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WhatsApp Messaging Types and Guidelines

11 December 2020

Over 100 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day, but what types of messages can you send and receive on WhatsApp Business API? And what guidelines, policies, and restrictions do you need to know?

In this article, we’ll cover message types, template guidelines, types of templates, and WhatsApp’s commerce policy for WhatsApp Business API.

Message Types

There are two types of WhatsApp messages:

  1. session messages
  2. template messages

Both types only allow for one-to-one messaging, not bulk sendings.

Learn more about WhatsApp Business API.

Session Messages

Session messages are customer-initiated conversations. They are often related to customer service in which customers have questions or need to resolve issues using a one-to-one private conversation. A message from the end user will trigger the customer service window to be opened and will stay open for 24 hours if the customer responds to the template message. Messages outside of the 24-hour customer service window and are not in a template message will not be delivered to the end-user.


Template Messages

Template messages are business-initiated messages and can be sent any time to deliver important notifications during your customers’ journeys. You can also reopen a customer care window within 24 hours with a template message. It’s important to remember that in order to send template messages, you must get an opt-in from each customer.

Learn how to get WhatsApp opt-ins.

A template message is connected to a predefined and approved template in the WhatsApp Business Manager. Template messages can be related to customer care or notifications but are not allowed to be marketing or promotional in nature. Read more in WhatsApp’s Business Policy.


Message Features

WhatsApp Business API supports many message features, including two-way conversations:

  • Media template – A media template message
  • Text – A simple text message
  • Images – A message containing an image
  • Audio – A message containing an audio file
  • Video – A message containing a video file
  • Document – A message containing a document file
  • Location – A message containing a location
  • Contacts – A message containing one or more contacts
  • Interactive Messages – A message containing buttons (call-to-action or quickly replies)

Template Guidelines

As previously stated, template messages are required to be created from preapproved templates from the WhatsApp Business Manager. You can choose from 11 message templates across the customer journey. The template can contain:

  • Text
  • Rich media (image/audio/video)
  • Documents
  • Locations
  • Contacts
  • Interactive buttons, like a call-to-action (e.g. call this phone number) or quick-reply options (e.g. yes/no to consent)

A predefined template will specify what type of media and injectable parameters that must exist. The template can then be customized when sending the message by adding custom links to the media and custom input to the injectable parameters.

Types of Templates

There are 11 types of templates that you can use when reaching out to a customer:

  1. ACCOUNT_UPDATE – Notify recipient of a change to their account settings
  2. PAYMENT_UPDATE – Notify recipient of a payment update for an existing transaction
  3. PERSONAL_FINANCE_UPDATE – Confirm a recipient’s financial activity
  4. SHIPPING_UPDATE – Notify the recipient of a change in shipping status for a product that has already been purchased
  5. RESERVATION_UPDATE – Notify the recipient of updates to an existing reservation
  6. APPOINTMENT_UPDATE – Notify the message recipient of a change to an existing appointment
  7. TRANSPORTATION_UPDATE – Notify the message recipient of updates to an existing transportation reservation
  8. TICKET_UPDATE – Send the message recipient updates or reminders for an event for which a person already has a ticket
  9. ISSUE_RESOLUTION – Notify the message recipient of an update to a customer service issue that was initiated in a Messenger conversation, following a transaction
  10. ALERT – Notify the message recipient of something informational
  11. AUTO_REPLY – An autoreply to a message

Commerce Policy

WhatsApp has specific rules about what can and cannot be sent. Advertising, marketing, and promotional messages are not allowed. When responding to a person who contacts you directly as a result of an advertisement you have placed outside of a WhatsApp chat (a session message), it is permissible to discuss the ad as long as that advertisement does not conflict with the Commerce Policy.


Furthermore, offers to sell and sales of the following are prohibited:

  • Illegal, prescription or recreation drugs, including marijuana
  • Tobacco products and related paraphernalia
  • Unsafe supplements
  • Weapons, ammunition or explosives
  • Animals
  • Adult items or services
  • Alcohol
  • Adult health items
  • Real money gambling services
  • Goods, items, or posts that we determine may be or are fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or offensive
  • Items or products with overtly sexualized positioning
  • Products or items that facilitate or encourage unauthorized access to digital media


WhatsApp is a communication channel that you don’t want to miss out on with more and more people using it every day. To get started or if you have any questions, contact us.



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