The Definitive List of 6 Best WeChat Marketing Strategies
Right behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, WeChat is the world’s third most popular messaging app with 1.112 billion active users monthly as of July 2019. As China’s entire population stands at approximately 1.4 billion people, this means that even with foreign users accounted for; WeChat still garners an incredible, near perfect user penetration rate in China. This presents immense opportunities for businesses trying to reach China’s lucrative market.
However, unlike WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, WeChat is much more than a messaging application. The app has been considerably innovative in its growth model, expanding to a comprehensive range of integrated services that has allowed it to essentially monopolize China’s market of social communications. This super, ‘all-in-one app’ hosts an extensive amount of functions, including:
- Text and Voice Messaging
- In-app Audio and Video Call
- Image Transmission
- WeChat Moments (A feed for all your subscribed updates)
- Didi (China’s version of Uber)
- Video Feed
- Mini Programs (Apps within WeChat)
- WeChat Stores
- Mobile Cash and Payment Services
- WeChat Browser
- Geolocation Services
Navigating WeChat’s expansive universe can be overwhelming for a marketer, as there are countless ways of engaging with the application.
If your business is looking to break into or drive growth in China’s market, then establishing your presence on the region’s most popular social application WeChat is imperative. Here are six WeChat marketing and promotion strategies you can adopt that have proven most effective.
1. Choose the right account for your business
The first step WeChat marketing is, without saying, to create an account on WeChat. Creating an account on WeChat serves several objectives:
a. Establish your brand’s presence on China’s most popular mega-app
b. Assemble your followers in one place
c. Funnel followers to your website and sales platforms
d. Be able to push content notifications to your followers to keep them engaged and updated
With that being said, WeChat has two main types of accounts for businesses. You may decide which account type works for your business, depending on your marketing and content strategy.
a. WeChat Subscription accounts (订阅号): This is the most common type of account as it is the only option available for individuals. This account is allotted more post messages - allowing 1 broadcast message per day, which is ideal for companies looking to provide more frequent content marketing and updates. However, these accounts are also filed away in a dedicated folder in the ‘chat’ section of the follower’s WeChat account, providing less visibility out of the two accounts.
b. WeChat Service accounts (服务号): This type of account is limited to only 4 post messages per month. However, it is also more visible as it appears alongside the follower’s friends section, and offers additional features unavailable in subscription accounts, such as WeChat payments, push notifications, geo-tracking, voice recognition, and the ability to generate multiple QR codes that link to this account for better traffic identification.
There is also a third type of account called Enterprise accounts (企业号), those are less common and are meant for internal use within companies. These types of accounts require approval from both the account and its subscribers, and its contents are not publicly visible. This type of account may be utilized by companies looking to keep their employees updated with internal announcements.
It should also be noted that a Chinese ID or a local Chinese business license would be needed to access the full features of all accounts.
2. Optimize your account page using a wide variety of media formats
Your account page is the front of your brand on WeChat - it is the point at which you garner credibility, establish the interest of your potential followers, and lock them in for future WeChat marketing purposes, so it is crucial that your account page is created right.
The skeleton of your account page will basically just be a feed of your posted content, which can look quite dull and simple. However, WeChat has your marketing interests in mind, and if done properly, your account page can essentially look and function like a mini website of its own. WeChat supports a wide variety of media formats – including images, text, video, as well as a multitude of customized presentation templates. On top of that – you can easily link your own website, event or product landing pages, e-commerce pages, WeChat stores, and blog articles on the forefront of account page, funnelling your audience accordingly to achieve your objectives.
The key here is to use the right imagery, colour palettes, design gridlines and tone of voice to communicate your brand to your audience and catch their interest.
Adidas is one of the world’s most renowned sportswear brand. And by using a combination of celebrity influence, consistent branding, and marketing strategies specifically targeted towards China’s distinct culture, as evident through their account page, it has managed to capture 19.5% of China’s total sportswear market retail value.
3. Create original, informative, and interesting content tailored to WeChat’s platform
It goes without saying that in an age where consumers are constantly bombarded with all sorts of advertising messages, that you would need exceptional content to attract the attention of your target audiences. And as it is with most social platforms, your content is the hook you use to constantly engage and your audience and refresh their interests, so make sure you have a great WeChat content strategy in place to effectively reach your target audience. This includes defining a tone and visual style that resonates with it, and pairing it with informative, easy-to-read and relevant text that appeals to your audiences.
It is especially worth noting – content that works well on WeChat differs to those that work well on other social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Weibo. Instagram heavily depends on visuals, Twitter on text, and both Facebook and Weibo favour short, succinct messages paired with a visual. WeChat, however, favours longer, more informative and more detailed articles. Peer to peer sharing is one of the most credible and powerful forms of marketing and a survey showed that 49% of WeChat users would share an article on WeChat if they believe it’s useful.
Your selection of media format also largely influences your engagement rate. Short videos are an incredibly popular form of content in China. In fact, 78% of all Chinese internet users watch short videos online. If your budget allows, great videos are a very effective way to generate interest and increase your brand’s visibility.
4. Make the most of WeChat’s comprehensive analytics
WeChat offers powerful back-end analytics, and knowing your way around these insights is essential to the success of your marketing strategy. WeChat analytics are available for business accounts only, and can only be accessed by administrators of the account. You will be able to find its dashboard at the Official Account management area. Here is an overview of the most useful types of information you would be able to learn about:
a. Messages Analytics:
- the number of messages sent to your account each day
- the number of senders each day
- an overview of the most common keywords used in these messages
b. Content Analytics:
- The number of people your content has reached.
