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WhatsApp Business API message templates. What are they and how to work with them? help.chat-api.com

WhatsApp Business API message templates. What are they and how to work with them?

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In this article we are talking about template messages WhatsApp Business API without which it is impossible to start communicating with customers. If you already know what they are and you are more interested in the mechanisms of their creation, then skip the introductory part and scroll down, and if not, we suggest paying attention to a small analysis at the very beginning of the article. The whole text will take 10-15 minutes of your time. If you still have any questions, please contact us.

First of all, let's figure out what templates are and what they are for. Templates are a form in which you need to put the content of your messages to customers. But not all messages, but only those that initiate communication with customers (notifications) or respond to an incoming user request (customer support messages) – such messages are paid and their cost can be found on the official Facebook (Meta) website.

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API providers set their own mark-up for template messages, which can vary from 10 to 50%, so carefully study the provider's offer. For example, we do not have additional margins, but if they appear, we will definitely notify our partners.

After the start of the dialogue with the client, a 24-hour window opens without template free communication, in which managers can freely communicate with clients through the API directly, CRM systems or through a Chatbot.

Secondly, templates are also a tool to ensure a certain level of "quality" of communication in WhatsApp. Facebook Facebook (Meta) has repeatedly noted that it is important for the Messenger to protect users from spam and marketing mailings, so all templates are checked and approved by Facebook (Meta).

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At the end of 2021, there were changes in the Facebook (Meta) policy. The company decided to simplify the work of the business and actually allowed marketing mailings. This means that now a rare message template can be blocked for its excessive "advertising".

Creating and checking a template can take from 5 minutes to a day. The average time is a couple of hours.

Template Categories

There are several categories of templates in total. They will be available to you when working with templates in the Chat API personal account.

AUTO_REPLY-auto-response, a universal response to client requests;
ACCOUNT_UPDATE-account update;
PAYMENT_UPDATE-payment update;
PERSONAL_FINANCE_UPDATE-personal finance update;
SHIPPING_UPDATE-purchase update;
RESERVATION_UPDATE - updating the reservation;
ISSUE_RESOLUTION - solution of the issue;
APPOINTMENT_UPDATE - update of the meeting (business);
TRANSPORTATION_UPDATE-transport update;
TICKET_UPDATE - information about the request-It means updates of the news topic on your request;
ALERT_UPDATE – important or urgent notification.

Despite their abundance, these categories can be treated somewhat conditionally. The category system was introduced to simplify accounting and sort of send customers what messages in general Meta would like to see from its partners. It will be useful for us to divide the templates into:
"Notifications" - are outgoing message templates that initiate communication with the user;
"Customer Support Messages - are templates for processing incoming requests from users and customers.

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Once again, your correspondence with the user does not have to be based only on templates. Templates are a tool for the first contact with the user. After initiating communication (from your side or from the client's side), you can communicate with the client in a free form. If the message goes beyond the 24-hour window, then you will have to pay for it.

The cost of sending template messages

Since February 2022, Meta has switched to a new payment system for template messages – Conversation model. Now the fee will be charged for the initiated dialogue, and not just for notification from the business, as it was before 2022.

How does it work?

Previously, the owners of WABA numbers paid only for outgoing template messages that initiated communication with users. After that, a 24-hour window of free communication opened. All incoming messages were free. Now the dialogue with the user has become the service for which you need to pay, and it doesn't matter who initiates the communication: business or client. In both cases, the dialog will be considered paid.

For example, you send a template message to a client to initiate communication with him, the client responds to your message, thereby opening a "Dialog". This case is a dialogue that was initiated by the business, and it has its own cost.  If a client writes to you and you respond, then in this case it is a dialogue initiated by the client, and it also has its own separate cost. You can find out the current prices here.

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One of the good innovations is that now each WABA Account gets at its disposal 1000 free dialogues per month, which may well be enough for the gratuitous use of small businesses. You can learn more about the new payment system for template messages in our separate material.

Meta Requirements for Template Messages
For our convenience, we can divide all Meta requirements into two large groups:

1 - Requirements that refer us to the rules and principles of the Meta policy;
2 - Technical requirements.

Meta Policy

- The message must not contain offensive content or threatening statements;

- You cannot distribute information on WhatsApp that violates the requirements of the messenger's policy, for example: cryptocurrency, medical consultations, alcohol, prohibited substances, etc. You can get acquainted with WhatsApp's trade policy here.

