Messaging is changing. Once used to send out bulk messages to large groups of users, today it is used to cultivate one-to-one relationships.
As a result, billing has changed. Text messages over SMS are typically charged at a per message rate, based on the country of the recipient. Send 5,000 SMS messages to all your US-based customers about an upcoming sale on your website at $0.007 per message, and your message cost $35. Add in another 3,000 messages to UK customers at $0.04 a message, and your campaign pays an additional $120.
That pricing model still exists for businesses sending out messages of any type over SMS. However, a one-on-one conversation with a chatbot (or human customer service rep) on WhatsApp might have dozens of messages between the sender and recipient. Messages include interactive buttons, images, locations, and other engagement tools.
Rather than charging per message, those engagements are billed based on the conversation. A conversation is defined as any engagement over text between two parties over a 24-hour period.
To put that in real terms, let’s picture an ecommerce shop. On Monday at 4 PM a customer visits the site, loads up a shopping cart, and disappears from the site at 4:45 PM. At 10 AM the next morning, the ecommerce site automatically sends a cart abandonment reminder to the customer, asking if they would like to complete their purchase, and offers a one-time only 5% discount if they do so. Included in the message is a Yes/No button.
The customer clicks on the Yes button, which triggers a payment workflow of about 5 back and forth messages. At 3:30 that afternoon, the customer asks if they can add an additional item to their order. The chatbot handles the order, the additional item is added into the shipment and paid for.
At 5 PM, the customer receives a notification that the order has been shipped. The message includes tracking information for the package.
The following morning, at 9 AM, the customer sends a new message to the site, asking when they should expect some out-of-stock items to be available. The system responds and asks the customer if they would like to be alerted when the merchandise is in stock.
Because all those messages took place between 10 AM Tuesday and 10 AM Wednesday, they are all considered to be one conversation for billing purposes. If the ecommerce shop sends out a new message with a shipping update later that afternoon, that will be considered a second conversation.