China is a booming market for entrepreneurs and companies from all four corners of the world due to its large population, rising wages that contribute to increased consumption and purchasing power. New technologies-related industries along with digitalization have helped China become an eldorado for foreign businesses as well. However, many companies believe they can apply the same business/marketing strategy in China as they would back home. On the contrary, foreign companies should keep in mind that China is completely different on so many levels, especially when its comes to business, and in the case of this post, emails marketing. Email marketing in China, is for lack of others words, a waste of ressources and other alternatives for mass communication and nurturing are favored, most notably, WeChat. In this article, we will explain how emails have been quickly replaced by WeChat, and we will explain as well how to take advantage of WeChat to communicate with business partners and customers.
WeChat: The Alternative to Emails Marketing in China?
If you can identify yourself in one of the two options below, then this post is for you:
- You’ve been sending tones of emails to Chinese companies
- You’ve tried sending newsletters and email marketing to reengage lost clients/leads
And with both senario the results are underwhelming. It is frustrating, you’ve been spending time writing your emails, setting up automations and you are not getting any results. It is not your fault, Email Culture is not a thing in China. But cheer up because Wechat is here to save the day.
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You are looking out to connect with Chinese Businesses:
- Design a Wechat brochure to introduce your services/products and reach out to distributors/travel agencies/ Investors etc; directly via their Wechat.
You are looking for a way to communicate with your followers/customers:
- Share your content with your Wechat Official Account.
- Use Wechat CRM and create automation to ease communication with your followers.
- Last trick, for B2B company. Create a personal account for your company and invite peoples. Share your content via messages (Warning: Be smart about it, our you’ll be blocked by Wechat)
What is WeChat (微信)?
Developed by one of China’s biggest company Tencent, WeChat (known as Weixin 微信 in China) was launched in 2011 in Mainland China, and in 2012 in its international version. In a couple of months, WeChat was able to attract hundreds of million users, and became the world’s largest standalone mobile app, reaching 1 billion monthly active users in 2018.
Nowadays, WeChat is boasting over 1.2 billion monthly active users and is part of Chinese people’s daily life: from booking a hotel to paying your bill at the restaurant, we can do almost everything with it in China. So, as you probably already know, WeChat was a messaging app at first but Tencent saw its potential to reach a wider audience by implementing services directly available through the app. These functionalities became indispensable in both personal and professional life.
WeChat’s Ecosystem is one of the most complete in the world for a social media, providing text messaging with a hold-to-talk functionality, video conferencing, video games, etc. But one key aspect of WeChat is that it acts as many social media (Instagram, Facebook, e-commerce platforms, Google, etc) all reunited in one app.
Why is WeChat this important in China?
- WeChat: The Most Popular App in China
Called ‘the app of everything’, WeChat is one of China’s digital landscape most powerful apps. One advantage of Wechat is that it can interact with subscribers on a personalized level. In 2018, WeChat’s Mini Programs saw a significant increase in popularity, with an annual transaction volume that has more than doubled since 2020. Brands such as Burberry, H&M, and Dior have all used the platform to reach customers on an individual level. WeChat is also extremely useful for all companies from SMEs to bigger companies, that are increasingly using it for transactions via WeChat Pay.
WeChat Tools for Emails Marketing
For marketers, WeChat can be a useful tool as it provides the following useful functionalities:
Use WeChat Menu & Automation as an alternative to Wechat Automation
On WeChat, you can define an automatic message that will be sent to people as soon as they’ll subscribe to your WeChat account. First of all, you can thank them for following you, and encourage them to ask questions if needed (they can then receive an automatic response or you can reply to them directly). You can also organize Q&A sessions, or encourage them to participate in special events. For example, when organizing a special event or giveaway, you can send an invitation directly on WeChat.
Use Wechat Weekly Post as your Weekly Newsletter
Any company that has a wechat official account can post weekly to communicate with their followers. Wechat followers can ben seen as an equivalent to an email list. With a service account, your followers will receive a push notification in their wechat message feed to let them know you posted something. Treat it as a newsletter. Just like a emails, you can add link to a destination page of your choice.
For B2B companies, the weekly post can be used as a way to nurter your followers base just like you would do with your email marketing. Although it is not as sophisticated because you can not segment your followers base, it is better than sending targetted emails that will end up in someone spam folder or never openned in between 100 of over unread emails.
Learn how to optimize your wechat “newsletters” here
Wechat Integrated CRM
If you can’t precicely target your followers with your weekly post, you can integrate a CRM that will help you customize your campaign and thus offer you similar specs than an emails marketing services would.
Here is a list of most common Wechat Integrated CRM:
Not only those CRM will help you run more optimized content but they will also give you more insights on followers habits as well as the way they interacts with your Wechat Activities, as well as varing tools, depending on the CRM you’ll choose.
