How much do businesses pay for WhatsApp broadcast messages? Everything you need to know for 2023!
From broadcasting messages to newsletters to campaigns: WhatsApp push notifications to multiple users is one of the most useful business tools on the WhatsApp Business Platform. In 2023, WhatsApp is introducing new prices for the WhatsApp broadcast messages. We sum up what is changing, and how much businesses have to pay now for WhatsApp conversations.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world. More than two billion people chat on WhatsApp globally. It’s therefore not surprising that the messaging service is also an important communication channel for companies. However, if you want to take full advantage of WhatsApp’s capabilities — sending broadcasts, campaigns, and other marketing messages, — you need to use (and pay for) the WhatsApp Business Platform.
Some providers might claim that you can use their platform and send WhatsApp broadcasts for free, but typically, this will be an unauthorized solution that’ll get your number blocked on WhatsApp. Only official WhatsApp Business Providers like MessengerPeople by Sinch can give you acess to the official WhatsApp Business API, and unlock all the advantages of the messaging app for your business — including reaching your customers via bulk messages.
And while the solution providers don’t charge you for sending broadcasts, WhatsApp does. In 2023, WhatsApp is changing its message pricing for businesses. We explain the changes, and what the new pricing model looks like. But first, the most significant part: For the broad majority of all businesses, the changes are minor, and there are even new, free opportunities!
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The most important facts at a glance
Before diving into the changes of the new pricing model, let’s have a look at the most relevant details first.
- WhatsApp broadcasts are not getting more expensive: some messages will cost (slightly) more, but others will be cheaper. There are even new, free opportunities!
- The new pricing is now based on the category of conversation, and no longer (only) on who initiated it.
- There are now four message categories: utility, authentication, marketing, and service.
- The first 1,000 user-initiated conversations are free for companies per month and per WhatsApp Business account.
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This is how the new pricing model works
New message categories
Until now, WhatsApp calculated the costs for a WhatsApp conversation based on who initiated it. Business-initiated conversations were more expensive than user-initiated conversations. This is changing in 2023. From now on, conversations through the WhatsApp Business API are divided into four message categories. And companies will be charged based on the message category, rather than on who initiated the conversation.
- Utility conversations: Business-initiated conversations relating to a transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements to customers who have opted in.
- Authentication: Business-initiated conversations that enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes at multiple steps during the login process, such as account registration, account recovery, and integrity challenges.
- Marketing conversation: Business-initiated conversations to market a product or service to customers, such as relevant offers to customers who have opted in. Any business-initiated conversation that does not qualify as an authentication or utility conversation would also fall under this category.
- Service conversations: Any user-initiated conversation, such as to resolve a customer inquiry.
The new pricing increases the cost for marketing conversations slightly (in some countries), reduces the cost for utility conversations, and keeps the cost for serviceconversations the same. In comparison to the previous model, this means that some business-initiated messages will become more expensive, others cheaper while user-initiated (service) conversations keep their pricing.
Reasons for changes in pricing
Previously, WhatsApp had based their message pricing on local SMS rates. Now, Meta’s green messaging provider is changing the approach to more accurately reflect the value of the type of WhatsApp conversation.
Our pricing is changing to reflect the different value each of these experiences drives for businesses and people. Marketing conversations drive incremental sales, while utility conversations facilitate existing sales. Service conversations help resolve customer inquiries.
According to WhatsApp, a marketing conversation on the messaging app brings a lot more value to a company than an SMS. As WhatsApp is able to make the entire customer journey more enticing, from the first media-based coupon to an automated first chat to a personalized sale to engaging re-activation campaigns, marketing conversations should reflect this cost. Similarly, WhatsApp feels that an authentication message does not bring a lot more value to customers and businesses than a text message.
Therefore, the cost for marketing messages increases (in some markets) while the cost for utility messages decreases. Overall, charges for conversations are still based on the end user’s phone number and vary by market (country or region).
24-hour time window
The 24-hour window still remains. All conversations are measured in 24-hour increments, or “sessions” that start whenever the first message has been delivered to a user by a business. The first message can be a response to a user inquiry, or a message template that is being delivered.
There’ll be one exception to this time frame: conversations that start at a free entry point. Meta defines free entry points when “users message businesses using call-to-action buttons on ads that click to WhatsApp or Facebook Page call-to-action buttons.” Aside from the ad costs, businesses will not have to pay for free entry point conversations for 72 hours. Previously, this window was only 24 hours.
Free tier conversations
Business-initiated no longer count as free tier conversations. However, the first 1,000 user-initiated or service conversations each month will continue to be free. Also, messages sent from test phone numbers to test recipient phone numbers are still free.
Timeline for new WhatsApp conversation-based costs
The changes in pricing will roll out in different phases.
- February 2: New templates for the new message categories are available.
- March 1: The time frame for free entry point responses increases.
- April 1: The template category validation starts as part of the review process. It’ll review whether businesses have validated the template categories correctly.
- June 1: The new conversation pricing goes into effect globally.
WhatsApp broadcast costs in the UK, India, US, and worldwide
The prices for a WhatsApp Business conversation / session vary by country. The costs (here in US dollars) are based on the country code of the end user’s phone number.
