Practical Guide

The Practical Guide To WhatsApp Message Template (Jul 2021)

Chris Lai
Content Writer, Respond.io
May 20, 2021

WhatsApp doesn’t allow businesses to message customers anytime they want - you can only send Message Templates after 24 hours. In this blog, we’ll be answering questions like what are WhatsApp Message Templates and how to use them. And we’ll walk you through the rules for using WhatsApp Message Template. You’ll also find step-by-step guides to creating Message Templates on 360dialog, Twilio & Vonage. Plus, we’ve put together a list of reasons WhatsApp might reject a Message Template, as well as the best practices that will get your Message Template approved.

WhatsApp Template Message: An Introduction

You can't message your customers anytime you want on WhatsApp - after 24 hours from the customer’s last message, businesses are only allowed to reply with WhatsApp Message Templates (also known as WhatsApp Template Messages).

This is a picture of a WhatsApp Message Template . What is a WhatsApp Message Template? Message Templates are pre-approved WhatsApp messages with customizable segments called Placeholders. They are a handy way to reopen the 24-hour Messaging Window, but WhatsApp only allows Template Messaging for certain use cases.
How WhatsApp Message Template Looks

WhatsApp Message Templates are pre-approved messages with customizable Placeholders, media headers and Quick Reply & Call-to-Action buttons. They are a handy way to reopen the 24-hour Messaging Window, but only for certain use cases.

WhatsApp Message Template: Categories and Use Cases

WhatsApp Message Templates are designed for sending transactional notifications. Here are the approved use cases of Message Templates by Category:

  • Account Update: Notify customers of changes to their accounts.
  • Alert Update: Send important updates or news.
  • Appointment Update: Send appointment confirmations or reminders.
  • Auto-Reply: Send auto-replies to customers when you are away.
  • Issue Resolution: Respond to customer inquiries or feedback.
  • Payment Update: Send a payment-related message.
  • Personal Finance Update: Send a message related to personal finances.
  • Reservation Update: Send reservation confirmations or reminders.
  • Shipping Update: Send shipping updates about an order.
  • Ticket Update: Send ticketing information.
  • Transportation Update: Send transportation updates.

Other than use case restrictions, WhatsApp also created a set of rules on what can go into a WhatsApp Business Message Template and how it should look.

WhatsApp Template Message: Know the Rules

When it comes to Template Messaging, there are two types of rules - content rules and formatting rules.

WhatsApp Message Template: Content Rules

To protect its users from spam and harmful content, WhatsApp has come up with four rules on what businesses can't send with Message Templates:

  • Transactional content only
  • No threatening content
  • No data collection
  • No contests or quizzes

WhatsApp doesn’t allow non-transactional content in Message Templates. What counts as non-transactional content? Upselling, cold-calling, sending newsletters, and even including phrases that sound promotional are all considered non-transactional.

This is a picture of content rules of WhatsApp Message Template. To protect its users from spam and harmful content, WhatsApp has come up with four rules on what businesses can't send with Message Templates: Transactional content only, no threatening content, no data collection, and contests or quizzes
Message Template Content Restrictions

There's one exception to this rule: It does not apply to businesses registered in Mexico and Indonesia. Starting October 2020, WhatsApp has rolled out non-transactional Message Templates in these countries. Other countries like Spain, Brazil & the US subsequently followed suit.

WhatsApp Message Templates cannot contain threatening or abusive content. For example, Message Templates that threaten customers with legal action if they don't pay back their loans are not allowed.

Moreover, businesses can't collect data using WhatsApp Message Templates. While polls are out of the question, a survey after an experience is fine. Similarly, you can't request sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers through Message Templates.

Last but not least, Message Templates should not contain any content related to quizzes, contests, or anything that involves skills or chance.

In addition to the content restrictions above, you need to comply with WhatsApp Message Template formatting rules.

WhatsApp Message Template: Formatting Rules

WhatsApp has different formatting rules for Message Template Name, Body and Placeholder.