- The number of people that have read your content
- The number of shares and re-shares for your content
c. Traffic Analytics
- The sources at which your audience engaged with your account page (such as through your various QR codes, the search bar, or through your various content)
- Where on WeChat’s interface did your audience interact with your content
- Mapping the time of day at which your content was read
d. Audience Analytics:
- Location of your audience (note that there is no data for audiences outside of China)
- Device type
- Your number of new followers and cancelled followers per day
e. Menu Analytics:
- the number of clicks on your menu links
- the number of people that have clicked through
WeChat analytics can be much more comprehensive than some other popular social media in-app analytics, such as Facebook or Instagram. Once you are able to build a small community with your account page and are comfortable navigating the analytics dashboard, these insights can inform your WeChat content and promotional strategy moving forwards. Be sure to segment your content and messages towards your different audiences and you will be able to grow your account efficiently.
5. Use automation to maintain engagement with your WeChat Community
One of the WeChat’s best marketing features is its marketing automation function, which will allow you to maintain your engagement with your community more easily. When individuals first follow your account in WeChat, your business has 48 hours to which you can send 5 messages to your new follower. Using the analytics mentioned above, you will be able to better understand what types of audiences you have and what kinds of content appeal to each segment. And once you have created your content strategy, you can setup and create the below targeted automation:
1. Welcome Messages: You can preset personable messages that are automatically sent to users when they first follow your account. This deepens your engagement with the follower, leaves a greater impression, and conveys stellar customer service.
2. Message Replies – You can set automated responses for general messages as well, and even further segment your automated responses by the different keywords your followers use in these messages. For example, with the keyword “help”, you may direct them to the FAQ or customer page.
Automated responses in the form of a chatbot are also very popular on WeChat, but these can only be achieved with third-party plug-ins. There is a huge emphasis on customer service within Chinese brands, and response automation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your engagement once your account gains a substantial amount of followers.
6. Get creative with mini programs
Mini Programs are essentially applications within WeChat, and can host a powerful concoction of innovative ideas, with an estimate of over 400 million monthly active users. Brands have used this feature to create everything from games to e-commerce stores and other subservices – any app that could be hosted on the Apple or Android app store, you will probably be able to find something similar amongst WeChat mini programs.
These mini programs offer a multitude of benefits. Not only are there over 60 possible entry points – from links in your articles, on your account page, in messages, through QR codes and more, it also allows for your brand to engage with your consumers through more touchpoints. Mini-programs are also cheaper to develop than traditional apps, and more affordable for 2nd or 3rd tier city Chinese citizens that can’t afford access to more data usage or more storage on their phones. Last but not least, a lot of these mini programs have proven to be extremely sticky – with the majority of mini-program users being heavy users as 67% of them use mini-programs more than 4 times per day. In the below campaign examples, we will show you how brands have used these mini programs to reinforce an innovative brand image and engage with their audiences.
Successful WeChat Marketing Campaigns
WeChat has a plethora of features to take advantage of. In the following, let’s take a look at how some of the most renowned brands have been able to creatively utilize WeChat to market their brand!
Starbucks launched a new product in 2012 – the Refresha series – refreshing, light, and fruity drinks made with green coffee bean extract. For its product launch, Starbucks turned to WeChat with a marketing budget of only RMB 250,000 for an innovative, O2O campaign that saw instant success.
Firstly, QR codes were placed on Starbucks cup sleeves, which led consumers to Starbucks’ official WeChat account. Starbucks then pushed a fun invitation to these new followers through automated messages– consumers were invited to send in an emoticon of their choice, and Starbucks would respond with a song from a curated playlist to match the mood of the emoticon.
This bout of creativity and well use of WeChat’s various features proved immensely rewarding for Starbucks - within 4 weeks, Starbucks amassed 130,000 new followers on WeChat, and Refresha hit RMB $7.5 million in sales in just 3 weeks.
Fendi is an Italian luxury brand that spearheaded WeChat marketing efforts by creating a mini program game - Fendi Ways to Rome.
In the game, players can wander through the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome and learn about Fendi’s history through different landmarks. For example, you can see Fendi’s headquarters at the Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, the Trevi Fountain, where Fendi’s Fall/Winter 2016-2017 Couture Show was held, as well as Fendi’s flagship store in Largo Goldoni amongst other famous landmarks.
The greatest catch of the game, however, is a round trip ticket from Shanghai to Rome with three free nights at a hotel and a guide tour – offered to three players amongst the top 1,000 players. There are also smaller gifts for players who are able to find the Easter eggs of the game.
Within one day, the post announcing the game garnered over 11,000 views and received 141 likes. Following this innovative effort, more brands have turned to mini programs and games to embolden their brand image and capture their audiences through multiple touchpoints.
However, even more so than an app that promotes Italian culture, Chinese consumers tend to favour localized campaigns tailored to Chinese cultures and habits.
For Chinese New Year – there is a common custom to give Red Packets with money to friends and family as a sign of good fortune. In 2019, from the first day of Chinese New Year to the fifth, more than 823 million people sent red packets on WeChat. Gucci took advantage of this opportunity and for 2020, the year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac system, Gucci paired up with Disney for a Gucci x Disney campaign that included Mickey Mouse designs on various products. As part of this campaign, they created a specialized WeChat Red Packet design for Chinese New Year.
This campaign mainly banked on the influence of celebrities such as Nini, the power of cute Disney characters, and localized marketing efforts tailored to the Chinese culture. The campaign resulted in a media impact value worth USD$11.2 million and proved a huge success for Gucci.
WeChat is the gateway to the enormous and incredibly lucrative market of Chinese audiences. We understand that the platform has a huge range of features and seems relatively intimating to navigate, and so we have summarized the most important features and marketing strategies above, which we hope will be of help to you.
If you would like to seek professional expertise for the most effective way to grow your business/product, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to help. You may also see our other articles on marketing and brand strategy and learn how we have helped our clients grow their businesses in the most effective and efficient way possible.