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How businesses can get the most out of WhatsApp broadcast: Everything you need to know

WhatsApp Newsletter
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After shutting down its broadcasting lists for businesses in 2019, WhatsApp re-launched their bulk message feature in June of 2021 — and has added new features and regulations since. We sum up everything you need to know about the WhatsApp Business broadcast messages, from costs to features to best practices. 

The WhatsApp broadcast feature has had a tumultous history. It has not only gone through several name changes, like broadcasting messages to newsletter to marketing notifications, but also through a lot of internal changes.

Technically, in the early days of the WhatsApp broadcast lists, WhatsApp never officially allowed businesses to send out bulk messages to their customers with the app. Because it was such a great marketing too, businesses did it anyway! Consequently, the feature was shut down in 2019, and WhatsApp threatened with legal consequences, if businesses were to still send out bulk notifications. The main reason WhatsApp gave for this was to protect its users from spam, and that it wanted to re-focus on personalized one-on-one messages.

However, in 2021, WhatsApp decided to resurrect bulk messaging for businesses — with some changes and under new conditions. We explain how the new and reformed WhatsApp broadcast works, what benefits the marketing notifications can have for your business, and we'll show you examples of businesses that have been using the feature very successfully.

Why the WhatsApp broadcast is the next big thing

WhatsApp broadcasts (official name: marketing conversations) are paid bulk messages or push notifications that business can send out proactively on WhatsApp to their customers. It's really an amazing tool: With one message you can reach thousands of customers. Especially in countries like India, Singapore, or the UK, where WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app, this is an incredible opportunity to reach and engage your customers.

And the feature can be very versatile. Some use cases are:

  • special offers
  • marketing campaigns
  • personalized product recommendations
  • re-engagement
  • relevant news and updates
  • job alerts

Of course, you could send your customers e-mails, too, but the possibilities and the KPIs of WhatsApp broadcast messages are a lot more impressive!

Click-through rates over 33% and 60% increase in sales

For example, did you know that the open rate for WhatsApp messages is over 90% (!!!), while the average open rate for marketing e-mails is 21.5%? And, while with e-mail newsletters, you're normally looking at click-through-rates of three percent, messaging newsletters achieve rates more than ten times as high!

click-through-rates messaging newsletters, statistics

Johannes Kliesch, managing director and founder of the e-commerce store SNOCKS, has shared very interesting insights on the company's WhatsApp notifications performance. 

WhatsApp customers spent on average 60% more than e-mail customers!

Johannes Kliesch, managing director and founder of SNOCKS

Snocks WhatsApp Service 2
SNOCKS saw higher KPIs with WhatsApp (Source: Johannes Kliesch)


That statement was followed by an update showing that SNOCKS achieved a conversion rate of 28% through WhatsApp messages.

All relevant CRM values are clearly higher on WhatsApp.

Johannes Kliesch, Managing Director and founder of SNOCKS

These numbers are not unique to SNOCKS. KiKUU, an online shopping mall that is present in almost 20 African countries, has seen similar success. The e-commerce company started sending out deals to their customers through a regular subscription-based WhatsApp broadcast.

WhatsApp newsleter KiKUUU

Over the course of one week alone, KiKUU saw that "customers opened WhatsApp push notifications 70% more often than messages on the other channels." This led to a 60% increase in sales!

Another reason to send WhatsApp broadcasts? Your customers love WhatsApp!

How come WhatsApp messages see such high engagement and conversion rates? Because it's one of the most beloved social networks in the world! According to data from Hootsuite and we are social, 15.8% of internet users aged 16 to 64 call WhatsApp their "favorite" social media platform.

favorite social media platforms globally january 2023, Datareportal
WhatsApp is the world's favorite social media platform. (Source: Datareportal)

No other social media platform has such a broad reach. And: people don't only communicate with their friends and family on WhatsApp, they also increasingly reach out to businesses.. Currently, WhatsApp Business has more than 50 million users.

The potential that WhatsApp, and especially the WhatsApp notifications hold for businesses of any size, is therefore significant. So, how can you get started with the WhatsApp newsletter?

First, it's important to understand your two options for sending out bulk messages on WhatsApp, the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly: API).

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WhatsApp Business App vs. WhatsApp Business Platform

As a company, you are only allowed to use the WhatsApp Business app or the WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly: WhatsApp Business API). WhatsApp doesn't allow the use of the private WhatsApp app for commercial purposes. 

The WhatsApp Business app is a free app that you can download in the app stores, and it's primarily designed for small businesses with up to five employees. It allows you to set up a business profile, a product catalog, and reach out to a (very!) limited number of 256 recipients per broadcasting list.

