It can often be intimidating for international marketing professionals to learn that the digital tools they’ve grown to understand and use in Western contexts are either not used in China, or have analogues that require extra time to learn. Some are familiar, and relatively easy to get to grips with – Twitter to Weibo, Amazon to Taobao, WordPress-based blogs to WeChat articles. A less-understood, but no-less vital analogue, is HTML5 to H5.
Sources on the internet can get this muddled, so one thing must be made clear from the outset: while the term ‘H5’ may have started out as an abbreviation of HTML5, its meaning has developed. HTML5 is a language. H5 is an umbrella term that encapsulates an approach, and several languages and tools, used to engage through particular mobile platforms. The approach uses HTML5 to create CSS-integrated marketing pages, often accompanied by flash elements, that are specifically compatible with Chinese mobile apps such as WeChat and QQ.
Most webpages built with HTML5 tend to focus on responsive web design (RWD), meaning that the visual and interactive elements on the page adapt to the device which it is being viewed on. H5 pages, meanwhile, focus on mobile viewing. Furthermore, they often have one or more layers of functionality drawn specifically from WeChat or QQ’s API, rendering them redundant when viewed outside of these apps.
Why an H5 page is essential for your business
After reading the outline above, some questions may arise: Why use H5 if it’s going to result in pages that are unviewable or seemingly broken when viewed on a normal web browser? Why eschew RWD when we’ve spent years perfecting it?
The first thing to understand is that H5 pages are not supposed to be a replacement for normal websites or mini-apps. Rather, they are used for activations related to specific marketing campaign goals. They might include a game, or a video-based product introduction. They might be a brochure, or an invitation. More often than not, they are intended for single or limited-use, not repeat or sustained interaction.
The second thing to understand is that internet in China is mobile. Chinese internet users are far more likely to perform web-based activities – be it socializing, reading, shopping or otherwise – from the palm of their hands compared to Western internet users. Traditional browser-based websites are only one part of the picture, and an increasingly small one.
With these two facts in mind, here are some of the benefits of using H5:
1) Attractive product display.
The in-app browsers on Chinese social apps are optimised for H5. Borders, alignment, colour, music and animation will all display smoothly on a page built within the H5 framework. Product display normally comes in the form of a few pages of product background, leading to images with embedded links for conversion. Take a look at the Renrenxiao list of H5 pages that include product listings here to get an idea.
2) Boosted interaction and user engagement.
H5 pages can include games, quizzes, lucky draws, questionnaires, video challenges, red envelopes and more. They can use WeChat’s ‘Shake’ functionality, as well as display shared results between WeChat friends, and perform location-based activities. Recently, the ‘drag and drop’ functionality has been used to go beyond creating simple games, into giving users VR experiences.
3) Fast implementation and cost-efficient.
The number of templates for H5 pages online now is humongous. There are a whole bunch of websites where users may use a template, or craft one of their own, using browser-based tools (more on these below). Many simple H5 templates are free, and more complex ones can cost as little as 50RMB. There’s no need to worry about paying for hosting, as this is usually provided by the website the template is bought from.
4) Customizable for all needs and industries.
Renrenxiou lists template categories for 34 industries, ranging from financial services to wedding planning, childcare to film and television. The truth is, H5 pages can be adapted for any industry, or non-industry-based marketing need. There are H5 templates for wedding invitations, for artist portfolios, for restaurant menus and interactive birthday cards. They are simply a way of making information more visually appealing, more easily digestible, and more interactive.
What other strengths do H5 pages possess?
Our partner organization, QPSoftware, recently did a deep dive on the rise of H5 pages, why they’re so popular, and what benefits businesses can garner through their use.
Two of the most notable points were:
5) H5 pages allow you to collect data about your users.
It’s possible to view exactly how users have interacted with your H5 pages – where they clicked and when, how long they spent viewing, whether they shared, and how long it took them to complete various tasks. For fans of big data (which all digital marketers should be), this is gold dust. The more variables on user behaviour the better. It helps determine what worked and what didn’t, and when tied in with user data such as gender, app default-language and location, can enable powerful user segmentation.
6) H5 pages are faster and less expensive to develop than WeChat mini-apps.
As mentioned above, H5 pages are not intended as a replacement for mini-apps. Each thing serves a particular purpose, and has particular functionality. There are, however, overlaps in some of the functionality, that can be utilized if money or time is too tight to develop a mini-app. Examples include the display of articles, product information or ‘smart’ business cards. There’s always the option to use referral links or forms in the H5 format to complete conversions, even if it introduces one extra step as compared to what might be possible directly in a mini-app.
Want to learn about other solutions for WeChat marketing? Check our guide out!
How to create H5 pages
With Maka and Renrenxiou you can either choose a template, or start from scratch using their online editors. Everything on their websites is in Chinese, and although it’s possible to navigate the site with a browser-based translator, the page editors are so packed with text that it immediately becomes quite difficult for those trying this method. It can also be the case that when switching between Chinese and English in the browser menu, the content and formatting gets mixed up and pages can break or functionality is lost.
Another option is to hire an agency who can develop H5 pages independently.
Are there other tools that help marketers increase sales on WeChat? Yes! Check our 30 Tools for Marketing on WeChat out!
H5 pages are another square in the patchwork quilt of digital marketing in China. They may seem confusing or odd at first, but once they’re fully understood and mastered, they can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool. They enable product display of a high aesthetic standard, they have functionality that allows for dynamic user interaction, they’re fast and cost-efficient to implement, and they’re highly customizable. Not only that, but they allow for the collection of valuable user data, and can fulfill some of the needs of a mini-app in a pinch. For businesses looking to get ahead in China, they offer a real opportunity.
HI-COM is able to build H5 pages from scratch, or modify existing templates, according to client needs. We can also help translate and localize content between more than 40 languages, with the help of expert native-speaker interpreters. Contact us today to discuss your project!