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MARKETING: WeChat Marketing 101
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WeChat Marketing 101

By Justin Toy

BT 201505 21 Marketing 1In just three short years, WeChat (or weixin 微信) has taken the world by storm, amassing over 600 million users. It is by far and away the most popular social media app in China, and is quickly growing in functionality and popularity. Today it is possible to use WeChat to transfer money and give out red envelopes (or hongbao 红包) to other WeChat users. You can also use the app to buy movies, plane tickets, pay your phone bill, and even donate to charity. WeChat is currently beta testing a number of new "city services" that include booking doctor appointments, paying utility bills, paying traffic fines, and reporting incidents to the police. WeChat will also be one of the featured apps available during the Apple Watch's launch.

Besides being a very powerful and functional app, WeChat is also a valuable marketing platform that should be part of every company's marketing strategy in China. Not only does it have about 400 million users in China, but the composition of those users is young (85 percent under 35) and well educated (over 65 percent have a college degree). Many brands have been creating interactive marketing campaigns through WeChat in order to engage this lucrative demographic. Let's explore how to start building a successful WeChat marketing campaign.

Getting Followers
The best way to build up initial followers on WeChat is through QR codes. The app makes it very easy to create QR codes which can be scanned allowing a user to follow your brand. Make sure to place your QR codes prominently on your website, packaging, social media and advertising. In order to get users to follow your brand, make sure to offer them something of value such as coupons, prizes, contests, pictures, articles, VIP treatment, etc. Also, be creative and make a fun interactive marketing campaign. The functions on WeChat allow for an unlimited number of possibilities.

Ctrip, an online travel agency in China, has been building up its WeChat presence by offering daily promotions that range from flight discounts to free nights in a hotel. In order to be eligible for the promotions you need to repost the advertisement to your 'Moments' (a news feed that is visible to all of your friends), take a screenshot, and send it to Ctrip. This method engages Ctrip's followers and helps grow and the company's user base- about 80 percent of official account traffic comes from users' 'Moments.'

BT 201505 20 Marketing hlConvert
Getting followers is only half the battle. Getting them to convert is the real objective. Once users start following your brand, you can then start communicating with individuals or target specific groups. Chinese consumers love the feeling of exclusivity. WeChat allows for luxury brands to reach out to their customers and customize each interaction. This kind of highly targeted communication leads to greater conversion rates and higher engagement.

Calvin Klein has built a highly customized interactive campaign using WeChat that resembles a full website. Through their WeChat account you can learn more about recent collections, receive information about upcoming sales and promotions, and even login to your CK account and start shopping.

BT 201505 22 Marketing 3Hire a professional
If you are a small or medium sized company without the capability to create your own WeChat campaign, there are a number of firms that can help. Walk the Chat is a full service Wechat consultant that can register your business account in one of three ways: subscription, service, and enterprise.

An enterprise is for a company's internal use. Subscription and service accounts are meant for public use.
(You can compare in the chart below)

When hiring a WeChat specialist, one of the most important factors to consider is their ability to create a customized APP. WeChat offers a number of possible integrations such as geo-targeting, sophisticated e-commerce, voice recognition, and fully customizable interfaces. Of course, you want to work with a firm that already has the experience in working with these features. Ask to see the company's portfolio before making a decision on which one to work with.

You can also hire a WeChat specialist to create and implement your entire marketing campaign while at the same time providing analytical insight into demographics and conversion rates.

WeChat is the largest social media network in China and its value as a marketing platform will only continue to increase. Tencent (the company behind WeChat) increased its brand value by about 100% last year and is now ranked the most valuable brand in China and fifth most valuable in the world. A lot of the company's growth can be attributed to WeChat and many analysts expect to see new heights reached in 2015. WeChat's presence outside of China is also increasing rapidly, especially in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.

No matter what industry you are inor the size of your firm, WeChat is a powerful tool that can deliver quality results. Just make sure to be responsible when sending messages to your customers. You want to make sure any message you send is relevant andpersonal, but not too frequent. At the same time, your message should be short, to the point, and not too pushy. If the follower wants more information, they can always click on the link that you provide.


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