While this option might be enough for some small companies or single entrepreneurs, for most businesses it's too limited. It doesn't allow you to scale your campaigns, you can't integrate chatbots, nor get the green tick. Also keep in mind that data protection is not guaranteed with the WhatsApp Business app.

That's where the WhatsApp Business Platform comes in. The Platform gives you access to the WhatsApp API, where you can integrate chatbots, and start with a base line of 1,000 messages. How do you get access to the Platform and all these possibilities? The easiest way is through Business Solution Providers!

Business Solution Providers like MessengerPeople by Sinch provide ready-to-use software to access the WhatsApp Business Platform that doesn't require any coding skills and is very intuitive to use. Plus, it also guarantees 100% data protection for your customers.

This option is not free of charge, but it comes with several advantages. One of them: you can potentially send out an unlimited number of WhatsApp messages to customers.

Overview WhatsApp ecosystem

WhatsApp broadcast basics: requirements, message limits, templates, and costs

The basic requirements for businesses to send out WhatsApp campaigns is to have a business account. As mentioned, the type of account also defines the maximum number of users you can contact.

How many marketing notifications can you send out?

Marketing notifications count as "business-initiated" messages. Their number is limited (unlike the number of a message exchange after a user-initiated message!), as WhatsApp wants to avoid companies spamming their customers with too many unwanted marketing messages.

The messaging limits define the number of business-initiated conversations per phone number that can be started in a 24-hour period. A business-initiated conversation starts when the first message is delivered to a customer and ends 24 hours later.

There are four messaging limit levels:

  • 1,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • 10,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • 100,000 business-initiated conversations with unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period.
  • An unlimited number of business-initiated conversations in a rolling 24-hour period.

These messaging limits are not static, but can be increased or decreased automatically based on:

  • your phone number status
  • the phone number quality rating, and
  • how often you initate converstations with unique customers.

The basic rule is though that all verified businesses on the WhatsApp Busines Platform start with 1,000 business-initiated conversations to unique customers per 24-hour period. If you reach your limit, you can start new conversations once active conversations end. You can check the available number of messages in your business profile.

WhatsApp marketing notifcations limits
The Business Manager for WhatsApp notifications. (Source: Meta)


Note: The WhatsApp Business Platform manager won't show you a real-time countdown of your messaging limit. You'll only see when you pass a tier limit. However, if you use a professional messaging tool from an official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, such as Campaigns from Sinch Engage, you'll be able to see an exact count of the messages you've sent out.

Increasing your message limit

In the fall of 2022, WhatsApp made it even easier for businesses to scale their messaging. Companies that receive a high quality score for their marketing notifications can now increase their limits faster.

The basic math is: If in the last seven days you have initiated X or more conversations with unique customers, where X is your current messaging limit divided by 2, your message limit will increase by one level in 24 hours.

For example: if a company that starts off with a limit of 1,000 messages is able to reach 500 unique users in the first seven days of the campaign, their message limit will increase to 10,000 after 24 hours of having reached the 500th user.

Increasing amount of business-initiated messages on WhatsApp example calculation
Increasing your message limit (Source: WhatsApp)


WhatsApp introduced this upgrade to allow companies to scale their campaigns much faster.

In addition, for companies that are starting out new on the WhatsApp Business Platform and are not verified yet, there is now also an upgrade. The initial business-initiated messaging limits are now 250 unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period (vs. before 50).

Using templates for WhatsApp marketing notifications

While in the past, WhatsApp had limited the number and type of templates businesses could use for sending out messages, businesses can now pretty much send out (almost) any type of messages. WhatsApp groups them into four categories, and each category comes with specific templates that companies can use.

  1. Utility conversations: Business-initiated conversations relating to a transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements to customers who have opted in.
  2. Authentication: Business-initiated conversations that enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes at multiple steps during the login process, such as account registration, account recovery, and integrity challenges.
  3. Marketing conversation: Business-initiated conversations to market a product or service to customers, such as relevant offers to customers who have opted in. Any business-initiated conversation that does not qualify as an authentication or utility conversation would also fall under this category.
  4. Service conversations: Any user-initiated conversation, such as to resolve a customer inquiry.

So, before starting a broadcast list on the WhatsApp Business Platform, you need to pick the message category, and then the templates that are available for that category.

