With more than 889 million monthly active users and 200 million of them linking their WeChat account to bank cards, there’s no doubt that WeChat is a major player in Chinese social media and e-commerce. WeChat Pay has made the platform more than just an instant messaging app. WeChat users buy movie tickets, book restaurants or hotels and make small payments using the app instead of cash or credit cards, which is constantly changing Chinese people’s lifestyles and consumer behaviors as well as providing new opportunities for brands to explore.
In addition to its new role as a sales platform, WeChat provides a platform for brands to get direct feedback from customers, and especially for foreign companies to test the Chinese market before further investments. The first step is to know how to sell on WeChat. Here are four ways to do sales.
1. Promotional posts
The easiest and most common way to sell on WeChat is to publish promotional information on your official account in the form of articles or short messages, including product information, reviews and promotional campaigns. Among them, launching promotional campaigns is also a common and effective way to grow subscribers.
For example, McDonald’s promoted its “Buy One Get One Free” offer of French fries by publishing an article on its WeChat official account on March 8th. The promotional post was believed to boost sales largely across China, because the article itself has reached over 100 thousand views with many positive comments at the bottom of the article.
↑ The promotional post of McDonald’s French fries.
2. WeChat advertising
The next thing you can consider in order to help you sell on WeChat is putting display advertisements on WeChat. There are two major options of direct advertising on WeChat: Moments ads and Account ads.
i. Moments ads
Moments is the most popular feature on WeChat, where users can update their status by sharing photos, short videos and articles with their relatives and friends. They can also like or comment on others’ posts at the same time. Brands can pay for Moments ads that appear on targeted users’ pages.
WeChat has been allowing brands to advertise on Moments since 2014. Brands like BMW, Coca Cola and Vivo mobile phones all once put up Moments ads. They can define their target users based on gender, age, location, occupation, preferences, consumption behavior, etc. Therefore, it is much more accurate.
Moments ads usually present in the form of texts, pictures or a video, sometimes along with promotional campaigns or giveaways. If readers are interested, they can click the “Read More” button at the lower left corner for more information, which is usually linked to a promotional post, an H5 campaign page, the brand’s official account or its official website.
For example, on the International Women’s Day this year, Dior launched a WeChat Moments ad to promote its new lipstick series. It received a good feedback with plenty of users liking the post and leaving positive comments under it.
↑ An example of Moments ad: Dior promoting its new lipstick series.
ii. Account ads
Alternatively, Account ads appear as a banner ad at the bottom of a WeChat article. When users finish reading a WeChat article, they will see the advertisement. They are also commonly seen on WeChat.
This month, JD.com, China’s leading e-commerce site, put up an Account ad of its promotion of childcare products on WeChat. When users click the ad, they will be directed to JD’s online store.
↑ JD’s account ad (circled in orange) shown below a WeChat article
Another popular way to sell on WeChat is to create an online store where users can directly view and buy your products.
After brands create their online store on their official account (WeChat Store, 微信小店) or on other e-commerce platforms like Wei-Store (微店), they can link it to their official account in the menu bar. If a consumer chooses to buy a product in the online store, they can click the menu bar linked to the external online store. In this way, customers can finish the whole purchasing process within WeChat, so that a higher conversion rate can be expected.
Many brands, such as Xiaomi, Haier and Sephora, have already built up their online stores and have them linked to their official WeChat account.
4. Strategic partnerships
Maybe you already found out that some e-commerce, transportation, hospitality and tourism brands are featured in WeChat Wallet. It is because these service providers all hold shares of Tencent’s stock. This kind of partnership with WeChat can bring much more traffic and stimulate streamlined payments.
For example, JD.com has a partnership with WeChat and it has its own entrance in WeChat Wallet. This allows users to access JD’s online store within WeChat Wallet.
↑ JD website’s entrance in WeChat Wallet (circled in orange).
Since the end of 2016, WeChat has been relaxing the restrictions of such partnerships. Those who are not Tencent’s shareholders now have a chance to be featured in WeChat Wallet.
Starbucks was the first brand to benefit. At the end of 2016, customers could pay via WeChat Wallet in over 2,400 Starbucks stores across China. Then earlier this year, WeChat and Starbucks co-organized a O2O campaign named “Say it with Starbucks (用星说)”. Users were allowed to buy gift cards directly on WeChat and send them to friends via messages. Those who have received gift cards from their friends can exchange for a free coffee in any Starbucks store in mainland China.
↑ Users can enter Starbucks’s campaign page in WeChat Wallet. After buying the gift card, they can send it to their friends via messages.
Recently, Mobike, a fully station-less bike-sharing system, also partnered with WeChat. The entrance of Mobike in the WeChat Wallet is linked to its mini program page, where users can easily find available and occupied bikes nearby. In addition, after scanning the QR code on the bike, they can unlock it and start riding. Mobike also conducted a 30-day free ride campaign at the same time so that users can even share their free rides with their WeChat friends.
↑ There is an entrance for Mobike’s mini program in WeChat Wallet at the moment.
↑ Users can check nearby bikes or find out free ride campaign information.
To make sales promotions truly successful, brands have to pay great attention to their online presence. Frequent interactions and rapid response are necessary in order to build a good relationship with users. Word of mouth from customers is key to maintaining a positive brand image too.
Do you have any questions about how to sell on WeChat? Want to know more about these methods or case studies above? Please leave a comment below or send us a message.
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