WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China with 1.26 billion active users as of 2022, provides great marketing opportunities for foreign brands. Its success relies on the fact that Wechat was able to integrate almost all the features that made the success of the world’s most popular networks.
In this blog post, we will show you how to leverage WeChat marketing tools and strategies to make your brand visible to the Chinese audience.
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Wechat overview: understand the phenomenon of the super-app
WeChat is the super-app that almost all Chinese Internet users are registered on, so it’s an excellent tool for any business that wants to enter the Chinese market. The app was originally released in 2011 by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings Ltd. Although it started as a simple messaging app, nowadays it’s a whole ecosystem, that allows its users to take care of almost all activities that they need to do online without leaving the platform.
Above you can see some of WeChats’ features. The app allows for voice and video calls and functions like videos posted on WeChat Channels, a feature similar to Tik Tok. You can also create WeChat official accounts, a Wechat store in something called WeChat mini program, where WeChat users can pay for your products using built-in WeChat Pay, a payment method developed by Tencent.
The possibilities of promoting your brand to Chinese users of the app are endless, as, in comparison to other social media platforms in China, WeChat is one of the biggest ecosystems there.
Benefits of using WeChat for business in China
With the number of features available on the platform, WeChat is the best social media app for business, as it allows its users to reach and engage with the audience in multiple different ways. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using WeChat for business;
- With 1.26 billion monthly active social media users, it’s the biggest app in China, so you have an opportunity to reach almost the whole Chinese Internet population
- WeChat Official Accounts is a feature that allows companies to create public pages that work like a Chinese website, with a customized menu and interactive posts that are more effective than email marketing
- WeChat ecosystem makes it easy to share your content across different features of the platform, enlargening your reach
- You can use different formats of content for all types of WeChat users; videos, short posts, long interactive forms, ads, and shops make it easier to interest your audience
- You can create WeChat H5 brochures that work far better than typical PDFs, load faster, and are interactive, allowing for cross-promotion
- You can engage with your audience via WeChat mini-programs where you can create games promoting your brand, Wechat stores, and many more. The mini-program content can be later shared on WeChat Moments, WeChat articles, WeChat groups or private messages, and so on.
- Wechat also allows WeChat advertising, to reach potential customers out of your followers base through WeChat moments ads and many more.
- The Built-in WeChat payment method makes it simple and convenient to purchase products without leaving the app
Best WeChat marketing strategies for foreign brands that want to win an audience in China
Let’s take a look at some of the best WeChat marketing practices that will help your company build brand awareness in China;
Setting up brands’ WeChat official account
WeChat Official Account is the first step you should take in the WeChat app, as it’s one of the best WeChat marketing tools. WeChat business account works like a website, allowing brands to publish content in the form of blog posts or newsletters. It’s a great tool to attract potential customers, that will start discovering the brand by checking its WeChat Official account first.
An official Wechat account is also helpful in building customer loyalty and engagement, as it allows it to send push notifications to its followers base, to notify them about new products, new releases, articles, and many more. It’s a great tool for building brand awareness and trust.
Types of WeChat Official Accounts
There are three Wechat official account types; Wechat service account, Wechat subscription account, and Wechat corporate account (also called WeChat Work). When it comes to China WeChat marketing, two of them are great for revenue-generating emails; WeChat service accounts and Wechat subscription accounts. Enterprise accounts are for internal communication in the company.
Wechat subscription account
Subscription accounts allow sending one push message to a follower base every day and up to eight articles per month. Notifications will show in a special subscription folder in WeChat, but the downside of this account is that it doesn’t support foreign business entities, so you would need to have a Chinese partner to have subscription accounts.
Wechat service account
The best option for foreign companies is Wechat service accounts, as they support overseas businesses. Wechat service accounts allow for four pushes per month and up to 8 articles for each push, but those pushes come in a form of something similar to our newsletters, shown in the Wechat users’ messages interface. They also get a predominant place in the chat feed.
There are many functions that the Wechat official account can provide to your brand. Thanks to broadcasting messages and sending a customized welcome and reply messages, helps you better engage with your followers and build trust and loyalty between you and them. This feature also allows you to analyze the traffic and engagement on your public page, making it easier to adapt your Wechat marketing strategy to the target audience of your brand.
Wechat articles are a great marketing tool to engage with your target audience through well-tailored content. You can create Wechat articles with interactive designs, that come as push notifications similar to newsletters.
Chinese consumers don’t like content with too much text, they prefer interactive forms with a good layout and a lot of graphics, photos, videos, and other interesting elements. If you follow this trend, you can expect rather high engagement rates that will contribute to bigger sales of your products.