WhatsApp message categories and templates 2023
Template and message categories for WhatsApp (Source: Meta)


Template review

In an effort to control "automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use", after re-introducing the newsletter, WhatsApp started to be more critical of the type of content that was being shared. The goal was to improve the user experience of messaging between customers and companies on WhatsApp, and avoid spam, offensive, or misleading content.

Until very recently, this meant that businesses had to get their messaging templates manually pre-approved by WhatsApp, which could take up to twelve or even 24 hours. Since 2022, this process has been automated and cut down to less than a minute!

This basically means that businesses don't have to go throught the lengthy template approval process anymore, assuming that the templates don't violate WhatsApp guidelines, but can immediately start their campaigns after an initial tet phase.

This test phase allows businesses to adjust and edit campaigns before running them full-scale. Also: minor edits will not require a re-submission of templates anymore! Businesses are allowed one edit per day and a maximum of ten per month.

Limitations for pharmacies and drugstores

While certain businesses, such as digital subscription services, pharmacies, drugstores, supplement providers and businesses dealing with animal products, were previously excluded from using WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp has changed is policies this year to allow these companies to join the platform. They're still mostly prohibited from using commercial features, but they can now also use WhatsApp Business messaging.

Pharmacies and drugstores, however, still face some limitations. According to WhatsApp, they can't use business messaging to "promote or transact in the sale of pharmaceuticals." However, they can:

  • Provide purchase confirmation, such as receipts of non-pharmaceuticals
  • Respond to customer inquiries about groceries, convenience items, personal care, and other non-regulated retail products
  • Provide delivery updates of non-pharmaceuticals
  • Provide customer service related to non-pharmaceutical

Paused campaigns

WhatsApp's  automated template check speeds up the process for launching messaging campaigns, and decreases waiting times and interruptions. Of course, WhatsApp can still pause campaigns if too many users report abuse or block a business, or if the quality of the campaign is considered "low". Unlike before though, WhatsApp typcially won't block an entire phone number, just the specific campaign template in question.

If you're using professional software tools like Campaigns from Sinch Engage, you can already benefit from shorter waiting times, and an unlimited number of templates.

  • ✅ You can create an unlimited number of templates (e.g. offers, news, content, giveaways, Black Friday deals).
  • ✅ Quick approval within 5 minutes.

How much does the WhatsApp newsletter cost?

Messages that your customers send to you are always free unlike traditional SMS messages, where your phone provider can charge both sides.

In case a company wants to send a message to a customer, there's a fixed fee depending on the country, and the type of message category. In India, for example, the costs are currently (2023):

  • marketing conversations: 0.0099 US dollars
  • utility message: 0.0042 US dollars
  • service message: 0.0040

You can see the full pricing list on the Facebook developer site.

❗ Tip: There are some scenarios when companies can send up to 1,000 WhatsApp bulk messages per for free. 

How to create target groups and get insights into your campaigns

In order to achieve your predefined business goals, it's necessary to realize the needs of the target group. In fact, by sending your newsletter via WhatsApp you should also keep in mind the target group (same way as for e-mail marketing).

It's important to create notifications that are straightforward and relevant to your target audience. There are several ways to collect relevant data for sending out WhatsApp broadcast notifications.

3.1. Data from WhatsApp

When the user subscribes to your channel, you can get access to their profile name and telephone number. You can access this data in your business profile, or on your dashboard if you are using a professional softare solution.

3.2. Data from the contact

If the user has previously interacted with your business through your online shop, with WhatsApp, or another communication tool, you can further use this profile data in your targeting options. This information can be saved in the single-user profiles.

💡 Note: you should connect your CRM tools to export and import customer data and synchronize the processes. You can only do this if you're using the WhatsApp Business Platform. 

3.3. Data from user

When starting a conversation with customers on WhatsApp, you also have the option to ask them directly for important information. Based on the provided data, companies can now create relevant target groups settings.

In addition, this data helps you to continuously improve the customer service experience. At the next interaction, this data is already available and enables a personalized conversation. The customer feels much more valued!

Insights into your campaigns

In 2022, WhatsApp also updated the insights companies can access from their marketing campaigns. You can now see more metrics about your target group in a new dashboard. This will help you to better calculate the return on investment of your campaigns, and further improve the segmentation of your target groups.

However, information on delivery, open, and click-through rates are still limited. Here, you'll have considerably more insights with a professional WhatsApp messaging tool like Campaigns from Sinch Engage

WhatsApp marketing messages: the best way to collect opt-in

The first step towards sending your newsletter to prospective customers is getting them to opt-in. For this, your customers have to actively agree to receive newsletters via WhatsApp from your business. This is a requirement. Otherwise, you're not allowed to send customers newsletters!

