Chances are you’ve already heard of WeChat—if you haven’t, you’re missing out on an immensely valuable app. WeChat was founded in 2011 by Tencent, a Chinese tech company, and is China’s most popular messaging app with a monthly user base of over 1 billion people.
WeChat includes a mix of features from similar apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Amazon, and Uber, making it extremely useful and versatile. If your business is looking to expand into China, using WeChat is no longer much of an option—it’s necessary for the success and longevity of your operations.
We’ve compiled this helpful guide with everything you need to know about WeChat and how it can help you do business in China.
The All-in-One App
WeChat has many similar features to apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but it’s much more than a messaging app. It allows for a variety of functions, from communicating with friends and sharing daily stories to making purchases, paying credit card bills, and interacting with businesses. WeChat encompasses IM, e-commerce, banking, dating, gaming, and marketing in a single platform, which even lets you find parking spots nearby, book hotels, or call a taxi.
WeChat represents a key difference between app usage in the west versus China. In the US, for example, there are over 30 popular apps, each with their own use case. These may be banking, messaging, food delivery, or transportation. In China, on the other hand, all of the categories above and more are included in WeChat. This is made possible through the integration of mini-programs as plug-ins. It’s no surprise then that people turn to WeChat for most of their needs, which creates a huge opportunity for tech start-ups.
The Value of WeChat for Business
WeChat is an increasingly necessary marketing platform for businesses establishing themselves in China as it provides access to millions of potential customers. Indeed, it is almost essential when setting up a company in China. WeChat is not only utilised to communicate with users and customers, but also internally, as messages over WeChat in a business context are often preferred over emails.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there is a radically different attitude in China as compared to Western countries when it comes to marketing on social media. This is generally seen as intrusive in many Western cultures, while in China it is overall embraced by users who support capitalism.
How to Leverage WeChat for Business
Organisations that open a legal company in China such as a WFOE or joint venture are able to get a WeChat business account. This acts as a mini-website with individual pages where they can post daily updates in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, photos or other content.
Businesses with 100,000 followers or more are allowed to purchase ads and promote their accounts, products, and services in the app. Customers can then purchase these products and services directly through their WeChat account. The three forms of WeChat official accounts are subscription, service, and enterprise.
Subscription Accounts are used in a similar way to news feed you may find on other apps and are mostly used for brand communication. They allow businesses to publish several articles once daily, and users then receive updates to their subscription folders.
Subscription accounts are best for content or information-focused brands. If visibility is very important to you in a WeChat official account, a service account may be a better option.
Service accounts are the main type of account used by businesses and marketers. They offer various features including e-commerce and customer service. The WeChat Store feature is also available to verified service accounts. Service accounts enable brands to take advantage of certain additional features including Instant Customer Service, payments, and online bookings. They also allow you to publish articles several times per month. Followers receive a push notification in their chat lists each time a post is published, which leads to higher visibility than with subscription accounts.
Service accounts provide a large amount of data to set up marketing funnels, making them highly useful for businesses. They allow you to view important data on QR code scanning, page views, and shares.
Enterprise accounts are most useful for internal communications as opposed to communication with external parties. As such, WeChat is overwhelmingly more popular than platforms like Slack for businesses in China. Enterprise accounts are not public, and users must be verified to access them. This account type has several functions to manage internal communication, including video conferencing, resource sharing, and chat rooms. It is also secure as account owners must be manually added users before they can follow the account.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of WeChat for advertising.
Advertising On WeChat
The ability to target very specific audiences is one of the major advantages of advertising on WeChat. The app records large amounts of data, which it then uses to segment its users by both demographic information and interests. This enables businesses to easily sort the users they want to reach and create targeted WeChat advertisements.
WeChat also restricts the amount and recurrence of ads. The number of ads each user sees is limited to 2 per day, and the ads are not placed back on top of a user’s feed or shown repeatedly once a user scrolls past it. This feature might seem less than ideal to businesses at first glance, but it’s actually beneficial: these limitations make WeChat users much more tolerant towards advertisements and even generate an unparalleled level of engagement. Users generally comment actively, share, like and interact with ads on WeChat.
So how exactly do you advertise on WeChat? There are 3 types of possible advertisements within the platform: Moments Ads, Account Ads, and KOL Ads.
Moments Ads appear in the users’ WeChat Moments. Think of this as the newsfeed on Facebook. The ad costs vary depending on a number of factors, including the company, the cities, and the target audience. Users have the option of including the company name, a 40-character description, a link to a website, and photo or video content. Users can also tag other users in the comments, which increases their engagement potential.
Banner Ads are a more flexible and budget-friendly option for advertising on WeChat. These types of ads allow you to target an audience segment and are shown on articles of popular official accounts. As such, they can be a reliable way to get in front of key audiences on WeChat.
KOL ads require a partnership with another WeChat official business account. On WeChat, KOLs (key opinion leaders) are the equivalent of social media influencers. They are individuals that are established on WeChat and in China in general, with large followings and expertise on a certain topic. Working with KOLs can be a great way to reach target groups of engaged users. KOLs can promote your brand by publishing your ad or content on their official accounts.
When advertising on WeChat, it’s also important to think about other ways to generate leads and ultimately increase sales. As an extremely versatile platform, WeChat can help you do both.
Lead Generation and Selling
WeChat can help you generate leads through the use of vouchers or coupons. These vouchers can be shared through a QR code system that allow users to share them with their friends and family. This is advantageous not only because it allows sales to reach a larger audience, but also because it allows companies to reach target audiences through possible non-target audiences.
For example, some may receive a voucher for a product or service that they’re not particularly interested in. However, they may know a friend or have a family member that they think would love the product and share the voucher with them. In this way, you’re able to reach the final target customer who may not have otherwise received the voucher or found out about your offerings.
WeChat, unlike many of its competitors, can be linked to your bank accounts and credit cards. WeChat users can use the app to buy items directly from online stores, pay for offline shopping, purchase tickets, and pay rent and utility bills. It’s possible to be nearly cashless in China and actually go out for the day without a wallet, which means you have a big opportunity to generate sales on the very platform on which you advertise and inform.
But that’s not all—in addition to advertising and lead generation, WeChat can also serve as a great customer service tool.
Customer Service on WeChat
Customer service trends have been moving away from phone and email communication and towards methods like social media that allow for faster responses. Because of this, WeChat can and should be included in your customer service strategy.
One of the most important aspects of modern customer service is personalised communication. WeChat provides you with this ability to do exactly that with the option of including up to 100 customer service agents to support your business. This way, you can be sure that customers will have a more personalized experience when contacting you with a question or complaint..
WeChat also allows for the use of automated replies, which can help businesses respond quickly to their consumers. The auto-responses available for setup on WeChat include welcome messages when users follow your account and auto-reply messages sent immediately after a customer sends you a message.
Customers can quickly get frustrated when they find themselves repeating their issues to one customer service agent after another. Maintaining a chat log is one way to avoid this inconvenience, which possible to set up on WeChat through integration with CRM. Using a chat log, you can ensure that your customers can follow up with the rep they were previously speaking to who is already aware of their particular situation.
WeChat is an extremely valuable app with a comprehensive suite of features for business. Especially popular in China, the app allows users to perform various day-to-day functions that businesses can capitalize on. Whether it be advertising, lead generation, customer service, or simply collecting feedback, there’s never been a better time or way for businesses to connect with consumers.
If you’re not sure how to start leveraging the power of WeChat and would like help setting up your account get in touch with us.