WhatsApp Business offers huge brand engagement opportunities — but to access them, enterprise must first secure consumer opt-ins that adhere to WhatsApp's strict regulations.
Master the basics of the WhatsApp Business customer opt-in process
First, the customer can only give their consent via an opt-in form located on one of the business's existing communications channels—a 'third party channel'—and not through WhatsApp itself; think email, website, SMS, app, even a dedicated landing page, etc. It's also important to understand that the opt-in must be 'active'; this means the customer must actively show their consent by entering/editing a phone number or by checking a box.
Make it Clear to Customers that WhatsApp Business is Not Spam
Secondly, any messaging used in the opt-in form must be clear so the user knows exactly what they are signing up to—and what type of information they will receive once they have consented. Remember, all WhatsApp Business messaging must be customer service-related or customer-initiated as any form of spamming is a strict no-no.
Make the Opt-in Form fully WhatsApp-Compliant
There are several rules for what should be included in the opt-in form featured on the third party channel. These cover both visuals and text:
The Right Opt-In Visuals
- There must be a visual opt-in element (a check box or similar UI required)
- This element must be displayed next to the WhatsApp name and logo
- Only official WhatApp brand assets may be used — check them out here
- The field that features the customer's phone number must be editable
The Right Opt-In Text
- The accompanying text should explain what type of information the customer will receive (say, delivery notifications) and that said info will be delivered via WhatsApp.
- The text's language must be specific and explicit, such as “I agree to receive [noun], [logo and name], on [number]’. For example:
- “I consent to receive order updates from Fresh Produce on my WhatsApp number”
That might all sound complicated, but in practice, it's actually pretty simple. Check out this example from tyntec:
Create Customer Trust with WhatsApp Business Opt-in
Not WhatsApp though. It expects businesses to be upfront and transparent with their customers about how the platform will be used to deliver notifications and messages to them—and exactly what these missives will contain. Only once that has been done can the business ask the consumer to opt-in to receiving messaging via WhatsApp.
By creating such strict opt-in rules, WhatsApp is enabling credible businesses to enjoy the platform's full range of CX benefits while also creating genuine customer trust. But what are the rules and critically, how difficult are they to adhere to?
Where to Add WhatsApp Opt-Ins
Your website is the first place where you should add opt-ins. You can add opt-in invites to various webpages, including your homepage, your contact page and landing pages where your WhatsApp service is connected with specific products or use cases.
You can also use a pop-up screen, especially on your homepage, to draw attention and collect the opt-ins right away. Make sure your webpages / landing pages should be responsive, so that opt-ins can be collected on every device that your customers use. Social media channels and email newsletters are also great channels for this purpose.
Another thing to be sure to do is to confirm that opt-ins have been successful with a thank you page or widget. To simplify this process, the WhatsApp widget can be easily integrated into your brand’s communication channels, allowing users to select their country and insert their phone number. The technical implementation for this requires only a few lines of code.
Many companies also provide SMS for notifications, marketing and other use cases, and this is certainly a channel that can be used to drive attention to your WhatsApp with a one-click option. If you’re interacting with customers via a reception desk, you can also add a WhatsApp opt-in to your check-in process via paper forms, flyers with a QR code, etc. When users scan a QR code, you can set it to take them to a webpage where they can complete the opt-in by entering their phone number and checking the opt-in information.
In addition to the usual channels, specific customer touchpoints unique to various industries are also convenient channels to collect opt-ins. Retail banks, for instance, can use ATMs to announce the opportunity to receive balance notifications, mini-statements and more via WhatsApp.
Last but not least, check out WhatsApp’s brand guidelines before you create opt-ins to make sure all your communications are in accordance with WhatsApp’s guidelines.
The WhatsApp Customer Opt-In FAQ
Get ahead of the opt-in curve with tyntec's Frequent Asked Questions breakdown.
“What is an 'on-boarding' flow?"
The process that the customer must follow in order to opt-in to the enterprise's WhatsApp channel. For instance, the company starts the flow by sending an SMS to the customer, inviting them to opt-in to WhatsApp with a link to a custom landing page. The next stage of the flow is triggered when the customer presses on the link and is taken to the landing page itself where they then opt-in via the correctly formatted form (as detailed above).
“If the customer enters a phone number in a previous step of the on-boarding flow, does the number need to be re-verified again later?
No. So long as the number was entered as part of the same multi-step flow, there is no need to re-verify the number again.
“Can a single checkbox asking users to opt-in be used for both WhatsApp and SMS?"
No. The business must indicate WhatsApp is a standalone, individual option and features the platform's name and logo.
“If a business promotes calling on WhatsApp to collect customer numbers, does this count as an opt-in?"
Yes, but with a caveat—the business must still create a flow (such as a form on their website) that adheres to WhatsApp's rules. It must be made clear to the customer that if they do call the number, they are actively opting in to receiving a specific type of message via WhatsApp.
“If a customer reaches out for customer support via WhatsApp, does that count as an opt-in for other notifications?"
Nice try, but no. It only means the company can reply to that specific message—and that's all. To send other notifications, consent must still be obtained using the 'third party channel' approach so the customer knows exactly what they are signing up to and what they can expect to receive.
However, there is an exception to this rule—a customer support response being sent by the business outside of the initial 24-hour window. Because this message is part of the original customer support thread, the enterprise can still send a reply (using the issue_resolution tag).
“Is WhatsApp monitoring whether a business is following its opt-in policies?"
Yes. The company regularly checks a business' opt-in flows as well as monitoring quality signals, i.e. whether customers are regularly blocking the business. If WhatsApp believes its policies aren't being followed, then the enterprise could be blocked from the platform.
Still Got Questions about WhatsApp's Customer Opt-In Rules?
No problem — contact tyntec to learn more about the opt-in process or read about our complete WhatsApp Business solution by downloading the WhatsApp Playbook: How the No.1 Messaging App Is Reshaping Customer Experience