WhatsApp Promotional Messages: Examples, Costs and Rules

WhatsApp promotional messages are an interesting addition to classic email marketing. The average open rate of 95 percent speaks for itself. However, there are some rules of the game you should know.

What are WhatsApp promotional messages?

WhatsApp promotional messages (also: "newsletter") are advertisements that companies can send to their customers via WhatsApp Business. Those who are interested have to opt in to receive these messages. The opt-in can be done verbally, in writing or by clicking, even within a WhatsApp conversation:

Image of WhatsApp conversation with Outdoorsy

With promotional messages, you can send customers product recommendations based on recent purchases, relevant offers or helpful info directly to their smartphone, for example. At the end of the message, you can add up to two call-to-action buttons (to switch to the website or a call) and up to three “quick reply” buttons.

We’ll show how you can use GDPR-compliant WhatsApp promotional messages and the costs involved.

  1. Use cases for WhatsApp promotional messages
  2. Are WhatsApp promotional messages allowed?
  3. How to send GDPR-compliant WhatsApp promotional messages
  4. Email newsletters vs. WhatsApp promotional messages
  5. Examples of successful WhatsApp promotional messages + study
  6. How much does it cost to send WhatsApp promotional messages?
  7. WhatsApp promotional message alternatives

Use cases for WhatsApp promotional messages

Product recommendations:

  • Recommend products based on previous purchases
  • Share new products or offerings
  • Give coupons and discounts, like for a birthday


  • Updates on product availability
  • Reorder reminders
  • Appointment reminders


  • Price reductions of popular products
  • News from the industry
  • New blog articles on a target group topic

Are WhatsApp promotional messages allowed?

You may have heard that promotional messages/newsletters on Whatsapp were banned a few years ago. That's only partially true: a newsletter function didn't actually exist. Companies unofficially used WhatsApp Broadcasting to send promotional messages. WhatsApp banned that in 2019 since more and more dubious mass messages were being sent.

Instead, the WhatsApp Business API was introduced, which you can use to send "transaction-related messages" such as shipping confirmations, tickets and status updates.

WhatsApp Business: Privacy, examples and first steps

In this guide, you'll find all the important info you need for using WhatsApp in business.

Download for free

Promotional messages, or "non-transactional messages," were added later. After the promo format had a successful test run in Mexico and Indonesia, it was added to the Whatsapp Business API’s feature set in 2021. Since then, businesses can send newsletters via WhatsApp that are GDPR-compliant.

Promotional messages are therefore a fairly new marketing channel. This gives companies the chance to stand out from the competition with an attractive WhatsApp newsletter and build strong customer relationships. But while it creates advantages, it does come with restrictions.

How to send GDPR-compliant WhatsApp promotional messages

To prevent spam and protect users' positive WhatsApp experience, sending promotional messages has rules.

  • GDPR-compliant opt-in: Customers must clearly communicate that they’re interested in your newsletter, which is also the case for email newsletters per the GDPR. It’s not sufficient enough to just provide a phone number. It’s also important to explain to your customers how the opt-out works.
  • WhatsApp's commerce policy: WhatsApp prevents commerce or advertising for certain product groups. Therefore, you need to check whether your products are banned. Examples are: food supplements, alcohol, weapons and animals. You can find the trade policy here.
  • Create message templates: Message templates are used in WhatsApp Business whenever companies write to their customers first. Promotional messages or newsletters must therefore be created as a message template and approved by WhatsApp before they are sent. Approval can take a few hours to a maximum of 24 hours. Since you can individualize messages using placeholders, you don’t have to create a new template for each new newsletter message. In our post we explain in detail how to create message templates.

Email newsletters vs. WhatsApp promotional messages

Since messengers are preferred for private communication, contacting your customers via WhatsApp is more direct and personal than through email. Messages sent through Facebook Messenger are more well-received. Even chatbots that offer simple navigation button options are popular in terms of conversational marketing.

