Until January 2022, the WhatsApp Business API pricing was on a notification-based pricing model. Session messages were free, but businesses needed to pay for using message templates. Even the charges for message templates varied according to the region. But things have changed since February 2022. Let’s understand the new conversation-based pricing model for the WhatsApp Business API.
What’s the big change?
Earlier, WhatsApp used to charge for the WhatsApp Business API according to sessions or templates. But as of 1st February 2022, WhatsApp changed things up. They don’t charge your business according to messages, templates, or sessions anymore, the messaging app made the switch in the Business API pricing from a notification-based pricing model to a conversation-based pricing model.
Businesses are charged for the WhatsApp Business API on a per-conversation basis. These conversations include all the messages delivered in a 24-hour session. But not all conversations are treated the same. WhatsApp has split these conversations into two categories.
The types of conversations
WhatsApp Business API conversations are classified on the basis of who initiated the conversation and these two categories of conversations are priced in different ways.
A user-initiated conversation is a conversation that is initiated by a user or a customer. If your business responds to a message sent by a customer within the 24-hour customer service window (within 24 hours of the last message from your customer), it will be counted as a user-initiated conversation. Messages sent in user-initiated conversations can be free-form. Message templates are not required for these conversations when the business replies within the 24-hour window.
A business-initiated conversation is a conversation that is initiated by a business outside of the 24-hour customer service window. Any time a business sends a message to a user outside the 24-hour window, it will be counted as a business-initiated conversation. Messages that kick off a business-initiated conversation will require a pre-approved message template. If your business sends a message template and a user replies to it, it will count as a business-initiated conversation.
So, what really counts as a conversation?
A conversation is considered to have started as soon as the first message sent by the business is delivered, whether the conversation is initiated by the business or the message is in reply to a message sent by a user. Your business and your customers/users can interact with each other, sending any amount of messages to each other (yes, even template messages!) in a single conversation (a 24 hour session) without any additional charges. There is just a single charge levied for every 24 hour conversation.
The charges for these conversations depend on the end user’s country code. There are varying rates for conversations across countries and regions.
Do you get free conversations?
Yep! Your first 1000 conversations every month are absolutely free. This allows you to engage and connect with your customers and get them to fall in love with your brand before you have to pay a single cent.
And yes, these free conversations aren’t limited to user-initiated conversations, even your business-initiated ones count here, so you can start driving your marketing efforts over the WhatsApp Business API before you actually need to pay.
These free conversations are refreshed every month. But even if your WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) has several WhatsApp numbers attached to it, the threshold for the free tier is still 1000 messages since these are provided at the WABA level.
What does it mean for you?
Well, that depends on the way in which you use the WhatsApp Business API.
If you send multiple notifications within a 24 hour period, you’re now just going to be paying for one business-initiated conversation instead of having to pay for every message template that you send out.
If you space your messages and notifications out over multiple 24-hour periods, you’ll be paying for every conversation.
And if you use WhatsApp as a channel for customer support and are responding to messages that your users and customers send, those will be user-initiated conversations and you will be charged for each conversation.
What can you do to get more value with WhatsApp’s new pricing model?
Here are a couple of things that you can do to get more value from WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model.
If you’re keen on offering your customers a truly omnichannel experience, you’re definitely engaging with them over several other messaging platforms as well. The issue with this is that your agents could miss a message from your customers when they are hopping across multiple inboxes. When they notice this and get around to replying, the 24-hour customer service window may have closed, so a new conversation is started, and this would count as a business-initiated conversation. Now you’re paying for two conversations instead of one.
If you had a OneView Inbox like the one you get with Engati, you’d be able to monitor all these conversations in one place so that you’d never miss a message and you’d be able to handle your customers’ queries in a single conversation. You could even start a business-initiated conversation directly from the OneView inbox.
Your agents can’t be online all day, but if your customers send follow-up messages towards the latter part of your 24-hour conversation window and your agents aren’t online, you’d just end up starting (and getting billed for) another conversation when your agents get around to replying after those 24 hours.
But if you had a chatbot, you could reply instantly, resolving around 80% of your customers’ queries immediately, without any need for human intervention, saving you the extra charge of starting another conversation.