How Can Small Businesses Make Money on WeChat?

You are a small brand and you want to operate in China? You have to know Wechat and its functionalities to get the most of the number one social platform in China. WeChat is the Chinese for micro-messaging. Originally, the app is a messaging app created in 2011 by Tencent and was already different from the competition by spreading the voice message feature. But years over years functionalities were added to the platform until forming a specific ecosystem for all WeChat users.  If the app is very familiar to smartphone users in Chinese cities, it is an essential tool for Chinese netizens.

Why is WeChat important for small companies? 

First and foremost, in Q1 of 2018, WeChat reached the threshold of 1 billion monthly active users on its platform and nearly 900 million users on a daily basis. This represents a huge opportunity for any brand that wants to gain awareness in the most competitive market in the world.

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What can WeChat do for users? 

Even though WeChat started with a very basic messaging service, now their range of services expanded so much, that they have become a need in the Chinese people’s life. Here is some example of what you can do with WeChat: Send messages and call your friends (obviously), scroll on news about your friends (feed filled with text, videos, photos, and link displayed in what is called « moments »), use your app to pay in shops (online as well as offline), buy train/plane tickets, order food, and much more! According to WeChat Impact Report 2018, Wechat only accounts for 34% of the total data traffic in China! WeChat is managing the life of people, it isn’t a simple « addictive » app. 

Wechat Features for Companies 

You will need to register your brand as an official account. You basically have 2 options: you can either sign up for a subscription account or a service account. They both have their advantages and disadvantages regarding what your objectives are (be careful, you will need a business license « 营业执照 » as well as a WeChat Pay account). If you want we can help you.

  • Subscription Account: With a subscription account, your company is more focused on its content. Your content is accessible in the SERP of the search engine embedded in the WeChat ecosystem. You have the possibility to send one push notification to engage your audience per day. However, this notification is « hidden » in the folder where all the subscription account notification goes. 
  • Service Account: The focus of the company is around the user. Your maximum amount of push notifications is 4 per month but the notification is more visible than the subscription account’s because they appear as a personal conversation in the message feed of the user. With this account, you can create a closer relationship with the user through chats, loyalty programs, etc. 

We recommend using a WeChat Service Account

Your account is live, you can start using all the options on the WeChat website. This includes modifying the toolbar at the bottom of the discussion window with the user, setting up a menu, set-up automatic messages, and so on.

WeChat Shops 

Once you are done, choosing and establishing your company’s account, you need to know how you are going to sell your products : 

  • You can build your own website with embedded HTML5 pages to access Wechat features for your Website. But this means that you have to deal with everything (coding of the website, design, while working on administrative tasks regarding your launch in the Chinese market).

Guide to Open a WeChat Store

  • You can create a WeChat Mini-Program which is a very nice opportunity for many reasons: first, it is way less expensive than investing in a real website/ app. Second, it’s user-friendly, meaning that users don’t have to force themselves to download a native app, especially when the brand is new to them, it is practical to get to discover a brand that is already embedded into the WeChat ecosystem.
  • Use an already established e-commerce platform: you can have your shop integrated into these platforms, these allow you to start on a good base, and for a pretty reasonable amount of money. However, this also limits your freedom in terms of design and restrains your control over your actions on the platform.

Concerning already existing platform, you have many choices, among others: Youzan (有赞) which is the number one player on the WeChat ecosystem (fee are around 4800 yuan per year); Jingdong (京东) mainly specialized in technology product, Jingdong is a huge platform facing the competition of Tmall et Taobao as they are also a major player in this field (because of its popularity Jingdong is also a monetized service, price is 10% commission on sales as well as administration/management fee every month; if you search for a free service you may look at Weidian (微店) which is quiet-looking like Youzan, however, because traffic is less important in this platform, being part of it 

Also as a small business, you should consider creating a special link between you and the customer, to win their trust, and to do this, you can use the most basic service of WeChat: messaging service. Create customer service to answer every need of your actual (and potential!) consumers. 

You can take advantage of being a small structure to create small groups of good customers to make them discuss your services and products, rewarding them with special prizes (coupons, special offers, etc..), but also put in place Q&A sessions to get advice from your core audience to improve your customer service.

