How to get the most out of the WhatsApp newsletter: everything you need to know

After shutting down its broadcasting messages for businesses in 2019, WhatsApp re-launched their bulk message feature in June of 2021 — and has added new features and regulations since. We sum up everything you need to know about the WhatsApp newsletter, show you the possibilities  it offers, and how businesses are successfully sending newsletters. 

The WhatsApp newsletter has had a tumultous history. It has not only gone through several name changes, like broadcasting messages to newsletter to marketing notifications, but also through a lot of internal changes.

Technically, in the early days of the WhatsApp newsletter, WhatsApp never officially allowed businesses to send out bulk messages to their customers with the app. Consequently, the feature was shut down in 2019, and WhatsApp threatened with legal consequences, if businesses were to still send out newsletters. The main reason WhatsApp gave for this was to protect its users from spam, and that it wanted to re-focus on personalized one-on-one messages.

However, in 2021, WhatsApp decided to resurrect the newsletter — with some changes and under new conditions. We explain how the new and reformed WhatsApp newsletter works, what benefits newsletters can have for your business, and we’ll show you examples of businesses that have been using the feature very successfully.



Why the WhatsApp newsletter is the next big thing

WhatsApp newsletters (officially: marketing notifications) are paid bulk messages or push notifications that business can send out on WhatsApp to their customers.

Some use cases are currently:

  • special offers
  • personalized product recommendations
  • re-engagement
  • relevant news and updates

As their name implies, WhatsApp newsletters work just like your traditional e-mail newsletters. However, instead of sending an e-mail, you are sending messages to your customers on WhatsApp. This might not sound like a big difference, but the possibilities and the KPIs are a lot more impressive!

Open rates over 33%, 60% increase in sales

For example, did you know that the open rate for WhatsApp messages is over 90%, while the average open rate for marketing e-mails is 21.5%? And, while with e-mail newsletters, you’re normally looking at click-through-rates of three percent, messaging newsletters achieve rates more than ten times as high!

click-through-rates messaging newsletters, satistics

Your messaging newsletter will get a lot more attention.

Johannes Kliesch, the Managing Director & Founder of the e-commerce store SNOCKS, has shared very interesting insights on the company’s WhatsApp newsletters performance. 

WhatsApp customers spent on average 60% more than e-mail customers!

Johannes Kliesch, managing director and founder of SNOCKS

 

That statement was followed by an update showing that SNOCKS achieved a conversion rate of 28% through WhatsApp messages.

All relevant CRM values are clearly higher on WhatsApp.

Johannes Kliesch, Managing Director and founder of SNOCKS

These numbers are not unique to SNOCKS. KiKUU, an online shopping mall that is present in almost 20 African countries, has seen similar success. The e-commerce company started sending out regular deals to their customers through a WhatsApp newsletter.

WhatsApp newsleter KiKUUU

KiKUU uses the WhatsApp newsletter to send out updates and special deals. (Source: Meta)

Over the course of one week alone, KiKUU saw that “customers opened WhatsApp push notifications 70% more often than messages on the other channels.” This led to a 60% increase in sales!

Another reason to send WhatsApp newsletters? Your customers love WhatsApp!

How come WhatsApp newsletters see such high engagement and conversion rates? Because it’s one of the most beloved social networks in the world! According to data from Hootsuite and we are social, 15.7% of internet users aged 16 to 64 call WhatsApp their “favorite” social media platform.

worlds-favourite-social-media-platforms-january-2022-datareportal

Internet users love WhatsApp! (Source: Hootsuite / we are social)

No other social media platform has such a broad reach. And: people don’t only communicate with their friends and family on WhatsApp, they also increasingly reach out to businesses on the messenger service. Currently, WhatsApp Business has more than 50 million WhatsApp Business users.

The potential WhatsApp, and especially the WhatsApp newsletter holds for businesses of any size, is therefore significant. So, how can you get started with the WhatsApp newsletter? First, it’s important to understand your two options for sending out bulk messages on WhatsApp, the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly: API).


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Getting started: Important differences between bulk messages on the WhatsApp Business App vs. the WhatsApp Business Platform

As a company, you are only allowed to use the WhatsApp Business app or the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly: WhatsApp Business API). WhatsApp does not allow the use of the private WhatsApp app for commercial purposes. 

