WeChat Marketing in China

wechat marketing in china

If you are planning on doing business in the Middle Kingdom, WeChat marketing in China is more or less a must. This super-app, which is basically used by every Chinese citizen as well as millions of netizens around the world, is a key communication point in China.

Therefore, being active on WeChat is crucial to position your brand in the Middle Kingdom and to engage with your audience – from loyal followers to potential customers.

In this article, China Gravy presents everything you need to know about WeChat marketing and communication in China. Besides, we reveal how to use WeChat shops to test your e commerce products in China.

Where is WeChat Today?

WeChat (微信, Weixin) literally means micro-message and is China’s universal super app for everything. Started in 2011 by tech giant Tencent, it is China’s most popular messaging app and more: WeChat accompanies more than 1.5 billion monthly active users around the world during their day – from social media and messaging to mobile payment (WeChat Pay), online shopping, ordering taxis, and much more.

Amidst the worldwide rise of social networks, WeChat is China’s most popular social media platform. Therefore, it is also an important place for brands to connect with their audience. Did you know that, on average, Chinese consumers spend almost 4 hours every day with digital media? 

Furthermore, the estimated e commerce gross merchandise value (GVM) on WeChat is expected to reach 13 trillion RMB (more than 2 trillion USD) by 2023.

Finally, despite or rather because of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, online shopping for household items and entertainment goods is booming, including on WeChat.

Now that we’ve caught up on the WeChat phenomenon, let’s dive into the various ways of effectively marketing your brand on WeChat in China.

WeChat Marketing in China

First of all, marketing on WeChat is an effective way to boost your brand, engage with your audience, and drive traffic to your WeChat Shop.

If you want to know more about the detailed functionality of WeChat, read up on the download options and features of China’s favorite app here.

Types of WeChat Accounts

Principally, users can create private and official business accounts on WeChat regardless of their niche and whether they are selling products or services.

Keep in mind:

  • WeChat Groups can only be created and joined with a Private WeChat Account
  • WeChat Ads require a Business Account

Both companies and individuals can create “WeChat Business Accounts” to promote their business in China. These accounts are similar to Facebook Official Pages: anyone can follow them and will receive updates on the WeChat account.

But there are three different WeChat for Business account types: subscription accounts, service accounts, (and enterprise accounts). Keep in mind that overseas companies can only register a service account. For a subscription and enterprise account, you need a company registration in mainland China.

1. Content WeChat Marketing in China

Regardless of your brand’s industry and business model (selling products or services), content marketing or optimizing your communication is a great first step to get started with promoting your business on WeChat.

WeChat Moments
Source: WeChat App (Content Marketing)

Use original content to engage with your audience. The type of content can be lighthearted and entertaining or informational, depending on your followers and their needs. A fun challenge may be more suitable for a trendy fashion brand whereas a structured presentation of product information may be more suitable for traditional B2B businesses like manufacturers. By the way, WeChat users recognize unique content with a little icon on the app – the “原创” (original) label.

Tip: WeChat posts and articles, that you can design easily with Xiumi, are a great way to share engaging content with your audience.

Consider developing a creative campaign, which has the potential to go viral – being shared among users, driven by a social impulse, or by some financial incentive. Try H5 pages. These animated slideshows let you provide information in a fun, visually appealing, and engaging way. Users swipe or slide through different slides.

Remember that in the WeChat service ecosystem, your content should also be useful and provide added value for the benefit (for example a makeup tutorial if you are selling cosmetics). Loyalty programs are also a great way to engage with your audience.

Next, video content is a rising trend online, including WeChat. An average user is 88% more likely to engage with a site that has video content.

Finally, the best time to post an update in China is usually on the weekends and early in the mornings. If you want to showcase a larger variety of content and establish your business as an industry leader, consider occasionally publishing curated content from reputable sites.

2. WeChat Ads

Generally speaking, running ads on WeChat is rather costly and lacks detailed targeting compared to other platforms and marketing strategies. To generate leads, based on our own experience, running ads on search engines like Baidu is the more effective strategy.

Nonetheless, WeChat ads are powerful. There is a variety of ad types available on WeChat. They can be created as text and pictures ads or as video ads.

