WhatsApp opt-in practices

August 2, 2021

WhatsApp Business is a fantastic tool to keep your customers updated on your latest products and services. Before sending proactive messages and notifications to your customers you're required to first obtain their permission. This is known as opt-in, and is one of the official rules for WhatsApp Business communications.

In this article we will explain what WhatsApp opt-ins are, and more importantly - how your business can collect them.

If you're curious about what happens when you don't ask for your customers' permission before contacting them, we highlight that as well. Stay tuned!

What is opt-in

An 'opt-in' is a method of obtaining the consent of your contacts before you send them any kind of proactive notifications on WhatsApp. By opting-in, customers agree to receive future communications from your business.

Why it exists

The opt-in requirement was put in place to protect users from spam (unwanted communication) and to make sure they receive only the messages that they expect. This way, WhatsApp ensures that its users receive only useful information; and only from businesses they want to hear from.

What are the requirements?

The requirements are simple. The WhatsApp Business Policy outlines the following criteria:

  • The business must clearly state that the receiver is opting in to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp
  • The business must clearly state the business name that the receiver is opting in to receive messages from
  • The business must comply with applicable laws

WhatsApp does not put limitations on how you can obtain opt-ins, so it's up to you to provide the best experience to your customers. It should be clear what messages the customer agrees to receive from your company - that's it.

How to collect opt-ins

Businesses can obtain opt-ins in many different ways, both on and off WhatsApp. We'll share with you some ideas that you can use to implement opt-in into your workflow. Regardless of the method, please ensure that opt-in and opt-out flows are clear and intuitive for users.

On your Website

The easiest way is to place it on your existing website’s sign-up form, by adding a checkbox with an input field for your customer's WhatsApp phone number.

Alternatively, you can add a pop up screen or a banner to your website asking for permission to send them messages over WhatsApp.

On WhatsApp

Some customers will reach out to you first with a question or a request. After resolving their original query, you can ask for their permission to send them notifications in the future. It can be a simple message written directly as a reply on WhatsApp, or you can use a WhatsApp template.

Through other channels you use already

Do you already communicate with your existing customers via email, SMS, phone or any other channel? Use these to announce your brand new channel - WhatsApp. Be sure to give them a clear way to opt-in, and don't forget to mention that it's an easier and better supported channel!

There are also ways of collecting opt-ins offline. You can collect consent with physical sign-up forms, or print a QR code on promotional materials like surveys, flyers, brochures or posters for customers to scan to opt in. As usual, sure to make it clear and simple for your customers.

Additional best practices to create a high-quality opt-in experience:

  1. Make sure your messages follow the WhatsApp Business Policy.
  2. Obtain specific opt-ins (by categories) for customers to choose from instead of a single opt-in. Examples of categories are reservation updates, policy updates, appointment reminders, order updates, relevant offers, product recommendations, and so on.
  3. Provide clear instructions for how people can opt-out of receiving specific categories of messages and honor these requests.
  4. Avoid messaging customers too frequently and only send notifications that are really useful.

How Facebook controls this process

People may block or report a business if they feel like they did not opt in to receive messages from them. These user feedbacks affect a business’ quality score, and Facebook’s systems will reduce ratings and limit businesses if their quality score is low for a sustained period of time. They may also proactively evaluate a business’ opt-in flows, including user feedback, to flag policy violations.

Collecting opt-in is obligatory; but as you can see it is also simple. Adhering to the WhatsApp Business Policy will help you to avoid the risk of users blocking or reporting your business, and more importantly, provide a great experience for your customers.