The Message Template Name can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores. Other special characters and spaces are not allowed.

This is an image of the formatting rules of WhatsApp  Message Template Name. The Message Template Name can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores. Special characters and spaces are not allowed.
The Formatting Rules Of Message Template Name

The Message Template Body cannot contain tabs or more than 4 consecutive spaces. The character limit for Message Body is 1,024 characters. This includes letters, numbers, special characters, and emojis.

This is an image of the formatting rules of WhatsApp Message Template Body. The Message Template Body cannot contain tabs or more than 4 consecutive spaces. The character limit for Message Body is 1,024 characters. This includes letters, numbers, special characters, and emojis.
The Formatting Rules Of Message Template Body

Placeholders must be written with 2 double curly brackets on the left side of the number and 2 on the right side. For example, {{1}}. When customizing the content of a Placeholder, you may include letters, numbers, or even special characters.

This is an image of the formatting rules of WhatsApp Message Template Placeholders. Placeholders must be written with 2 double curly brackets on the left side of the number and 2 on the right side. For example, {{1}}. When customizing the content of a Placeholder, you may include letters, numbers, or even special characters.
The Formatting Rules of Placeholders

To send Media Message Templates which includes images, videos and documents to your Contacts, make sure your media size follows the platform limitations. Also, only PDF documents are supported when uploading a document in your Message Template.

Now that you understand the Message Template rules, it's time to learn how to create a Message Template for WhatsApp.

How to Create a WhatsApp Template Message

Depending on your WhatsApp Partner, there are two main methods to create a WhatsApp Message Template - from the Partner’s Console or via respond.io. When done, you’ll need to submit the templates to the WhatsApp Partner for approval before use.

In this section, we'll walk you through the steps on creating and submitting Message Templates for 360dialog, Vonage and Twilio WhatsApp accounts.

How to Create a 360dialog WhatsApp Message Template on respond.io

Creating WhatsApp Message Templates for the 360dialog WhatsApp account is now a much simpler process. We’ve recently made it possible to create & submit templates directly from respond.io instead of having to create them from the 360 Client Hub.

1. On respond.io, go to Settings > Channel > WhatsApp 360dialog > Templates.

On es.respond.io, go to Settings > Channel > WhatsApp 360dialog > Templates.
Create a WhatsApp Message Template on respond.io from Settings

2. Click Submit Template to create a new WhatsApp Template.

Click Submit Template to create a new WhatsApp Template.
Click Submit Templates to Start Creating New WhatsApp Templates

3. Fill in your Template Name, Category, Language and Template Body.

Fill in your Template Name, Category, Language and Template Body.
Fill in the Required Fields for WhatsApp Template Approval

4. Add the Message Template Body with correct formatting and make sure the content adheres to WhatsApp’s Business and Commerce Policies.

Add the Message Template Body with correct formatting and make sure the content adheres to WhatsApp’s policies.
Fill in the WhatsApp Template Body

5. Include any Headers in the form of text, image, video or document if needed.

Include any Headers in the form of text, image, video or document if needed.
Media Message Template for WhatsApp

6. Add a Call-to-Action or Quick Reply button, then click Submit.

Add a Call-to-Action or Quick Reply button, then click Submit.
Call-to-Action and Quick Reply Footer Buttons for WhatsApp Template

Adding an interactive button is optional but highly recommended if you want to improve customer response and conversion rates.

7. Then, key in the Sample Values for the template.

Then, key in the Sample Values for the template.
WhatsApp Template Sample Values

Do note that you’ll need to include Sample Values for all the placeholders before submission. Templates without samples will be rejected by WhatsApp. Hence, you can only click Submit once all the placeholder samples are filled in.

8. Lastly, Sync Templates once you’ve submitted the Message Template for approval.

Lastly, Sync Templates once you’ve submitted the Message Template for approval.
WhatsApp Message Template Status and Last Synced Time

Once synced, you can see the template status in your Message Template list after submission. If it appears as:

  • Submitted: It’s still under review and pending approval.
  • Approved: It can now be used to message Contacts.
  • Rejected: It cannot be used. The Rejection Reason is shown to help you understand why the templates got rejected. We’ll explain more about the rules in the following sections.

