WeChat marketing is becoming more and more complicated in 2020. With the constant shifts in trends it is becoming more and more difficult for marketers to develop long term plans. Finding new customers and creating interest, not to mention generating sales is a new challenge. And when it comes to closed ecosystem such as WeChat marketing, e-commerce takes a whole new turn.
As advertising becomes more and more expensive, brands are starting to rely on KOL marketing. But KOL services also have costs too and are mostly focused on generating brand awareness.
So how do brands stay in business with WeChat marketing, stores and mini programs? And what is the secret of all these successful stores?
What is WeChat? How is this application revolutionising digital marketing?
Chinese APP WeChat is first and foremost an instant messaging application used by more than a billion people and mostly used in China.
The application then evolved into a social media platform with the “Moments” tab where users can share their thoughts, pictures and videos and only their friends can see them, making sharing these “Moments” credible and authentic. Finally, brands and influencers have also taken hold of the application which has led to the creation of “Mini-Programs” and online stores to allow brands and KOL to sell directly on the WeChat platform without necessarily leaving the APP to access the website or another application.
Therefore, brands can create their own official page and share their exclusive information, articles and other information as well as the online store. The latest new feature being tested on WeChat are the influencers’ live stream where as soon as they talk about a product, viewers can directly buy it without even leaving the live stream.
This all-in-one application allows you to see the evolution of the consumer now known as “Consumer 2.0”.
Most companies have realized that they will need China’s growth to power their own in the near future. But to take possession of their own and future power, they must understand how the new consumer 2.0 works today, how China’s ecommerce is evolving, and what the new spending patterns are.
Understanding consumer 2.0
It’s not enough to carry out market research once a year to really know what your consumer is looking for. Today, brands need to concentrate on weekly follow ups to see where the trends and needs of consumers are going. The two-way conversation is becoming a must for brands and companies that want to succeed on the Chinese market.
For this, leveraging personalized WeChat marketing groups might just be what you need. Tagging your key customers by location or other criteria can help you to update them on relevant news and deals. Making those groups “invitation only” or bringing a certain VIP feeling will ease the task of growing these communities.
In fact, the main difference between a successful local brand and a international brand is simply collection of real-life data.
New ways of brand community management
The way brands manage these communities is also progressing. A systematic approach focusing on communication has become a must in community management. As consumers become more educated, never before has it been more about the connection between a brand and the consumer.
Creating a habit of checking on a brand, or seeing “what’s new in the group” can help brands to create a deeper connection.
For example, hosting limited time WeChat marketing pop-ups could be one way to keep your community members on their toes.
Same goes with sharing important and useful content, which could help your consumers in their daily lives.
Updating the community on certain days of the week unifies people by providing interesting topics to share. The feedback on these activities could provide valid data and deepen the understanding of customers. For example, a brand of healthy snacks could engage by providing video of breakfasts that include products of the brand.
KOL/Influencer Marketing – new approaches
When it comes to KOL marketing, there are a few variables that need to be accounted for.
Firstly, the size of the KOL audience and the content focus. A few smaller KOLs might be great to put your brand on the social media and e-commerce map. Whereas one large KOL might help you to move that new stock and kick-start your brand’s sales season.
But what brands still do not realize is how to best benefit when approaching major KOLs in China. Chinese influencers are very careful when it comes to picking products. Look at Viya, who has a dedicated team that sorts out the product applications and performs quality tests. KOLs are the experts of what the consumer wants and they try their very best to meet expectations. So working with a brand that will not be interesting will reflect badly on both the KOL and the performance. In some cases, the discussion with large KOLs can last for a few seasons until the KOL figures out a way to bring the product around with the right angle.
When doing e-commerce in China, brands shall switch from the national calendars to the e-commerce calendars and plan their work and vacation time accordingly. It is safe to say that the double 11 festival will represent ½ or in some cases nearly all of your annual sales, especially if you do it right. Then comes Double 12th(December 12), 618 (June 18th), and so on. Most of the traffic hits the e-commerce channels exactly on those e-holidays, as most brands present very good deals to their customers.
Thirdly, cooperation models.
From smaller KOLs and product seeding (distributing free samples for hundreds of KOLs in the hope of creating a social buzz) to bigger KOLs with massive marketing budgets or even brand representation, the company’s size and marketing plan will determine what model is right at a specific moment.
In 2019 most brands have started to collect their own KOL pools on several social media channels. Such databases of KOLs is and will be extremely useful for brands when working with KOLs on weekly/monthly bases, doing product seeding, offline events etc.
And that’s not a surprise. Today, in order to stand out, brands need to be involved with at least a hundred of small size KOLs on different platforms, which will provide a broad evaluation of the product presented. This will create a pretty good “word of mouth” base for your brand and a base for cooperation with medium and large size KOLs.
Staying on top of the Chinese e-commerce ecosystem in 2020
Brands that operate in China need to be well informed on the changes within the Chinese digital ecosystem. Traffic coming from marketing efforts will translate into sales only if the customer journey is well planned.
But with platforms always changing their strategic partners, this might not be so simple.
Chinese e-commerce and social media changes. What to look out for in 2020
We are still waiting to see if Douyin will continue its cooperation with Taobao in 2020, as the popular platform signed only a 1 year contract with the e-commerce giant, and the possibility that Douyin will launch its own e-commerce platform has not yet been ruled out.
It will be interesting to see how JD.com will fight the competition in the coming year, after a rather tough 2019..
The new social media platform by Weibo “Luzhou” was launched very recently, and could potentially be a competitor of Xiaohongshu.
Brands shall also keep in mind that video content and live streaming could be the most important trend for e-commerce sales in 2020.
Another trend to keep in mind is emerging entertainment platforms such as BiliBili that can be an excellent source of traffic for e-commerce channels, such as WeChat Store or Tmall, as the fan base of these platforms is extremely loyal to brands and KOLs.
CRM is another crucial tool to leverage in 2020. More and more brands are growing their consumer base though the existing consumer base by keeping track and close contact with consumers. CRM systems integrated to the WeChat marketing platform (such as WeChat Work) is the key to keep up with the changes and a convenient tool to update your customers on any news and notifications.
These new types of consumer are becoming more discerning. They do their own research so as to avoid being tricked, and they take into consideration emotional elements which can strongly affect their buying decisions.
But before implementing new strategic actions for your company you must ask yourself how important the Chinese market is for your company?If it’s really important, first of all it is essential to have a presence all the APPs Chinese consumers use on a daily basis, especially WeChat.
The challenge will not be whether or not you can enter the Chinese market, it will be: Can you maintain a leading position in China in the long term?
Want to drive traffic to your WeChat store and create a strong brand awareness within Chinese consumers? Ask us how!