WHATSAPP

How to Create Message Templates for WhatsApp API: All You Need to Know

Isthar Marcon
Product Manager, at Landbot
Illustration: Jana Pérez
whatsapp message templates
close button bot

Once you successfully applied for WhatsApp API and activated your phone number(s), the next task on your list is learning how to create WhatsApp message templates. After all, these templates are the most important element of your future WhatsApp campaigns!

Message Types for WhatsApp API 

Before we dive into the template creation process that is simple but strangely complicated, let’s have closer look at what is a WhatsApp message template and all the rules and privileges that make it different from the other messages you can send using WhatsApp API.

Essentially, there are two types of messages you can send to your leads/customers using WhatsApp API Client integration:

  • Session Messages
  • Highly Structured Messages (HSM)

Session Messages

Session messages are reactive messages written in response to a customer inquiry. WhatsApp labeled them as “session messages” since they can only be sent within 24H Customer Care Window.

In other words, WhatsApp is granting you 24 hours to respond to the inquiry for free. 

Session messages, being part of a private conversation between you and your customer, are not subject to a specific format or content rules. You can send text messages, gifs, images, videos, and even voice messages. 

After 24-hours have passed from the user’s last message, the session closes. If you wish to re-initiate a conversation after that time period, you need to send a paid message template.

Highly Structured Messages (HSM)

HSMs are the famous WhatsApp message templates you have been hearing so much about. They are the only way WhatsApp is monetizing the API service. 

There are 5 key things you need to know about HSM. They are:

  • Proactive & Reusable (common notifications business may want to sent to users automatically)
  • Highly Structured (the name doesn’t lie, they have to comply with very strict structure guidelines)
  • Subject to Approval (before they go live, the templates need to be submitted to and pre-approved by WhatsApp)
  • Subject to User Opt-In (although there is no limit to the number of HSM you can send at once, you can only send them to users who previously agreed to be contacted) 
  • Personalized Through Variables (template messages, although automated, allow for a level of personalization using simple variables)
  • (Optionally) Multi-Lingual (the templates allow you to pre-design the same message in multiple languages to connect with users in different countries)

Before the release of the API solution, you could only send up to 256 messages at once to a designated group or broadcast list. In this sense, HSM templates are quite a revolutionary step in the history of WhatsApp as well as one of the most attractive advantages of WhatsApp API. 

Let’s look at all those rules that make them so structured!

Rules of Creating WhatsApp Message Templates

There are two “categories” of rules to take into account: Content Rules and Formating Rules

Content Rules

To be able to send users automated notifications, you need to format message templates in accordance with WhatsApp policies which are strongly user-centric. In other words, WhatsApp cares more about the value you will be providing to your customers rather than the value they are providing to your business. 

And so, promotional and sales-oriented HSM submissions will be rejected - no exceptions!

To increase ​​your chance of approval make sure that: 

  • Verify that your message formatting is correct
  • Your use case complies with WhatsApp's Business Policy and WhatsApp Commerce Policy
  • Ensure your HSM actually fits the use case you have submitted;
  • Ensure you chose the most relevant template category for your use case. It should fall under one of these categories: account update, alert update, appointment update, issue resolution, payment update, personal finance update, reservation update, shipping update, or ticket update;

You will very likely be rejected if your template:

  • Asks for reviews or surveys;
  • Advertises products, services, or events the customer may like.

It’s best to keep Facebook's official Message Template Guidelines at hand!

Formating Rules 

There are specific formatting rules for both the title and content of your template. 

Template Name

WhatsApp message template name can only include lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores

Example: shipping_update  |   order_followup1 

To speed up the approval process, WhatsApp advises businesses to use descriptive names for their templates rather than random ones like “message_124a”. It makes it easier for the person that will be approving your message as well as for you who will manage in a sea of other templates.

Template Content

The content of your template needs also be meticulously formatted. Your HSM template:

  • Can be text-based, media-based (image, video, or document), or interactive (CTA buttons)
Source: Facebook Documentation


  • The text-based content must be written with respect to the correct WhatsApp formatting — see image below);
  • The main message body character limit is 1024 characters, while the header and footer can’t have more than 60 characters;
  • Can’t include newlines, tabs, or more than four consecutive spaces;
  • Must indicate variable parameters using — {{#}} — a numbered placeholder where a specific number represents the variable index (please note that your variables must begin counting at {{1}})

Template Translations

Although you are able to send template messages in various languages, WhatsApp doesn’t offer translation services. So, if you wish to address your audience in another language, you need to submit your own translation of the template. 

Naturally, the translations must follow the same rules as the original template. 

How to Submit a WhatsApp Message Template: The Process

The process of submitting your HSM templates varies depending on whether you are working with a provider or independently. 

In our article about how to apply for WhatsApp Business API, we mentioned that you may either apply directly via the Facebook application form or through a provider who manages the application for you. If you are managing your API directly, you can create and submit your template via your Facebook Business Account.

However, if you are using a provider like Landbot (because you like to have your WhatsApp chatbots, live chat, and message campaigns under one roof), you can rely on the internal HSM template submission system. 

Submitting HSM Templates Through Landbot

The submission process differs from provider to provider. At Landbot, we created a process that simplifies and streamlines the creation, submissions, and approval of the template so you can get your campaigns out in short order. 

To manage or request HSM Templates inside the Landbot app, access the Channels manager by clicking on the respective icon in the left-side navigation bar. Next, click on your WhatsApp Business channel and then select “Message Templates”.