WeChat Ads are principally divided into Moments Ads, Official Accounts Ads, and Mini App Ads, all of which we will examine in a bit more detail next. Keep in mind that advertisers generally need to meet industry requirements to place ads on WeChat.

A. Moment Ads (朋友圈广告)

These are native ads that are equivalent to Facebook ads on the user’s timeline. You can promote your brand and products, your store and apps, distribute coupons, collect sales leads, and much more. Advertisers have the option to add a promo text which will only be shown in the Moments section of WeChat.

WeChat Moments Ad
Source: WeChat (Moments Ad)

WeChat Moments ads offer a large selection of targeting options, including region, gender, age, education, and interests. Moment Ads are typically charged per thousand exposures (CPM) through exposure scheduling or exposure bidding.

B. Official Account Ads (公众号广告)

These ads in official WeChat accounts are typically WeChat Banner Ads that can be placed at the top or bottom of WeChat articles.

You basically pay each time a user clicks on the banner (cost per click – CPC) or each time a user sees the banner (cost per mille – CPM). CPM refers to the cost for 1,000 users seeing your banner, regardless of whether they interact with it.

C. Mini App Ads (小程序广告)

Likewise, Mini App Ads are typically banner ads. You can promote your brand and products like mini games, and collect sales leads through crowd targeting.

WeChat mini app ads
Source: WeChat App (Mini App Ads)

Mini App ads are a great way to grow followers, drive traffic to your WeChat shop and generate app downloads.

3. WeChat Groups

So-called WeChat Groups are a private traffic format for up to 500 people. This trending format exudes exclusivity and ensures the connection with like-minded people. Their common interest makes it a great place for brands to engage closely with their fans and consumers.

Private traffic is driven by word-of-mouth marketing and viral communication, which makes it a very cost-effective way to promote your brand.

Get started by creating your own WeChat Group to bring people with similar interests together. Consider issuing e-coupons or virtual VIP cards to convert your followers into members (WeChat membership).

Alternatively, you and your brand can also be active in existing groups. Keep in mind that consumers have endless possibilities online and need to have a real benefit from your business and content to stick around and engage.

To sum it up, Wechat Groups are powerful communities that brands can utilize to generate high-value private traffic by creating their own groups or growing their brand by joining existing groups (business development through outreach).

For example, real estate developers can promote their projects in WeChat Groups for immigration or global real estate, whereas e commerce brands can promote their goods in designated WeChat Groups for Daigou.

4. WeChat KOLs

As you know, influencers play an important role in the Chinese online community. Consumers trust their peers, particularly in a time where official channels and government information is often regarded with skepticism. In the Middle Kingdom, influencer marketing is therefore considered the most efficient type of WeChat marketing in China.

WeChat Channels for Personal Accounts
Source: WeChat App (Channels for Personal Accounts)

In terms of WeChat marketing, this means paying a KOL to promote your brand and products. Working with these influencers is affordable, it is targeted and provides social validation for new sellers.

WeChat KOL influencer example
Source: WeChat App (Example of a KOL influencer)

Tip: Don’t miss one of the hottest trends this year, live streaming. This booming segment is estimated to surpass a gross merchandise value (GMV) of ~438 billion USD in China by 2022.

5. WeChat Stickers

Last but not least, businesses are transforming the WeChat stickers craze into marketing tools to help grow their brands. Brands eager to digitalize their image and engage with consumers throughout daily activities are finding stickers capable of making their messages stick.

Many social media platforms offer emojis, GIFs, and sticker sets to express emotions throughout the messaging features of the mobile apps. WeChat stickers are popular in their respective mobile messaging systems.

Use of Digital Stickers in China

Stickers are an essential part of communication in China and other Asian countries. Used to express emotions, many users feel that emojis just cannot convey the same level of disparity between emotions. One such example is using the blushing emoji.

Yet, there is no distinction between a blush from an embarrassment, a stronger emotion of giddiness, or the indirect form of showing shyness.

Stickers for WeChat Marketing in China

Users are able to buy sticker sets that include famous pop culture references, their favorite band members, animals that match their personality, or humorous stickers that reflect their style of joking.

WeChat reports that its users send 45 billion messages on a daily basis. And 410 million audio and video calls are made per day. Many of those messages included animated stickers.

