WhatsApp Templates 101 - Part 1

August 16, 2021

What are templates and why do they exist

WhatsApp has two main types of messages: Session messages and templates. Session messages can only be sent within 24 hours from your customer's last message. For all other cases (re-engaging with customers after the 24 hours have expired, sending account updates, proactively contacting them, etc.) only pre-approved WhatsApp templates can be used.

Pricing from WhatsApp and different providers

WhatsApp will charge you for every template message you send, depending on your region. Costs are listed in the official WhatsApp price list.

Some providers add charges on top of this fee. Twilio and MessageBird, for example, bill an extra $0.005 for every template. Our preferred partner 360dialog doesn't charge any additional fees.



Template types and structure

There are three template types: text-based, media-based, and interactive templates. They are similar in structure, but media-based and interactive templates are more complex and contain additional elements.

Any template message should have a:

  • Name,
  • Body,
  • Category,
  • Language.

Template name

Message template name can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores ( _ ). No other characters or white spaces are allowed.

Examples of valid message template names:

  • order_confirmation
  • booking_request
  • customergreeting2

Examples of invalid message template names:

  • Order_confirmation
  • booking request
  • customer_Greeting2

Template body

For text-based templates, bodies can contain up to 1024 characters and can be registered as plain text, or text with placeholders. You can include placeholders for variables or parameters that you'd like to fill in later on, to cater your message for each customer.

There is no limit to the number of parameters allowed in a message template. It will be up to WhatsApp to approve or reject your template, so it's important that your template has a clear purpose.

Parameters are defined using curly brackets and a number in between them, as shown in the following example:

Hello {{1}}, your order has been shipped. Your tracking number is {{2}}. Enjoy your purchase.

The above message can be customized to say:

Hello Mark, your order has been shipped. Your tracking number is 584475412. Enjoy your purchase.

WhatsApp allows you to format text inside your messages:

  • To italicize your message, place an underscore on both sides of the text: text
  • To bold your message, place an asterisk on both sides of the text: text

View the official guidelines for more on WhatsApp text formatting.

Template Language

When creating a template you need to choose a language and create your template in this chosen language. WhatsApp has a list of supported languages.

Media-based message templates

Media-based message templates have a more complex structure.

They can have:

  • Header - With text, image, video, or documents
  • Footer

Interactive message templates

Interactive message templates include interactive buttons. These buttons can be attached to text messages or media messages.

There are two types of predefined buttons offered by WhatsApp:

  • Call-to-Action — Allows your customer to call a phone number or visit a website
  • Quick Reply — Allows your customer to return a simple text message


Use cases and Template categories

You can use templates in many different ways. For updates, for follow-ups, to share account details, shipment updates, and many more. The following are a list of template categories defined by WhatsApp:

Account Update

If using your services requires customers to register an account, you can inform clients that an account has been created. You can also let customers know of a change to their account settings. It can include a change of the password, update of preferences, expired membership, and many more.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

To reset your password, click this link {{2}}.

Alert Update

This category is used for sending important updates or news to customers. You can notify your customers of something informational, like business hours for upcoming holidays.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋 Please note that our store is closed on holiday from December 24 to December 26.

Merry Christmas.

Appointment Update With this category, you can send various updates related to your customers' appointments. It includes confirmations, reminders, cancelations, or a change to an existing appointment.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

You scheduled an appointment with {{2}} at {{3}} on {{4}}. We're located at 4723 Hudson Street Newark, NJ 07102. Thank you and see you soon.

Auto-reply

When your business isn’t online or available to respond right away, you can send auto-replies to your customers. For instance, auto-replies can be used if your company is on holiday or during weekends.

Example:

Hey there 👋 Thank you for your message. We don't operate during weekends, but we'll answer your questions first thing on Monday. Please share any additional details now, so we could help you right away. Have a nice weekend.