Next, we’ll look at creating Message Templates for Users with Vonage accounts. The process is similar to 360dialog, but with a small configuration difference. We’ll discuss more in the next section.

How to Create a Vonage WhatsApp Message Template on respond.io

Vonage Users can now create and submit the templates on respond.io without using Facebook Business Manager. Compared to 360dialog, Vonage Users have to go through an extra step before creating the templates as the Vonage syncing system is different.

To start, you’ll need to fill in your WhatsApp Business Account ID and User Access Token in the respond.io Configure Dialog. You can retrieve these credentials from the Vonage Customer Solution Architect.

To start, you’ll need to fill in your WhatsApp Business Account ID and User Access Token in the es.respond.io Configure Dialog. You can retrieve these credentials from the Vonage Customer Solution Architect.
Vonage Users: Add WABA ID and User Access Token to Enable Message Template on respond.io

Once these two credentials are in, you’re now ready to create, submit and sync your Message Templates on respond.io. From here on, the whole process is similar to what we’ve discussed for 360dialog.

Next, we’ll look at creating Message Templates for Twilio Users. Twilio is an exception here as Users are still required to create and submit the templates separately on Twilio’s Console before adding them to respond.io.

How to Create a WhatsApp Message Template on Twilio

To create a Message Template through Twilio, log into Twilio Console and navigate to Programmable Messaging > Senders > WhatsApp Templates.

1. Click New Message Template.

This is a picture of how to create Message Template via Twilio. First, Click New Message Template.
New Message Template Button On Twilio Console

2. Fill out the requested information such as Message Template Name, Category, Language, and Body.

This is an image of how to create WhatsApp Message Template  via Twilio. Fill out the requested information such as Name, Category, Language, and Body.
Submitting a New Message Template Via Twilio

Once you’re done, submit the Message Template for approval. After submitting a Message Template, it will be reviewed by WhatsApp. Message Templates are usually approved by WhatsApp within 48 hours.

Check your WhatsApp Template’s approval status in the Partner's console. Once your Message Template gets approved, connect to a WhatsApp Inbox like respond.io and add the approved Message Templates to start sending them.

However, there are occasions where submitted WhatsApp Message Templates get rejected for a myriad of reasons. Read on to find out why WhatsApp reject certain Message Templates and how to avoid submitting templates that are prone to rejection.

Reasons WhatsApp Template Messages Get Rejected

Here are some reasons why WhatsApp might reject your Message Template submission. We’ve also included some examples of rejected Message Templates to give you an idea of what’s not allowed.

The Content Is Non-Transactional In Nature

You may think that WhatsApp only rejects Message Templates with overt advertising, but WhatsApp policy also prohibits Message Templates with subtle marketing words or phrases.

Your order {{1}} has been confirmed. Thank you for shopping at Lazora, the world’s leading online fashion destination.

Your Message Template Asks For Sensitive Information

WhatsApp will reject Message Templates that collect data from users or ask for sensitive information.

Hi {{1}}, please share your full credit card number to proceed.

You Didn't Get the Formatting Right

WhatsApp is notoriously fussy when it comes to the formats of Message Template Name, Message Body, and Placeholder. Even the slightest formatting mistake can cause your Message Template to be rejected.

Dear {1}, you have an appointment scheduled with us on {3} at {2}. We look forward to seeing you!

Your Message Template Has Spelling or Grammatical Errors

If your Message Template contains misspellings or grammatical errors, it may be deemed untrustworthy and get rejected.

Hii {{1}} Thanks you for your subscription.

Your Message Template Has Floating Placeholders

WhatsApp will reject Message Templates containing lines with just Placeholders and no text because they could be abused to spam customers.

Hi {{1}}, {{2}}. {{3}}.

Your Message Template Is Too Generic

WhatsApp will reject Message Templates that don’t provide sufficient detail on how they will be used.