- The user should wait for your message or it should somehow be related to his previous actions with your company - it would be better if the template contains vocabulary: "account registration", "payment", "subscription", "contacted", etc. This does not mean that it is impossible to start communication without similar phrases, in the case of transactional notifications it will not work any other way, just if the template shows a "lasting" pattern of communication with the client, then this is an additional plus;

- You can not collect or distribute confidential information about the client – if your marketing campaign requires the collection of personal data, it is better to move the campaign to the space of an Internet resource, and use WhatsApp to attract users there;

- Game design tools are prohibited (quizzes or other forms of competitive games cannot be arranged).

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Let's leave a little hint. Meta checks the content of templates, but not the content of variables, which you will read about below. This means that you will be able to specify links or information in variables that could not be passed in the "body" of the letter. Of course, it is not worth abusing this, the template can be blocked even after its approval, but additional space for maneuvering still opens up.


Technical requirements
The list of conditional technical requirements is somewhat broader. Here are the main ones:

- Do not use URL shorteners such as bit.ly, tinyurl, etc– - all because of WhatsApp's suspicions that they may be hiding the true destination of the link;

- Use variable parameters correctly (for example, {{1}}, {{2}}, etc.) - two curly brackets on the right and left. Follow the grammar of the letter. Meta can return a template if it notices grammatical or punctuation errors;

 - The language of the message content must correspond to the selected language;

- If you want to add media to your template, the media type must also be selected before sending for approval: image (JPG/PNG) or document (PDF). It is impossible to coordinate templates with both the image and the document. You do not need to coordinate the images and files themselves, but you need to attach a sample of the files being sent.


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If you are sending a template message to a new number, then be sure to use the \Contact method before this. This is Facebook's requirement to work with the WhatsApp Business API when sending newsletters. You can find more information about the rules of mailing you can find here.
 
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You can view the full list of all restrictions here.

How do I create template messages?

It is possible to create a template message and send it for moderation through your personal Chat API account. To do this, go to the existing WhatsApp Business API instance and select the Create a new template message section.

 

Come up with a name for the template. The name of the template can be written only in English and in lowercase letters. You can use the underlining "_". The title should reflect the content of the message or its message. If you mark the template "Test" or "Demo", it will be approved faster.
Next, we proceed to filling the template.

Header

The title is the introductory part of your template. The title can be either with media content (picture, document, video), or simple text with variables. You can skip the header, since it is not a mandatory element, unlike the body, but when using media files in the header, you need to include a link to the attached file.



Template Body

The main part of your template. This section can only be text with possible variables. It is a mandatory part of the template. Using the control panel, you can edit the text of the message, change the style of the letter, and immediately add variables and emoticons.

Footer

The footer supports only text. This is a postscript to the body of the letter, it is executed in a smaller gray font.

Button

Buttons are an interactive tool that adds the ability for customers to make a quick request for information or services. Each button contains no more than 20 characters. There can be no more than 3 buttons in one message. There are two types of buttons:

Quick_Reply

It is used to provide quick answers to possible customer questions. For example, if you offer a certain service, then the button may contain a response to a request for additional information about the service or about your company.

Call_To_Action
This type of buttons encourages the client to perform a certain action. Actions can be divided into two subspecies.

- Phone_Number - the phone number will be sewn into the text of the button, by clicking on which the call will be made.
- Url - by clicking on the button, a link to the website / video or other material that you specify will be clicked.

You cannot use Call to action and Quick replay in the same template message at the same time. In Call to action, it is possible to specify only two buttons at the same time. One phone number and one link. When submitting a template for moderation, you must specify examples of filling in the fields in the preview. Without examples, the template is not accepted for moderation.

After completing all the template elements, click save and wait for the verification to finish. You can view the ready status of your template in the main menu of the instance. The time to check the template takes from literally a couple of minutes to a day.

 

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Important! After the template is approved, it cannot be edited. You can only create a new template.

Template statuses

The life of the template begins from the moment of its initial editing and has a dynamic development in the process of its use. A message template can have multiple statuses:

1 - Draft - The template has not been approved yet;
2 - Pending - Meta has been accepted for processing and needs to wait;
3 - Approved - The template has been verified and you can work with it;
4 - Rejected - Template failed validation;
5 - Marked - the template received a warning, as it is often marked as spam. The template is still available for submission;
6 - Blocked- the template is disabled due to the poor quality of messages, it cannot be sent.

Recommendations

Do not forget that even if the template has been verified and has become "approved", it may lose this status over time. First of all, this is affected by the reaction of WhatsApp users to your messages. If the message is frequently marked as undesirable, the template may be blocked.

Therefore, be careful about the content of messages for customers, do not send the same messages, add variety, make communication with the user interesting and desirable. It is also worth adding the ability to unsubscribe from mailings, otherwise the client may start blocking the number.

 

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