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China Marketing, Digital China, WeChat Marketing

The CMO's Guide to WeChat

Launched as a mobile messaging app in 2011 by the China tech giant Tencent, WeChat has evolved into a ubiquitous China marketing platform with unrivaled functionality. However, much like the rest of China’s digital landscape, WeChat, and how it can be harnessed by international businesses as part of their China marketing strategy is a unique, mysterious beast. So, as an international CMO looking to maximize your China growth, what do you need to know?

Size matters

First of all, a little context to demonstrate the significance of WeChat to China marketing.

  • WeChat currently has 1.1 billion monthly active users, over 1 billion of which reside in China.
  • Chinese people spend more than one-third of their time online on WeChat, with 81.5% of users claiming to spend over an hour a day on the app.
  • Globally, 23% of internet users check WeChat at least once per day.

Source: Hootsuite

What this means is that, although WeChat is not the only tool in the China marketing kit, and different types of businesses will use it in different ways, it is a significant one that requires attention.

Get the right account setup – Service V Subscription

When you first set up your WeChat account you have the option of choosing either a Service account or a Subscription account.

We always recommend our clients select the Service account as this is a more flexible setup which allows for integration with more of WeChat’s functionality.

It is important to keep in mind that you are limited to 4 posts a month maximum. This frequency of publishing content is sensible for corporate WeChat accounts but does mean that planning is required for content pushing and certain content will be prioritized over others.

It is social, but not as you know it

WeChat is positioned as a social media platform but it so much more than that, with functionality that includes e-commerce, sales enablement, mini-programs that act like an app within an app, and so on.

Churning out content and hoping for impressions and engagement will not be effective, smart China marketing includes maximizing as many WeChat functions as possible in order to create an amazing user experience for your customers within the WeChat ecosystem.

Also, some of the functionality you rely on from your other social media platforms, live streaming, for example, are not available via WeChat. Livestreaming is hugely popular in China but usually requires a third-party specialist for most international businesses.

Think Glocal

One of the biggest challenges most organizations experience when they launch their WeChat is a disconnect between the global team wanting to protect the brand and messaging within their content, and the local team who want to drive customer engagement and sales. This is where support from a good agency is invaluable as they can bridge this gap.

Localization will always be a delicate balancing act between producing content that resonates with a local audience, but at the same time stays true to the brand and its values. Your agency partner should be expert at protecting that balance and working with you to produce content that satisfies both needs.

WeChat is a great sales enablement platform

We’ve had great success helping B2B clients develop their WeChat account into an effective sales enablement tool. Functionality is available that will put great customized content right into the hands of your customers and allow your sales team to foster their relationships with individual customers with the support of your latest marketing assets.

Some clients have created document repositories within the WeChat environment, have deployed chatbot technology, and developed mini-programs, that all enhance the user experience and drive sales.

Manageable data

There is a common misunderstanding amongst international marketers that WeChat is a data black hole, with question marks against data security when nothing could be further from the truth.

There are plenty of tools available that can secure your data and integrate it with some existing database management tools.

Again, there is a challenge here for international marketers. Your local sales team will be using WeChat as part of their regular sales activities, but your existing sales management software might not be effective in China. This is a common problem many international companies experience when they enter the China market. You should be looking to deploy a sales management tool that works with WeChat, not trying to make WeChat work with your existing one.

Brandigo has been working with international organizations to help them maximize their WeChat activities since the platform was launched. Our free WeChat guide e-book is available via the link below. Alternatively, you can email us at hellochina@brandigo.com for more information and to see some of our WeChat case studies.

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WeChat is positioned as a social media platform but it so much more than that, with functionality that includes e-commerce, sales enablement, mini-programs that act like an app within an app, and so on.

- Steven Proud

Global Marketing Director, Brandigo

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