WhatsApp Chatbots The Ultimate Guide
This is the ultimate guide to WhatsApp Chatbots in 2023.
And I will cover everything.
What WhatsApp chatbots are.
What message rules apply on WhatsApp.
How you can create your own WhatsApp Chatbot.
And even more.
So if you're looking to create a WhatsApp chatbot for a business, you'll love this guide.
Chapter 1: Intro to WhatsApp Chatbots
In this first chapter, I will provide an intro to WhatsApp Chatbots. So:
- What is a WhatsApp Chatbot?
- Whatsapp Chatbot Example
- Why use Whatsapp Chatbots?
- How does a WhatsApp Chatbot work?
Let's dive in.
What is a WhatsApp bot?
A WhatsApp chatbot is a computer program that can automatically reply to messages on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp bots work 24/7 and can have multiple conversations with different persons, at the same time. They are often used to automatically answer questions and provide information about a company or products and services.
WhatsApp Chatbot Example
Now a real-life example of a WhatsApp bot for a business: the KLM WhatsApp Chatbot.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the world. They have over 30.000 employees and serve passengers and cargo to 145 destinations.
I’m originally from the Netherlands, so I really like the fact that KLM was the first airline with a WhatsApp chatbot.
KLM used the chatbot to send booking information, check-in notifications, boarding passes and flight status updates. Besides that, users could ask KLM questions in 10 different languages:
Why use WhatsApp Chatbots?
WhatsApp is one of the biggest messaging apps in the world, with over 2 billion users around the globe. It is available in more than 180 countries and 60 different languages.
Moreover, 1.6 billion WhatsApp users access the app on a monthly basis.
And this leads to 65 billion WhatsApp messages sent every day.
So basically, you should use WhatsApp because your customers are already there, they are just waiting for you to send them a message. Besides that, you can reach any potential client on WhatsApp, because it is used by so many users all over the world.
Now I hear you thinking “Okay, I should use WhatsApp. But why use a chatbot?”
In fact, I made a complete post about why you should use chatbots, but here are the ten most important reasons:
- Save time and money on customer service
- Boost your sales
- Get more leads
- Reply in seconds, instead of days
- 24/7 available, everywhere
- Send real-time, tailored messages to customers
- Messenger apps (like WhatsApp) become more popular
- People are open to using chatbots
- You can use chatbots internally in your company
- Stand out from the crowd (aka, not many businesses use chatbots yet)
How do WhatsApp bots work?
WhatsApp chatbots are often based on a conversational flow.
And these conversational flows are created by using three main elements:
- Trigger: Tells the chatbot when to start a conversation
- Action: Tells the chatbot what to do (for example: send a message)
- Condition: Perform checks based on if this, then that logic
For example, if I type “hey” to my own WhatsApp business chatbot, you will get the following response:
And this is how it looks like in ManyChat (the chatbot platform I’ve used):
How it works:
- If someone types a message containing “hey”, “hi”, or “hello” we reply with this flow (the trigger)
- The chatbot first checks if the user is a new user or a returning user (a condition)
- If the user is a new user, we will send the first message (above). Otherwise we will send the second message (the actions)
Pretty simple, right?
And now you might be thinking:
“But what about KLM? Nobody sent them a message and they automatically send someone’s boarding pass?”
That’s right. It’s also possible that the chatbot starts the conversation with the user. But this is only allowed in certain situations. We will talk more about that in the next chapter 😉
Chapter 2: WhatsApp Message Rules
Unfortunately, you can't just send any message to anyone with your WhatsApp chatbot.
There are certain rules that you must follow.
Why is this? So that businesses don't spam everyone on WhatsApp (which is really anoying).
So, what are these rules?
Let's jump right in.
Comply with WhatsApp Message Rules
Basically, there are two types of conversations with WhatsApp Chatbots:
- User-initiated conversations: when a user starts a conversation with your business
- Business-initiated conversations: when a business starts a conversation with a user
If you are only planning to answer user-initiated conversations to your users within 24 hours, then don’t worry, because you won’t break any rules.
But if you want to do more: read on.
Every time a user interacts with your WhatsApp chatbot, a 24-hour window will open.
So that means that if a user is starting a conversation, sending a message or clicks on a button, we have 24 hours to respond to that message.