Issue Resolution

By using this category, you can give customers updates on the problem they experience with your product. You can send status messages to communicate that issue is resolved or escalated, or if you need additional information from a customer.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

The issue {{2}}, that you reported, has been resolved. Thank you for your patience.

Please let us know If it reoccurs. We'll be here to provide you our support.

Payment Update

If you want to send your customer a message about their payment, you can use this category of templates. You can notify customers when their payment is received or if it was declined. Receipts can be sent using this category as well.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

We have received your payment for {{2}}, order number {{3}}. Thank you! Your order is on its way. We will send you an update when it's ready to collect. Thank you.

Personal Finance Update

This category would be useful for financial organizations or insurance companies, who need to send messages about customers' personal finances and financial activity, like funds transfer confirmation or updates.

Example:

Hi {{1}},

You requested your account statement. Please use this link {{2}} to access it.

Reservation Update

This category is highly relevant for hotel or restaurant owners. Confirmations, reminders, or any other reservation updates can be sent to customers using this category. You can confirm a hotel room or a table reservation or cancelation.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

You booked a table for {{2}} on {{3}} at {{4}}. Thank you and see you soon!

Shipping Update

It's important for most customers to keep track of their orders. Use this category of templates to keep them posted on when their order is shipped, in transit, or delayed. And of course, let your customers know when their package is delivered.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

Your order {{2}} is ready to collect at {{3}}. It will wait for you until {{4}}.

Ticket Update

If your business needs to share any kind of ticketing information with customers, please use this category. You can send updates or reminders for an event for which a person already has a ticket. If a concert start time or event location has changed or if a show is canceled (oh no!), you can quickly update all of the attendees via WhatsApp. Sending e-tickets is also an option!

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

Your tickets for {{2}} are here: {{3}}

Have fun!

Transportation Update

As an air, bus, train or any other passenger transport company you can use Transportation Updates for sharing tickets. You can also share information about rescheduled or delayed departures, lost luggage, and many more.

Example:

Hi {{1}} 👋

Here is your boarding pass for flight number {{2}}: {{3}}. Thank you for choosing our company.

Translations

Some Business Solution Providers support multilingual templates. If your company operates in several languages, you can apply for one template with multiple translations, instead of several templates with the same content in different languages. This is how it looks like in 360dialog (our preferred WhatsApp partner) dashboard:

Please note that WhatsApp does not do any translations for you, so you'll need to translate all of your templates upon application.



Examples of rejected templates

Templates that are not informative or useful for your customers will be rejected. Promotional templates are currently not allowed. Ideally, your template should clearly imply that a customer has contacted you before and is expecting your message.

A template may also be rejected if it has no call for action or is simply grammatically incorrect. Here are a few examples of templates that were rejected by WhatsApp.

A template is not informative:

Example:

Hi {{1}}, it's {{2}} from The App.

How you can improve it:

Hi {{1}}, it's {{2}}, your personal manager from The App. You just requested assistance via WhatsApp. Please answer this message so I could solve your inquiry.

It's not clear if your customer actually contacted you first:

Example:

Hi {{1}}! We're happy to inform you that {{3}} was fixed. Please check!

How to improve it:

Hi {{1}}! Recently you reported an issue {{2}}. We're happy to inform you that it was fixed. Please let us know if it works for you. If you need any help please answer this message.

Example:

Hi there, we haven't heard from you in a while, is everything ok?

How to improve it:

Hi {{1}}! Your message reached us while we were not available, may we contact you concerning your question again? If so please send us another message. Thank you.

or

Hello {{1}}, We have an update on your earlier question/inquiry, please reply with "yes" in order for us to continue our conversation with you 🙌

A template is promotional:

Example:

Hi, may I know if you would like to join our service?

Hey {{1}}! Install our app to keep all your health records structured in one place!

How to improve it:

Promotional templates are not allowed and will be rejected. There are some exceptions which we'll talk more about in Part 2 of this series.


To be continued! Thank you for reading!