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WeChat Data Binding 101

December 12, 2019 | Lauren Hallanan

Open ID, Union ID, PII, SSO…have no idea what these words and acronyms mean? You’re not alone.

For those of us that are less technically inclined, learning this whole new vocabulary can be daunting, yet if you want to maximize your brand’s WeChat presence, these are crucial terms to know.

Why is that?

Without data binding, all of your WeChat followers remain anonymous, providing only aggregate data and no means of doing targeted marketing. On the flip side, with data binding, WeChat user information can be transformed into actionable data for segmentation, retargeting, and measurement of a customer’s lifetime value.

When a user’s data is bound, you can map what they are doing across all of your WeChat touchpoints, and if you can go a step further and match WeChat follower profiles with existing CRM profiles, you can gain a holistic view of each user’s preferences and behaviors across a number of platforms.

Convinced? Time to dive in and learn data binding basics.

Levels of Data Binding:

With WeChat, there are what I like to think of as different tiers of data binding, with the Open ID being your most basic level, followed by the Union ID, and then the final, ultimate level would be binding the Union ID with a personal identifier (PII) to a profile in your CRM.

Let’s take a look at each of these tiers, starting with the Open ID.

Open ID

This ID is comprised of 28 numbers and letters and is the most basic identifier.

Whenever a user subscribes to your Official Account, clicks on your mini program, accesses your HTML5 page through WeChat, or hits any of your other touchpoints within the WeChat ecosystem, you would be able to obtain that user’s Open ID, which gives you access to the following user information:

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While this may seem like a wealth of information, it's not as good as it seems, here’s the caveat - one user will have different Open IDs for each WeChat touchpoint, making it impossible to identify the user across multiple touchpoints, thus with only the Open ID, brands are unable to execute long-term marketing strategies such as segmentation or retargeting.

Plus, once the user unsubscribes, you will no longer have access to the information listed above. If brands want to prevent loss of data they must sync their database regularly.

To solve the issue with Open IDs, we must obtain the user’s Union ID.

Union ID

This is a single unique identifier ID (29 letters and numbers) for each user across all WeChat touchpoints bound in your open platform account.

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Once you have completed developer certification and bound all of your properties to your Open Platform Account, you would be able to gain all the aforementioned user information (Open ID, gender, location, etc.) along with the Union ID that allows a user to be identified across all touchpoints.

With this cross-touchpoint data synchronization we are able to build a holistic user profile that allows for more accurate segmentation and targeted ads.

The data synchronization also allows you to create a seamless experience for your followers. For example quick login via WeChat SSO (Single Sign On). With the Union ID, since the user can be identified across all touchpoints, they only have to login once and they will automatically be logged into all of your WeChat properties.

For example they log into the loyalty mini program and then when they visit the e-commerce mini program they are already logged in and can immediately apply loyalty points to their purchase.

The ease of Single Sign On benefits brands too as registration rates for membership sign-ups are likely to increase.

Data Binding

The next step is to bind a user’s Union ID to an existing or new customer profile in your CRM.

To do that, you must first get them to share what is called PII or Personal Identification Information which is typically a phone number, email address, or a unique identifier used in your CRM. For example for banks this may be an account number, for retail brands a membership ID.

There are a number of ways to collect a user’s PII including H5 registration forms, mini program login, or scanning a dynamic QR code.

H5 Registration Forms

The most basic kind of data binding would be using an HTML5 registration form with PII data fields. The user will need to fill out the form to RSVP to an event, participate in a lucky draw, or take a welcome survey after following the official account.

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Log into a Mini Program

The second kind of data binding would be logging into a mini program, often in the form of a loyalty program or e-commerce shop. This often results in a higher binding rate as it has an easier UX with a one-click authorization to grab user information and phone numbers.

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Scan a Dynamic QR Code

If the majority of your WeChat users are directed from offline or desktop sites, you may consider using this method instead. After a user submits a form with a PII outside of the WeChat ecosystem, a unique dynamic QR code is generated for that specific user to scan with their WeChat.

Once the user scans that QR code and follows the brand’s WeChat Official Service Account, all the submitted information from the form plus the user’s WeChat profile information (Open ID + Union ID) is added to a profile in the brand’s CRM database that contains a matching unique identifier, thereby resulting in a complete CRM profile combining existing CRM data, the user's WeChat information, and any new information submitted from the form.

For example a sales assistant for a beauty brand is trying to recruit a customer to become a loyalty member at one of the brand’s brick-and-mortar locations. The sales assistant has a tablet with a form on it that is linked to the brand’s CRM system.

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The sales assistant would fill out the customer’s information on the tablet, and once the form is submitted, a dynamic QR code will pop up. They scan it, follow the Official Account, and their WeChat information is automatically bound to their CRM profile.


Therefore, if data is gathered offline and added to your brand’s CRM, through data binding, you would be able to identify the same member online and gain a channel of communication to segment and re-target them.

This is particularly useful for capturing Chinese outbound travelers. Without data binding, a traveler would simply make a purchase in the international store and without any way of contacting them after leaving the store, the brand would lose any opportunity to segment and re-target that traveler.

Some customers may provide their membership ID at the counter when they make a purchase, but since WeChat is the best ways to reach and engage with Chinese consumers, it is crucial to bind that contact method with their existing CRM member profile.

Another common situation for using a dynamic QR code is a form on a website. For example a leading shared office space provider wanted to offer a desktop solution for a seamless omnichannel experience.

When interested clients visit the brand’s website and want to book a tour of the office space, they are asked to input their phone number along with other information that may help the sales team understand the client’s needs. Then, a dynamic QR code is shown for users to scan with their WeChat. Once they scan the code and follow the account, their WeChat information will bound along with the information on the form in the brand’s CRM.

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Why Data Binding is Must + Other Benefits

Now that you’ve learned how data binding works, hopefully you’ve also got a better understanding of why it is so important to do.

Basically data binding allows you to save a customer’s user behavior, transaction history, loyalty information, etc. to their existing profile in your CRM database, making it a “single point of truth" where you can get a true 360 view of your customer.

Some of the other benefits of data binding include:

  • Identification/de-duplication of anonymous WeChat followers with existing CRM profiles

  • Maintain a channel of contact on WeChat after users make an offline purchase to continue re-targeting

  • Providing real-time updates or reminders to users on WeChat for order updates/ abandoned cart/ membership points notifications

  • Evaluate effectiveness of every customer journey touchpoint for resource allocation optimization to maximize ROI on ad-spend. If most users join membership online and make purchases abroad, the brand can devote more resources to Tencent ads and in-store binding efforts.

  • Determine a user’s lifetime value by tracking every interaction with brand and execute strategies to increase brand loyalty and repurchase rate. If the brand has records that a user has browsed a product on their H5 site and abandoned the cart, it can enter the user into a 48-hour journey where they are sent coupons and led to the mini program or nearest offline store to make a purchase.

  • Capturing user PII information allows brands to conduct omnichannel marketing efforts by combining the use of WeChat or SMS in China as well as lookalike marketing

Still have any questions about data binding? Send us a message, we’d love to help!

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