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WhatsApp Distributions

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About Distributing Surveys through WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messenger apps in the world. With WhatsApp, your Qualtrics survey can reach a wider audience.

There are two ways you can use WhatsApp to send surveys to your respondents:

  • 2-way WhatsApp message: Also called an interactive survey. Qualtrics will send the survey questions directly inside WhatsApp, and the recipient will message back all their responses.
  • 1-way WhatsApp link: Send a WhatsApp message that includes a survey link. When the recipient clicks the link, they’ll be taken to the survey in their mobile browser.
Qtip: WhatsApp is available to all licenses with XM Directory.
Qtip: The pricing of WhatsApp distributions is managed by Twilio in the self-service model and Qualtrics in the sub-account model.

Overview of WhatsApp Setup

Before you can start sending WhatsApp distributions in Qualtrics, there are a few setup steps you need to complete. Click a linked section for information, or continue scrolling to start at the beginning.

  1. Become eligible to send WhatsApp distributions using the self-service or sub-account model.
  2. Create your survey.
    Qtip: For 2-way distributions, be sure to follow the survey design guidelines to ensure it is compatible with direct messages. If you’re distributing a survey link through WhatsApp, there are no limits to your survey design.
  3. Create your survey messages.
  4. Create a WhatsApp distribution.
  5. Upgrade your WhatsApp business account to an official one (Optional)

Steps Required Before WhatsApp Distribution

Before you can distribute your survey through WhatsApp, you will need to complete some preliminary setup steps. First, you need to decide if you are using the self-service model or the sub-account model. Pricing for these models may differ, so make sure you talk to your Account Representative or Customer Success Representative.

  • Sub-account model: The default model and our recommendation. Leverage Qualtrics’ existing relationship with Twilio, the cloud communication platform through which WhatsApp and SMS distributions in Qualtrics are made possible. Benefits of this model include assistance onboarding, maintaining, and troubleshooting the integration with help from your Qualtrics Customer Success Representative.
  • Self-service model: Recommended if your company has an existing own relationship with Twilio and a dedicated support team that can handle issues directly with Twilio. This model affords your own control over onboarding, maintaining, and troubleshooting the integration with WhatsApp.

Please complete the steps described on one of the two support pages linked above before you proceed with the instructions on the rest of this page.

Survey Design for 2-Way Distributions

Qtip: If you are distributing a survey invitation through WhatsApp instead of distributing it through 2-way messaging in WhatsApp, you don’t need to follow the guidelines in this section when you design your survey.

Not all Qualtrics features are compatible with 2-way WhatsApp distribution. Only three question types are supported: NPS©, Single Answer Multiple Choice, and Text Entry. Additionally, you cannot have HTML formatting on your questions. However, Branch Logic, Display Logic, and Custom End of Survey Messages (in End of Survey Elements and in Survey Options) are all compatible.

WhatsApp surveys are distributed one question at a time. If a participant answers a question, the next question will be sent. Page breaks are ignored when distributing a survey via WhatsApp. Although longer surveys are possible, we recommend keeping WhatsApp surveys simple with no more than two or three questions.

WhatsApp distributions won’t split into multiple messages, and the character limit is higher at 65536. There are no GSM-7/USC-2 encoding concerns.

Qtip: If you are sending survey invites and are not using 2-way WhatsApp distributions, you can design your survey however you want.

Importing WhatsApp Numbers

Phone numbers for a WhatsApp survey distribution are uploaded by creating a mailing list. Please note that even if you do not plan on emailing this distribution, mailing lists require an “Email” column since they are traditionally used for email distributions.

File with contacts. Shows corresponding phone and whatsapp fields

A column for the phone number connected to the WhatsApp account should also be included. This column must be called whatsapp. Capitalization does matter.

Qtip: You will not be charged for distributing to invalid numbers.

Format for US Numbers

For phone numbers based in the United States, you are allowed to use spaces, dashes, and parentheses, provided that you remember to use the country code. The following are valid formats:

  • 1(XXX)-XXX-XXXX
  • 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX
  • 1-(XXX)-XXX-XXXX
  • 1XXXXXXXXXX
  • 1-XXXXXXXXXX
  • 1 (XXX) XXX-XXXX
  • 1-(XXX) XXX-XXXX
  • 1(XXX) XXX-XXXX

Format for UK Numbers

Numbers based in the United Kingdom must not contain spaces, dashes, or parentheses. Remove the leading 0 after the country code (44) if there is one. The following are valid formats:

  • 44XXXXXXXXXX

Format for Other Countries

Write the country code, then the number. Be sure to remove any 0’s after the country code. Do not include spaces or dashes.

Sending a 2-Way WhatsApp Survey

When sending an interactive survey through WhatsApp, Qualtrics will send the survey questions directly inside WhatsApp, and the recipient will message back all their responses.

