In our previous post, we talked about the various use-cases that are possible via WhatsApp. Today, we shall cover the important topic of opt-in & opt-out.
As the term implies, this is the process of obtaining consent from your customers to be reached via WhatsApp. WhatsApp intends to keep itself spam-free. Hence they don't want users to receive unsolicited promotions.
If you are a business who wants to engage with your customers via WhatsApp, here are some do's & dont's on how to obtain opt-in:
1) Lets say a customer/user signs up for your product, service etc on your website. You can include a checkbox that allows them to explicitly state that he/she "Agrees to receive updates & notifications via WhatsApp". See examples from NoBroker & Policybazaar below
2) The opt-in need not be electronic. You can even have an opt-in via a paper form. Or via an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menu when they call your business number
3) Opt-in's have to be "default excluded" rather than "default included". If you are using a checkbox, it has to be "unchecked" by default. The user needs to explicitly check that box to signify consent.
4) The opt-in has to be optional. I.e, you cannot make the opt-in a pre-condition to complete the subscription or sign up.
5) Opt-ins are not automatic for existing customers. Just because they are an existing customer & you have their phone number doesn't mean they have opted in to receive WhatsApp messages
6) Even if a user has opted in to receive communications via email or SMS does not mean that they have opted in to receive communications via WhatsApp
7) The opt-in cannot happen via WhatsApp itself. The user/customer must opt in via a different medium: website, email, SMS, paper form, IVR system etc
8) The only time an opt-in is "implicit/automatic" is when a user initiates a conversation with a business via WhatsApp
1) Even after a user opts in, it is best practice to allow her to opt-out of further WhatsApp communications at any point in time. This is similar to the "unsubscribe" functionality in emails. Such an opt-out must be respected by the business. Subsequently, the user has to explicitly opt-in again before you can message her.
2) Opt-outs can be via your website, via WhatsApp itself, by calling your IVR system etc
3) Make the opt-out procedure clear to the user. Even though opt-out procedures need not be sent with every message, it should be sent at least once. Example: during the Welcome message you send via WhatsApp
Blocks & Reports
1) Please be aware that users have the ability to "Block" or "Report" a business on WhatsApp at any time. WhatsApp/Facebook keeps track of the number of blocks/reports that a business gets, as a "quality metric". If your business gets a low quality score, they may rate-limit the number of messages you send/hour or in extreme cases, even suspend your account. They've also warned that, starting December 2019, they will initiate legal action against businesses who send spam. So, kindly take opt-ins and opt-outs seriously.
WhatsApp to take legal action against people who send too many messages
1) Your business must be able to demonstrate your process for handling opt-ins, opt-outs and show records for the same. This is in case Facebook/WhatsApp decides to audit or suspend your account. If you have demonstrable opt-in and opt-out records, you may be able to make a case that you weren't sending unsolicited messages.
Please read WhatsApp/Facebook's opt-in requirements here: Getting Opt-in - WhatsApp Business API - Documentation - Facebook for Developers