Note: Whatsapp integration is available from the Growth plan. Proactive messages on WhatsApp is available from the Pro plan.

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.


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 Freshchat 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:

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

To be approved, the WhatsApp message templates you create must adhere to specific WhatsApp guidelines. Only after being approved a message template 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:

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

What are the guidelines for creating WhatsApp message templates?

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

Template Categories:

Four new conversation categories effective June 1, 2023

There are three business-initiated conversation categories (all of which require customer opt in):

  • Utility conversations - Facilitate a specific, agreed-upon request or transaction or update to a customer about an ongoing transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements
  • Authentication conversations - Enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes, potentially at multiple steps in the login process (e.g., account verification, account recovery, integrity challenges)
  • Marketing conversations - Include promotions or offers, informational updates, or invitations for customers to respond / take action. Any conversation that does not qualify as utility or authentication is a marketing conversation.

The fourth category is service conversations – all user-initiated conversations will be categorized as service conversations, which help customers resolve enquiries.

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 that 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```

Creating templates on WhatsApp: 

To know more about creating a template on WhatsApp, read this article

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 reach your customer proactively. Check out their pricing structure here.

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.