WeChat official accounts platform also has a feature of private messages, which are very helpful in building brand loyalty. This option is a great form of WeChat customer relationship management, allowing you to cater to the needs of each individual interested in your brand. You can also use it to send customized offers, loyalty programs, coupons, virtual VIP cards, and so on.
Use the QR code to promote your WeChat business account
To promote your official account on other sub-platforms of the Wechat ecosystem as well as in any other place online and offline, Wechat generates a special QR code that redirects users to brands’ public accounts.
Wechat QR codes can be placed everywhere on the internet but you can also use them on printed promotional materials, such as brochures that you’ll use at trade events or in stores. You can place it in paid ads, posters, or name tags. Chinese people are used to entering any website or platform by scanning or clicking on a QR code, so it’s something you can’t miss.
Additionally, you can personalize your QR code so that it will best match the style of your brand. You can choose a style for your QR code from a variety of themes. They range from classic themes to more unusual ones. For example, if your business is a bakery, you can choose a food-related style for your code.
Learn from your competitors
Checking the WeChat online performance and marketing strategy of other players on the market is a very helpful practice, that will help you create the best Wechat marketing strategy for your brand. You can compare how the giants from your industry engage with Wechat followers and how are their wechat marketing campaigns performing. But it’s also useful to learn from small brands that are successful on Wechat, as it’s easier to compare them at first.
Check how their official accounts look like, what’s their welcoming message, audit the key content pillars, tone of voice, videos, and pictures they add to the articles, dates of publishing, and how the top performing posts are done. Analyze how they make use of wechat services, which wechat trends they follow if they use Wechat Channels or mini-programs, and so on.
If you’re looking for inspiration, you can check our case studies and enter their Wechat accounts to see how they perform.
Correctly identify your target audience: get to know your WeChat users
As WeChat is an app for people of all ages in China, it’s important to identify your target audience, so that you will create a Wechat marketing strategy according to their content preferences. All social media platforms in China differ from one another and all have different target audiences, but WeChat is one of those apps used by everyone, so it’s hard to define who is an average WeChat user.
While choosing a strategy, you need to understand what are the behaviors and preferences of your target audience. If you want to direct your content to older people, it’s better to use written content, with clear visuals and in-depth knowledge.
On the other hand, if your target audience is Gen Z, you can leverage the WeChat Channels video platform, collaborate with influencers and promote products through live streaming or games in mini-programs.
When you already define your audience, you can divide it into groups and prepare customized messages, coupons, and offers for each one. As customers like the personal approach, you can learn how to do backend tagging to enrich your customers’ journey.
Content is the core of your successful WeChat marketing strategy
Content strategy is closely linked to your audience type and your brand’s purpose. There are a few things to consider when formulating a content strategy for your WeChat communication;
- What type of content will your audience be interested in?
- What tone will you use when creating and publishing content?
- What format will your content take (text, image, video, etc)?
- How often will you publish new content?
- Which channels will you use to promote your WeChat content?
- What about wechat advertising and how to make it appealing to your audience?
When it comes to posts on your Wechat official account, the best strategy is to create quality content that is a mix of well-structured, well-written informative text with images and videos. Do not forget to include your QR code in your content! If your Wechat post impresses or interests the customers, they will share it with others.
Content formats on Wechat
As we mentioned earlier, Wechat offers a lot of features and services to its users, that allow businesses to reach their potential customers with the use of different content formats. When it comes to social media marketing on Wechat, with the use of the right Wechat marketing tools and a strategy well-tailored to your brand and audience, you can get amazing results just from one single app.
Here are some of the content formats that are useful for brands;
Wechat Account articles/blog posts
WeChat articles are the perfect format for all longer posts or important announcements, as they come with a push notification, similar to our newsletter. You can use it when you want to interest your audience with some topic related to your brand, share some tips or in-depth knowledge or present new releases, for example, new product collections, limited offers, or a WeChat marketing campaign.
Wechat H5 brochures
WeChat H5 brochures are developed in WeChat mini-programs and linked to your Official WeChat account. It’s a simple and cost-efficient way to introduce Chinese consumers to your company or products. WeChat brochures work like PDF presentations, but are interactive and within the app, which makes them very shareable.
WeChat Channels are a fairly new feature of Wechat, released by Tencent in 2020. Chinese customers of the platform now can communicate by creating content in form of videos, which threatened the position of a leader of Bytedance and its Douyin (Tiktok). Now businesses have it even easier to reach Wechat users and it’s a great tool to interest audiences outside of our followers base.
With the new WeChat Channels account, you can now share short video content for up to 60 seconds or 9 images (with character limitations) on your channel. Videos will include descriptions that give more information about what’s happening in them as well as allowing users to interact through comments!
