WhatsApp Conversation-Based Pricing Policy

WhatsApp introduces pricing updates for messages sent via the WhatsApp Business Platform and WhatsApp Business API that will apply based on the conversation initiator and category.

There are two main categories of WhatsApp conversations: user-initiated and business-initiated.

On June 1, 2023, Meta announced pricing policy updates.

In this article, we will talk about conversation categories in WhatsApp chatbots, how they influence your pricing, what changes are being introduced, and how to check your account balance to plan your budget.

Basic Concepts

Depending on whose message starts the conversation, WhatsApp Business identifies two categories: user-initiated and business-initiated conversations.

All conversations are measured in fixed 24-hour sessions. A session opens as soon as the first message is delivered.

If a user initiates a conversation to resolve customer inquiries, it is categorized as a service conversation.

Additionally, WhatsApp uses the concept of a customer service window, which is a period updated when a business receives a message from a customer. Companies can send free-form messages within the customer service window. However, to contact a customer when it has been more than 24 hours since their last message, businesses must use an approved template.

If a company sends a message template or replies to a user's message outside the 24-hour window, WhatsApp considers it a business-initiated conversation.

From June 1, 2023, business-initiated conversations will be split into additional categories based on the template topic or conversation goal.

When creating templates and submitting them for moderation, companies must specify their categories. Meta will not accept templates whose contents do not coincide with the selected category.

The selected category will determine your conversation pricing. All conversation categories require customer opt-in.

Category Description Template Examples
Utility conversations Processing specific requests or transactions, sending customers updates on their current orders, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements. Confirming or suspending an existing transaction

"Your order #0021 is confirmed."

Changing or updating a transaction

"Your order has shipped! It will be delivered on Friday."

Sending account, billing, or payment notifications

"Your payment has failed; click here to retry."

Authentication conversations Authenticating users using one-time codes, for example, during a multistep login process (account verification or recovery, account integrity issues). These templates are strictly regulated. Providing an authentication code to a user

"{{1}} is your verification code. To keep your account safe, do not share this code."

Marketing conversations Sending promotions, offers, and other information or calls to action.

A flexible category*

Sending promotions or offers

"Thanks for your order! Use code SAVE20 to get 20% off your next order!”

Sending welcome or farewell messages

“Our Bakery is now on WhatsApp!"

Sending updates, invitations, newsletters, or recommendations

"Good news! The product you saved is back in stock."

Sending requests or calls to action

"Thank you for your order. We’d love your feedback. Please click here."

*Any template containing both utility and marketing content will be categorized as a marketing template. Other templates that don’t fit the utility, authentication, or service conversation content description also fall under the "Marketing" category.

Pricing Policy

Updated Conversation Charges

Any business-initiated message that starts a new conversation will be paid. If the subsequent messages within the 24-hour session match the initial conversation category, they will be free.

For example, if you send three messages within a 24-hour utility session, only the first one is paid.

If company responses involve templates from a different category, a new session opens, and WhatsApp will charge you for messages from the relevant category.

So, if you use a marketing template after the utility template, a new session starts, and you will be charged for that template. However, until the end of the first session, your utility template messages will be free.

If a user sends you a message within an open session of any category, you can respond with a free-form service message that won’t incur charges and won’t open a new service session.

If a user starts a session, only the first reply is paid. In the next 24 hours, free-form business messages won’t be charged.

After the end of a 24-hour customer service window, you cannot respond with a free-form message until a user sends the subsequent message (this time slot is dashed in the image below).

A new customer service window opens if a user sends a new message during the session. In this case, you will pay for the first message sent after the end of the previous utility session.

The price of a message that opens a 24-hour session depends on the country to which you send it. For example, if a company sends a marketing template to a user in Brazil, it will cost $0.0625 per message. A utility conversation will cost $0.035 per message, an authentication message will cost $0.0315, and if a company is responding to a user's question, a message will cost $0.03.

Read more: Rate cards for utility, marketing, authentication, and service conversations.

Free Tier Sessions

Starting June 1, 2023, every month, the first 1,000 service conversation sessions will be free. You can reply and engage your audience in communication via WhatsApp.

Note that the monthly package of free sessions is valid for one account where you can connect several bots (phone numbers).

Free Sessions after User Clicking on Ads

If a user sends a message to a business using call-to-action buttons in ads that click to WhatsApp or Facebook, Meta won’t charge you for this conversation. What's more, starting March 1, 2023, Meta has extended the free conversation window from 24 to 72 hours and provides additional entry points that will only start with a user's action.

During the free conversation window, messages can be sent and received for 72 hours.

However, if a free conversation is open, a conversation of another category cannot be started, even if a business sends a template within the three-day (72h) free conversation window.

Standard pricing applies to ads that click to WhatsApp. Conversations initiated from an ad are free, but the ad itself is paid.

How to Plan Your Budget

To find out how much money you spend on conversations, at what rates, and whether you are within the limit of free communication with users, go to your chatbot's statistics section.

SendPulse also displays a message about your remaining number of conversations within the free limit on the start page of the "Chatbots" section.

Session Examples

Let's have a look at a few examples of conversations with users to understand how WhatsApp pricing policy works.

Scenario #1. A user contacts customer support reps, communicating with them within one 24-hour session.

Anne asks Commercial Air a question about her booking (1). A 24-hour session starts after the message from Commercial Air is delivered (2).

All subsequent messages for the next 24 hours are free in this scenario. This is an incentive for Commercial Air to respond to customers' messages faster and resolve all of their issues in one session.

If Commercial Air continues to interact with the user after the 24-hour session ends, the business will have to pay to send a template message, which will start a new session of the relevant category. In this case, the session will be considered business-initiated.

Anne receives the information she needs in this scenario, and Commercial Air pays for one user-initiated service conversation.

Scenario #2: A business's reply to a user requires two sessions using the same template.

Barbara's store has a chatbot that answers frequently asked questions from customers, so the customer gets an immediate response at 1:13 PM (2).

The next day, the chatbot sends a notification at 3:45 PM, informing Anne that the order has been delivered (3).

Barbara's store sends a second message after the 24-hour period since its first reply. This means that a new session has started, and the business needs to send a template message.

In this scenario, the shoe store pays for two sessions: a service conversation and utility conversation.

Scenario #3. A business sends a template message.

When the flight status changes or the flight gets canceled altogether, Commercial Air will notify its customers by sending template messages.

The first message (1) informs Anne that her flight has been delayed by half an hour.

The second message (2) reminds her that her flight is departing in 15 minutes.

In this scenario, two utility template messages are sent within 24 hours, so the business only needs to pay for one session.

Scenario #4. A business-initiated session that consists of one conversation.

When a customer orders something from Barbara’s store, the company sends a confirmation message, (1) letting them know that their order has been received, and asks if the customer wants to get a delivery notification.

The customer agrees to receive a delivery notification (2), and the company messages some additional information (3).

In this scenario, Barbara’s store pays for a single utility conversation session. If the user responded after the 24-hour period, the company would have to pay extra for a new session.

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