A step-by-step guide to configuring WhatsApp as a marketing channel


Please Ensure That Your Website & Apps Are Integrated with WebEngage Before Proceeding

While you will be using WebEngage to create and analyze all your WhatsApp campaigns, the message is delivered to your target audience through a WhatsApp Service Provider (WSP).


You can think of WhatsApp Service Providers as middle-men that transmit the message from your WebEngage account to a user's WhatsApp account. Currently, you can leverage Infobip and Gupshup to engage users via WhatsApp. We'll be adding more WSPs to the stack pretty soon!

Getting Started with WhatsApp Marketing

Strict guidelines laid down by Facebook control WhatsApp marketing. Hence, you must follow these steps to ensure that you can use WhatsApp uninterruptedly through WebEngage.

Step 1: Get WhatsApp Business Account Approved

The first step is to create a business account and submit it to Facebook for approval. Here's how you can go about it.

We recommend that you use a phone number exclusively for your WhatsApp Business Account.
Here are a few guidelines to help you out:

  • The phone number must be owned by you, preferably registered to your business address, and must include a country code. It cannot be used for another WhatsApp account.

  • Phone numbers can easily be migrated from one WSP to another. However, once your business account is approved, the attached phone number cannot be changed.

  • You should be able to receive a call/SMS on the number for channel activation. Phone numbers that have an IVR service attached cannot be used unless IVR can be disabled to receive the activation code.

Step 2: Get Message Templates Whitelisted


Message templates are pre-approved messages that can contain a maximum of 4096 characters including elements of personalization, links, emojis, and WhatsApp specific formatting. These messages can be used to initiate a conversation with opted-in users (through campaigns) and respond to user queries in the Customer Service Window.

To curb marketing spam, WhatsApp has mandated whitelisting for each message that you'd like to send to your users. Promotional marketing is restricted, and the primary focus of this new channel is to provide customer support and contextual lifecycle updates. This means that early adopters can stand out - if you do it right!

  • Thus, we highly recommend that you restrict WhatsApp campaigns to conveying account updates, appointment updates, payment updates, personal finance updates, reservation updates, shipping updates and providing issue resolution.

  • Messages that contain any of the following elements are at a high risk of being disapproved:

    • Discounts, promotions, product recommendations or offers.
    • Surveys, product/service reviews, and rating requests.
    • Media files (videos & images).
  • You can submit message templates directly to Facebook or on your WSP dashboard for approval. Once they're approved, upload these templates to your WebEngage dashboard to create WhatsApp campaigns.

Whitelisting Personalized Message Templates

Depending on your use-case, there may be several aspects that you'd like to personalize in the message. It could be anything like the user's name, name of purchase product(s), order number, date of appointment, upcoming events, and so on.

This can easily be achieved by:

  • Step 1: Tracking these data points as Custom User Attributes, Custom Events, and Custom Event Attributes for all your app & web users.

  • Step 2: Creating a placeholder in your message template for links, emojis, and personalization. Let's take the example of an order confirmation message that contains the following details:

    • User's First Name
    • Order Number
    • Order Tracking Link
    • An Emoji

Thus, while creating the message template, we'll replace each element with a numbered placeholder in the format, {{x}}. Here's what the final template should look like:


Whitelisting Order Confirmation Message

Hey {{1}}, thanks for your order!

We'll keep you posted on when it's ready to be shipped! You can track order number {{2}}, here {{3}}. Stay awesome {{4}}

So, the message received by a user, Jess, will look like thisπŸ‘‡:


WhatsApp Message Receive by User

Hey Jess, thanks for your order!

We'll keep you posted on when it's ready to be shipped! You can track order number 45360d, here www.example.com/order-tracking/45360d. Stay awesome πŸ€™


Please Note

As per WhatsApp's guidelines, a message template must include at least one parameter, {{1}}. It can later be replaced with text, numbers, special characters or a link, as per your needs.

Step 3: Collect User Opt-ins

By default, all users that have a valid phone number listed in their WebEngage User Profile are considered unreachable via WhatsApp. This is because WhatsApp's Guidelines require users to provide explicit consent for receiving messages.

  • Hence, we recommend that you create a WhatsApp opt-in form on your app/website or add a call-to-subscription to your purchase/platform discovery flow. (Detailed Read)

  • Please ensure that you capture the user's country code along with the phone number. If a country code doesn't exist, then WhatsApp will try sending the message to a user by appending the country code of your business phone number.

  • Each time a user provides consent, you can track it as the System User Attribute, we_whatsapp_opt_in and set the status to true. Doing so will make the user reachable via WhatsApp in your dashboard. (Detailed Read)


Setting WhatsApp Opt-in Status for Users

Our platform integration SDKs enable you to set a user's opt-in status for WhatsApp, SMS, and Email. You can also choose to pass this data through a Rest API integration or manually upload it to your dashboard.

Please Note: It's extremely important that you opt-in only those users who have explicitly provided consent. Violating Facebook's user opt-in policies may put you at the risk of having your WhatsApp business account suspended.

WSP Configuration & Uploading Whitelisted Templates

As highlighted below, access WhatsApp through the Integrations > Channels menu on the top-right to configure a WSP and upload whitelisted message templates to your account.

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Adding WSP

  • Step 1: Click the Add WhatsApp Service Provider button to get started.

  • Step 2: Continue WSP configuration: Infobip, Gupshup

Once you add a WSP to your project, your dashboard will look like thisπŸ‘‡:

Click to enlarge

Adding Whitelisted Message Template

  • Step 1: As highlighted above, click the Add WhatsApp Template button to get started.

  • Step 2: Select the WSP through which you've whitelisted the template/ would like to send the campaign.


Please Note

Each template is mapped a WSP in your dashboard. Thus, while creating the campaign, the list of templates will include only those messages that have been mapped to the WSP selected at Step 3: Message.

  • Step 3: Add the following details for your template:

    • Template Name (For your reference only).

    • Template Text (Paste the exact message that has been approved, do no edit).

    • Template Namespace (While copying from your Facebook/WSP dashboard, please ensure that you use the format, <template_namespace>:<template_name>, for namespace)

    • Template Language (List of languages supported by WhatsApp).

  • Please get in touch with your WSP Account Manager or Facebook business support in case you're unable to find these details.

Click to enlarge

Once you've added the templates, your Channels > WhatsApp section will look like thisπŸ‘‡. You can choose to delete a template anytime you through the Actions menu.

Click to enlarge

You're now ready to engage users via WhatsApp. Please feel free to drop in a few lines at [email protected] in case you have any queries. We're always just an email away!

Updated 6 months ago


A step-by-step guide to configuring WhatsApp as a marketing channel

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