January 9, 2024

WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In Rules and Strategies

Similar to how certain rules govern how you grow your email and SMS subscribers, WhatsApp also has specific opt-in rules. The rules give you the requirements and boundaries within which you can build your strategy. It’s like learning a language. Once you know the rules and structures, you have the information you need to express your creativity. In this guide, we’ll start with the WhatsApp opt-in rules, and then we’ll follow with WhatsApp opt-in strategies.

WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In Rules

WhatsApp Opt-In Terms to Know

Conversation: In this blog, conversation is defined as a back-and-forth dialogue between a business and a customer. When it comes to business-to-consumer communication, WhatsApp’s main intention is to be a conversation platform versus solely a message-sending platform. Below, you will see the term ‘message’, but it’s always used in a context related to a conversation where the message will either begin or be a part of a conversation.

Business-initiated conversation: A conversation that is started by a business, and the message is sent to a subscriber proactively. These conversations can be either marketing, authentication, or utility conversation types.

User-initiated conversation: A conversation that is started by a user, and the business responds. These conversations often begin when a user opts in to receive messages or starts a service inquiry.

Trigger phrase: Similar to a keyword in SMS, the trigger phrase is a word, phrase, or sentence a customer sends (whether they type it themselves or it’s auto-populated after clicking a specific link) that kicks off a predefined automated conversation. The trigger phrase can be used to start an opt-in conversation or used later for specific WhatsApp campaigns or customer support.

Golden Rule for Initiating a WhatsApp Marketing Conversation

Businesses must receive opt-in permission confirming a customer’s wish to receive future messages from them on WhatsApp before the business can initiate a WhatsApp conversation. This opt-in rule applies to proactively contacting customers with business-initiated conversations. Business-initiated marketing messages require template approval before the message can be sent.

User-initiated conversations follow different rules. If the customer actively messages your brand, you have 24 hours to respond to them. No official opt-in is required. Outside of the 24-hour reply window, you are required to follow the rules of a business-initiated conversation.

User-initiated conversations can begin the opt-in experience that then allows a brand to contact them in the future with business-initiated messages.

How WhatsApp Opt-In Differs from Other Digital Channels

WhatsApp provides unique methods for customers to begin conversations with brands and ultimately to opt in. Through QR codes and URL links, the moment the customer scans the code or clicks the link, a conversation with a brand has begun. For the customer, this way is much more similar to how they’re used to communicating with family and friends.

This method is unlike other marketing channels. In the more traditional digital channels like email and SMS, the customer is required to share their email address or phone number, submit that information, and then wait for a message.

Instead with WhatsApp, when they click a link or scan a QR code, the customer no longer has to wait for their data to be passed to a system. This approach allows them to take the lead, send the message, and begin the conversation.

The QR code or URL can pre-populate the message on behalf of the customer which acts as a trigger phrase. The trigger phrase launches an automated conversation.

To ensure the customer fully understands they are opting in for future messages from this conversation, it’s best to include a double opt-in experience and confirm their opt-in early on in the conversation.

How to Obtain WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In

You can receive opt-in from subscribers in any method that you prefer as long as it follows these main requirements:

  1. Businesses must clearly state that a person is opting in to receive messages from the business over WhatsApp
  2. Businesses must clearly state the business name that a person is opting in to receive messages from
  3. Businesses must comply with applicable law

The best practice is to ensure this information is included whenever and wherever you are gaining the customer’s opt-in. Examples of places you might gain opt-in:

Best Practices for Obtaining WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In

WhatsApp’s goal, as well as ours, is to be a channel with high-quality conversations between businesses and customers. These best practices are important to consider when getting started on WhatsApp. Here are the key recommendations WhatsApp specifically provides:

What Happens if the Opt-In Rules Aren’t Followed?

WhatsApp’s main signal for potential policy violations is from customer feedback. Customers can block or report businesses. That information is shared back with WhatsApp. As Meta and WhatsApp state, "These user feedback signals are inputs into a business’ quality score and our systems will limit businesses if the business’ quality is low for a sustained period of time.”

After a high amount of feedback or flags, WhatsApp may look into opt-in flows to ensure they follow the set-out policy. Their aim is to provide a high-quality conversation channel, and the rules aim to protect that.

Ultimately, if your opt-in information is clear and easy to understand, you decrease the risk of customers blocking or reporting your business.

Helpful WhatsApp Opt-In Resources and Documentation

WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In Strategies

There are multiple ways to gain opt-in from your customers and grow your subscriber list. We’ve put together the main methods for acquiring new subscribers and ideas on where and how to apply those methods. Think of this list as a starting point. As long as your opt-in method includes the requirements mentioned above, the sky is the limit.

Tools for Growing Your WhatsApp Subscriber List

Think of these as the tools in your toolbox that you can leverage in different channels and locations. The goal is to capture a subscriber's phone number as well as permission to start a conversation with them in the future.


Through Tildei, you'll be able to generate a link (you can also do this via the WhatsApp Business portal). When a customer clicks the link, it opens WhatsApp with a conversation window started with your brand. The message in the window can be pre-populated based on the link they click, or it can be a basic chat window allowing the customer to type their own request.

Try it out and opt into our updates!

QR Codes

Similar to the link, through Tildei you'll be able to generate a QR Code (or you can also do so via the WhatsApp Business portal). When a customer scans the code, it opens WhatsApp with a conversation window started with your brand. The message in the window can also be pre-populated based on the QR code that was scanned.