WhatsApp Promotional Messages Email Newsletter
Less design effort More design effort
Less space for content A lot of space for content, e.g. storytelling, product descriptions
Templates must be approved by WhatsApp Content is not reviewed by email provider
Switch to a call with one click Call requires channel change
User and phone number can usually be matched Often spam addresses are used for opt-in
High open rates Lower open rates
Conversational marketing possible: have interactions through personal exchange or chatbots No conversational marketing possible

Examples of successful WhatsApp promotional messages + study

Promotional messages are a good way to reach customers for special occasions. Thalia also invents its own holidays for this purpose, such as "Read in the bathtub" day (Hopefully the recipient has a bathtub...🙃).

Images of Thalia using WhatsApp promotional messages to share engaging content

WhatsApp newsletters should also be short and entertaining. Use photos and videos to hint at products and reading tips.

Images of different food WhatsApp newsletters

Emoji, like arrows and hands, help structure your Whatsapp promotional messages. To elaborate on content, you can send your customers a voice message in addition.

Images of different media being used within a WhatsApp newsletter

Tip: Design entertaining interactions that don't feel like advertising. A study by FH Wedel concluded that messages with informative content, such as emoji and images, perform best. A message with gamification and audio, but without emoji, on the other hand, is the worst received.

How much does it cost to send WhatsApp promotional messages?

According to the current price model, the first 1000 WhatsApp conversations per month are always free. If you send a WhatsApp promotional message every two weeks, for example, you can write to 500 subscribers free of charge. For each additional conversation, it costs a few cents. A newsletter can consist of one or more text and voice messages and costs 11 cents per recipient in the United States.

Companies that send way more than 1000 promo messages a month or want to use the included free conversations for their WhatsApp customer service may decide against a WhatsApp newsletter. In this case, there are other ways to use WhatsApp as a marketing channel.

WhatsApp promotional message alternatives

Alternative #1: Information on demand

Instead of sending regular newsletters to your entire recipient list, you can offer to send customers a message on demand to receive recommendations or promotions. This is how Comdirect does it with its stock market news, for example: customers agree to the terms of use when opting in, save the company's WhatsApp number and send a "Start" message. If they want to see the latest tips, customers just have to enter the keyword #news in the chat.

Alternative #2: Chatbots

Instead of clicking through websites or filling out long forms, a WhatsApp chatbot can help find products that fit your target audience's exact personal tastes or needs. Mattress retailer Purple, for example, uses a virtual advisor to recommend the perfect mattress to its customers.

Image of a WhatsApp conversation with mattress retailer, Purple
Source: Purple

Alternative #3: click-to-WhatsApp ads

Whether it’s through a Facebook or Instagram ad, allow your customers to switch to a WhatsApp conversation with one click. There is no charge for the first conversation you have via a Userclick-to-WhatsApp button. Use this opportunity to introduce your company in more detail, offer various deals and show potential customers that your service is easily accessible via WhatsApp.

Alternative #4: Consultation via website messenger

Website messaging is now a standard in e-commerce. It allows you to accompany customers along the entire customer journey, answer questions and share product recommendations or relevant offers. In doing so, you can decide for yourself whether to wait for a message from the customer or to use your chat proactively, for example, when customers spend a certain amount of time on a product page.

Userlike's advanced website messenger allows your customers to continue chats during their next visit - whether to clarify follow-up questions directly on your website or clear up any last doubts. If you want to give your customers the choice between web chat and WhatsApp, simply integrate the Messenger Board.

Screenshot of Userlike web chat displaying WhatsApp button on Decathlon's website
With just one click, users switch from website messaging to WhatsApp.

Userlike is your all-round solution if you want to combine live chat, WhatsApp and chatbots. You can centrally organize and respond to all incoming messages via our customer messaging platform. Over 12,000 customers, including Nivea, Hermes and Toyota, already rely on us.

Curious? Userlike will be happy to advise you on the use of WhatsApp and Userlike in your company. Simply start a chat with our team or sign up for a free trial - with no further obligations.