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The available trigger types in Automations

Pippa Updated by Pippa

Automations consist of triggers + actions. When you set up an automation, the first thing you need to do is select the trigger type.

To have impactful conversations at scale, you should use automation to take care of certain repetitive tasks. Our step-by-step guides show you how to set up basic automations or more advanced automations. In this article, we explain the different trigger types.

When setting up an automation the first step is to specify your trigger. The available options are:

  • Message received
  • Catchall
  • Follow-up timer complete

What does all of this mean?

Message Received

This trigger type considers the user's message.

You should know the following:

  1. Once you've selected the "Message Received" trigger, you'll be prompted to specify the criteria that your trigger will respond to. The criteria can be one or more of the following:

It's important to be very clear about the behaviour your trigger will set off. To learn from examples that make it easy to understand click any of the links in the list above.

  1. Triggers are global.
Important: Triggers are global!
This means you can only use a trigger once across your entire chat service. You can’t, for example, use the number “3” as a trigger in your main menu and use the same number for another message in a sub-menu. 

Our article on how to set up a menu will help you structure your content so that it's easy to assign a unique trigger to each preloaded message you want to send.


This trigger type considers all your other automation rules and only triggers if the message is not handled by any other trigger.

You use a catchall trigger when you have a bot service and need to direct users back to your menu. Some people call it an error trigger because it will fire when a user wrong fully interacts with a bot.

You should know the following:

  1. Your catchall message should be informative to help users understand what the bot can assist them with and what not. Use it to direct them back to the available options / menu.
  2. Remember that users should always know where to find a human. WhatsApp calls it a clear human escalation path. It is advised to include details contact details etc. in this message.
  3. If you combine a language profile or country prefix trigger you can have different catchall messages for different languages or countries.

Follow-up timer complete

This trigger type considers the time elapsed since a user sent you a specific message. Think of it as a follow-up prompt to re-engage the user without using a template.

Read our article on how to setup a follow-up timer to learn how to do that in detail.

For now, you should know the following:

  1. The follow up timer enables you to schedule an automated message to a user within 24 hours after a specific interaction. Why do you want to do that? So that you can follow up with them on a behaviour they are expected to have completed in that time without having to use (and pay for) a message template.

That's the overview on trigger types. The great thing about automation is that you can add multiple triggers and actions to deliver highly personalised conversations. Learn how to do this, step-by-step, in our advanced automation guide.

Once you have selected a trigger, you'll be prompted to select a subsequent action. Read more about the different types of actions available.

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How to set up basic automations

The available action types