The question now is, what's the best way to do that? Let's have a look at some examples.

Adidas India: incentives for joining broadcasting list

Adidas India wanted to promote the relaunch of their website and a new membership initiative that went with it. They decided to use promotional WhatsApp messages to get new members, and promised special rewards to users who signed up for the newsletter.

Adidas India, WhatsApp newsletter
Adidas India promoted their membership program through a WhatsApp broadcast. (Source: Freshworks)


Adidas India promoted their membership program through a WhatsApp broadcast.

QR codes and click-to-chat links

Another option for an easy opt-in is to include an opt-in check box right before people click on the click-to-chat link to get to your WhatsApp chat.

If you're using a professional WhatsApp Business solution, you can also include special opt-in widgets that you can also edit to fit your website design.

WhatsApp widget website, Altitude Adventure Holidays

With a professional messaging solution, you can easily integrate WhatsApp widgets on your website.

❗ Important! When it comes to WhatsApp newsletters it's relevant that your potential customers are well aware of your data policy. It's not a bad idea to create a landing page where your company can explain all the important details regarding your policies.

Opt-out of newsletters

It's also recommended to give your subscribers an easy opt-out option, such as writing "Stop" in the chat or having an opt-out button.

WhatsApp newsletter opt-out, The Independent
WhatsApp newsletter opt-out, The Independent

This might seem counter-productive. After all, you don't want your customers to unsubscribe, but opt-outs have several advantages.

  • They reduce the block rate because only people who are really interested in your notifications will receive them, while other customers won't be bothered by them.
  • Reducing your block rate will also minimize your chances of getting your template blocked, so you'll also be able to scale your campaigns faster.
  • It's customer-friendly! Not every customer is interested in every newsletter you send out. Give them the option to say "no", and choose the messages they really want to receie. It'll increase the quality and the conversion rate of your campaigns.
  • When customers opt-out, you'll be able to see who has oped out. This makes it easier for you to improve your campaigns. You're also able to send customers that opt-out a confirmation request and ask them why they opted out. This will give you further insights into your campaigns.

How to drive customers to subscribe to your notifications on WhatsApp?

One way of getting more subscribers for your WhatsApp messages is to proactively advertise the channel on other social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. That helps customers to start a conversation with a company on WhatsApp and you can ask them to subscribe to your notifications.

Click to WhatsApp Ads
Guide users from Facebook into your WhatsApp channel. (Source: Meta)


But there are many more ways to get users to subscribe to your newsletter.

1. Communicate your WhatsApp service number everywhere!

Where do you have points of contact with your (future) customers? Think, for example, of

  • Posters
  • QR codes on store windows
  • Website
  • Catalogues
  • Podcasts
  • Product packaging
  • Out of Home
  • Business cards
  • Magazines
  • Sales slips
  • Company cars

2. Use click-to-chat (links directly into the messaging app)!

Click to chat links or click-to-chat ads are a great way to direct customers directly to your WhatsApp broadcast service.

Other channels for sending push messages

Although WhatsApp is a great channel to communicate with your customers, some users maybe favor other messaging apps.

There are several channels that can do a good job with newsletters as well. Apple Messages for Business, Viber, and Telegram are particularly suitable for this.

The widespread use of Apple smartphones in general should be on companies' radar if they want to send out newsletters. This premium target group is definitely worth the investment! For all other target groups, an ROI (Return on Invest) analysis should be made in advance to put the costs incurred into perspective.

If you use Sinch Engage, you can use several messaging channels for your broadcasting service at once. So, you can offer your customers updates on all relevant messaging apps and manage all messenger services from one central interface. And your customers can choose what messaging app they prefer. After all, it's always a good idea to offer options!

Conclusion: WhatsApp broadcast is the future of conversational marketing

The WhatsApp broadcast is a perfect solution that complements the classic e-mail newsletter. It's not only a more personal way of communicating with your clients, it's also a very effective and simple platform. 

High open and click rates, as well as non-existent algorithms are probably the best arguments for getting started with WhatsApp business messages.

Another plus is that customers can be retained in the long term. Also keep in mind that the costs of reaching customers again and again are significantly lower. In the post-cookie and post-retargeting times, customers who have saved your company contact in their contacts are worth their weight in gold.

🚀 Ready to scale your marketing messages? Check out Campaigns on Sinch Engage, our tool for scaling notifications on WhatsApp and other messaging apps. 

Try for free!

Image of Marinela Potor, editor-in-chief at Sinch Engage.
Written by: Marinela Potor