Scan to try it out and opt into our updates!

Facebook or Instagram Ads

Capture Forms

Similar to capture forms for email or SMS opt in, WhatsApp opt-in capture forms most often live on your website (i.e. homepage, pop-up, purchase). With the form, you ask the prospect or customer to share their information and confirm their intent to opt-in to receive WhatsApp messages from your brand. Once you have their number and their opt-in, you're ready to start messaging them in Tildei.

A purple box with the title of “ WhatsApp Opt-In Tools” and an image reflecting each tool: QR Codes, Links, and Capture Forms. The QR code features an Accent branded white pop-up with a QR Code, the central option of Links has a comfy yellow chair asking to be kept up to date with offers and the option to opt-in, on the right is a simple Form asking for subscriber information.
WhatsApp Opt-In Tools

Additional options for acquiring subscribers include:

Again, these are all just starting points. This is your chance to think of ways in which you can share details of your program and provide a link to click or ask for a phone number. Anything that meets those criteria will work as a method to gaining WhatsApp opt-in.

Tactics for Gaining WhatsApp Opt-in

Now that you know the methods by which you can grow your subscriber list, you’re ready to put them into action. This section provides starting points and ideas on where you can place opt-in opportunities and how to plan the strategy. The opt-in strategies are grouped by the location to place them. The WhatsApp opt-in locations we cover in this blog include gaining opt in on your website, in your email messages, on your social channels, through your customer service, and offline in the real world.

A white box with a purple banner titled “Ways to Collect WhatsApp Opt-In” there are five smaller green boxes with Website, Email, Social, Customer Service, and Real World. Each title has some examples of their opt-in placements.
Ways to Collect WhatsApp Opt-in

Gain WhatsApp Opt-In On Your Website

The best method is through the capture form or link

Your website is your digital property, so it usually has the most flexibility with when and where you capture WhatsApp opt-in. There are many opportunities to acquire new WhatsApp subscribers.

Questions to ask when deciding to use this placement: When is a pivotal moment in the customer journey where a conversation could help? Is that on your homepage for customers to get to know your brand? Or is it on a product page when a customer is in a research phase? Choose the best placement for you and your brand, it could be both.

Here’s an example of what a pop-up could like on your homepage, encouraging your website visitors to connect with you on WhatsApp.

A Purple box with a banner image of a faded website page. There is a pop-up in the website foreground saying “Stay up to date by chatting with us on WhatsApp.” and below is a button to start a conversation. Alongside the text is a large WhatsApp logo in green and white.
Sample Homepage Pop-up

Acquire WhatsApp Opt-In Through Your Email

The best method is the link

Your email program is where you connect with customers, share product news and offers, and announce company updates. It’s a great place to let customers know you’re launching a new channel where they can interact with you more directly. Even more, those who are already signed up to receive emails from you, especially those who regularly engage, will also be those most likely to engage with you in WhatsApp.

Here we’re sharing an example of how a brand could promote their WhatsApp program and encourage opt in through their email channel.

An email example from a home goods brand promoting their WhatsApp channel. Two images in the email show sitting rooms with sofas and “A better way to design your space” in the hero image. It includes a QR code linking out to starting a conversation and text that reads “Scan or click the code to chat with us on WhatsApp, followed by an example conversation on WhatsApp between Accent and one of their subscribers. The bottom text is “Want more help with creating the perfect space? Connect with our design guides on WhatsApp” with a button that reads “Start a conversation”.
An email promoting the WhatsApp channel.

Obtain WhatsApp Opt-in On Your Social Channels

The best methods are the link and the Facebook or Instagram Ad

When a prospect or customer sees your brand in their social feed, they can feel inspired to want to know more and start interacting with your brand. The goal is to give them the ability to easily dive deeper. Additionally, WhatsApp is owned by Meta, the same company that owns Facebook and Instagram, so we expect to see more social integrations between the channels in the future.

A purple box with two phone outlines in it and Tildei on the bottom. The phone on the left is of an ad on Instagram of a yellow chair and an action on that ad to “Send Message” on WhatsApp. An arrow points from the action button in the ad to the phone on the right which is a conversation between a customer and a homegoods brand. The customer says they want to start a Black Friday plan, and the brand replies with questions to help the customer.
An Instagram ad leading to a WhatsApp Conversation

Acquire WhatsApp Opt-In During a Customer Service Experience

The best methods are at the end of a phone conversation or the end of a user-initiated WhatsApp conversation

When customers reach out for additional help, whether that’s by calling your customer support team or asking their questions on WhatsApp, you can end the conversation by asking for their opt-in.

Gather WhatsApp Opt-in Offline in the Real World

The best method is a QR code

When a customer scans the QR code, WhatsApp instantly opens to a conversation with your brand. There are many opportunities to include the QR code, and it depends on your industry, business goals, and access to working with other teams internally (i.e. in-store, packaging).

Additional WhatsApp Marketing Campaign Strategies

For other examples of how to grow and build WhatsApp campaigns:

A Renewed Mindset for WhatsApp Marketing Opt-In

Growing your WhatsApp program can feel challenging and exciting while also comfortable and familiar. There is comfort in the ways that WhatsApp is similar to other digital channels. You can leverage existing opt-in flows and follow opt-in best practices in general. The excitement comes from taking on a new channel that provides new opportunities to engage with your customers. With WhatsApp, you have new tools and tactics available to you to drive deeper connections than ever before.