How to Craft Engaging WhatsApp Templates

How to Craft Engaging WhatsApp Templates

How to Craft Engaging WhatsApp Templates

Learn how to engage customers and boost sales with our tactical guide to building excellent WhatsApp templates.

With more than two billion pairs of eyes scrolling through WhatsApp each day and a staggering 175 million people engaging with business accounts daily, it's clear that WhatsApp isn't just for “hello”s and “how are you”s anymore. It’s a catalyst for e-commerce growth, boasting a 98% open rate that makes email marketers green with envy.

Whether you’re sending a quick update or a promotional blast, your business messages on WhatsApp need to be sharp, engaging, and, above all, clickable. And that's what we specialize in creating here at Bird: WhatsApp message templates that your customers will not only read, but engage with. 

This isn't just about writing; it's about strategically crafting messages that cut through the noise and turn chats into checkouts. Short, actionable, and result-focused, this guide will help you convert your customer's WhatsApp inbox into fertile ground for personalized marketing. 

When and why should e-commerce brands use WhatsApp templates?

In a bustling online marketplace, your business hinges on communications that spark a connection, build relationships, and drive sales. That’s where WhatsApp templates come in, serving as your brand’s handshake, smile, and first impression, all rolled into one. 

But first, let’s understand why you should use message templates.

To initiate conversations 

Launching a conversation with a customer is like stepping onto a stage. The spotlight is on, and your opening line needs to sing. Templates are your script for this crucial moment. They're pre-approved messages that let you start conversations with confidence, keeping you on-brand and on-point.

For example, imagine dropping a note to a customer with a personalized recommendation based on their past purchases, or clueing them into an exclusive sale. Templates in these cases serve as your openers, inviting customers to take part in a conversation with you for more information.

Once the customer replies, you have a 24-hour conversation window to engage with authentic, meaningful free-form messages. At hour 25, that window closes and you can no longer respond to a user’s message. That 24-hour period is your improv stage, where timeliness and applicable replies matter most. Here, templates take a back seat. 

Instead, tailor your responses to customer inquiries, or just have a casual chat that keeps the connection warm and the conversation going for up to 24 hours. The freedom is all yours. 

To keep WhatsApp spam-free

Templates are more than a convenience; they’re a quality control measure. WhatsApp enforces a template review process to keep the platform spam-free and valuable for users and businesses alike. Meta has to approve each and every message template you want to use with your customers. This approval process makes sure that every templated message sits a tier above the random spam messages that consumers have learned to ignore.

For businesses, your templates need to be promotional yet personal, and enticing but not pushy. A well-crafted template respects the recipient’s time and attention, providing them with information that’s relevant and useful. This relevancy is what keeps WhatsApp a trusted channel for both users and businesses, maintaining an environment where customers look forward to receiving your messages.

WhatsApp templates are your toolkit to deliver personalized customer experiences—without crossing the line into intrusive. They're not just messages; they're the key to unlocking a seamless, respectful, and profitable dialogue with your customers.

WhatsApp template creation 101

WhatsApp templates are pre-formatted messages approved by Meta, designed to streamline communication by adhering to the company’s stringent messaging policies. A template can include text, emojis, and variable placeholders which can be customized based on the recipient. But that’s not all: Templates can also include media like images, documents, videos, and GIFs for an enriched customer experience.

With templates, savvy brands send out welcome messages, order confirmations, shipping updates, promotional offers, and more at scale, while complying with WhatsApp’s brand guidelines. 

What are the WhatsApp template categories?

As of October 30, 2023, WhatsApp separates templates into three distinct categories based on the purpose of the messages:

  1. Utility: Follow up with customers after specific behavior or requests, i.e. sending opt-in confirmations, order or shipping updates, or feedback surveys. 

  2. Marketing: Engage, promote, and sell. Your brand voice shines here, whether in announcing a new product, or just nurturing the customer relationship with personalized content. Learn more about WhatsApp for marketing in this guide.

  3. Authentication: Send one-time passcodes that allow your customers to securely access their accounts via two-factor authentication.

You’ll need to categorize each message template that you submit for approval into one of these three buckets. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to allow WhatsApp to automatically re-categorize templates if approval fails because your content does not match the selected category. 

WhatsApp templates need to be attention-grabbing and actionable, encouraging a customer to take the next step in their journey—whether that's making a purchase, taking advantage of a promotion, or simply engaging with your brand. With MessageBird, you can fine-tune these experiences so that each template feels like it's been crafted for the individual, not just sent to the masses.

Get your WhatsApp templates approved with these steps

Before your carefully crafted messages ever reach your audience, they have to pass WhatsApp’s gatekeeping—the template approval process.

1. Understand the template approval process

WhatsApp’s review process for all templates guarantees that messages sent out to users en masse are high-quality and not spammy. This vetting is necessary to maintain the platform's integrity and user experience. So each time that you submit a template, WhatsApp checks that it adheres to its guidelines, including its message format and content standards.

