disclaimer, signature or anything that should accompany the message by default. Variables in the text are not possible.

WhatsApp Notifications can be created in multiple languages in the future as well. As before, all notifications (in the respective languages) must be approved by WhatsApp.

WhatsApp notifications that were created in the old format (text only) remain and can still be used.

6 ) WhatsApp notification costs

Notifications are always free for the recipients. However, companies have to pay to send notifications if they are sent outside of the 24-hour customer service window. The prices vary depending on the country and current prices can be found here: WhatsApp Notification prices .

7 ) Implementation and Approval

Notifications are most effective for you and your customers when they are automated. The notification function can be connected to your existing communication system and can be fully-automated after the first implementation.

All notifications must be initially verified by WhatsApp. Please make sure that they do not violate WhatsApp’s policies . For the approval you have to create a notification template.

A template consists of:
Header (optional / max. 60 letters / no bold) -> here are the following multimedia content possible: image (PNG, JPG), video (MP4), documents (PDF)
Body (mandatory / max. 1024 letters)
Footer (optional / max. 60 letters / no bold print)
Buttons (optional) -> here are two types of buttons

In the variables (1), (2),(3) the value will be inserted later automatically (name, order number, birthday, discount, info).

Tip: If you’re interested in learning more about messaging app customer service and the WhatsApp Business API, sign up for one of our free webinars! Our messenger experts will walk you through strategy, use cases, and a live demo of our tool. Webinar Schedule

Learn how to use notifications for different industries with our branch articles:

Have a great idea for customer service via messaging apps for the tourism industry and want to talk about it? Message us!