Contact Us | A single API to your China data | INTEGRAT3A Guide to WeChat for International Brands
In our series on essential Asian marketing platforms, we’re looking at the apps and websites that are most vital for international brands to understand. And with over 1.2 billion active monthly users, WeChat is about as big as they come.
It is often described as China’s ‘app for everything’, having expanded beyond its original incarnation as a texting app to include everything from a social media function (‘Moments’) to payment options (‘WeChat Pay’). And because consumers use the app for such a wide range of services, WeChat has become an indispensable tool for brands to develop customer relationships and boost their sales.
A Brief Overview: WeChat in Numbers
To understand just how huge WeChat’s reach is, let’s take a quick look at some statistics:
- The average user checks WeChat 10 times a day.
- 5% of Chinese people aged 50-80 use WeChat.
- Yet almost 40% of WeChat users are aged 25-35.
- Almost 50% of WeChat users follow 10+ business accounts.
- 1 billion transactions are made through WeChat every day.
- WeChat generated roughly 330 RMB in revenue for businesses in 2017 alone.
All of which helps explain why brands are so keen to make an impact on the platform.
How WeChat Works
The best way to understand WeChat is as a vast ecosystem of interconnected services. As the name suggests, WeChat’s primary feature is a chat function, which enables users to send messages in a variety of different ways. They can send traditional ‘texts’; voice notes; broadcast messages (in essence, one person sending messages to a group); and video calls.
There is also an instagram-like feature called ‘Moments’, which allows users to share photos and videos with their friends. Plus users can share information of various other kinds, such as their location, sale coupons and other users’ profiles.
Aside from these chat and sharing functions, there are eCommerce platforms; the ‘Shake’ feature, which allows users find new friends in nearby locations; and ‘WeChat Pay’, which is a digital wallet that lets users pay for goods and services through the app.
Within the core WeChat app are also what’s known as ‘Mini Programs’, which are essentially small apps made by third-party companies but hosted within WeChat. They are hugely diverse, enabling users to do things like book holidays, play games or reserve a table at their favourite restaurant.
How Brands Use WeChat
As WeChat has grown, the app has incorporated a range of services for brands, enabling them to leverage WeChat’s reach to build and engage their audience.
By setting up a ‘WeChat Official Account’, brands can, in essence, create their own mini-site within WeChat. And those sites can be used to build customer relationships, promote offers and sell goods and services directly.
- Brand messaging on WeChat
Brands can use WeChat to send direct, personalized messages to consumers. This can create a more intimate relationship between your brand and consumers.
WeChat is also an exceptional platform for brands to engage in high-level content marketing. Whether it’s through brand-generated content or influencers, sharable content is a hugely effective means of amplifying an international brand’s name and building a larger audience in China.
- eCommerce on WeChat
Because WeChat does not allow brands to link to external eCommerce pages, most brands choose to develop their own branded WeChat store. This means all of your content and influencer marketing can be directed straight to your store, making the process seamless.
Having a WeChat store signals to customers that your products are legitimate and high-quality. It also enables customers to review and link to your products within the app, creating a positive cycle.
- Advertising on WeChat
There are three basic forms of advertising on WeChat:
- Moment ads, where brands can pay to have their content appear within users’ social feed.
- Banner ads, which are familiar to Western marketers, enabling them to place ads within popular articles
- ‘Mini’ ads, which are ads placed within specific ‘mini programs’, enabling brands to target users when they’re engaged in specific activities, such as looking for a bar or gaming.
Each can be highly effective for brands; the key is to determine which is most likely to appeal to your target demographic. But in order to do this, brands will need proper access to their WeChat data.
Connecting Your WeChat Data
While WeChat is evidently an extremely useful platform for international brands, it can be very difficult for them to navigate. The sheer number of features and uses makes the app confusing even for native users. And for brands with a limited budget, this can make the platform feel like a serious risk.
This is why data is so vital: it helps brands measure and manage their efforts, ensuring they have visibility of their success and can make informed strategic decisions. But accessing your data through WeChat is not nearly as straightforward as international brands are used to with Western social media platforms.
It requires custom-built APIs to connect your WeChat data with each of your existing marketing platforms – such as CRM or DMP systems. This costs a great deal of time and money, as well as leaving you vulnerable to changes to the platform that could render your connectors no longer fit-for-purpose.
Instead of this manual approach, successful international brands are increasingly turning to out-of-the-box solutions, which make accessing data seamless and simple – reducing the cost, time and risk involved in building a data pipeline to platforms like WeChat. And that’s exactly what INTEGRAT3’s solution does.
How INTEGRAT3 Helps
At INTEGRAT3, we exist to make data easy to access in Asian markets. From managing your messaging to tracking your ad spend, our simple to use connector allows you to create a data pipeline that integrates your marketing systems with WeChat in minutes rather than months. It is developer friendly, highly secure and ready to implement immediately.
If you’d like to see how it could help your brand make more from WeChat, click here to book a demo.