Any user can create a sticker set for the WeChat mobile app. In the creator studio, users can upload line art, photos, selfies, or other graphics and then edit them to fit the sticker requirements.

Some artists offer their sticker sets for free but have capitalized on the success of their beloved characters. They are now able to expand into the sale of physical merchandise.

Brands often create stickers to connect with their customers. Some offer the stickers free in exchange for adding the company’s official account on the platforms.

Four Advantages of WeChat Stickers for WeChat Marketing in China

To sum it up, stickers are a great feature to push your WeChat marketing in China. Stickers are powerful tools to:

Not sure where to start? Contact a China online marketing company like China Gravy to help you with this.

WeChat Marketing in China: E Commerce Advertising on WeChat Shops

WeChat is an ideal testing environment for your e commerce products and marketing strategies if you are new to the Chinese market.

4 x WeChat Marketing in China
Source: wechat.com

At the same time, you are able to reach a large audience in China and around the world, once you have established your product with the respective marketing tools.

For your WeChat shop, you can either use existing software (which are typically WeChat Mini Programs) or create your own software (H5 Store or a WeChat Mini Program). We at China Gravy provide unique solutions, for example, converting your WooCommerce Shop into a WeChat Mini Program. These also allow practical push notifications.

WeChat Marketing in China
Source: WeChat App (Online Shop of Linde as Mini App)

Setting up a WeChat store is a complex process as you need to set up the marketplace on your own and integrate logistics and payment options (WeChat Pay, AliPay, Union Pay). This is also something we are able to assist you with.

Advantages of WeChat Shops

As you can see, WeChat shops have many advantages. But the two main advantages are as follows.

1. Potential Reach

More than 1.5 billion monthly active users around the world (approximately 1 billion in China).

2. Cheaper Entry Point

First of all, having a shop on WeChat is less expensive than being active on Alibaba’s Tmall Global. For the higher price on Tmall, you will see results quicker as you can lift the potential of existing traffic. On the other hand, if you have a bit more time and want to invest less, the more sustainable way is to grow your own audience through a WeChat Store, which serves as your own marketplace.

The prices for a WeChat shop depend on your setup – if you use existing software or program your own HTML5 or Mini Program solution. In comparison, Tmall charges 50,000 RMB (~7,000 USD) to 150,000 RMB (~21,000 USD) per year, depending on the store type and product category.

Once you have established brand awareness, you can also consider promoting your products on Tmall as it is easier to sell products on this platform once your consumers are aware of your brand and products.

Therefore, advertising on WeChat Shops is a very effective yet inexpensive way to test the e commerce waters in China and to grow your brand.

Pro Tip: Competitor Research in China

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel for marketing your brand in China. A great way to get started is with competitor research or market intelligence. A China expert like China Gravy can assist you with this task.

By observing and analyzing market leaders in your sector, their customers, and partners, you gain valuable insight into your competitors’ strategies (positioning, pricing, etc.), can replicate best practice learnings, avoid mistakes and provide a better product or service.

WeChat Marketing in China – The Takeaway

WeChat marketing in China is a great way to establish brand awareness through cost-effective advertising options. Whether you are new to the Chinese market or an established brand – WeChat is the place to be!

China’s super app offers a variety of marketing options for your brand: content marketing, running paid ads, promoting your brand in existing or own groups, collaborating with KOL influencers, and creating WeChat stickers.

Content marketing and brand promotion in groups are not paid advertising options per se, but marketers need to create content (text, graphics, videos, etc.) and invest time to place it and chat with their audience.

Whereas running ads on WeChat is comparatively costly and targeting is less detailed than, for example, on Baidu, with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, WeChat has an immense market penetration in China. Choose from Moments Ads, Official Account Ads, and Mini App Ads.

KOL marketing works through paid collaborations with key influencers in your niche and is considered the most effective advertisement form on WeChat.

Finally, creating your own branded WeChat stickers is a playful way to build your brand, engage with your fans, and drive your reach.

So, are you ready to conquer the Chinese market? If you want a helping hand, China Gravy is the Chinese digital marketing agency of your choice. Test our services with our FREE Consultation today!

Check out our blog and website for more topics like Baidu SEO, your China market entry strategy, and China social media marketing.

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