To create a new WhatsApp message template click the “Request Message Templates” button in the right corner:

 

A window asking for the basic details:

  • Name (max. 512 characters containing only lowercase letters, numbers, and underscores)
  • Category (makes it easier for WhatsApp to review and approve the template)
  • Language


When done, click NEXT.

You will be redirected to the second step of the submission process which consists of four fields: 

  • Header (Optional) — Your template header can be in the form of text (title), image or document. If you opt for a text-based header, note that it can contain only one parameter and must fit the 60-character limit. The parameter is included in the character limit. So, for instance, the header “Hello {{1}}, here is your reservation update!” of 45 characters leaves you 15 characters for the parameter text. 
  • Body (Required) — The template body should only contain text, parameters (unlimited), emojis, and formatting (bold, italic, strikethrough, and monospace). As mentioned before, the characters can't exceed 1024.
  • Footer (Optional) — A footer may only contain text (max. 60 characters). Parameters, emojis, or formatting are not allowed.
  • Buttons (Optional) — There are two kinds of buttons, a CTA or Quick Reply. You can use one or the other, not both. A CTA button can let the customer call a specific phone number or visit a specific URL. You can learn more about the requirements for the buttons here


As you fill in the template fields, the preview of your message will appear on the right side of the pop-up field: 


Once you are done, simply click SUBMIT and await approval.

You’ll be able to monitor the status of the template on the main dashboard.

Reasons Your WhatsApp Message Templates Can be Rejected

Before we move on, let’s look at the common reasons for templates being rejected:

  1. The message template is regarded as promotional. For instance, the template:
  1. offers a free gift and/or coupon codes
  2. tries to upsell
  3. Bids for cold calls (e.g., “Is this a good time to talk?”)
  4. Sends a survey or poll to collect data
  5. Includes certain words or phrases which make the template sound promotional (even if there is nothing wrong with the content of the template)
  1. The message template includes floating parameters. Floating parameters refer to lines with only variable parameters and no text which makes it hard to judge what’s the nature of the message. Parameters need to be surrounded with information so the intent is clear. 
  2. The message template has faulty formatting, for example:
  1. Features spelling mistakes
  2. Includes incorrect variable format such as missing one curly bracket 
  1. The message template contains potentially threatening or abusive content, for example:
  1. Threatens users with a legal course of action
  2. Threatens users if they don't pay back their loans 

Examples of Approved & Rejected Message Templates

Sounds simple right?

Are you starting to feel you could create WhatsApp message templates without much trouble?

Good, but we advise you to stay cautious!

In practice, things can get a little tricky, and differences between what is approved or rejected are very nuanced. 

Let’s look at a few examples!

Welcome Message

Rejected: 


Approved: 


Followup

Rejected:


Approved:


Newsletter 

Rejected:

Approved:


In a lot of cases, the differences are minuscule and sometimes it’s not even that clear why one message is OK while the other is not. 

Son, when submitting WhatsApp message templates, it is best to have patience and adopt the Lego-Movie-Batman attitude:

Sending Message Template Campaigns

As with the submission process, the management, and sending of your HSM templates will be different if you applied directly or are working with a provider.  

Direct applicants can manage their WhatsApp template set up and sending via their WhatsApp Manager inside their Facebook Business account. In this case, the process is a bit more technical and you will probably need the help of a developer to start sending your message templates.

On the other hand, when working with an intermediary, you will be managing your account via the dashboard of your service provider

For example, to send a WhatsApp campaign with Landbot you simply need to click to access your WhatsApp Business channel, click on the “Campaigns” section and press the “New Campaign” button. 


You will be redirected to a campaign setup page:

Here, all you need to do is:

  • Create campaign name;
  • Select audience (Click on the “All Users” option and proceed to personalize your audience using the system or custom filters);
  • Define the Content by selecting one of our approved WhatsApp templates;
  • Select IF to connect the campaign with a WhatsApp chatbot — if YES, select the relevant chatbot that will reply to the user once they engage with the template; 
  • Assign a new variable to campaign participants (single out those who engage for other more specific campaigns or chatbot flows);
  • Send or Schedule the campaign.

Once you set up your campaign it will appear on the list in the main Campaigns Section.

Just glancing on the list of campaigns, you will be able to see how the campaign is doing through these metrics: 

  • Audience: number of users selected for the campaign;
  • HSM Sent: all templates that were effectively sent;
  • Received: all templates that were effectively received;
  • Replied: all the users who engaged (by replying or click the CTA).

WhatsApp Template Message Pricing

It’s no secret that allowing businesses to send notifications is the first time ever WhatsApp monetized its services. 

In essence, WhatsApp Business API integration is free. You only pay when sending out proactive message temples. The word “proactive” is important here since even a message template can be free if it is in response to a query received less than 24-hours ago. 

The price of template messages is influenced by two factors: 

  • The volume of template messages delivered to a given country or region in a calendar month;
  • Country code of the message recipient.

You can verify the costs on the official List Price Schedule featured in the  Facebook for Developers documents.

Naturally, there will be additional costs for businesses working with WhatsApp solution providers depending on the provider which usually works on a subscription basis. 

WhatsApp Message Template Wrap-Up

So, this is our guide on how to create message templates for WhatsApp! 

We sincerely hope most of the vagueness is gone and you have a much better idea of what needs to be done. 

In case you are interested in applying for the WhatsApp API solution with Landbot, click on the big fat button below to check your company status and get in touch with our sales team.

If not, keep your eyes peeled on our blog for more WhatsApp-related content about marketing opportunities, lead generation, chatbot, and more!


Posted on
October 11, 2021
in
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Want to write for us? Check our guidelines

Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter!

landbot logo white
linkedin logoinstagram logo
Copyright © 2021 HELLO UMI S.L.