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3 Steps for a Successful WhatsApp Opt-In Strategy

Jenna Alburger

June 14, 2021

WhatsApp recently simplified its opt-in policy to make it easier for businesses to gain messaging consent from customers. In this post, we're making things even easier with a comprehensive opt-in checklist. Keep reading for a clear, actionable guide to collect WhatsApp opt-ins. 

At a glance: 3 steps for collecting WhatsApp opt-ins  

  1. Choose an opt-in method. You can now collect opt-in in a multitude of ways, both on and off WhatsApp. Opt-in methods such as via your website, interactive voice response (IVR) flows, or in a WhatsApp thread are acceptable.
  2. Make sure your opt-in method is compliant. WhatsApp now has only three requirements for obtaining opt-ins. You must a) clearly state that a person is opting in to receive messages from your business over WhatsApp, b) state the business’ name that a person is opting in to receive messages from, and c) comply with applicable law.
  3. Set expectations upfront to avoid opt-outs. Obtain different opt-ins for different message categories and avoid messaging customers too frequently.  

Who is required to collect WhatsApp opt-ins? 

Opt-ins are a requirement for businesses that want to send notifications to customers through the WhatsApp Business API. 

Remember, the WhatsApp Business API is different from the WhatsApp Business App; 

  • The WhatsApp Business API is for medium and large businesses that want to communicate with their customers at scale. With the API, businesses can use automation and integrations to serve their customers more efficiently. 
  • The WhatsApp Business App is for small business owners that want to personally connect with customers, answer questions, and send updates. 

Through the WhatsApp Business API, businesses can use features like message templates for WhatsApp notifications. But first, they need to make sure that their customers opt-in to receive these notifications. 

What types of messages can customers opt-in to receive? 

In June of 2021, WhatsApp updated its policy to allow businesses to send more types of notifications to their customers. 

In the past, businesses were only allowed to send transactional notifications and account updates. These notifications could not be promotional in nature. 

Transactional notifications

  • Delivery alerts
  • Appointment reminders
  • Purchase confirmations
  • Account balances

Now, WhatsApp has expanded its policy to include more use cases. In addition to transactional notifications, businesses can now send proactive, non-transactional notifications. 

Non-transactional notifications

  • Product recommendations related to a customer’s previous purchases
  • Helpful informational alerts
  • Relevant offers
  • Reminders to book an appointment

Currently, WhatsApp notification templates are approved globally.

Checklist for Collecting WhatsApp opt-ins

Our 3-point checklist is based on WhatsApp's most recent opt-in policy guidelines. 

1. Choose an opt-in method

You can now collect opt-in in a multitude of ways, both on and off WhatsApp. It's important to note that Facebook has made collecting opt-ins easier by removing certain requirements.

The following requirements no longer apply

  • Opt-ins must be obtained on a third party channel
  • Opt-in permission must be obtained in-line and contextually during the relevant user flows
  • A visual element (e.g. a checkbox) must appear next to the WhatsApp name and logo, with adjacent language stating the type of information that will be messaged
  • Users must have the ability to edit which WhatsApp number is used for the opt-in

Because the requirements listed above no longer apply, you can use any channel to obtain an opt-in. Interactive voice response (IVR) flows, and WhatsApp threads, for example, are now acceptable places to collect opt-ins. 

Examples of approved opt-in methods: 

  • Your website. For example, if your customer is buying an item from you, ask them if they'd like to sign up to receive notifications about their order as part of the checkout process. 
  • Custom landing page. Build a landing page dedicated to collecting WhatsApp opt-ins. 
  • In-app pop-up. Create a pop-up screen that explains the benefits of receiving WhatsApp notifications. 
  • Click to WhatsApp ad. Run an ad to existing customers to initiate the opt-in flow. 
  • Email. Send customers an opt-in flow via email. 
  • Phone and IVR: If customers are waiting on hold, have them opt-in to help them on WhatsApp instead. 
  • SMS. If you currently serve customers on SMS, have them opt-in to receive updates on WhatsApp. 
  • Offline. Consider promoting a link to your WhatsApp channel on receipts, gift cards, offline advertisements, QR codes, signage, and other media. 

Pro tips: 

  • Communicate the benefits of opting in to receive notifications.
  • Include opt-ins at various touchpoints where customers enter their phone number or personal details. For example, encourage opt-ins when customers enter their billing or delivery information, or when they create an account. 

2. Make sure your opt-in method is compliant

WhatsApp now has only three requirements for obtaining opt-ins: 

  1. Clearly state that a person is opting in to receive messages from your business over WhatsApp
  2. Clearly state the business’ name that a person is opting in to receive messages from
  3. Comply with applicable law
  • WhatsApp encourages businesses to work with official WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs). These are third-party solution providers with expertise on the WhatsApp Business API. These BSPs can help you comply with your local laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

3. Set expectations upfront to avoid opt-outs

To ensure that you're providing a quality experience, WhatsApp recommends the following: 

  • Set expectations by obtaining opt-in for different message categories. Order updates, relevant offers, and product recommendations would all be considered different message categories, therefore they should each have their own opt-in flow.  
  • Provide clear instructions for how people can opt-out of receiving messages from your business. If people can easily opt-out, they're less likely to report or block your account (these actions will hurt your quality score). 
  • Avoid messaging customers too frequently. Be realistic about how often customers want to hear from you. Also, clearly communicate the value of receiving important updates on WhatsApp. 

How does WhatsApp enforce its opt-in policy? 

Your customers may block or report you if they feel like they did not opt-in to receive your messages. This feedback impacts your quality score and can lead to restrictions on your account. 

WhatsApp may also evaluate a business’s opt-in flows to flag policy violations. Over time, they may introduce additional types of enforcement.

Getting started with the WhatsApp Business API

The WhatsApp Business API powers communication between businesses and customers all over the world.  For medium and large businesses, the API is an important tool to connect with customers in a simple, secure, and reliable way.

The WhatsApp Business API caters to the needs of larger businesses with higher messaging volumes. At this level, there's a need for business process automation and integration within existing communication platforms.

WhatsApp requires those interested in using the Business API to work with an official solution provider. Only 65 companies worldwide are official WhatsApp Business Solution Providers. Hubtype is one of them. 

Apart from helping businesses comply with opt-ins and GDPR regulations, we also set businesses up with automation. This is an important part of providing timely service on WhatsApp and responding to customers within the 24-hour customer care window. 

To apply for WhatsApp’s early access program, click here. Or, to contact us with any questions, click here.

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