Leverage these opportunities to generate sales! 

WeChat Marketing Automation 

WeChat provides some very useful tools, that can make your first exchange with users very informative and useful for you.

  • Auto Reply Tool: this tool allows you to create a special auto-reply message depending on the situation because when someone subscribes to your Wechat account you have this small window of only 5 messages to get to know them better. So firstly you can create a welcome message, then you can establish auto-reply messages based on the keyword found on the message sent by the user. Finally, you have automatic message answers which correspond to a message sent to the user to tell him/her that they will be recontacted shortly (because none of the keywords have been recognized by the auto-reply keyword tool. 

This is an included tool in the WeChat platform but you can also call third parties to give you other really smart tools to help you improve your customer service and leverage the WeChat platform.

  • For instance, the Grouping and Tagging feature, which is provided by third parties allows you to automatically categorize your followers into groups of specific criteria (genre, city, age, etc). Which is practical for segmentation marketing.
  • Third-party tool for push messages: when someone follows the account of your company you can send them to push notifications to share your content (4 times a month for a service account and once a day for a subscription account). With 3rd party programs you can make the content you send adapted to your target (instead of sending the same content to all your customer base).

Others useful features

  • QR codes: One of the aspects you should definitely leverage from WeChat features is QR codes, even though QR codes never really made their way into western countries’ businesses they boomed in China and have become essential for any marketer trying to gain raise awareness for its brand. So the first thing for your small brand is to create a QR code for the Chinese to have easy access to all your content, you can obviously put it in all your marketing support/campaign (flyers/ infographics/brochures/…)
  • CRM functionalities: meaning that if your business has a loyalty program on its website, you better ask your consumers to link their WeChat account to their loyalty program. This can help you to collect useful data to improve your relationship with them. 
  • WeChat Wallet: one of the most well-known and useful features of WeChat is its Wallet which allows do almost anything. The best way to leverage this feature is to use some coupons for special offers. You have many different ways to make users win coupons, this can be super basic: just scanning a QR code, or by using other WeChat features like phone shaking, link shared via Moments, or WeChat ads (however WeChat ads can be very pricy for a small brand even more for testing the market).
  • Moments: it is the Chinese version of a Facebook feed, users can share photos, videos, text and articles, links, and mini-programs that can only be seen by the user’s friend. A moment is only a good tool for social networking, it is also a great way to promote your business, especially with Moment ads which are one of the first marketing strategy tools that businesses use while implementing their brand in China.

Marketing strategy: raise brand awareness! 

  • Publish content regularly! One of the best ways to improve your visibility is to write meaningful and useful content. Write articles about your business to show your expertise. You can also display your products and service and talk about them: take the angle that suits the most your business, if your business is in technologies, you can talk about features, functionalities, design, etc…

– Ex If your business is a traditional food, you can talk about history, or give very special food recipes. Finally, if you’re doing fashion or perfumes, you should tell about your storytelling, right? Because WeChat is a pretty close ecosystem you may have difficulties targeting and making people find your account, this is the reason why, if they find you, you have to make the first impression perfect! Be creative, express yourself to text, you can add pictures, videos, and so on.

  • Launch Marketing Campaigns: Brands can launch marketing campaigns to engage customers. It can be reposting an article that limits being published for gaining a prize. Or organizing a special contest that involves customers.
  • KOL Promotion: Key Opinion Leaders are very helpful players for any business. They are influential personalities operating mainly on social networks (they can also be celebrities), and they are one of the most efficient ways to promote your brand. They can be part of your marketing campaigns by creating content around your guidelines, or they can BE the marketing campaign by offering possibilities of promoting your services/ products (by reviewing them, by sponsored posts, doing giveaways, creating contests engaging their community, etc). They are effective because they have strong relations with the community they built, a community that trusts them and often identifies with them. That’s why they are so influential and must be considered a must.

However, KOLs campaigns on WeChat can be very pricy, so if you go for this type of promotion choose wisely the KOL you want to work with, and make sure that he/she is targeting the right consumers for you. Also if you want a less pricy personality, choose the less popular one, they are still ways because their community is smaller they’re considered as more authentic.