A 2-way Whatsapp exchange displayed in an iphone screen

Qtip: WhatsApp distributions can only be sent from XM Directory. You cannot send them straight from the survey, like with SMS distributions.
  1. Go to Directories.
    Hamburger menu next to logo expanded, Directories selected
  2. Go to the Distributions tab.
    the distributions tab in xm directory. the create distribution button is selected
  3. Select Create distribution.
  4. Review your WhatsApp credits to ensure you have enough to send your distribution.
    the distributions tab in xm directory. the 2 way whatsapp option is selected
  5. Select 2-way WhatsApp message.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Select the survey you want to distribute.
    Selecting a survey
  8. Click Send this Survey.
  9. Select the mailing list you want to distribute to.
    Selecting a mailing list

    Qtip: Remember to format your WhatsApp numbers correctly!
  10. Click Send to List.
  11. Determine the date and time the distribution should send.
    Selecting a time for the distribution
  12. Click Continue.
  13. Click Message.
    Dropdown described is located to upper-left of message field
  14. Click Load Message.
  15. Choose your message from the library.
    New window opens for slecting messages from the library
  16. If you have WhatsApp downloaded and would like to send a test message to yourself, click Send Test Message and enter your number.
    Send test and continue on options are upper-right of the message field

    Qtip: Piped Text for fields such as names and Embedded Data will appear as typed in the message instead of populating with real values, since there’s not a contact to pull this information from.
  17. When ready, click Continue.
  18. Take a moment to review your distribution. If you want to change any part of it, click Edit next to the part you want to change. You also have another chance to send a test message to a WhatsApp number of your choosing.
    Final screen before submitting a distribution
  19. If you’re ready to send the distribution, click Schedule Surveys.

You can also send a WhatsApp message that includes a survey link. When the recipient clicks the link, they’ll be taken to the survey in their mobile browser.

A survey in a mobile browser

  1. Go to Directories.
    Hamburger menu next to logo expanded, Directories selected
  2. Go to the Distributions tab.
    the distributions tab in xm directory. the create distribution button is selected
  3. Select Create distribution.
  4. Review your WhatsApp credits to ensure you have enough to send your distribution.
  5. Select 1-way WhatsApp link.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Select the survey you’d like to distribute.
    Selecting a survey
  8. Click Send this Survey.
  9. Select the mailing list you’d like to distribute to.
    Selecting a mailing list
  10. Select Send to List.
  11. Select when you’d like the survey to go out.
    Selecting a time for the distribution to send
  12. Click Continue.
  13. Click Message.
    Dropdown described is located to upper-left of message field
  14. Click Load Message.
  15. Select the message you made from the library.
    New window opens for selecting a message from the library
  16. If you have WhatsApp downloaded and would like to send a test message to yourself, click Send Test Message and enter your number.
    Buttons for testing & submitting distribution

    Qtip: You can only run this test with a U.S. number. Piped Text for fields such as names and Embedded Data will appear as typed in the message instead of populating with real values, since there’s not a contact to pull this information from.
  17. When ready, click Continue.
  18. Take a moment to review your distribution. If you want to change any part of it, click Edit next to the part you want to change. You also have another chance to send a test message to a WhatsApp number of your choosing.
    Final page before submitting distribution
  19. When ready, click Schedule Surveys.

Upgrading to a WhatsApp Official Business Account

Although not required, we recommend this step because it adds legitimacy to your WhatsApp distributions and lets respondents know your business can be trusted.

Open a Twilio Support Ticket

In order to upgrade, you must reach out to Twlio’s support team. Log into your Twilio account and navigate to https://www.twilio.com/console/support. Select Submit a ticket and provide the information described in the Twilio documentation.

Qtip: Note that approval for a WhatsApp Official Business Account is not guaranteed and is subject to approval by WhatsApp. Generally, Facebook reserves Official Business accounts for internationally recognized brands.

Benefits of Having a WhatsApp Official Business Account

Having an Official Business Account status will:

  • Mark your business profile as verified and official by WhatsApp.
  • Display business name as a contact (instead of a phone number) even if the business is not in the user’s contact list.
  • Display a green “verified” badge visible next to the business’s name in the WhatsApp profile.
  • Make survey links clickable by default.
  • Removes the warning that the recipient is chatting with a business account outside their contact list.

WhatsApp Official Business Account

Phone with whatsapp open. Shows the credentials of a whatsapp official business account, which verifies a sender's validity as an existing business

WhatsApp Business Account

Phone with whatsapp open. Shows the credentials of a whatsapp unofficial business account, which cautions the recipient that the sender is not a verified business

Viewing Past Distributions

WhatsApp distributions can be managed in the Mobile section of the Distributions tab. Click a distribution to view error messages, response rate, cost, and more.

Clicking on an existing distribution in XM Directory
Downloading Distribution History

You can download the distribution history for a specific WhatsApp distribution. This allows you to see each respondent in the distribution and view their status for the survey. More information about downloading distribution history can be found on this page.

Consenting to and Unsubscribing from WhatsApp Communications

When starting a WhatsApp survey, there are several things a respondent can say to either consent to a survey, stop the survey, or unsubscribe from all future surveys. One of each must be included in the message you send in WhatsApp distributions.

  • 1, y, or yes: Confirms that the respondent would like to continue with the survey.
  • 2, n, or no: The respondent would not like to take the survey. They refuse further messages from this survey, but are not opted out of future surveys.
  • 3, stop, stopall, optout, opt-out, opt out: Unsubscribes the respondent from the mailing list, but not the directory.