Within this 24-hour window, you can send any message to the user, with absolutely no constraints.
Please note that this 24-hour window will reopen, every time the user sends a message. Take this example:
- User sends message to chatbot *24-hour window will open*
- User says nothing for 8 hours *There are 16 hours left in the 24-hour window*
- After 8 hours, the user sends another message *24-hour window will re-open*
But if you want to send a message outside the 24-hour window or you want to start a conversation as a business, you need to use WhatsApp Message Templates.
What are WhatsApp Message Templates?
WhatsApp Message Templates are a special type of conversation that allow you to send a message outside the 24-hour window or to start a conversation as a business on WhatsApp.
And there are three important things about WhatsApp Message Templates:
- Only verified Facebook businesses can send Message Templates
- You can only send WhatsApp Message Templates for specific types of messages (called categories)
- Every WhatsApp Message Template must be approved by WhatsApp themselves
So WhatsApp has definied three categories of conversations, and I will cover them one-by-one:
Utility templates are focused on updates about transactions and updates on account or billing information.
And WhatsApp also provides examples in its documentation:
So this is how it can look on WhatsApp:
Authentication templates are focused on two-factor authentication using WhatsApp.
So for example, you log in at Facebook, and then Facebook says you need to do two-factor authentication, and then instead of receiving a text message, you will receive a WhatsApp message with the authentication code:
Marketing templates include conversations about promotions, offers, reminders about events, webinars, or a call.
And I think most businesses will use this category for their WhatsApp Message templates.
When you look at the WhatsApp documentation, we actually have many examples that we can use:
And this is how they look on WhatsApp:
WhatsApp Bots for Group Chats
Is it possible to create a WhatsApp chatbot for a WhatsApp group?
No, unfortunately not.
WhatsApp doesn’t allow chatbots in WhatsApp groups, so there isn’t really anything we can do about this.
Choose your chatbot platform
The first thing you need to do, is choose the chatbot platform you are going to use to build your WhatsApp chatbot.
There are basically two options:
- Choose a chatbot builder that has has a direct integration with WhatsApp (such as ManyChat or Landbot)
- Go with a chatbot builder that has an integration with a WhatsApp Business provider (like Xenioo)
The last option is the most common approach for chatbot builders that offer WhatsApp chatbots. It often implies also extra costs, because you need to pay for the chatbot platform as well as for the WhatsApp business provider.
In the next chapter, I will show you all the different chatbot platforms that offer WhatsApp Chatbots, so stay tuned.
By the way, if you already want to get ahead and compare the different platforms, here is complete chatbot platform comparison table with over 51 chatbot builders.
Create a WhatsApp Chatbot with ManyChat
To show how simple it is to make your own WhatsApp chatbot, I am going to create one with ManyChat.
First, go to ManyChat and create your free account:
Then, follow all the steps I explain in this video:
Get approved for the WhatsApp Business API
This step is optional: because not everyone needs to get approved for the WhatsApp Business API.
If you only want to reply to user-initiated conversations within the 24 hour window, you don’t have to apply for the WhatsApp Business API. You can just use your WhatsApp chatbot and you don’t have to worry about anything.
But, if you want to send business-initiated conversations to 50 unique customers (or more) in a rolling 24-hour period, you need to get approved for the WhatsApp Business API.
Here is a quick cheatsheet to determine if you need to get approved:
So, if you want tgeapproved with ManyChat ManyChat, then I have a complete video on how you can get approved for the WhatsApp Business API:
Once you have applied for the WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp takes between 5 and 15 working days to handle your application.
P.S. If you want a full guide on how you can get approved for the WhatsApp Business API (and not only with ManyChat), check out this post.
How much does a WhatsApp chatbot cost?
The costs of a WhatsApp bot depend on two things:
- WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model
- The chatbot platform that you use
Let’s cover them one-by-one.
What is conversation-based pricing on WhatsApp?
In February 2022, WhatsApp has released a new pricing model called conversation-based pricing.
With this pricing model, you pay per started conversation. There are two types of conversations:
- User-initiated conversations: when a user starts a conversation
- Business-initiated conversations: when a business starts a conversation or sends a message outside the 24-hour window
Basically, each time a conversation is started, you need to pay.
