What are the different types of conversations in WhatsApp Business Platform?

Topic: WhatsApp

If a business wants to have a conversation in WhatsApp, there are two key types to know about – business initiated and user initiated. Learn more here.

There are currently two key types of conversations in WhatsApp Business Platform: business-initiated and user-initiated. However these template categories are changing and users will need to choose from four new ones – utility, authentication, marketing and service – from 1 June 2023.

What is a business-initiated conversation in WhatsApp Business Platform?

A business-initiated conversation is a message thread that the business (AKA you) start by sending your customers a message in an approved template. These customers must have opted in to receive WhatsApp message from you. 

Business-initiated conversations currently fall into the following categories:

  1. Utility conversations – send customers a specific, agreed-upon request or update about an ongoing transaction, such as post-purchase notifications or recurring billing statements.
  2. Authentication conversations – authenticate users with one-time passcodes, potentially at multiple stages in the login process (e.g. account verification, account recovery or integrity challenges).
  3. Marketing conversations – send promotions, offers, information updates or invitations for customers to respond to. Any conversation that doesn’t qualify as a utility or authentication conversation will qualify as a marketing conversation.

When you send this templated message, it starts the 24-hour customer service window so as long as it has been less than 24 hours since the customer last messaged you, you can respond with free form messages. All messages sent between you and the customer within this 24-hour window are associated with this single conversation. 

If it’s been more than 24 hours, you must use a message template (not a free form message) and this will open a new conversation.

What is a user-initiated conversation in WhatsApp Business Platform?

A user-initiated conversation is a message thread started by a user (AKA customer) who sends any type of message to a business. In this case, no prior opt-in is required. And, as with business initiated messages, when a business replies, the 24-hour customer service window begins. 

From user-initiated to service conversations

This type of conversation will soon be called service conversations (instead of user-initiated conversations) because they help customers to resolve enquiries. This is the fourth type of conversation (the others being utility, authentication and marketing).

A service conversation is initiated when no other conversation is open. So for example, if you as a business are responding to a user within a 24-hour customer service window, you are still able to send free form messages rather than opening up a new service message.  And once again, all messages sent between you and a customer within this 24-hour window are linked to this single conversation.

It’s important to remember that if you reply to a customer or user with a templated message during an open service conversation, you will be opening up a new conversation.

Dive deeper into the world of WhatsApp Business Platform today

Are you ready to have better, more personalised conversations with your customers? Discover how you can start your journey into the world of WhatsApp Business Platform with our quick start guide.

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Author Avatar
Mayzin Han

Marketing strategist with 8 years of experience, 5+ of which in B2B tech. Currently the Senior Marketing Program Manager at Commify, I work closely with field marketing teams who sit across EMEA and APAC to strategise and create campaigns that meet customer and prospect needs. My background in content marketing means that I'm passionate about all things words, grammar and punctuation. In my free time, I like to run, box and torture myself at spin class because lots of cardio means you can eat what you want!