WeChat mini-programs eCommerce: open a WeChat Store!
Wechat mini-programs feature is a game changer for all the brands that want to sell their products in China, but can’t or don’t want to invest the amount of money needed for opening a store on Tmall or JD.com. Mini-programs are mini apps within the Wechat platform, where customers can create virtual spaces that they need for their business. One of the most used function is creating a WeChat Store.
Wechat Stores are small shops built-in WeChat social media app, where Chinese customers can buy products and pay for them using WeChat pay. Therefore, the whole process doesn’t require them to leave the app at all.
Businesses are able to offer their customers a paperless way of interacting with them, and the service is extremely convenient because people can access these shops without having to download anything. Plus they’re highly shareable since users can easily send out an invite via WeChat groups or private messages, they can also post them on WeChat Moments or official accounts.
Wechat stores also have many customizable options available including cross-border payment solutions at affordable costs which means that even small businesses will find this type of useful for themselves.
Wechat stores are also very useful for brands, as product listings from them can be shared directly in articles on public accounts or in Wechat Moments, which makes it very simple to redirect Chinese customers to your online shop.
Wechat ads: find the best WeChat advertising strategy for your brand
Apart from all the tools that are available for free on Wechat to promote your business in China, another Wechat marketing feature is Wechat ads, which are paid advertisements that can be displayed on the social media app.
There are three most common types of ads on Wechat:
- WeChat moments advertisement
- WeChat mini-program ads
- WeChat subscription ads
WeChat Moments Ads
WeChat Moments ads are probably the most popular ad format used by brands on Wechat social media platform. As they are displayed in form of banners with photos or videos in the WeChat Moments feed, they are more likely to arouse attention, because every Wechat user usually checks WeChat Moments when opening the app.
Due to the fact that those ads have the highest exposure level, they are also the most expensive of all ad formats, with a starting price of 50,000 RMB in Mainland China. Therefore, it’s a good option for brands that already established a presence in China and are well-known among Chinese consumers.
WeChat mini-program ads
Wechat mini-program ads are displayed in Wechat mini-program in form of banners with photos or videos. They cost less than Wechat Moments ads, but the exposure is lower and there is no control over the placement of those ads, we can’t decide in which mini-programs they will be placed.
WeChat subscription ads
Wechat subscription ads, also called banner ads, are ads that are placed in articles on Wechat Official accounts. Wechat banner ads are usually placed at the bottom of Wechat articles. Those ads are also very effective because they target users that are already interested in your offer. They are also cheaper than Wechat Moments ads.
WeChat is often referred to as the ‘WeChat Times’ because users surf for information through it. With WeChat articles being such relevant content in users’ daily life, banner ads placement inside those posts have also grown in importance for brands and publishers.
WeChat is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. The best way to maximize its potential is to create a strategy that aligns with your business goals and target audience. By understanding how people use WeChat, you can create content and campaigns that resonate with them and help you achieve your desired results.
With the use of the tips that we mentioned in this article, you will be able to build brand awareness and loyalty among your customers in China. But it’s important to be aware of the fact that Wechat is not the platform for attracting new customers, as it’s a bit of a closed ecosystem.
Although it’s good to keep in touch with your followers base, if you want to reach out to new customers, you will need to use other social media platforms in China, such as Weibo, Little Red Book, or Douyin.
Need help with your Wechat marketing strategy? Contact us!
Wechat is one of the most powerful tools and a necessary pillar of your China strategy. Therefore, it’s essential to design the right Wechat marketing strategy for your business. But it’s not an easy task, as it’s a huge ecosystem with many different features and rules, that might be confusing for foreigners not used to this app.
Working with a China digital agency with both Chinese and foreign professionals can be a great help in overcoming the pitfalls of the Chinese market.
Gentleman Marketing Agency has experience with developing marketing plans for multiple companies from different industries. We collaborated with many different businesses helping them with their Wechat marketing strategies and our experts are here to help you develop yours in China.
Our services for Wechat Marketing:
- WeChat Official Account set-up (with obtaining a Chinese business license if needed)
- Mini/Micro-Site Development
- Ad Campaign Management
- Content Promotion Strategy (Organic)
- WeChat Content Creation & Formatting
- Reporting & Analytics
- HTML5 Content & Account Development
- WeChat CRM & Menu
- WeChat search optimization (WeChat search bar serves as a search engine)
- Key Opinion Leaders collaboration strategy for Wechat
Book a free consultation, leave us a comment, or contact us to discuss your Wechat marketing strategy. Apart from Wechat, we also offer other services, that can be discussed during your consultation.