Which Chinese social media platform allows brands to communicate with the most users in China? It’s WeChat, the all-in-one super app. In short, it is a necessity for life in China, which is why it is the most-used app in China with 1.25 billion MAU, serving 89% of China’s population.
On average, Chinese people spend one-third of their online time on WeChat. This isn’t shocking news if you know the endless variety of services that are available on this super app. It is not only an app for messaging friends, posting images on their WeChat Moments (equivalent to Instagram feed), but also for online shopping, ordering food, booking flight tickets, paying bills, ordering taxis, reading articles, and almost any other functions imaginable.
Brands in China have learned to meet consumers where they’re at by building a brand presence on WeChat. Brands can communicate with Chinese consumers on WeChat, provide them with customer service, nurture loyalty with reward programs, showcase products through VR integrations, convert prospects into customers through e-commerce Mini Programs, and explore endless possibilities of improving the digital customer experiences for them.
WeChat is a multi-purpose app. Source: Michel Tjoeng.
There are multiple facets to building a comprehensive China Marketing strategy, and WeChat Official Accounts (OA) are a good place for brands to start building presence and awareness in China.
Why WeChat Official Account?
WeChat is the app that Chinese people spend the most time on, therefore building a brand presence on this app to “meet Chinese consumers where they’re at” is crucial for maximizing reach.
WeChat OAs are comparable with your .com site or brand page on Facebook. It is where users can get to know a brand, and also where consumers go to when they’d like to do research on a brand or product, which is why brands need to pay attention to their WeChat SEO.
WeChat OA acts as a hub of brand services and offerings where brands can nudge consumers along the purchasing journey. Brands can plan out a WeChat journey that includes content distribution, offer customer service, drive e-commerce sales, and reward customers through a loyalty program.
Most importantly, users are ALWAYS signed-on in WeChat, meaning brands can gather valuable insights and data on their followers and prospects.
There are two types of Official Accounts: Subscription and Service. We recommend brands start with a Service OA and we go into the details of “why” in this article, but here’s the biggest reason:
Even though subscription accounts are easier to set up as it doesn’t require a business license and brands can post once a day with up to 6 articles, service accounts are better for, as the name suggests, “servicing” your customers. Service accounts are more noticeable as they show up in the users’ main chat list, alongside friends and family, and offer far more capabilities and APIs compared to subscription accounts.
Users need to enter the Subscriptions folder to see Subscription OAs, whereas Service OAs show up directly in the chat list among users’ friends and families.
How to Best Use Your WeChat Brand Official Account to Communicate with Consumers
The biggest advantage brands get in China marketing is that users are ALWAYS signed-in, making it easy for brands to identify each customer and gather valuable insight into their behaviors and preferences for targeted marketing.
The most basic metadata that brands have access to with WeChat OAs are the number of current total followers, new followers, the number of unfollowed users, the net increase, and follower sources. To turn this data into valuable insight, brands can seek to understand which channels are the most effective in attracting new followers and which pieces of content draw the most users attention or which service users seek the most.
Source: ChatLabs SCRM.
“Tags” can be set for each click of the brand WeChat assets and these labels can be used to segment followers, turning them from a mere anonymous follower to an identified prospect or customer. For example, brands can create a “Female Watches” tag for users who click on the OA sub-menu of female watches, indicating their preference and interest in this product.
Brands can track users’ interest on the menu by tagging them. Source: ChatLabs SCRM.
Aside from the OA menu buttons, tags can also be used on clicks of hyperlinks, images, and Mini Programs within Official Account articles. In short, tags are an effective way to get user feedback on brand content while gaining an understanding of user preferences based on the content they click on.
Using QR Codes for Customer Journeys
Another way to gain insight on user preferences is through the use of QR codes. Unlike the West, QR codes are the norm in China. Brands often create QR codes for different services or resources as it is the most efficient way for users to access brand pages, which is why they are seen almost everywhere. To learn more about all the possible uses of these versatile QR codes, check out our past blog post on Why You Should Be Using Parametrics QR Codes Everywhere.
To give an example right now, brands often place QR codes in their offline stores to guide users to their brand OA and start them on an offline-to-online journey that helps brands continue nurturing client relationships even after they’ve left the store.
These nifty codes are also commonly placed at the bottom of brand articles and campaigns to redirect users to their brand page on other platforms such as Little Red Book and Weibo. This is great for omni-channel journeys as brands can increase their channels of reach while allowing users to choose their preferred communication channels. The scan data from these QR codes would also be able to tell marketing teams which channels they should devote more resources to.
Data-Driven Targeted & Personalized Marketing
Having identified, segmented, and gathered insights on their followers, brands can begin creating data-driven campaigns based on their interests and behaviors.
Brands can start off by sending out targeted messages to followers with similar interests, or “tags”. For example, brands can send a curated piece of content on “Female watches” for the followers tagged with the “female watches” label. Likewise, brands can also send a post about necklaces to those with a “necklace” tag. This ensures the delivery of highly-relevant content to your target consumers, which creates a personalized experience for your followers: the right content at the right time.
Other than broadcasts, brands can also customize OA menus for followers based on these tags. Taking the same example of the female watches, brands can present a menu that includes more relevant female watches content to the “Female watches” group.
Customize menu for different followers. Source: ChatLabs SCRM.
Provide Customer Service
Aside from passively gathering insights on users, brands can also actively provide customer service via OA. Unlike the West where emails and phones are the main channels through which customer service is provided, Chinese consumers expect instantaneous responses from brands right on WeChat, the app they use most.
Key Differences Between the WeChat Backend and ChatLabs’ Marketing Automation Solution
Those with some experience in operating the WeChat (Weixin) backend might ask what the difference is between the native backend and our solution. The main difference is that the ChatLabs Marketing (CLM) backend offers more capabilities that outperforms the weixin backend in terms of not only gaining data on brand followers, but also turning it into valuable insights that brands can leverage in a powerful way to nurture and convert prospects.
Taking customer service as an example, while the original backend can only save chat history for up to 7 days, CLM can retain records for however long the brand requires. As customer service representatives are chatting with users, they can also tag and make notes on follower profiles to indicate their preferences for targeted marketing campaigns.
Source: ChatLabs SCRM
The key to a great China Marketing Strategy is data. The Chinese digital ecosystem is set up for brands to gather valuable follower data as users are always in a “logged-in” state that allows brands to continuously identify and segment their followers. However, to truly leverage the wealth of data that lies within this unique digital ecosystem, brands should have a clear plan from the start on how they are to gather follower data and turn it into valuable insights for targeted marketing campaigns. In this way, brands can create a personalized experience that cater to the needs of Chinese consumers.
If you’d like to start creating data-driven China experiences for your Chinese consumers, let us know and we’d be happy to help you.