Message template troubleshooting

Neelke Stadler Updated by Neelke Stadler

If you are struggling to get you message templates approved we want to help you troubleshoot so you can move forward.

We don't have all the answers but here are the lessons we've learnt to date:

Personalise it

WhatsApp prefers differentiated messaging. That means messages that do not look like the exact same copy was sent to multiple people in a broadcast or a bulk send. Why don't they like that? Because that treats everyone the same regardless of their past interactions (or perhaps even no interaction). And that's not what WhatsApp is designed for.

When you personalise a message it doesn't mean adding the user's name to it, it means personalising it based on the user's past interaction.

To add personalisation to templates you use placeholder variables like {{1}}, {{2}} etc. and then populate those placeholder when you send it. Learn more about that here.

Refer to previous engagements

It's exactly what we said under personalisation, but we want to highlight it again. It's your key to success.

WhatsApp is happy that you initiate conversation to re-engage users. But re-engagement isn't about reaching out to a disinterested user - that's called bugging the user. Real re-engagement means you've had a previous conversation and there is value for the user if the engagement continues, e.g. they will get a question answered or an issue resolved.

Try wording like:

  • "We have been chatting with you for about {{1}}..."
  • "You asked us about {{1}} and we now have the answer: {{2}}"
  • "Hi {{1}}. Thanks for reaching out to us! What would you like to know about {{2}}?"
No subscriptions

WhatsApp are very against subscriptions. Subscription means sending messages periodically that aren't related to the user's prior interactions. Subscription push messages onto users and doesn't honour the principle to let the user drive the journey.

“Are you ready for this week’s {{1}} ...” or "This week we have some information for you about {{3}}!" is almost certainly going to get rejected.

No promotional content

This one is difficult because a lot templates get rejected with 'PROMOTIONAL' as the rejection reason.

The tip WhatsApp gives is to read your message out loud. Think about getting the message in the middle of your day without having engaged with the service for a while - Will it feel like spam? Will it feel intrusive? Does it try and tell you about something you haven't asked about?

Another trick you can try is to include a call to action and get the user to respond to you and continue the conversation on WhatsApp.

Phrases we've seen that got rejected as PROMOTIONAL:

  • "We just tried to call you for the last time - we don’t want to bother you ..."
  • "We have some new information..."
  • "...If you find the information useful, please remember to share this tool with friends and family."
Try and try again

There's no particular consequence of getting a template rejected so try and if it fails, tweak it and try again.

There is normally a quick response as it's generally by Machine Learning, with occasional templates taking a few days which are presumably escalated for human review.

It's all about quality

The biggest quality factor is whether users block your number as a result of the message.

Let's look at two examples of approved vs. rejected templates

(Spoiler alert - we're sharing the key takeouts before we share the examples)

Our key takeouts from these two examples:

  • Refer to previous times the user reached out to you

The templates in Example 1 that included the copy"We haven't heard from you in a while" got rejected. As did the template in Example 2 that said "we tried calling you a few times".

These could be interpreted as the service bugging a disinterested user. But when the template refers to a previous engagement it gets approved.

In Example 1 the template saying "We've been chatting to you for about {{1}}..." got approved. In Example 2 when it was rephrased to refer to a specific date and time a request was made it got approved.

  • Don't refer to periodic updates

In Example 1 the message that got approved doesn't refer to "this week we have new information". Referring to a periodic update makes it look like a subscription-styled message. WhatsApp does not endorse subscriptions.

Some clients have subscription type templates approved, but WhatsApp certainly got more strict regarding it.

Okay that's the key takeouts, here are the actual examples😆.

Example 1

The four templates below were all submitted but only one of them got approved.

Template submitted

Outcome

Hello, we haven't heard from you in a while! We have some new information available on {{1}}. Do you want to learn more? Reply with 'info' to get more updates.

REJECTED

Hello {{1}}, we haven't heard from you in a while! We have some new information available on {{2}}. Reply with 'info' to get more updates.

Added more personalisation but still got REJECTED

Hello! We have been chatting with you for about {{1}}. We have some new information and messages available. Want to find out what they are? Reply with 'new info' to find out more.

APPROVED

Hello {{1}}, did you enjoy learning about {{2}} last week? This week we have some information for you about {{3}}! Reply with "9" to review last week's information. Reply with "info" to find out more about this week's topic.

Another option that was also REJECTED

Example 2

Rephrasing it to refer to a specific request.

We know it's a lot to consider, but it really is for the benefit of your users. Don't lose heart 💛!

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