A person holding a phone showing a WhatsApp message with buttons around it


Meta Introduces Deliverability Updates for WhatsApp: What Marketers Need to Know

Lexie Haggerty By Lexie Haggerty May 23, 2024

Meta’s WhatsApp messaging platform serves more than 2 billion users across 180+ countries, making it an essential communication tool for people looking to stay up to date with friends and family around the world. And since Meta opened up WhatsApp to marketing use cases in 2022, it’s become a go-to for brands as well, allowing them to reach consumers where they are with impactful marketing messages. Now, Meta is making an update that will impact WhatsApp deliverability and change how user engagement works on the platform.

Earlier this year, Meta began testing new approaches around the delivery of WhatsApp marketing messages with the goal of allowing the channel to maintain high engagement and provide a quality experience for message recipients. On February 6, Meta started limiting the number of marketing messages that WhatsApp users in India could receive from brands in a given period. Meta has now announced that these updates will be rolled out across all markets, beginning on May 23, 2024.

To help brands understand this shift and assess potential impacts, let’s take a look at what’s changing in more detail and what marketers need to know.

What is changing as a result of this update from Meta?

Meta requires that all business-initiated conversations on WhatsApp begin with an approved template. Now, as a result of these changes, Meta will be limiting the number of marketing template messages that each individual user can receive from all businesses they interact with during a given time period. However, there’s some nuance around what messages will be impacted by this shift:

  • To start, Meta will be limiting a small number of conversations that they deem to be less likely to be read by recipients. Specific details on Meta’s algorithm are not currently available.

  • The updates are focused exclusively on marketing template messages and will not impact deliverability of utility or authentication template messages. (More detailed definitions for WhatsApp template types can be found here.)

  • Meta will determine if a marketing template message will be delivered to a given user based on the total number of marketing template messages that the user has received from all businesses during the relevant period, not based on the number of messages your specific brand has sent them.

  • If a marketing conversation thread has already been opened using a marketing template, it will not impact that brand’s ability to continue that conversation with the user. Brands can continue to send both non-templated and templated marketing messages during the 24-hour conversation window.

Why is Meta introducing new limits on marketing messages in WhatsApp?

According to Meta, the goal of these changes is to ensure that WhatsApp users continue to have high quality experiences with the brands that engage them on the platform. And by limiting the number of marketing template messages that users can be sent in a given period, Meta aims to reduce the risk that consumers are overwhelmed by business outreach.

How will brands know if a given marketing template WhatsApp message isn’t delivered?

As a result of this change, there may be situations where your brand sends WhatsApp marketing template messages that aren’t delivered. If that happens, you will receive a 131026 error code in connection with any undelivered messages and Braze will not attempt to resend the message.

If you need more granular reporting on the 131026 error code, including the number of messages that have received that code on per-user basis, details can be found in the Braze platform’s “Messages Activity Log” and exported to other platforms via Braze Currents, our high-volume, ongoing data export tool, or Braze Snowflake Data Sharing. In addition, any message that receives the 131026 error code will also be included as a “Failure” within the Braze platform. These “Failures” are reported on individual Canvas steps and Campaign analytics, within the Braze Report Builder, and can be exported with Currents. You can also use Braze retargeting to engage users on other messaging channels (e.g. email, push notifications, SMS) if they fail to receive a given WhatsApp message.

How will Meta determine whether a given marketing template message is delivered?

Meta will use an algorithm to determine whether a WhatsApp marketing message gets delivered to a given user. Meta’s algorithm is private but they have stated that determining factors will include:

  • User engagement (i.e. how likely is it that your message will be read by the recipient)

  • Recent message volumes (i.e. how many marketing template messages a given user has already received from all businesses in a specified time period)

How should brands adjust campaign strategies in response to Meta’s WhatsApp deliverability updates?

Because WhatsApp takes into account how likely a user is to engage with the messages you're sending, you can improve the odds that WhatsApp marketing template messages are received. In general, we recommend that WhatsApp senders ensure that each message they send is highly relevant and engaging by taking advantage of the Braze platform to build out segmented, personalized, and compelling WhatsApp campaigns.

While these steps can help to improve your WhatsApp deliverability in connection with Meta's new updates, it's important not to assume that every WhatsApp marketing message will be delivered moving forward. Consider using other messaging channels (e.g. email, push notifications, SMS) to engage users who failed to receive a given WhatsApp campaign. To target these customers, brands can export a list of all users who received the 131026 error code via Braze Currents or use SQL Segment Extensions to retarget those users.

Final thoughts

While Meta’s recent announcement adds potential challenges for marketers, it doesn’t change the powerful positive impact that WhatsApp marketing messages can have on customer engagement, especially as a part of a cross-channel strategy. Marketers should be aware of the changes and their implications, but they’re still well-positioned to make effective use of this channel if they double down on ensuring that the messages they send via WhatsApp are relevant, timely, and personalized to each individual recipient.

Looking for WhatsApp strategies and campaign ideas? Check out the WhatsApp Inspiration Guide.

Interested in staying up to speed with the latest changes to WhatsApp deliverability and other updates from Meta? Visit our WhatsApp Product Updates page.

Lexie Haggerty

Lexie Haggerty

Lexie Haggerty is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Braze.

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