For most markets, the pricing will barely change. For instance, prices for marketing messages in most European countries, like Germany, France, and Spain will keep the pricing from the previous business-initiated messages. In the following, we list some of the countries that will see (slightly) increased costs per conversation (in US dollars):
- Brazil: from 0.05 USD to 0.0625 USD
- India: from 0.0066 USD to 0.0099 USD
- Italy: from 0.0643 USD to 0.0691 USD
- Mexico: from 0.0349 to 0.0436 USD
- South Africa: from 0.0280 USD to 0.0379 USD
- UK: from 0.0647 USD to 0.0705 USD
- Canada and the US: from 0.0147 USD to 0.0250 USD
Free conversations on WhatsApp Business
The first 1,000 user-initiated conversations per month and per WhatsApp Business account are free. While before, business-initiated conversations were also included in the free tier, this is no longer the case with the 2023 changes.
In addition, there are no WhatsApp business costs if a user starts the conversation via Facebook or Instagram advertising through a click-to-WhatsApp ad or click-to-chat ad. Even if the WhatsApp conversation starts with the call-to-action button on the Facebook Page, the conversation is free.
New free opportunities for businesses
For the vast majority of businesses that use a Business Solution Provider to access the WhatsApp Business Platform, there are only minor changes in pricing.
Yes, marketing messages will become more expensive in some countries, but at the same time, there are new (free) opportunities, and some cost reductions as well!
Communicating important transactional messages to your customers, for instance, is now cheaper. At the same time, the marketing messages come with new opportunities. By adding more free messages to the free entry points, it’s now more attractive to set up highly targeted ads, which are more likely to increase your conversion rates.
In the future, WhatsApp is also planning to improve the analytics tools for their business messages, so you’ll be able to track delivery rates, open rates, click-through-rates, and conversion rates a lot better.
New pricing model for WhatsApp messages: Four examples
To show what the new WhatsApp Business costs actually look like, we have set up four different scenarios.
Scenario 1: Opening a marketing conversation inside a service conversation
Situation: A service conversation is opened at 9:31 AM when a business response to a customer message is delivered. While this conversation is open, the business also delivers a marketing template at 4.30 PM. This now triggers a (new) separate marketing conversation.
Cost: This results in one charge for a service conversation and one charge for a marketing conversation.
Exception: Free entry point conversations are an exception to this rule. A template sent during the three-day free window doesn’t open a new conversation.
Scenario 2: Opening a utility conversation inside a marketing conversation
Situation: A business opens a marketing conversation at 3:40 PM when their marketing template message is delivered. A few hours later, with the marketing conversation still open, the business delivers a utility template. This now opens a separate utility conversation.
Cost: The business is charged for one marketing conversation and one utility conversation.
Scenario 3: Two templates of the same category result in only one conversation charge
Situation: A business delivers a utility message at 9 AM. Two hours later, at 11 AM, the company delivers a second utility template message.
Cost: There is only a charge for one utility message because the business didn’t change the message template type.
Scenario 4: One template with both utility and marketing content
Situation: A business sends one template that includes both, marketing and utility content at 11.59 AM. Whenever WhatsApp identifies marketing content in another message template, it categorizes the message as “marketing”.
Cost: The business receives one marketing conversation charge.
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FAQs: New WhatsApp Business costs for messaging
Q: Why did WhatsApp change the pricing model for messaging?
A: WhatsApp wants their conversation pricing to better reflect the value of the message (in comparison to a regular text message). Due to the more engaging, multimedia capabilities, and re-engagement options of the WhatsApp marketing messages, the company increased the price (slightly), while at the same time lowering the cost for utility messages.
Q: If a business sends more than one message template in an open 24-hour conversation session, will that result in more charges?
A: It depends. If a business sends a new conversation of the same category in the 24-hour window, there will be no additional charges. However, if a company delivers two different types of templates, for example, it first sent a utility template, and then starts a marketing template, a new conversation is opened, and charged separately according to the message category.
Q: What if a business receives a message from a user, but doesn’t reply. Will the business be charged for a conversation?
A: No, conversations will only be charged after the first business reply to a user message is delivered.
Q: What if a business responds to a user message within the 24-hour conversation session, but the business’ message is not delivered until after the conversation session closes? Will the business be charged for another conversation?
A: No. There will be no additional conversation charge if a message is sent to a user in an open 24-hour conversation session, but only delivered after the 24-hour conversation session closes.
Q: Is there still a 24-hour window for replying to messages?
A: Yes. However, WhatsApp has added an exception. If customers enter a conversation with a business through a free entry point, such as a click-to-WhatsApp ad, companies now have three consecutive 24-hour windows (a total of 72 hours) to reply.
Q: Do the free conversations from Click-to-WhatsApp ads or page CTAs on Facebook count toward a business’ 1,000 free conversations each month?
A: No. The 1,000 free conversations are in addition to any free conversations from click-to-WhatsApp ads or Page CTAs on Facebook. Starting March 1, WhatsApp will allow more free conversations through this free entry point by extending the free conversation window from 24 hours to 72 hours.
Other messaging apps
Q: Are similar changes planned for other Facebook business messaging products, like the Messenger API and Messenger API for Instagram?
A: These changes apply only to the WhatsApp Business Platform, and there are no plans to apply this pricing model to other Meta business messaging products at this time (2023).
Q: Does anything change for the 1,000 free conversations per month on the WhatsApp Business Platform?
A: The first 1,000 user-initiated or service conversations each month will continue to be free. Also, messages sent from test phone numbers to test recipient phone numbers are still free.
Q: What if a business is the victim of malicious attacks, unwanted messages or spam? Will I have to pay for receiving these unwanted messages?
A: A conversation session does not initiate until the first business reply to a user message is delivered. Businesses will only be charged for a user-initiated conversation when their first reply to a user-initiated message is delivered.
For more information about pricing, please visit the Facebook developers page.