How to create a successful WeChat marketing campaign – 10 steps to success

Whether you’re new to the Chinese market or building your established Western brand in China, WeChat will invariably be an important channel for delivering your overall Chinese digital marketing strategy.

WeChat is the largest messaging app in China with more than a billion users. But it goes far beyond basic messaging, with a huge raft of functionalities including shopping, gaming, services booking, payments, and integrated mini-programs.

Brands tend to use mini-programs to integrate their commercial offer seamlessly for WeChat users and combine this with online advertising and other forms of digital marketing to drive traffic to their landing pages. So what can you do to create a successful WeChat marketing campaign on an app with such a huge audience – and equally intense competition from 2.5 million other brands?

1. Start from the beginning

WeChat is vast and its eco-system is so technologically-advanced that it can be easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of quirky features or gimmicks and find that your messaging – and precious marketing budget – gets lost in the process! Begin by really learning about the system (a Chinese marketing agency can help you to acquire this knowledge fast), and then spend time carefully pinpointing your target audience for your WeChat marketing campaign. This may mean creating several different target audiences for different elements of your campaign, and developing user personas for each so that you can create meaningful content, engagement strategies and tactics that will appeal to them.

2. Be innovative

Start with the mantra ‘anything is possible’ when it comes to WeChat! For Western brands, the scope of this vast app is often quite mind-blowing, especially as it’s possible to cooperate with platform owners, Tencent, to develop custom solutions that stand ahead of the crowd. Look at Smarthotel, for example, which was developed in a partnership arrangement with Tencent for WeChat, for instant in-app booking and priority promotion.

3. Think strategically

Knowledge of WeChat and its vast scope will greatly help you to target your efforts in the best possible way. For example, brands might automatically assume that they need to invest in online advertising on WeChat Moments – when they could potentially get greater returns for their objective by syndicating quality content across WeChat groups to build awareness and feedback amongst relevant users.

4. Make your content great

Start by creating a verified official account and then fill it with the best possible quality content. Your content must be creative, engaging, fun and targeted tightly to your end-user. Use a mix of videos, audio messages, text and photos – using Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to bring your messaging to life and to instantly enhance your reputation and sense of trust with their own networks.

5. Choose your KOLs carefully

On the subject of KOLs, choose yours carefully for a WeChat marketing campaign, considering the right link with your brand and objectives, and the crossover with their own follower base. The right KOL can be a fantastic advocate for your brand – but they don’t necessarily need to be the biggest. In fact, ‘niche audience’ KOLs with smaller but highly engaged follower bases may actually deliver a higher return for your brand. Think smart – not always big.

6. Use QR codes for referrals

Chinese customers are more responsive to QR codes than Western audiences, and brands place these codes across their marketing mix for referral traffic and to entice new followers on their WeChat branded and verified accounts. Place a QR code on your physical products, your websites, and your other Chinese social media accounts.

7. Consider creating a loyalty programme

WeChat offers the chance for brands to create members from their follower base. Brands can use geolocation services, for example, to identify customers in a certain region and to offer targeted promotions that are close by, or by offering personalised coupons, promotions or in-app ‘VIP cards’. A digital marketing agency such as Market Me China can help you to create this kind of more advanced WeChat marketing strategy and really monetize your followers.

8. Consider building a website within WeChat

We meant it when we said ‘anything is possible’ with WeChat! You can even build a small website within the app to offer an even better and more engaging brand experience. For example, Burberry used this to bring the experience of London Fashion Week to its followers with video and audio content, sending personalised digital appreciation plaques to customers engaged with the Chinese celebrities who featured on the content.

9. Think about your broader campaign

It’s tempting to plan a WeChat campaign as a standalone piece of work, but you’ll gain greater results if you have an overarching Chinese marketing digital plan that touches on various platforms and which works together holistically for a desired outcome. For example, before launching your WeChat campaign, are your other digital assets optimised for Chinese customers? Is your Chinese official website ready? Consider your entire Chinese digital ecosystem in a holistic way so that everything links seamlessly. That includes doing plenty of user-testing before you go live – check those CTAs and links carefully!

10. Prepare to resource your campaign

There is little use in creating a high-tech, expensive and complex WeChat marketing campaign if you don’t have dedicated digital marketers on hand to manage it, to engage with Chinese customers, to answer questions and to bring your content to life. These hands-on marketers and customer services professionals need to be active on your WeChat account and ready to provide the best possible experience. Be sure to consider these resourcing aspects before you hit ‘go’ on your campaign!

Get the help that you need

Whatever your level of WeChat marketing experience, Market Me China is here to ensure you create a campaign that really works. Our team of Chinese native digital marketing professionals has the skills, know-how and experience to achieve the return you desire – and we evidence our results. We work with businesses across all industries in the West to help them achieve Chinese digital marketing success, working flexibly around your needs. Please contact us in the first instance and we will be delighted to assist.