WeChat H5 brochures to contact potential business partner instead of mailing
H5 brochures are one of WeChat’s main asset for B2B companies. H5 brochures are highly engaging and interactive, incorporating audio, music, video animations, or mobile shaking triggers and are the perfect alternative to PDF listing when doing business in China.
You can create endless styles by using sequential animating groups, different groups according to their interests, etc. They’re typically used for marketing purposes, using sometimes game ads in order to engage with the audience.
Why are Wechat H5 brochure an essential in China? well, since emails is not a thing in China, and most poeples including for work use Wechat to communicated, it makes a lot more sens to share your listing/ company intro through this chanel rather than emails.
Wechat brochure are more interactive than a PDF listing, they do not need to be saved on a device and can be shared effortlessly on top of being available on China’s top communcation chanel.
Why did Wechat Became the main commucation chanel over email marketing in China?
If you were going to use the standard email newsletter like you would have done in another country, you will probably have to reconsider your strategy as it will not work very well in China and will not bring any added value. According to a report published by Webpower China in 2014, only 6.8% of emails were opened and the click-through rate was only 1% in China … As years passed, this percentage is even lowering down. This is a lot worse than in other western countries, as WeChat is the preferred way for people to get information from brands and various topics.
Moreover, WeChat is extremely useful as content is, in general, more interactive and interesting on WeChat rather than on emails, and WeChat also has a translating functionally that is pretty useful if people do not understand English or if you cannot read Chinese.
WeChat: The Daily App in China
While our days are punctuated by the use of different kinds of social media, Chinese people are mainly using WeChat to do almost everything from hailing a cab to share content with their friends. All-day long, Chinese people are using WeChat, as we can see from the following representation.
Therefore, it is logical that as people as spending on average more time on WeChat than on any other apps, you should use WeChat as well to reach out to them. You have to take this opportunity to retain your followers by sending messages and promotions (which can be sent automatically as soon as they follow your account).
Sending Newsletters & doing “emails marketing” Through Wechat
How does it work?
As a company, you have to know that there are two types of official accounts: the subscription account and the service account. The first basic official account is the subscription type. The company can post once per day and each publication is archived in the « subscription account » folder. This is a great choice if you want to regularly communicate with your followers. However, you have to know that it doesn’t send push notifications.
The second type is the service account: it offers several additional features such as the possibility to create your own website, Wechat application, and so on. In terms of publication, posts per month are limited. This account is perfect if you want to open a WeChat store and enjoy additional features to engage with your followers.
Benefits of sending newsletters through WeChat
A WeChat Newsletter strategy should revolve around published consistently to increase readership and improve readers engagement. The published content should also be diverse and of high quality. Finally and most importantly, the published articles should provide added value to your readers.
As we saw earlier, WeChat users enjoy looking for information and receiving promotions. You can educate your readers on topics related to your brand. You can even tailor the way your posts are presented to your followers by adopting a newsletter-like template to present your content.
An additional feature you could use is linking your WeChat account with your website or WeChat mini-site. Finally, what is great with WeChat is that, unlike email newsletters, readers don’t have to exit WeChat because everything is within the app even when visiting an external web page.
As you can see, using WeChat in conjunction with other amazing features: Wechat store, auto-reply, and many others. WeChat alone is great but coupled with Weibo (a well-established micro-blog) it is even better for any business wishing to enter or grow in the Chinese market.
For example, for Perfect Diary’s official account on WeChat, an article is automatically sent to followers, which contains a little guide about features and promotions. People receive a link to the brand’s Mini Programs as well as a gift.
In the timetable, there are leads to promotions, cosmetic tips, online stores, coupons, and not only. So, at a first glance, Perfect Diary’s WeChat account seems to be ‘normal, but in reality, you can find a special tool just in the bottom right root menu.
Among the four sub-menus, you can see the labeled “撩小完子” (“flirting with Xiaowanzi”) menu. At this point, you tap “撩小完子” and a QR code pops up, by scanning it you can add Xiaowanzi as a friend on WeChat.
Contact us if you want to know more about the Chinese Market
With the increasing number of brands competing to conquer Chinese consumers, it has become more crucial than ever to understand and adapt to Chinese consumer’s purchasing, cultural, daily, and business habits. As the large majority of the Chinese population uses WeChat on a daily basis, it is worth considering this app in order to send newsletters, shares posts, interact with users, generate traffic, etc. Instead of using emails (which are now considered as old fashion in China), opening an official account on WeChat will be much more rewarding in the long term, and will help you grow your community faster.
Nevertheless, it can be difficult for foreign companies to gather all the necessary documents and create an official account. Working with a specialized marketing agency will help you gain time and our experts will be able to plan with you as well a specific strategy for your newsletter and marketing campaigns on WeChat. If you have more questions about this subject, or if you are any other inquiries, do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we will reply within 24-hours.