The WhatsApp Business app is a free app that you can download in the app stores, and it’s primarily designed for small businesses with up to five employees. It allows you to set up a business profile, a product catalog, and only reach out to a (very!) limited number of 256 recipients per broadcasting list.

While this option might be enough for some companies or single entrepreneurs, for most businesses it’s too limited. It doesn’t allow you to scale your messages, you can’t integrate chatbots, and get the green tick. Also keep in mind that data protection is not guaranteed with the WhatsApp Business app.

That’s where the WhatsApp Business Platform comes in. The Platform gives you access to the WhatsApp interface, where you can integrate chatbots, and start with a base line of newsletter capabilities of 1,000 messages. How do you get access to the Platform? Through Business Solution Providers!

Business Solution Providers like MessengerPeople by Sinch provide ready-to-use software to access the WhatsApp Business Platform that doesn’t require any coding skills and is very intuitive to use. Plus, it also guarantees 100 percent data protection for your customers.

This option is not free of charge, but it comes with several advantages.

Infographic which shows the differneces between the private WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Business App vs. WhatsApp Business API


WhatsApp newsletter basics: requirements, message limits, templates, and costs

The basic requirements for businesses to send out WhatsApp newsletters is to have a business account. As mentioned, the type of account also defines the maximum number of users you can contact.

How many marketing notifications can you send out?

Marketing notifications or WhatsApp newsletters are push notifications that businesses send out to users, and thus count as “business-initiated” messages. Their number is limited (unlike the number of a message exchange after a user-initiated message!), as WhatsApp wants to avoid companies spamming their customers with too many bulk messages.

The messaging limits define the number of business-initiated conversations per phone number that can be started in a 24-hour period. A business-initiated conversation starts when the first message is delivered to a customer and ends 24 hours later.

There are four messaging limit levels:

  • 1,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • 10,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • 100,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • An unlimited number of business-initiated conversations in a rolling 24-hour period.

These messaging limits are not static, but can be increased or decreased automatically based on:

  • your phone number status
  • the phone number quality rating, and
  • how often you initate converstations with unique customers.

The basic rule is though that all businesses on the WhatsApp Busines Platform start with 1,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers per 24-hour period. If you reach your limit, you can start new conversations once active conversations end. You can check the available number of messages in your business profile.

WhatsApp marketing notifcations limits

You’ll see the number of available messages in your profile. (Source: Meta)

Increasing your message limit

In the fall for 2022, WhatsApp made it even easier for businesses to scale their messaging. Companies that receive a high quality score for their marketing notifications can now increase their limits faster.

The basic math is: If in the last seven days you have initiated X or more conversations with unique customers, where X is your current messaging limit divided by 2, your message limit will increase by one level in 24 hours.

For example: if a company that starts off with a limit of 1,000 messages is able to reach 500 unique users in the first seven days of the campaign, their message limit will increase to 10,000 24 hours of having reached the 500th user.

WhatsApp newsletter messages

Examples that show the new scaling model for WhatsApp newsletters. (Source: Meta)

WhatsApp introduced this upgrade to allow companies to scale their campaigns much faster.

In addition, for companies that are starting out new on the WhatsApp Business Platform, there is now also a new upgrade. The initial business-initiated messaging limits are now 250 unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period (vs. before 50).

Using templates for WhatsApp marketing notifications

While in the past, WhatsApp had limited the number and type of templates businesses could use for sending out newsletters, there are now simply three types of templates for companies that allow for many use cases. Currently (as of 2022), these are the three types of templates that companies can use:

  • Marketing: send promotional offers, product updates (basically any type of promotional message)
  • One-time passwords: send codes to customers that allow them to access their accounts
  • Transactional: send account updates, alerts, order updates, and important information

In an effort to control “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use”, after re-introducing the newsletter, WhatsApp started to be more critical of the type of content that was being shared. The goal was to improve the user experience of messaging between customers and companies on WhatsApp, and avoid spam, offensive, or misleading cntent.