Reminder: {{1}}.

Your Message Template Name Is Unclear

WhatsApp reviewers may reject your Message Template if the Name doesn’t give context around how it will be used.

template_1

You Chose the Wrong Category

WhatsApp may reject your Messages Template if the Category selected doesn’t match the content. Case in point: labelling a Message Template about a successful payment as a Shipping Update.

The Chosen Language Didn't Match the Content

Your Message Template must match the Language you’ve selected. For instance, if you select English as the Language but the content is in Spanish, your Message Template will be rejected.

You've Exceeded the Number of Message Templates Allowed

Each WhatsApp API account can only own a limited number of Message Templates. If you need more, open a support ticket with your Partner stating your reason. WhatsApp may approve a higher limit at its discretion.

Getting your Message Template right might seem difficult, but there are things you can do to stand a better chance of having your submission approved.

WhatsApp Message Template: Best Practices

In this section, we've put together a list of best practices when creating and using Message Templates. Plus, we’ve included some examples of what approved Message Templates look like.

Make Sure The Content Is Transactional

Avoid adding any promotional words or phrases, no matter how subtle they are. If it helps, read your Message Template out loud to see if it sounds salesy.

Your order {{1}} has been confirmed. Thank you for shopping at Lazora.

Double Check the Formatting

WhatsApp enforces the formatting rules of Message Templates strictly. Make sure you use the appropriate formatting. For instance, using double curly brackets for Placeholders and writing the numbers in the Placeholders in sequence.

Dear {{1}}, you have an appointment scheduled with us on {{2}} at {{3}}. We look forward to seeing you!

Proofread Your Message Template

WhatsApp will reject Message Templates that include even minor spelling or grammatical mistakes. Check for any grammatical error or misspelling before submitting your Message Template.

Hi {{1}}, thank you for your subscription.

Make It Clear How You Intend to Use The Placeholders

Floating Placeholders are a definite no-no. Surround the Placeholders with information so that it’s clear what type of content will be inserted.

Hi {{1}}, your credit card application {{2}} has been approved. You’ll receive your card by {{3}}.

Give Your Message Template a Meaningful Name

WhatsApp is more likely to approve a Message Template with a Name that provides context around its purpose.

order_delivery

Don't Put URL Shorteners In The Message Body

WhatsApp doesn't recommend using a URL shortener such as bit.ly or tinyurl because they obscure the intended link destination. A workaround is to use URL shorteners in your Placeholder instead of the Message Body.

Your return request {{1}} has been generated. Visit {{2}} to learn more about our return policy.

Remind Your Customers Why They Received Your Message

In your Message Template, remind your customers that they’ve given you permission to send the messages. For example, make it clear that you are following up on a previous inquiry.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to respond to your inquiry on {{1}}. Please reply ‘yes’ if you’d like to continue the conversation.

Get Your Message Template Right the First Time

You can't edit your Message Template once it's approved. Make sure you are happy with your Message Template before submitting it.

Try Again If Message Template Gets Rejected

Sometimes it’s not even that clear why one Message Template is approved while the other gets rejected. It may take a few tries to get a WhatsApp Message Template approved.

Contact Your Partner When All Else Fails

If resubmissions continue to be rejected, open a support ticket with your WhatsApp Partner explaining the issue in detail. Your Partner can request that WhatsApp reconsider the rejected Message Template.

Obtain Customer Opt-In Before Sending Message Templates

Just because you have customers' numbers doesn't mean they have opted in. You should always get active consent from customers before sending WhatsApp Message Templates.

Don't Spam Your Customers

Avoid sending Message Templates too frequently or customers might opt out. Worse, they may mark your business as spam. Having your Message Templates marked as spam will affect your account’s Quality Rating and your Message Template may be disabled.

As a general rule, you should stick to the Messaging Limit of your WhatsApp API account.

Further Reading

And that’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp Message Template. If you're interested in more information about WhatsApp for Business, check out these articles:

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