WhatsApp released a new policy update to be effective starting the 9th of July 2020. This update focus more on the opt-in options in WhatsApp making them more flexible and, as a result, making a lot of things much easier.
What does WhatsApp opt-in mean?
As the new update is all about the opt-in options, it’s important to clarify what that is. Opting in is generally choosing to participate in something. Business-wise, it’s when you approve to get future notifications or emails, for example. This could happen through a notification, an email message, or even a regular text message.
So when you opt-in to WhatsApp, you agree to receive messages from this business through WhatsApp; you give consent to that.
Why is opt-in important?
If users don’t give you prior consent to being reached through WhatsApp, you’ll be violating WhatsApp Terms of Service and could possibly lose your WhatsApp for Business number.
Previously, opt-in was only possible through third-party options such as QR codes, widget, URLs, and SMS messages that would help the user opt-in to receiving messages from you.
The significant opt-in changes in the new update are:
- It is now possible to opt-in without needing a third-party channel.
- The content in your opt-in message doesn’t have to be contextually relevant to what the flow contains anymore.
- You don’t need to include a visual element, such a checkbox, for your users to opt-in anymore. You can still do it, but it’s not mandatory.
- Your users don’t need to manually provide the number in order to opt-in, the application will automatically opt them in when they choose to.
These simple changes make it more flexible and hence much easier for business owners to get their users to opt-in. Users can even easily opt-in through an IVR option or in response to a message thread inside a WhatsApp conversation.
However, the requirements to create an opt-in are not the same. Business owners now have to clearly state that the user is opting-in to receive WhatsApp updates from the business while clearly stating the business’ name—if the business belongs to a mother company, for example, you can’t state the mother company’s name rather than the daughter company. The opt-in has to state the name of the business the opt-in is related to.
What hasn’t changed
The first message the business sends to the user has to follow one of the below categories and be approved by WhatsApp in advance which takes 1-2 days. Template messages are priced, and you can check their exact pricing here.
Moreover, if a person messages the business, and for some reason, the business fails to respond within 24 hours, the business is obliged to only respond to the customer through one of the templates.
This remains unaffected by the policy.
Session messages are simply any message the business uses to respond to the customer within the 24-hour window.
Type of messages allowed
WhatsApp currently only allows transactional notifications on the platform; they still don’t allow promotional notifications.
WhatsApp’s advice for you post-update
WhatsApp has a few pieces of advice for business owners after their new policy updates that will help optimize the user experience:
- Inform the user what kind of message they’re signing up to receive
- Always provide your users with instructions to opt-out whenever they feel the need to and respect their choice to opt-out
- Avoid sending people too many messages so they don’t find you spammy or annoying
- Monitor the quality rating especially when trying new opt-in options
How WhatsApp aims to maintain quality
With all the flexibility WhatsApp is offering business owners, the real question that comes to mind is how WhatsApp will maintain the quality within the platform and prevent abuse of the new policy.
Don’t worry, WhatsApp hasn’t forgotten about this; the company enhanced its block and report process to take immediate actions if a business account has been reported a significant number of times. Moreover, they’ve added options for users to express why they blocked a business in order to keep everything in check. They will also monitor businesses to detect low quality and take action, and lastly, Facebook reviews all opt-in options to make sure everything is living up to their quality standards.
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We’d love to set how creative businesses will get creating opt-ins for their customers after all the flexibility this update gives them. Sign up for your WhatsApp for Business solution with us and get started now!