Until very recently, this meant that businesses had to get their messaging templates pre-approved by WhatsApp, which could take up to twelve or even 24 hours. Since the fall of 2022, this process has been automated and cut down to less than a minute!

This basically means that businesses will not have to go throught the template approval process anymore, assuming that the templates don’t violate WhatsApp guidelines, but can immediately start their campaigns. At first, there will be a test phase with a limited number of users before being able to fully scale the campaigns.

This will allow businesses to adjust and edit campaigns before running the on full scale. Also: minor edits will not require a re-submission of templates anymore! Businesses are allowed one edit per day and a maximum of ten per month.

Limitations for pharmacies and drugstores

While certain businesses, such as digital subscription services, pharmacies, drugstores, supplement providers and businesses dealing with animal products, were previously excluded from using WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp has changed is policies this year to allow these companies to join the platform. They are still mostly prohibited from using commercial features, but they can now also use WhatsApp Business messaging.

Pharmacies and drugstores, however, still face some limitations. According to WhatsApp, they can’t use business messaging to “promote or transact in the sale of pharmaceuticals.” However, they can:

  • Provide purchase confirmation, such as receipts of non-pharmaceuticals
  • Respond to customer inquiries about groceries, convenience items, personal care, and other non-regulated retail products
  • Provide delivery updates of non-pharmaceuticals
  • Provide customer service related to non-pharmaceutical

Paused campaigns

WhatsApp has decided to switch to this automated template check to speed up the process, and decrease waiting times and interruptions. Of course, WhatsApp can still pause campaigns if too many users report abuse or block a business, or if the quality of the campaign is considered “low”. Unlike before though, WhatsApp will not block an entire phone number, just the specific campaign in question.

If you are using professional software tools like the MessengerPeople by Sinch software, you can already benefit from shorter waiting times, and an unlimited number of templates.

  • ✅ You can create an unlimited number of templates (e.g. offers, news, content, giveaways, Black Friday deals).
  • ✅ Quick approval within 5 minutes.

How much does the WhatsApp newsletter cost?

Messages that your customers send to you are always free unlike traditional SMS messages, where your phone provider charges both sides.

In case a company wants to send a message to a customer, there is a fixed fee depending on the country. The price per business-initiated messages depend on the user’s country code. For example, for user with a UK code, the price is £ 0.0467. In India, the current rate for business-initiated messages is 94.30 Rupees, and in North America you pay US $ 0.0147. You can see the full pricing list on the Facebook developer site.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing

WhatsApp Business API Pricing

❗ Tip: There are some scenarios when companies can send up to 1.000 WhatsApp bulk messages per for free. 


How to create target groups and get insights into your campaigns

In order to achieve your predefined business goals, it’s necessary to realize the needs of the target group. In fact, by sending your newsletter via WhatsApp you should also keep in mind the target group (same way as for e-mail marketing).

It’s important to create notifications that are straightforward and relevant to your target audience. Here we explain on which database you can create target groups, so users receive the most valuable content.

3.1. Data from WhatsApp

When the user subscribes to your channel, you can get access to their profile name and telephone number. You can access this data in your business profile, or on your dashboard if you are using a professional softare solution.

3.2. Data from the contact

If the user has previously interacted with your business through your online shop, with WhatsApp or another communication tool, you can further use this profile data in your targeting options. This information can be saved in the single-user profiles.

💡 Note: you should connect your CRM tools to export and import customer data and synchronize the processes.

3.3. Data from user

When starting a conversation with customers on WhatsApp, you also have the option to ask them directly for important information. Based on the provided data, companies can now create relevant target groups settings.

In addition, this data helps you to continuously improve the customer service experience. At the next interaction, this data is already available and enables a personalized conversation. The customer feels much more valued!

Insights into your campaigns

In 2022, WhatsApp also updated the insights companies can access from their marketing campaigns. You can now see more metrics about your target group in a new dashboard. This will help you to better calculate the return on investment of your campaigns, and further improve the segmentation of your target groups.


WhatsApp newsletter: the best way to collect opt-in

The first step towards sending your newsletter to prospective customers is getting them to opt-in. For this, your customers have to actively agree to receive newsletters via WhatsApp from your business. This is a requirement. Otherwise, you are not allowed to send customers newsletters!

