Message template rules

Neelke Stadler Updated by Neelke Stadler

Message templates are an important part of your WhatsApp tool kit, as you may only initiate chats by sending notifications via these structured templates.

If you’ve been using the WhatApp personal or business app, you might expect the API to work precisely the same. But there are significant differences – one being that there are different message types that you can send to users. Session messages are free and only valid for the 24 hours since a user last messaged you, if the session window expires you will need to use message templates.

Let's look at the rules for message templates.

General rules

When planning and creating your message templates, it’s important to keep the following rules in mind:

  • While there’s no limit to the number of templates you can send at once, you can only send them to users who have opted-in to your WhatsApp service.
  • The turnaround time for template approval from WhatsApp is roughly 2 to 3 days. It’s therefore essential to plan them in advance.
  • Message templates cannot be changed or updated once they’ve been approved by WhatsApp. So, take your time to craft them. Also, make sure they add value to your users.
  • Promotional and sales-oriented templates are rejected by WhatsApp, and message templates for surveys are not allowed.
    See the official message template guidelines from WhatsApp.
  • Proofread your message templates carefully, as typos could mean that your users view the messages as spam.
  • Highly personalised templates are more likely to be approved by WhatsApp. 
  • It’s possible to send the same message templates in multiple languages. Note, however, that only certain languages are currently supported and that you have to submit your own translations, and that the language you select must match the content of your message template (see example below).
  • Your templates will have to fall into one of the following predefined WhatsApp categories: account update, alert update, appointment update, issue resolution, payment update, personal finance update, reservation update, shipping update, transportation update or ticket update. View examples of accepted use cases per category here.
  • Make sure the links you use in your content point to a website that you own.
  • Double-check that your message templates don’t contain content that violates WhatsApp’s Commerce Policy.
  • Remember that you should never request “sensitive identifiers” such as ID numbers from your users and that threatening or abusive messages are simply not allowed.

Formatting rules

WhatsApp is also very specific about the structure and formatting of message templates:

  • Your message templates should be text-based but can include numbers, special characters and emojis. 
  • Templates are restricted to 1,024 characters.
  • You’ll have to add your variable parameters (for example, the bit of code that will pull in the user’s first name) carefully. Check that they have two curly brackets on the left side of the number and two on the right side (see example below), or else they won’t work.
  • Steer clear of shortened links such as bit.ly, tinyurl or goo.gl.
Stay up to date with the message template creation and translation guidelines.

Message template examples

The example below will give you a better understanding of what message templates typically look like:

This message template has a name (“issue_resolution_personal”) that clearly states its purpose. It’s also been typed using lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores. Your message templates will have to be in the same format to be swiftly approved by WhatsApp.

You’ll also notice the “variable parameters” or “placeholder values”:

  • {{1}} in the above example pulls in the person’s name.
  • {{2}} adds the agent’s name.
  • {{3}} adds the topic that the person was asking you about.

The message template has also been categorised under the WhatsApp’s “Issue Resolution” category and has two labels attached to it: 

  • “Approved” means that WhatsApp has approved this template.
  • While you can send message templates in various languages, the “English (UK)” label confirms that this template should be used for your English-speaking users.

Now that you have a good understanding of what message templates are, have a look at how to create and submit templates and how to send templates in Turn.io.

If you are struggling to get you message templates approved we help you troubleshoot in this article.

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