Being able to communicate with customers on the world’s most popular messaging app is no new phenomenon.
Ever since WhatsApp Business was launched three years ago, many companies have taken to it as one of their main channels to reach consumers.
More than 175 million consumers are in contact with brands around the globe every single day via WhatsApp.
Given the chat app’s (growing) popularity, WhatsApp has gone full-on with developing new features and tools to improve communication and boost transactions between businesses and customers.
One of its latest efforts is the introduction of interactive message capabilities. As its name suggests, these offer a more efficient, advanced, and, of course, interactive messaging experience.
Up until the introduction of interactive messages, businesses could only use WhatsApp Business to send text- and/or media-based messages to their customers.
While these types of content certainly already have much to offer, there’s actually a lot more that can be done with WhatsApp Business.
If you’re looking for more interactive ways to communicate with customers, you’re in for a treat.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the types of interactive messages you can send using the WhatsApp Business API for more efficient and streamlined communication with your customers, what they are, how to set them up, and what you can and cannot do with them.
Interactive Message Templates on WhatsApp Business API
Message Templates Guidelines
First and foremost, it’s important to note that these new interactive features apply to what WhatsApp calls “template messages.”
These are the messages that can only be sent out to customers after having gotten their permission. Examples of template messages include payment notifications and delivery alerts.
They must be pre-approved by WhatsApp, which has strict guidelines for them. We recommend that you check them out before proceeding with creating message templates—interactive or otherwise.
Available to WhatsApp Business API Users
Secondly, these interactive messages are available to businesses that have access to the WhatsApp Business API.
If you’re using the free WhatsApp Business app, unfortunately, you will not be able to take advantage of these interactive templates as there’s a certain level of coding required to customize these templates (whether that’s done by you or your WhatsApp Business Solution Provider).
If you’re interested in upgrading to the WhatsApp Business API, do get in touch with us and/or sign up for a free trial. WATI is an official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider and we can help you get access to the WhatsApp Business API and get set up.
Types of Interactive Message Templates on WhatsApp
WhatsApp Business currently offers two types of interactive message templates, mainly the addition of the following to WhatsApp messages:
- Call-to-action buttons
- Quick reply options
These can be tagged on to regular text and/or rich media messages (which are messages with images, videos, attachments, location sharing, etc.) that you send out to your customers. We’ll have examples of what each of these templates looks like as we dive more into details below.
Quick Reply Buttons
Quick replies are exactly as they sound: buttons that users can simply tap to immediately generate a reply consisting of a short text message.
Prior to launching them on WhatsApp, these have already been popularized on Facebook Messenger. If you’re a regular Facebook user and you’ve reached out to businesses on Messenger, you’ll probably have come across such messages.
As a business, you may also have integrated quick reply options in your Facebook messaging options, in which case the process of creating them may not be entirely foreign to you.
Quick reply buttons on WhatsApp save your customers a whole lot of time and hassle. Here’s an example of what it looks like.
Without them, your customers would actually have to pick up their phones, type in their responses, and hit send. But with the ease of quick replies, they can simply tap on one of the reply options provided.
Even though quick replies are pretty simple and straightforward, approval from WhatsApp is still required. Here are the details you need to submit to WhatsApp:
- Message template (the message you want to send to customers)
- Quick reply button text (the short text that goes on the button that recipients can tap, which is essentially the reply you will receive)
For instance, if you’re informing customers that their order has been delivered, the message template could read:
Hi [customer’s name], your order was successfully delivered to [address] at [time and date]. Did you receive your parcel?
And the button options could be simply Yes or No.
There are, however, a few limitations to keep in mind when programming quick reply buttons on WhatsApp:
- You’re only allowed to include a maximum of three reply options in one message.
- Each quick reply button text is limited to 20 characters.
- The text on the buttons is predefined. Changing it requires going through WhatsApp.
Call-to-action buttons are similar to quick reply buttons in that a single tap is sufficient to generate and register a response.
However, they differ in their purpose.
Where quick reply buttons aim to provide businesses with responses so they can determine whether they need to follow-up with the customer, call-to-action buttons facilitate the customer with an action they can take for their own benefit.
Here’s an example of an interactive WhatsApp message template with call-to-action buttons.
Call-to-action buttons sent via WhatsApp can direct users to a website and/or make a call.
In this example, the buttons lead users to open a website on which they can track their parcel, as well as place a phone call.
Alternatively, you can opt to have just one type of call-to-action (i.e. only sending them to a website or calling).
The call-to-action text can vary according to the page you’re directing them to or the purpose of placing a call. For instance, it can read “visit online store” if you’re informing them of a product that’s back in stock, or a more casual text like “give us a call.”
The website URLs can also be static or dynamic (personalized).
There are more elements in an interactive call-to-action button. When getting approval for interactive messages with call-to-actions, here’s what you need to provide when submitting a request to WhatsApp:
- Message template (the message you want to send to customers)
- Call-to-action button text (the text that goes on the button that recipients can tap)
- Call-to-action button type (whether it leads to a URL or a phone call)
- Call-to-action button details (the URL and/or phone number)
Benefits of Interactive Message Templates
Saving time and effort aside, there are plenty of other benefits these interactive message templates offer.
The ease of these clickable (or tappable) buttons provides customers with a more seamless and enhanced brand experience. Not only does it require less effort from both your end and theirs, but it also increases the amount of engagement a customer can have with you.
As a business, it’s a more direct way of guiding customers to where you want them to go, especially with the call-to-action buttons.
There’s also an added plus for marketers. These interactive messages give you insights into customer behavior, which allows you to modify your communication with them and segment them based on their responses.
If you haven’t started using WhatsApp’s interactive message templates yet, what are you waiting for? It’s time to jump on it and up your customer experience game to grow your business.
WATI is created by Clare.AI, a digital assistant startup using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning tech to provide award-winning customer communication experiences. Its clients include multinational enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.