With its increasing popularity and versatility, WhatsApp Business has become a mainstay in today’s market. Both the compact WhatsApp Business app and its big brother, the WhatsApp Business API, provide superior benefits to businesses across market sectors. Business owners who are new to the API tool might not know that unlike WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp Business API only allows two types of messages: Session Messages and Template Messages. When businesses understand both these message types, they will be better equipped to use WhatsApp’s API tool more efficiently. Therefore, this article was created to explore the two message types of WhatsApp Business API.

Session Messages

When customers send messages, businesses can start sending Session Messages to them for the initial 24 hour time period. The general use case for session messages are customer care messages, because customers tend to initiate customer care requests in most cases. Session messages were created with the main goal of providing quick customer service.

Features:

• A session message does not need to follow a template and can also include media content.

• Businesses can send multiple session messages within the time limit as the main goal is to provide extensive support.

• Session messages also do not have character restrictions like template messages.

• The 24 hour time period of session messages refreshes every time a customer replies to a WhatsApp conversation.

• Even though Session Messages do not have restrictions, the limitation is that the customers need to initiate the conversation.

• Unlike template messages, session messages are free of charge.

Template Messages

Template Messages are predetermined templates that can be sent to customers after the initial 24 hour time period. Template messages are notification or informational messages that businesses can periodically send its customers. Template messages were created to make WhatsApp spam-free for the users and improve customer experiences. With template messages in place, businesses will not be able to exploit their customers through constant promotions and marketing initiatives.

Features:

• Even though Template Messages can be initiated by businesses, it only allows them to send predetermined messages that are heavily structured.

• Template Messages can be used to reinitiate conversations if businesses miss the 24 hour session message window.

• If businesses wish to initiate conversation, customers need to opt-in to WhatsApp notifications.

• Template Messages need to be pre-approved by WhatsApp before use.

• WhatsApp charges a small fee for every template message that is sent to the customers.

Best Practices for Template Messages

Since there are strict restrictions for template messages, businesses need to be aware of the guidelines to craft superior template messages. Businesses need to follow these restrictions as WhatsApp will grade their messages and will impose messaging limits and temporary bans if the same is not followed. Some of the most important ones are covered below

• Promotional messages are not allowed as templates as WhatsApp does not want businesses to spam the customers.

• The template message title should only contain lowercase characters, numbers and underscore. No other special character is allowed in the title.

• The content of the message should not contain spelling mistakes and it needs to be grammatically correct.

• To ensure business messages are on-point, the template messages have a length restriction of 1024 characters.

• Messages regarding drugs, terrorism or other illegal services will be rejected. WhatsApp will also reject messages that contain inappropriate or abusive language.

• WhatsApp has three tier limits for template messages – 1000, 10000 and 100000. Businesses in each tier can only send 1000, 10000 and 100000 messages within 24 hours.

In addition, WhatsApp also has several formatting guidelines that can be found at https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/message-templates/guidelines/

This article was created to help new WhatsApp Business API users get an understanding about Session and Template messages. While session messages are simple to use and does not have any restrictions, template messages are much stricter. Businesses need to take note of several restrictions before creating template messages. And we understand if businesses feel overwhelmed in the process.