In all previous cases, please share the content you created and the QR code to access your account on other social networks (Weibo, Toutiao,… ), on websites, 

  • WeChat Feature: Normally this feature is used by WeChat users for finding people « near » them and interacting with these people. But some companies leveraged this function to create marketing campaigns, like some treasure hunt for having discounts for example! 

Small brands, heads up!

WeChat is the most spread and used social network in China, you should elaborate your strategy for the Chinese market by allocating a part of your budget and time to WeChat. As said above, you have many different ways to leverage this platform, for all types of budgets. And as you grow you can integrate some new and cost-effective strategies!

Contact us for more information on our Wechat solutions and learn more about SEO Agency China.
We have hundreds of Wechat case studies, we will be glad to share with you if you have a project.


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  1. Hi, I have strong interested in White Book. Could you please send me a copy of it?
    Do you have any Wechat Marketing Case studies?

  2. Hi, I think my previous comment didn’t publish. I’d be interested in the White Book and WeChat case studies, could I please have them sent?

  3. hi am local tour operator here in the beautiful island of Bohol Philippines.. I hope you are open for collaboration on WeChat, for Marketing

  4. How can businesses use WeChat to reach consumers?

    WeChat offers three main functions dedicated to companies:

    Brand communication: To begin with, companies can create a more or less extensive official WeChat account (“service” or “subscription”) allowing them to communicate directly with their followers and share promotional content associated with their brands. WeChat also provides companies with a platform that allows them to add their own applications to WeChat. This “in-app” model is much less expensive and complex than developing native applications. Above all, it makes it easier for businesses to access and interact with the huge community of WeChat users.

    It is not wrong to say that most Chinese companies, with SMEs in mind, pay more attention to their official WeChat accounts than to their own websites. Many small businesses are even prone to do without a website since many Chinese users have discarded their PCs and are more comfortable with the more familiar mobile platforms, including WeChat.
    Electronic commerce: WeChat is an ideal platform for reaching Chinese customers and a powerful tool for C2C, B2C and cross-border electronic commerce. Companies can easily integrate their WeChat stores into their official accounts and promotional content. As for the WeChat payment system, it facilitates merchant transactions, whether they sell their products online or in real shops. The store location function and WeChat QR codes also form a user-friendly bridge between the digital and physical worlds.
    Customer Service: A WeChat user adds an official account the same way they add a friend. Also, sending messages to official accounts is an experience similar to an instant conversation with personal contacts. This disappearance of the private-professional border offers interesting opportunities for companies wishing to provide their customer service on the WeChat platform. They can speak directly to their customers, geolocate potential customers, personalize their products, contextualize their sales, involve their subscribers more, organize social campaigns and individualize the purchasing experience of their customers.
    Practical advice

  5. Wechat, you’ve probably heard of it, but you’re not sure how it works.

    More than just a social network, Wechat is now one of the applications most used by the Chinese for many reasons. You can now sell a handbag for 10,000 Euros and more. This trend reflects the huge potential for WeChat as a transaction and service app. WeChat is finally becoming what it is supposed to be for luxury brands, it’s not just a social media app. “One function could be for customers to buy the product. Another could be for brands to build a loyalty program. Customers can pre-order a product or make an appointment with the store.”

    Wechat, an all-in-one application
    WeChat is a major player in the Chinese social digital space, partly comparable to Facebook. So it’s a direct competitor to Weibo, Chinese Twitter. It offers instant messaging similar to WhatsApp. It has an App Store, so it has similarities to Apple and Google.

    However, these comparisons are not enough to define what Wechat is.

    The “App-in-app” in Wechat

    WeChat can be used for anything that can be done online. Wechat will indeed facilitate the integration of the most popular applications from China into its ecosystem so that its users no longer have to get out.

    Within WeChat itself, there are the equivalents of Western apps like Tinder, Uber, or even Slack, as well as hundreds of other popular services. One of the most popular is Didi Chuxing, the equivalent of Uber in China, for example.

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