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

First of all, we will understand what templates are and what they are needed for. Templates are the form in which the content of your messages to clients should fit. But not all messages, but only those that initiate communication with customers (notifications) or respond to an incoming user request (customer support messages). These messages are paid, after the start of the dialogue with the client, a 24-hour window of free communication opens, in which managers can freely communicate with clients through the API or CRM systems, or set up a chat bot.

Templates are also a tool for ensuring a certain level of" quality " of communication in WhatsApp. Facebook has repeatedly noted that it is important for the company to protect users from spam and unnecessary marketing mailings, so all templates are checked and approved by Facebook. In other words, your messages that will initiate communication with the user or respond to counter requests from the client must comply with the rules and principles of Facebook, which we will discuss below.

Creating and approving a template can take from 5 minutes to a day. Now there is a tendency to simplify moderation, Facebook is becoming more and more loyal to business requests.

Template categories

There are several categories of templates in total. They will be available to you when working with templates in your personal account Chat API, 360 Dialog and in Facebook Business Manager in WhatsApp 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. Facebook Facebook will reject a template if it clearly violates the company's position on marketing newsletters (for example, there are pronounced calls for purchases), and not because you chose a template that is not intended by Facebook.

The category system was introduced to simplify accounting and sort of sent customers a message about what messages in general Facebook would like to see from its partners. It will be useful for us to divide the templates into outgoing and templates designed to process incoming messages.

1 - "Notifications" are outgoing message templates that initiate communication with the user. They can be used both to "open" a dialogue with the client, and to continue communicating with him during a 24-hour window. All outgoing messages outside the 24-hour window are paid. The cost of such messages is set directly by Facebook and may vary depending on the dollar exchange rate and the number of messages that you have sent during the entire time you have been working with the number. You can get acquainted with the price list here.

2 - "Customer Support Messages" are templates for processing incoming requests from users and customers. Once again, we note that your correspondence with the user does not have to be based only on template messages. 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. All incoming messages are free of charge. If the customer support message goes beyond the 24-hour window, then you will have to pay for it.

Facebook requirements for template messages

For our convenience, we can divide all Facebook requirements into two large groups:

1 – Requirements that refer us to the rules and principles of Facebook's policy.
2 - Technical requirements

Facebook Policy

Facebook has repeatedly stated that the spam protection of WhatsApp users is important for the company. This is partly why Facebook was so slow to introduce the official business API. Continuing this idea, we present a number of Facebook requirements with our comments, which will correlate the requirements with the practical implementation:

 - The message should not be clearly advertising in nature. For example, offers of discounts, coupons, promotions, upselling and cross selling are prohibited – initially, these requirements were strictly observed. The template could be blocked even if the content did not have the nature of an advertising campaign, but popular "marketing phrases"were used in the text. However, now there is a feeling that Facebook has loosened its grip and explicit marketing campaigns are taking place more often;

- The message should not contain offensive content or threatening statements – we think additional comments are not needed here;

- The user should wait for your message or it should somehow be related to his previous actions with your company - it will be better if the template contains the 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 transfer the campaign to the space of an Internet resource, and use WhatsApp to attract users there;
- Game design tools are prohibited (you can not arrange quizzes or other forms of competitive games) – nevertheless, some of its elements are possible, but you need to enter them carefully. It will not be possible to give away gifts via WhatsApp yet, but it is possible to attract attention to contests.

The general message is that communication with the client should not be of a pronounced advertising nature, but rather be a service one. At the same time, this does not exclude the possibility of setting up a fine marketing company. And don't be afraid to experiment, the worst thing that can happen to a template at this stage is that it will simply not be approved.

Let's leave a small hint

Facebook checks the content of templates, but not the content of variables, which you will read about below. This means that you can specify links or information in variables that could not be passed in the "body" of the letter. Facebook should not abuse this, if you start promoting topics prohibited by Facebook through variables, for example, cryptocurrency, then Facebook will definitely notice it.

Technical requirements

The list of conditional technical requirements is somewhat broader. We have identified the following:

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

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

 

- The language of the message content must correspond to the selected language when sending the template for moderation - you can not specify that this is an Russian message template, but write the text in another language;

- If you want to add media to your template, the media type must also be selected before sending it for approval: an image (JPG/PNG) or a 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 must attach a sample of the files being sent.

You can read the full list of all restrictions here.

How do I create template messages?

You can create a template message and send it for moderation through your personal account 360 Dialog, through Facebook Business Manager or through the API itself. If you created templates through Facebook Business Manager, and then decided to continue in the 360 Dialog personal account, it is possible to synchronize the template databases through the functionality of the 360 Dialog personal account.

Let's analyze the creation of a template using the example of the 360 Dialog personal account. To do this, go to the "Templates" section in your personal account.

 

 

Select "Add templates". The Create and Edit Template window opens.

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

Select the language of the template message. We remind you that the language of the message must correspond to the language of the message content.

Select the category you are interested in.

Decide on the type of template. It can be just a text message with variables or a media message with videos, images, documents and" buttons " for interactive interaction.

Write down the content of the message.


Go to the "confirmation" section of the template.

Attach the sample media files and specify the contents of the variables. Send the template to Facebook for verification.

Wait until the template turns green if it is approved, or red if Facebook rejects the application.

Analysis of possible elements of a template message

 Templates can be divided into media and text. This division is present in the 360 Dialog personal account, but it is not present in Facebook Business Manager. Text messages send only text along with possible variables - {{1}}, {{2}} -. While media have the ability to send media files and add interactive tools.  

Templates can have the following elements:

Header – available only in media templates

In the header, you can send:

- Text;
- Image;
- Document;
- Video.

In the future, you will need to attach links to the files you are sending.

Body – available in media and in text templates
The body contains the main array of text information.

Footer (footer) – only in media templates
The footer supports only text. This is a postscript to the body of the letter, it is executed in a smaller gray font.

Button (button) – only in media templates

The button is 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 questions from the client. For example, if you offer a certain service, 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-clicking on the button will translate the link to the site/video or other material that you specify.

 

In Call_To_Action, it is possible to specify only two buttons at the same time. One phone number and one link.

When sending 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.

The time for checking the template takes from just a couple of seconds to a day. If the template passes verification, it turns green and it can be used. If Facebook doesn't like something, the template will be marked in red, and you can continue editing it or create a new one.

Template Statuses

The life of a 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 several statuses:

1-Draft – Gray color-The template has not been approved yet;
2-On moderation-Yellow color – FB has been accepted for processing and you need to wait;
3-Approved-Green color-The template has been verified and you can work with it;
4-Rejected – Red color – The template did not pass verification;
5-Marked-the template received a warning, as it is often marked as spam. The template is still available for sending;
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, carefully treat 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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