WhatsApp prioritises customer experience above all else, and is keen to make sure their channel is not used for spam. WhatsApp uses a mobile number to uniquely identify users, but an explicit opt-in needs to be obtained before communicating using WhatsApp.
Customers cannot use existing opt-ins they have for SMS, but they can use other channels such as SMS, email, live chat and more as campaigns for gathering opt-ins. It is also recommended to gather opt-ins at point of sign up for new customers.
Generally, WhatsApp only requires your opt-ins to adhere to certain guidelines, such as:
Businesses must clearly state that a person is opting in to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp.
Businesses must clearly state the business’ name that a person is opting in to receive messages from.
Businesses must comply with applicable law.
However, they also offer some handy guidance for you to remain compliant:
Clearly communicate the value of receiving important updates on WhatsApp.
Be explicit about what types of messages a customer is opting-in to.
Avoid messaging customers too frequently to mitigate perception of spam.
Provide instructions for how people can opt-out of receiving messages from your business.
Honor customer requests to mitigate risk of customers blocking or reporting your business.
Monitor your quality rating to evaluate new opt-in processes.
Gathering opt-ins in channel
It may seem counter-intuitive, but whilst you can respond to an inbound WhatsApp message from a customer without opt-in, you cannot assume permission to send them subsequent messages in the form of your HSMs. You must seek permission for this, but can do so in the WhatsApp conversation.
Gathering opt-ins at sign up
When a customer signs up to order a product or service from you, simply add in an opt-in permission at this stage following the guidance above. From the customer perspective, there is no additional information to be entered providing you require a phone number. You could even use WhatsApp as part of your verification service to do this, ensuring the customer has entered their phone number correctly for them to receive alerts, reminds and notifications about their order or booking. This also verifies the customers identity, with a two-factor authentication (2FA) process, protecting their account and adding due diligence to your security processes with little effort.
Gathering opt-ins by other channels
You can seek permission on other channels such as SMS, push, live chat or email. Remember, this is your chance to promote your innovation as a brand and offer a service to the customer that they want to hear about. Expect a lot of interest from this opt-in campaign, and buzz about your brand as a result.
A user can opt out by simply sending “STOP” (or other keyword given in the call to action). You would then receive this as a new inbound message that you would configure to send back to your own systems to allow you to opt out that user from future messaging. WhatsApp users also have the power to block a business by selecting the business profile in the app and selecting the Block business option.