The good news? This process is typically swift, often completed within 48 hours, and sometimes as quickly as a few minutes. Still, we recommend brands submit their templates for approval as early as possible in case WhatsApp rejects your template so you have enough time to edit your template and re-submit.

To expedite approval, create templates that are clear, necessary, and valuable to the recipient. Avoid promotional content in your first message, as WhatsApp is particularly sensitive to unsolicited marketing. By following these principles, you're more likely to get a quick nod of approval as your template passes through WhatsApp’s gates.

2. Build and submit a template

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a WhatsApp template in MessageBird’s Studio.

  1. Log into Studio and select Create New Project

  2. Under Project Type, select Message Template. Follow the steps to choose WhatsApp, and which connected WhatsApp account to link this template to. 

  3. Choose the proper category for the template and whether to allow automatic re-categorization.

  4. Set a project name for internal use. MessageBird will generate a WhatsApp template name based on this, which WhatsApp will be able to see.

  5. Add content blocks in the visual editor either via the Overview panel or directly in the Studio canvas. With WhatsApp-approved templates, you can add a header, body, footer, link button, and reply button.

  6. Customize the fields, add images and text, and make sure to add variable placeholders for personalization. Media such as images or video also count as placeholders; you don’t need to submit the exact images you’ll use for approval.

  7. Click Save as draft to save your changes. 

  8. Click the Preview button at the top of the screen to see how the template will appear to recipients. 

  9. Hit Publish to automatically send your completed template to WhatsApp for approval.

  10. After submitting your template, you can check on its approval status from within MessageBird.

And there you have it—a streamlined process that assists in crafting, editing, and managing your templates in alignment with WhatsApp compliance policies, all within Bird. We take the guesswork out of the process, so you can focus on fine-tuning your messaging and engagement strategies.

Extra measures to be sure your templates pass

Template creation is really a balancing act between crafting messages that resonate and adhering to WhatsApp’s rules. As we’ve discussed, you’ll need to navigate WhatsApp’s guidelines with precision to pass the platform’s approval process. 

Here’s how to make your WhatsApp templates hit their mark and be approved every time.

1. Abide by these policies

First and foremost, make sure to follow WhatsApp's Business Policy and Commerce Policy to the letter. Failing to do so will land you with rejected templates and could potentially flag your account for compliance review.

Here are the key policies to follow:

  • Spam-free content: Avoid overly promotional language that could be considered spam. Your templates should provide value and relevance, not a sales pitch.

  • No deceptive practices: Your message content must be honest and transparent. Misleading information, baiting, and false promises are strictly prohibited.

  • Quality and clarity: Ensure that your templates are well-constructed, delivering clear messages that are free of grammatical errors.

  • Privacy compliance: Be mindful of data protection laws. Don't include sensitive information in your templates, and confirm that all users have opted-in to your communications.

  • Prohibited content: WhatsApp has a detailed list of the kinds of content you can’t broadcast, including illegal products or services, drugs, firearms, and more. Your content also must not discriminate against any identity or personal characteristic.

Stay up-to-date on any changes to WhatsApp’s policies. What works today may not be compliant tomorrow, so it’s critical to stay informed.

2. Follow these best practices and recommendations for templates

As mentioned, WhatsApp’s quality standards are high, so your templates need to meet that high bar, or they risk rejection. Here are some best practices to help your templates get approved on the first try:

  • Proofreading: Grammatical errors or typos make your business look unprofessional and can cause your templates to be rejected.

  • Correct bracketing: Use the designated {brackets} for variable parameters correctly to indicate where personalization will occur. Make sure all brackets are closed properly, with no missing brackets.

  • Language consistency: Stick to one language per template to maintain clarity and coherence. Localization is great, but mixing languages can confuse your audience and may violate WhatsApp’s guidelines.

  • Proper linking: Link to your website, not any other domains. Don’t use link shorteners like, which hide the destination URL; these can look spammy and risk template rejection.

  • Sensible naming: Choose clear and descriptive names for your templates, like “order_confirmation” or “winter_sale_2024” instead of “template_42.” 

  • Adhere to template guidelines: Reserve templated messages for their intended purposes. Don’t try to circumvent WhatsApp's policies by shoehorning irrelevant content into a template. Keep all content aligned with the message’s intended purpose. 

  • Clear call to action (CTA): Whether you're prompting a reply, a click, or a call, make it obvious what you want the recipient to do next.

Add compelling visuals, copy, and interactive elements

WhatsApp excels as a flexible, personable platform due to its ability to incorporate persuasive copy, visuals, and interactive elements. These components turn simple messages into engaging experiences, prompting action and fostering deeper connections with your customers.

Visuals: Why do visuals matter at all?

