WhatsApp messages in Salesforce marketing cloud

Mar 15, 2021

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At the last London Salesforce Marketing Cloud User Group, we looked at new features of the Spring 2021 Release. I presented AMP for Email for Salesforce Marketing Cloud for you there. Today, on the blog, I’d like to talk about another great new feature: how to send WhatsApp messages in Salesforce marketing cloud. Let’s dive into it!

WhatsApp in general – benefits & features

Billions of people use Whatsapp – throughout their day and it’s free for them to use it. And they love it. So, adding Whatsapp, as a new channel to your customer communication, makes a lot of sense. Whether your customer is a prospect / client / student / member / patient / partner.

Offering Whatsapp as a way to get in touch with you puts your customer in control as they’ll talk to you real-time, exactly when they want it. Phone-shy people can all of a sudden become prospects as they can leave a Whatsapp message instead of having to talk to you.

By giving them a hotline to you, you’ll also get a hotline back! Whatsapp users tend to respond, and respond often real-time. But they have a choice: they can respond later, making it an ideal bridge between a phone call and an email.

Messages are silent, so sending a very quick Whatsapp while at work is not a problem whereas being overheard by co-workers in a call could have been uncomfortable. Particularly where your customer is a patient, this is important.

Whatsapp also offers notifications. Not only can customers reach you real-time, your response get the most prominent visual place on their mobile phone: on the screen.

Whatsapp for business comes with widgets. We’ve seen a B2B client, who put a Whatsapp widget on the website, got quite a few leads coming in this way. It takes a single swipe to be in touch.

These WhatsApp features literally allow you to stay open for business 24/7 as one can optionally add some useful info to an automated greeting, such as estimated response time.

Send WhatsApp messages in Salesforce marketing cloud – benefits & features

So within that context, you can use these marketing cloud features:

  • REACH: With WhatsApp, you’ll expand your company’s mobile client communications internationally as this functionality opens up the possibility to reach 1B users, worldwide, on their preferred channel.
  • SPEED TO MARKET: Experience easy onboarding: set up your WhatsApp account, channels, and message templates through Marketing Cloud
  • OMNI-CHANNEL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Adding WhatsApp to your channel mix helps you build a richer omni-channel customer experience, which is enabled for you to then further increase your customer engagement with keyword detection.
  • OPTIMISATION & COLLABORATION: You will have all your messaging data in one place, which facilitates analytics, optimisation and further marketing collaboration.

How to get started with WhatsApp

Like the idea of getting access to WhatsApp’s billions of subscribers? Here’s how you get started with sending WhatsApp Messages in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, step-by-step:

Step 1: Contact CloudAnalysts

As your certified Salesforce marketing cloud implementation consulting partner, we will guide you through the process of a WhatsApp Implementation and set you up for success.

Step 2: Technology purchasing

We will assist your purchase of WhatsApp for SFMC. You’ll need to purchase both the WhatsApp Messaging Access SKU and the Personalisation SKU WhatsApp Messages.

Step 3: Get the WhatsApp functionality

We will work with the WhatsApp setup app for Salesforce, Sinch, to get the WhatsApp functionality into your Salesforce Marketing Cloud org.

Step 4: Set up your account and channels

Then we can set up your WhatsApp account via your Facebook Business Messenger account. There you can specify the channels you want to send on. Your Whatsapp acocunt is your phone number you wish for your customers to see and use to communicate with your brand. Accounts and channels have to be approved. Once accounts and channels are approved, we can start with configuring your WhatsApp messaging.

Step 5: Configure WhatsApp messaging

There are 2 types of WhatsApp messages: A) Template Messages and B) Session Messages.

A. WhatsApp Template Messages

WhatsApp Messages Salesforce Marketing Cloud - Outbound

Template messages are for transactional use. Think of a delivery notice, an order or payment confirmation, travel notification or promotional messages. These use a WhatsApp template. The content of the template needs to be approved by WhatsApp.

In the Whatsapp chat messaging setup app, under ‘message templates’, you’ll find all of the approved templates and be able to create your own (which have to be approved by Whatsapp before you can send using it). You’ll define which business account the message template should be associated with, and to which predetermined template message categories the template belongs to. You’ll also can set the language and the content right there.

Once approved, you can personalise your message template.

Journey with WhatsApp Template Messages

Let’s say that you want to send a shipment confirmation WhatsApp message once a customer’s shipment is ready to go.

In Content Builder, you can create a new template message based on the just approved template, and then use AMPscript and personalisation strings to customise it.

To send the message, create a one-step journey and select the entry source Data Extension, that holds all of your shipping information. Then, drag the Whatsapp activity onto the Journey Builder canvas, and click to configure.

Select the message you just personalised, as well as the WhatsApp channel that you will be sending from. Select the field in the entry source DE that holds the mobile phone numbers of your subscribers. And voilà, your customers will receive their shipment confirmation WhatsApp message once their shipment is ready to go.

That was all about transactional messages.

B. Whatsapp Session Messages

WhatsApp Messages Salesforce Marketing Cloud - Inbound
Inbound WhatsApp Messages in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

The other type of messages are session messages. These provide ways for more engaging, two-way communications, such as product discovery or to collect personalisation information. These are pre-created, automated messages that respond to customer enquiries via WhatsApp.

Keyword Triggers

For these type of messages, you start your Journey Builder with Inbound Chat as your journey entry source, where you both set your channel where you want to be listening for messages, as well as keywords that would trigger auto-responses. When musing ‘keywords’, don’t review your books on SEO best practices, but think along the lines of conversational chat, and start with ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’.

Local, Mobile, Social

Where this all become really neat, is when you are considering how your subscriber is coming to your channel. Your WhatsApp channel can be communicated with your subscribers through a WhatsApp link you send via email or SMS, message, but also through a QR code that they can find in stores or in advertisements. This is where local, social and mobil are really working in an integrated manner.

Immediate, No Approval Needed

Session Messages don’t need WhatsApp approval. Therefore, they can be built directly in Content Builder. Once you put your session message onto the Journey builder canvas, you can configure it with a channel. After that, add a ‘wait until response’ step.

Branching for Best Next Activity

What’s really cool is that this block allows you to branch your responses, based on different response keywords you’ll receive. Think what customers would ask and need, e.g. ‘product information’, ‘shipping’, ‘store hours’. Be sure to include 2 more paths: one for invalid responses and one for no responses.

To make each response ‘appropriate’, you can allow a unique time interval to each one of them, and then pick a suitable action as the next step, which may be different from path to path: reply with an email, or a Whatapp activity, open a case in service cloud so an agent can call them back. The activity can be whatever suits the situation best.


And there you have it: how to send WhatsApp messages in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Something to experiment with? Definitely. But how you do it will be vital for your success. Many people will consider WhatsApp somewhat of a private channel. So don’t be creepy!

Your use case

For WhatsApp in Salesforce marketing cloud

There are many excellent use cases for both transactional and session WhatsApp messages. Want to know how we approach getting started with sending WhatsApp Messages in Salesforce Marketing Cloud? Reach out to us in chat, phone, email, or use either button below and we’ll get in touch with you within 24 hours.

Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.

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