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When a customer reaches out to you on WhatsApp with a question, you can respond to them within the next 24 hours (defined as the Customer Care Window). So, what happens if a customer asks a question during holidays or outside business hours? Or what if you want to start a conversation proactively with your customers? 


With the WhatsApp Business API, you can use WhatsApp message templates to respond after the Customer Care Window closes or if you want to proactively reach out to your customers. 




This solution article will walk you through the basics of getting started with message templates. You can learn more about using your message templates in this solution article. 


You can also refer to this set of WhatsApp Message Template FAQs for more details.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


What are WhatsApp message templates?

After the Customer Care Window closes after 24 hours, you can NOT proactively reach out to your customers unless you use a Message Template to send a message.


Note: When you use WhatsApp with Freshdesk Messaging, the terms "proactive messages" and "Message Templates" refer to the same message:

A message that you send (proactively) to your customers outside the customer care window (using a pre-approved message template).



With WhatsApp’s message templates, you can:

  • Deliver important, timely, personalized messages during the customer’s journey to purchase.
  • Continue customer service conversations without worrying about the 24-hour Customer Care Window.


The WhatsApp message templates that you create must adhere to specific WhatsApp guidelines to be approved. Only after being approved, a message templates can be sent out to customers.



What are the different types of message templates?


You can create three types of message templates as per your specific requirements:

  1. Text templates: These templates are built with just plain text messages
  2. Rich media templates with attachments: These templates include images, documents, and videos as attachments
  3. Call-to-action & Quick Replies templates: These are interactive templates with buttons for customers to interact


What are the guidelines to create WhatsApp message templates?

Here are some of the rules that you will need to follow while creating WhatsApp message templates. You can also go through these guidelines on Facebook's developer documentation for WhatsApp.


Content rules

WhatsApp allows you to only send updates, alerts, and transactional notifications. WhatsApp does not approve any promotional or sales message templates. 


Formatting rules

These are the formatting rules and guidelines by WhatsApp.


Template names

These names are for your reference when you send them out to your customers.

  • Template names can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters.
  • Underscores are the only special characters that are allowed.
  • White spaces can not be used in a template name.


Examples of allowed names: shipping_update, order_followup1, refund_status_2


Template categories

Your template should fall under one of these categories

  1. ACCOUNT_UPDATE
  2. PAYMENT_UPDATE
  3. PERSONAL_FINANCE_UPDATE
  4. SHIPPING_UPDATE
  5. RESERVATION_UPDATE
  6. ISSUE_RESOLUTION
  7. APPOINTMENT_UPDATE
  8. TRANSPORTATION_UPDATE
  9. TICKET_UPDATE
  10. ALERT_UPDATE
  11. AUTO_REPLY


Template content formatting

The content of your template should be properly formatted:


  • Your template content has an upper limit of 1024 characters.

  • You can use variables, but they must be formatted as a number enclosed in double curly braces, {{#}} — where the # indicates the number. Each Message Template can have its own set of numbered placeholder variables, starting from {{1}}. The first placeholder in any template should be {{1}}.

    • Here is an example of a WhatsApp Message Template that uses three variables:
      Hi {{1}}, your order no. {{2}} has been placed. To track your order, please visit {{3}}. 


      Here, {{1}}, {{2}}, and {{3}} are variables which will be different for each customer. You can have any number of variables in a message. Please label the variables in ascending order only.


      Note: 
      The formatting of the variable is important. The numbering must start from 1, be in ascending order, and should have two curly braces on both sides.



  • Your template must be text-based and only contain letters, numbers, special characters, emojis, and WhatsApp-specific formatting. Here is a screenshot from an article in the WhatsApp Help Center that details how you can format messages:

    Italic To italicize your message, place an underscore on both sides of the text:  _text_  Bold To bold your message, place an asterisk on both sides of the text:  *text*  Strikethrough To strikethrough your message, place a tilde on both sides of the text:  ~text~  Monospace To monospace your message, place three backticks on both sides of the text:  ```text```



How much does it cost to use WhatsApp message templates?

WhatsApp charges a per-message fee for Message Templates sent outside the Customer Care Window, depending on the destination country and the number of messages you send. We include this fee in your invoices and pass it to WhatsApp. Freshworks does not charge any extra fee to proactively reach your customer.



Note: For Message Templates, there are restrictions imposed by WhatsApp that regulate outreach through these pre approved message templates.

Each business starts off in Tier 1, which allows you to reach out to 1,000 unique phone numbers in a rolling 24-hour window. To know more about this, click here.