We live in a visual world. A well-chosen image or video can convey mood, tone, and information, often far more eloquently and quickly than text alone. In WhatsApp messaging, the visuals you choose are more than embellishments; they’re compelling storytellers in their own right. 

Here are some tips for choosing winning visuals: 

  • Relevance: Choose images that reflect your brand and pertain to the message. For example, sending a personalized recommendation for boots along with a picture of those boots makes a lot of sense.

  • Quality: Use high-resolution images that will display clearly and appear visually appealing, but keep the file size low (under 5 MB) for a faster load time.

  • Formatting: We recommend sending square images with 800 x 800 pixel dimensions, or images with a dimension ratio of 1.91:1 for best viewing by recipients.

  • Variety: Spice it up with a variety of visual elements, like videos or maps, depending on what feels most relevant and useful. 

Remember, your visuals should enhance the message, not distract from it.

Copy: Write concise and persuasive messages

When it comes to writing for WhatsApp, brevity is the soul of wit. The platform is designed for quick, on-the-go communication, so your messages need to be succinct, yet compelling.

To write well on WhatsApp, adopt these four habits:

  • Write in a way that’s concise and clear: Keep your messages short and to the point. Avoid long paragraphs that can overwhelm the reader.

  • Craft a strong opening: Grab attention with a strong hook. Your first few words should tell the recipient why they should keep reading.

  • Be value-driven: Make sure each message offers value. Whether it's an update, a tip, or a special offer, it should be immediately clear what's in it for the customer.

  • Use a personable tone: Use a conversational tone that matches your brand’s voice and resonates with your audience.

Interactive elements: Use them powerfully

Interactive elements, like reply buttons and link buttons, are powerful tools that simplify the customer’s journey and encourage interaction with a single click.

Reply buttons allow users to respond and open a conversation with just one tap, using predefined options that you set. Use these to streamline decision-making for recipients and help them navigate conversation flows. Link buttons will typically direct customers to a web page, product, or a map location. 

When writing copy for these interactive elements, keep your instructions clear. For example, “Tap Get Offer to receive your 15% off coupon code.” Use language that prompts immediate action, like “Don’t miss out! Hit Learn More to visit the sale now.”

By combining visuals, succinct copy, and interactive elements, your WhatsApp templates can deliver an immersive experience that drives action. 

Seamlessly integrate templates with e-commerce platforms

Customers are demanding personalization, with 65% of consumers saying personalized experiences now earn their loyalty. By integrating WhatsApp templates with your e-commerce platforms, you can harness detailed customer data to create those personalized experiences that customers crave.

Personalize with data from e-commerce platforms

Connectors, like those for Shopify or WooCommerce, allow you to sync your e-commerce data with your WhatsApp messaging campaigns. Integrations like these open up a wealth of potential for tailoring conversations to the individual preferences and behaviors of each customer.

Consider the following use cases for personalization:

  • Product personalization: Automatically populate templates with product details, images, and pricing based on past browsing behavior or purchase history.

  • Order updates: Send order confirmations, shipping updates, and delivery notifications to keep your customers informed.

  • Abandoned cart recovery: Remind customers of items they left in their carts, incorporating images and details directly from your product database to tempt them to complete their purchase.

  • Customer support: Access customer purchase histories and preferences to provide informed support that feels personal and proactive, directly through WhatsApp.

The personalization these connectors enable elevates the customer experience while simultaneously enhancing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Build targeted lists

Having a detailed recipient list is crucial for targeted marketing. With Bird, you can create and manage recipient lists that are fine-tuned to your marketing campaigns.

Consider these strategies when building targeted lists:

  • Segmentation: Use data from your e-commerce connectors to segment customers based on their behaviors, preferences, and purchase history. Send messages that are highly relevant to each segment. For instance, you could try sending a special offer on pet-related products to customers who have previously purchased pet supplies.

  • Dynamic lists: Create dynamic lists that update automatically as customer data evolves. This keeps your messaging relevant to customers as their interests and behaviors change over time.

  • Preference-based targeting: Leverage customer preferences for product categories, communication frequency, and even preferred times for receiving messages to maximize engagement and minimize opt-outs.

By leveraging rich data from your e-commerce platform, you can know that every message sent through WhatsApp will be less of a broadcast and more of a meaningful, one-to-one conversation with your audience.

Harness the potential of WhatsApp templates with Bird

WhatsApp templates make for targeted, personal, and excellent customer interactions, resulting in remarkable open and engagement rates.

Bird is your WhatsApp messaging partner, offering robust tools for crafting, personalizing, and deploying WhatsApp templates with ease and scalability. And WhatsApp’s potential goes far beyond just templates. You can even build automated, end-to-end e-commerce experiences in-thread, so customers don’t need to leave WhatsApp to drive sales. 

Dive deep into the full spectrum of features that Bird offers for WhatsApp template creation and implementation. Together, we can craft messages that matter and create customer experiences that count. 

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.