The price of a user-initiated conversation is generally lower than a business-initiated conversations and the overall prices differ per country.
In general, the price for a user-initated conversation is between $0.01 and $0.08 and the price for a business-initiated conversation is between $0.01 and $0.14. The specific prices per country can be found here.
Also, the first 1,000 user-initiated conversations per month are completely free.
WhatsApp Pricing of chatbot builders
The price of your WhatsApp chatbot also depends on the chatbot software that you use.
As said before, some chatbot builders have a direct integration with WhatsApp, such as ManyChat.
While others make an integration with a WhatsApp Business provider, like Xenioo.
Also it is good to know that with chatbot builders like Xenioo, you need to pay twice: you need to pay for the chatbot platform as well as for the WhatsApp Business provider.
First, I will show you the pricing of ManyChat (we used before) and then I show you the pricing of Twilio (most used WhatsApp Business provider).
ManyChat Pricing for WhatsApp chatbots
With ManyChat, it’s even possible to create a basic WhatsApp bot for free. By using their free plan, you can use the basic features of the platform as long as you stay under 1,000 contacts.
If these features are not enough or you have more contacts, you can go with their Pro plan, which comes with all features of the platform. This starts at $15 for 500 contacts and increases with the number of contacts you have:
Twilio WhatsApp Pricing
For messages inside the 24-hour window, you will need to pay $0.005 per message. This is a flat fee per sent Twilio message.
The pricing of WhatsApp Message Templates is different. This consists of a WhatsApp Fee and a Twilio fee:
Moreover, if you send more messages with WhatsApp, you also get a discount on that WhatsApp fee:
So, let’s say we want to send 20.000 messages inside the 24-hour window and 5.000 messages using Message Templates, this would result in:
20.000 * 0.005 = $100
5.000 * 0.0135 = $67.50
So, in total $167.50 for sending 25.000 messages in a month.
From the chatbot builders below, Xenioo, SilFer Bots, Quriobot and SnatchBot are using Twilio to create WhatsApp Chatbots.
Cliengo Pricing for WhatsApp chatbots
Cliengo offers WhatsApp from their Premium plan, which is $90 per month. If you want to use WhatsApp with this plan, you also need to pay an additional cost.
Unfortunately, they don’t tell on their website what that cost is…
Engati Pricing for WhatsApp chatbots
Engati offers WhatsApp from their Enterprise WhatsApp Basic plan, which is $180 per month and comes with 10.000 interactions:
Landbot Pricing for WhatsApp chatbots
Landbot provides a WhatsApp integration from the Pro plan, which would cost €150 per month and includes 500 chats per month.
They also provide a Business Plan for €600 per month, which comes with 5000 chats per month.
Tars pricing for WhatsApp chatbots
Tars has a Professional plan that includes 5 chatbots and 1000 chats per month for $99.
WhatsApp Chatbot Platforms
Here is a complete comparison table with all the WhatsApp chatbot platform I’ve reviewed so far:
By the way, if you want to easily compare them, here is complete chatbot platform comparison table with over 51 chatbot builders.
Now It's Your Turn
So that’s how you can create your own WhatsApp chatbot.
Now I want to turn it over to you: Are you going to create a WhatsApp Chatbot?
Or are you already using one?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.
Awesome step by step explanation.
Thank you, Rijwanul 🙂
One of the best blogs to understand WhatsApp chatbots.
Thank you, Vijayraj! Glad you like it 🙂
Where does the chatbot get the answers to questions from my clients in the chat bot?
ie; how does it get the data from my database to respond to my clients needs/inquiries?
That has not been clear to me in this article.
Hey Julius! Generally speaking, this can be performed in multiple ways. If you already have a database with questions and answers, you can connect your chatbot to that database using an API or an integration platform, like Integromat. If that’s not the case, you can simply set the questions and answers in the chatbot builder itself.
This is the BEST Review ever!! Thanks Man!
Hey this is a great guide!
A quick question, would it be doable to have the same chatbot running on different whatsapp phone numbers?
I’m looking to build a multilanguage chatbot for whatsapp for different stores in Europe, so would like to build one with translation capabilities but also have it running in different local telephone numbers.
How would you tackle that?