The question now is, what’s the best way to do that? Let’s have a look at some examples.

adidas India: incentives for joining broadcasting list

Adidas India wanted to promote the relanch of their website and a new membership initiative that went with it. They decided to use promotional WhatsApp messages to get new members, and promised special rewards to users who signed up for the newsletter.

Adidas India, WhatsApp newsletter

Adidas India promoted their membership program through a WhatsApp broadcast. (Source: Freshworks)

QR codes and click-to-chat links

Another option for an easy opt-in is to include an opt-in check box right before people click on the click-to-chat link to get to your WhatsApp chat.

If you are using a professional WhatsApp Business solution, you can also include special opt-in widgets that you can also edit to fit your website design.

WhatsApp widget website, Altitude Adventure Holidays

With a professional messaging solution, you can easily integrate WhatsApp widgets on your website. (Source: Altitude Adventure Holidays)

❗ Important! When it comes to WhatsApp newsletters it’s relevant that your potential customers are well aware of your data policy. It’s not a bad idea to create a landing page where your company can explain all the important details regarding your policies.

Opt-out of newsletters

It’s also recommended to give your subscribers an easy opt-out option, such as writing “Stop” in the chat or having an opt-out button.

 

 

This might seem counter-productive, after all, you don’t want your customers to unsubscribe, but opt-outs have several advantages.

  • They reduce the block rate because only people who are really interested in your newsletters will receive them, while other customers will not be bothered by them.
  • Reducing your block rate will also minimize your chances of getting your template blocked, so you will also be able to scale your campaigns faster.
  • It’s customer-friendly! Not every customer is interested in every newsletter you send out. Give them the option to say “no”, and choose the messages they really want to receie. It will increase the quality and the conversion rate of your campaigns.
  • When customers opt-out, you will be able to see who has oped out. This will make it easier for you to improve your campaigns. You are also able to send customers that opt-out a confirmation request and ask them why they opted out. This will give you further insights into your campaigns.

How to drive customers to newsletter subscription on WhatsApp?

One way of getting more subscribers for your WhatsApp newsletter is to proactively advertise the channel on other social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. That helps customers to start a conversation with a company on WhatsApp and can be asked to become a subscriber of the messaging newsletter service. 

Click to WhatsApp Ads

But there are many more ways to get users to subscribe to your newsletter.

1. Communicate your WhatsApp service number everywhere!

Where do you have points of contact with your (future) customers? Think, for example, of

  • Posters
  • QR codes on store windows
  • Website
  • Catalogues
  • Podcasts
  • Product packaging
  • Out of Home
  • Business cards
  • Magazines
  • Sales slips
  • Company cars

2. Use Click to Chat (links directly into the messaging app)!

Click to chat links or click to chat ads are a great way to direct customers directly to your WhatsApp newsletter service.

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Other channels to send newsletters

Although WhatsApp is a great channel to communicate with your customers, some users maybe favor other messaging apps.

There are several channels that can do a good job with newsletters as well. Apple Messages for Business, Notify, and Telegram are particularly suitable for this.

The widespread use of Apple smartphones in general should be on companies’ radar if they want to send out newsletters. This premium target group is definitely worth the investment! For all other target groups, an ROI (Return on Invest) analysis should be made in advance to put the costs incurred into perspective.

If you use the MessengerPeople by Sinch software, you can use several messaging channels for your newsletter service. So you can offer your customers all relevant messaging apps and manage that in one solution without extra work. And your customers can choose what messaging app they prefer to receive information. After all, it is always a good idea to offer options!


Conclusion: WhatsApp newsletter is the future of consuming news

The WhatsApp newsletter is a perfect solution that complements the classic newsletter sent by e-mail. It’s not only a more personal way of communication with your clients, it’s also a very effective and simple platform. 

High open and click rates, as well as non-existent algorithms are probably the best arguments to get started with WhatsApp newsletters.

Another plus is that customers can be retained in the long term. Also keep in mind that the costs of reaching customers again and again are significantly lower. In the post-cookie and post-retargeting times, customers who have saved your company contact in their address book are worth their weight in gold.



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