WeChat is not only the most popular social network in China for consumers, but for small and medium-sized businesses, too, offering direct and unparalleled access to their target demographic, whatever their niche. With strategically-crafted digital marketing campaigns, foreign companies can utilise WeChat to reach a huge number of potential customers, and sell to them through the app’s in-built ecommerce platform. Attracting more than 1.2 billion monthly users, there’s no greater opportunity to build awareness and engage your audience.
As a business, you’ll need to create a company account when you sign up to WeChat, which grants greater benefits than a standard profile. As well as having direct access to your followers, you’ll be able to run advertising campaigns and appear in the news feeds and timelines of your ideal customer. You should choose between a service account, which offers most of the features of a standard account, but is limited to four posts published per month, or a subscription account, where customers can receive daily push notifications from you.
Once you’ve signed up and prepared a content calendar, follow these tips to generate sales.
Join WeChat groups to build brand awareness
One commonly-overlooked marketing strategy for international businesses with little presence in China is to join WeChat groups. Not only are they free, but they allow you to tap into highly-concentrated micro-communities. Scottish whisky brands, for example, could join Chinese Whisky Lovers groups and immediately reach thousands of potential customers.
The best way to penetrate such groups, however, is to let your customers do the talking. If one or more recommends your products, you’ll gain the trust and respect of shoppers, and others will be likely to check out your WeChat page and make a purchase. Until you reach that stage, use groups as a forum where you join in discussions and answer questions rather than pitch your products - you could be banned by moderators and miss out on promotion.
Visual content is your best friend
Just like on Instagram and TikTok, visual content goes down well on WeChat. Work with your Chinese marketing team to build a bank of engaging, relevant content that will speak to your target demographic. Don’t copy and paste campaigns from the UK or have existing content translated - everything must be not only localised but built from the ground up to maximise your reach. Your content should be highly engaging and also informative and educational. Tell relatable stories with your products, solve users’ problems, and you’ll attract attention.
Another strategy that cannot be overlooked is live-streaming. As you begin to build a real audience on the platform, you can go live and engage with potential customers. Depend on a micro-influencer or a brand ambassador to host these and engage with your followers. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an ecommerce livestreaming boom, generating billions for brands who are exploiting gaps in the market and talking to shoppers on a personal level.
Develop a WeChat Mini Program
One of the reasons a third of Chinese consumers spend more than four hours per day inside of WeChat is because it’s more than just an app. It’s a portal for businesses and brands to engage with customers. Mini Programs are app-like programs that can be launched within the WeChat ecosystem, offering a convenient and friendly user experience, whether it’s an ecommerce store, a virtual reality try-on tool, or a competitive, interactive video game.
The reason why brands and consumers love Mini Program is that they don’t need to be downloaded - they’re small and launch instantly. Create your own to offer special discounts on your products, build brand awareness with an interactive game, or offer free resources. These programs can be deployed quickly and are cheap to develop and maintain, so you can afford to be experimental and launch experiences for limited-time events or promotions.
Consider advertising on the platform
Aside from building Mini Programs and creating content for your Chinese social profiles, WeChat is a relatively inexpensive marketing tool for small businesses. But if you’re looking for a quick win and don’t want to spend months slowly building an audience, advertising can help you attract thousands of followers. WeChat Moments ads work like Instagram Stories ads, but they’re expensive and are more useful for larger organisations. Account ads, on the other hand, appear as banners at the bottom of WeChat articles, and are available in both CPC and CPM form, so you can set a clear budget and see your predicted results before you get started. Another alternative is to advertise through influencers; more on that below.
Partner with influencers
Partnering with influencers is a great way to promote your products and drive sales, but the hardest part is identifying and bargaining with them. It’s easy to blow your marketing budget with promises of going viral or making millions, but cases like that are few and far between.
However, when done properly, influencers can help you piggyback off established audiences and build trust and awareness - two vital traits when selling to Chinese shoppers. Some creators and influencers will be happy for you to contact them directly and discuss pricing and partnership opportunities, whereas others will require you to go through the official WeChat channels and have content prepared and approved, before being published. Then, your influencer can create an article that mentions your brand, or promotes your products in a general post, Moment, or selfie. The more organic brand mentions look, the better, though you should play by the rules to hold onto your integrity and avoid backlash from users.
If you’re struggling to get your head around WeChat and need a helping hand, you can lean on the digital marketing experts at Zudu China. Our teams, based in Dundee and Shanghai, can get into the psyche of your Chinese audience and craft content that delivers genuine results. Give us a call on 01382 690080 today to discuss your project in detail.