Adding to my comment…The reason why I’m looking at different local phone numbers is because the b2c brand of the store differs across countries..
I think this would be possible, but I think you would need to manually copy your chatbot flows (and settings) to multiple accounts. Then, each account is its own phone number. It is possible, but it would also lead to higher maintenance costs, because every time you change your chatbot, you need to do it on multiple accounts.
Does this help?
Great guide. Is it possible to save the replies and pictures taken into a sql database to be used?
I think it is, but then you would need to create a custom integration with your SQL Database.
there’s another software like Twilio called AIsensy , please give a review about it also it’s pricing is reasonable that’s what I’ve found good in it
Thanks, I will look into that!
Hey joren , I needed to know if we could use buttons in a WhatsApp Chatbot I.e. in which we can put an option like a yes or no and the user clicks on the option and the input is given . This helps to make a hasle free Chatbot as there is no problem with keyword triggering and all that
Hey Rehaan! Currently, it is not possible to use buttons on WhatsApp. So your only way to do this is by using keyword triggers.
Actually I’ve seen a company in India using buttons . Their name is lenskart , go to their official WhatsApp number and check out how their bot is .
Yes, I’ve just checked it out and found that WhatsApp recently did a release in which it is possible to use buttons in your WhatsApp chatbot. But not all chatbot builders are providing this functionality yet…
some chatbot builders have a “direct integration” with WhatsApp, such as ManyChat.
But ManyChat site says WhatsApp (beta)
Hey Julio! Yes, that’s true, ManyChat’s WhatsApp integration is currently in beta and not all accounts can use it right now. But almost all accounts can access it and if you don’t have access you can just contact ManyChat support.
Hi Joren, thanks for your answer!
What’s the different between WhatsApp integration (not all accounts can “use” it ) and all accounts can “access” it. I mean, What’s the different between “use” it and “access” it?
Great review! Thanks a lot!
A lot of WABA chatbot builders!
Could you please advise any platforms providing unofficial WhatsApp solutions? (to avoid Fb approval process before testing bots)
Hey Maria! It isn’t necessary anymore to get approved for WhatsApp if you want to test your bot (I updated the post). If you still want to use an unofficial WhatsApp provider, I recommend having a look at Xenioo (https://chatimize.com/xenioo/). They have some direct connections with unofficial WhatsApp Business Providers.
Thank you for the article.
According to what I understood from the documentation, This 24-hour window rule will no longer be imposed if the application passes the verification process. Am I right?
Nope, this is not true. The 24-hour window rule still applies after the verification process.
Thank you very much for this awesome content, this is epic!!!
Is it possible to add a second WhatsApp number to a single Manychats Bot? We had already advertised two numbers to the public and would like to use both on the same Bot.
Hey Zvina! Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Nope, currently it is not possible to add a second WhatsApp number to a single ManyChat bot. If you want to do that, you need to add a second ManyChat bot and add the second number to that one.
Hello Joren, is it possible to customize my chatbot to be the whatsapp icon? the same way you have facebook messenger as the channel for chatting.
And is it possible to have the whatsapp chat still on the platform or it must reroute to whatsapp
Hey Ima! With WhatsApp, it is possible to change the profile picture of your account, such as with a personal WhatsApp account. What do you mean with the question “And is it possible to have the whatsapp chat still on the platform or it must reroute to whatsapp”?
This is incredible article and thank you so much for your wisdom and knowledge shared for free !
Thank you, I’m glad you like it!
It’s a really simplistic way of knowledge on chatbots… thanks for sharing the knowledge for free…
Thank you, Akash!
Hi – Thanks for sharing this information. Very helpful. I am curious if you have a service where you will create the bot for a company?
Hey Tom! Yes, I provide services to do that. If you are interested, please book a call here: https://chatimize.com/chatbot-consulting/
i have been trying to create my first bot and I can’t find how to create a list of options for the customer to choose their help topic…
I can only see the multiple choice option and it only appears to be a maximum of 3 buttons. is that it?
Hey Linda! Yes, that’s it. In my course, the WhatsApp Automation Starter Pack, I explain how you can overcome this limitation and actually add more options. If you are interested, here is more information: https://chatimize.com/whatsapp-automation-starter-pack/