Jan 2, 2024
mins read

WhatsApp Conversation Pricing

Product Manager at Message Central
WhatsApp Conversation Pricing

Key Takeaways

  1. WhatsApp can be used for multiple purposes by businesses where conversations can either be business initiated or user initiated
  2. Conversations have different categories basis the intent that they have. These include marketing, utility, authentication and service
  3. WhatsApp marketing cost has mostly two components. One is platform fees which is charged by WhatsApp marketing software and the other is charges per conversation levied by WhatsApp
  4. There are certain time based conversation windows which also determine WhatsApp's conversation pricing
  5. There are also a set of free conversations which WhatsApp offers

The Basic Structure

Businesses have started using WhatsApp for multiple purposes including :-

  1. User authentication  
  1. Providing customer support  
  1. Engaging with existing customers  
  1. Keeping customers updated on important information

Since a lot of businesses are using the tool, it becomes imperative that we have a complete understanding of WhatsApp pricing.  

Unlike SMS or OTP SMS, WhatsApp charges per conversation. Now what is a conversation you ask. A conversation is referred to as messages exchanged within a 24-hour window.

These conversations can either be: -

  • Business Initiated OR
  • User Initiated

Having said that, conversations are of multiple types. The same are mentioned below (as of June’23):-

  1. Marketing: This includes promotional messages or basically WhatsApp marketing including communication of sales, offers, product promotions, up sales and cross sales communication etc. These types of conversations can only be business initiated. The cost of these conversations is INR 0.81 per conversation.
  1. Utility: This includes any transactional information including order updates, notifications, receipts, payment notifications, delivery updates etc. These are also initiated by businesses only. They cost INR 0.35 per conversation.
  1. Authentication: This includes sending OTP for multiple purposes like user authentication, account recovery, integrity, security, account registration etc. These are also business initiated. As given by WhatsApp, the price of these type of conversations are INR 0.35 per conversation.
  1. Service: This includes customer inquiries, personalized support, free form messages and also any sort of grievance redressal. As per WhatsApp this UIC is charged at INR 0.35 per conversation.

The pricing varies basis the country of the receiver’s message. You can check the detailed pricing here.

Additionally, if you are a business trying WhatsApp marketing, there are 2 components to the same: -

  • Platform fees: This is charged by the WhatsApp marketing platforms. There are many in the market. With WhatsApp Now, you can get started in just INR 999/ month.  
    This is generally not the case with OTP service providers where you are just charged per OTP sent.
  • Conversation cost: This is levied as per the charges specified by WhatsApp as per the conversation category and country.  

Understanding the Evolution in WhatsApp's Business Model

WhatsApp's business model has witnessed significant changes over the years. The most noticeable change in 2023 involved the modification of template categories, introduction of new conversation types, and an overhaul of the pricing structure. Most of these changes are minor, but they have opened up new opportunities for businesses.

Conversations and Template Categories: The New Norm

Previously, businesses could engage in two types of conversations with end-users (as mentioned above): business-initiated and user-initiated.  
However, starting from June 2023, message template categories have seen a transformation, and message template submissions now need to include a new category selection.

Changes in Business-Initiated Conversations

Business-initiated conversations are now classified into three categories:

  1. Marketing: These are conversations initiated by businesses to market a product or service to customers. This category also includes any business-initiated conversation that does not qualify as an authentication or utility conversation.
  1. Utility: These conversations relate to a transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements to customers who’ve opted in.
  1. Authentication: This category includes conversations that enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes at multiple steps during the login process.

User-Initiated Conversations: The New Service Conversations:
User-initiated conversations have undergone a change as well. They are now referred to as Service Conversations, which include any user-initiated interaction, such as a customer enquiry.

The Shift in Conversation Windows

The conversation window varies depending on the type of conversation in terms of WhatsApp conversation pricing.

For marketing, utility, and authentication conversations, the window begins when a templated message is sent and delivered to the end user.

For service conversations, the window starts when there are no other open conversations, and a free-form message is sent within 24 hours of the incoming customer care request. Once the message is delivered, a 24-hour session begins, during which businesses can send one or more messages of the same category without incurring additional fees.

The Impact on Pricing

WhatsApp introduced new pricing for marketing, utility, and authentication conversations from June 1, 2023. Marketing conversation rates are higher (INR 0.81/conversation in India), reflecting their value. In contrast, utility and authentication conversation rates are lower (INT 0.35/conversation in India). Service conversation rates are the same as the previous user-initiated rates, with rates varying by market.

You can also check out detailed WhatsApp pricing on our WhatsApp Now pricing page.

The 24-Hour Window for Replying to User Messages

Despite the changes, WhatsApp has maintained the 24-hour window for replying to user messages. However, an exception has been added. If customers enter a conversation through a free entry point, businesses now have three days (72 hours) to reply.

Multiple Message Templates in an Open Window

If a business sends several message templates of the same category in an open window, there are no additional charges.  However, if a business sends different types of templates, separate conversations are opened and charged according to the message category.

Free Conversations with WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp has introduced new rules for free conversations.

  1. Free Entry Point Conversations: Businesses now have up to 72 hours to engage with customers without any fees when customers initiate a conversation through a free entry point.
  1. Free Tier Conversations: Meta provides up to 1,000 free service conversations for each WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) per month. These free conversations are exclusively for user-initiated conversations. Additionally, when a free entry point conversation is open, no other category can be opened.

Why has WhatsApp introduced these Changes to Pricing?

WhatsApp has revised its conversation pricing to better reflect the value of messages compared to regular text messages. The multimedia capabilities and re-engagement opportunities of WhatsApp marketing messages have led to an increase in their prices, while utility message costs have been reduced.

Examples of the New Conversation Types and Pricing Model

Here are some examples to illustrate the new conversation types and pricing model:

Example 1: Initiating a marketing conversation within a service conversation

In this situation, a service conversation opens at a specific time when a business responds to a customer's message. While this conversation is open, the business also delivers a marketing template, initiating a new marketing conversation. This action triggers two separate charges: one for a service conversation and one for a marketing conversation.

Example 2: Opening a Utility Conversation Inside a Marketing Conversation

In this case, a business opens a marketing conversation at a specific time when their marketing template message is delivered. A few hours later, with the marketing conversation still open, the business delivers a utility template, thus opening a separate utility conversation. The business is then charged for one marketing conversation and one utility conversation.

Example 3: Opening Two Templates of the Same Category

If a business delivers a message of a specific category at a certain time and then delivers a second message of the same category a few hours later, the business is only charged for one conversation of that category. Two conversations of the same message category count as one.

Example 4: One Template with Both Utility and Marketing Content

If a business sends one template that includes both marketing and utility content, the message is categorized as a marketing conversation, and the business is charged for one marketing conversation.
It's important to note that these changes only apply to the WhatsApp Business Platform. Meta hasn’t announced any changes to the pricing of its other services, including Facebook Messenger for Business and Messenger API for Instagram.

Final Thoughts

WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing has made it a more attractive platform for businesses. This new pricing model allows businesses to provide faster, more conversational experiences to their customers, reflecting WhatsApp’s commitment to enhancing its platform for businesses. Understanding these changes is key for businesses to effectively leverage WhatsApp marketing and maximize their return on investment.

Get Started with WhatsApp Marketing using WhatsApp Now

WhatsApp Now is a WhatsApp marketing service by Message Central. The platform provides a quick 3 step solution to setup and send a broadcast. You can also use the platform to provide multiple use cases like customer support.
All of this in just INR 999 per month. You can also top up credits and will be charged as per WhatsApp conversation pricing.