Indeed, WhatsApp opened its door to businesses! Despite that, the user experience is still at the core of the company's interest. And so, even if you applied for WhatsApp Business API, had your WhatsApp message templates approved, and created your WhatsApp bot, it’s not over.
Before you start notifying and chatting, you need to design a WhatsApp Opt-In that users are willing to agree to.
Since the rules are quite strict, we put together the ultimate guide to WhatsApp Business opt-in tactics.
What is WhatsApp Business Opt-in?
WhatsApp opt-in is the agreement of your lead or client to receive messages and notifications from your business via WhatsApp.
An opt-in cannot happen via WhatsApp. Users must provide you with their number via another 3rd-party channel your business uses (website, app, email, SMS, etc.). You must obtain an opt-in before you engage with customers via the messaging app. It’s your responsibility to store your opt-ins and ensure that users are only receiving what they signed up for.
What Are the Rules and Restrictions?
Given how much work goes into setting up the WhatsApp Business API, you don’t want to expose your WhatsApp business profile to any unnecessary risks.
So, before we proceed to look at some efficient opt-in strategies, you must cement the rules:
- The WhatsApp Business solution opt-in must be an ACTIVE Opt-In. Active opt-in means the agreement MUST be triggered by user action, be it entering their phone number or checking a visual element such as a box to communicate their consent.
- Users must have control over what phone number is being used through the availability of explicit action (e.g., entering the phone number or being given the option to edit it).
- The opt-in messaging must clearly state WHAT TYPE of information the user is signing up to receive and that this information will be sent in the form of messages on WhatsApp. E.g. shipping status notifications, transaction notifications, new content/product updates, etc.
- The formatting must contain these required language elements: “receive [type-of-information], [WhatsApp logo and name], on [number].”
- You may only initiate chats using an approved Message Template.
- After a user opts in to chat with you, you may continue that conversation for up to 24 hours after the last message sent to you by the user without charge. Outside that time window, you may only send messages via approved Message Templates (Need more information? Explore some WhatsApp template examples!).
- You can set up automated messages when replying to a user within the 24-hour window, but that must include direct escalation paths to a human agent.
WhatsApp Opt-in FAQs
- What if a customer reaches out to you on WhatsApp for customer service?
Nope. That doesn’t count as an opt-in. Yes, you are free to respond to the customer query, but it doesn’t qualify you to send them template notifications. The only possible exception to sending out a template message in this situation is if that template is the “issue_resolution” kind, makes part of your usual customer support thread, and is sent out with the 24-hour Customer Support Window.
- What if you advertise for people to call on WhatsApp, does that count?
In order for this to count, you still must create a flow that follows the rules and features all key elements mentioned above (on their website or special landing page). Users must understand that by calling, they are opting in to receive a clearly specified type of message on WhatsApp.
- Is one checkbox enough to ask users to opt-in for multiple channels (e.g. WhatsApp and SMS)?
No. WhatsApp opt-in absolutely has to have its own checkbox featuring its name and logo.
- Is WhatsApp checking if businesses are following the rules?
Yes, they are! WhatsApp conducts routine checks on opt-in flows as well as monitors quality signals (e.g. if too many people start blocking you, you might be up for a review).
4 Strategies to Collect WhatsApp Opt-ins
You can use several smooth tactics to introduce the WhatsApp opt-in to your customers while complying with the guidelines.
Give checking a box a bit of style!
Disclaimer: Whichever way you decide to collect your opt-ins, make sure to follow WhatsApp brand guidelines using proper logotype in all your visual communication.
1. Create Opt-in Opportunities on Your Website
There is no better place to get started than on your own website. After all, consumers come here to find out more about you.
You can promote opt-in by either using a pop-up, fixing a banner at the bottom of the page, or placing a CTA snippet in strategic website locations that are particularly relevant to your business.
2. Design a Dedicated Landing Page
The next good option is creating a dedicated landing page. This strategy is particularly handy when:
- Introducing your WhatsApp services for the very first time;
- Running WhatsApp-centered marketing campaign (e.g., for lead generation.)
It gives you more space to be creative and super easy to distribute and promote.
What’s most important, ensure that your landing page is fully responsive and optimized for any type of mobile device. After all, mobile users are your target audience.
3. Leverage 3rd-Party Channels
Usually, the best way to get the word to your customers is by leveraging the communication channels you already know and use. Getting people to opt-in using your most responsive communication channel, be it SMS, website chatbot, email, app notification, or social media, is likely to get the job done.
However, remember to comply with the guidelines!
For instance, SMS may seem like an easy way to get an opt-in, but it doesn’t give you the chance to include the full WhatsApp logo. So, for example, instead of using SMS as a direct opt-in, use it as an announcement with a link to a landing page where you can easily follow the rules.
4. Enrich the Existing Flow
Since one of the main applications of WhatsApp Business API is sending notifications such as purchase confirmations, delivery status updates, e-tickets, and boarding passes, one of the best places to ask people to opt in is during checkout.
Retail, logistics, and travel businesses, in particular, can benefit from this one since consumers engaging with them are used to sharing their phone numbers in these instances already, and having WhatsApp can only help tighten the customer-business relationship.
However, check-out is not the only part of your flow that can benefit from WhatsApp opt-in CTA. A reasonable time to ask users for their consent is during a sign-up process or when filling out a static or conversational contact form.
Again, this will come very naturally as these are the times and places most businesses will ask you which way you prefer to be contacted. Though, be sure to specify (or let them choose) what kind of messages they will receive!
To Sum Things Up
Asking for WhatsApp opt-in might be a bit tricky. However, as long as you make the user experience your highest priority and keep things transparent, you shouldn’t struggle whether you are using WhatsApp for sales, WhatsApp for the hospitality sector, eCommerce, customer support, or other applications.
Just keep it clean, make it simple, and don’t mess with the WhatsApp logo.
Bonus point: check out our article on Click-to-WhatsApp ads to explore further benefits of WhatsApp chat marketing.