Going to McDonald’s in Paris, New York or anywhere in the world is usually a similar experience: you order a menu, pay and eat it. In China it is the same … but different. Beyond some flavors not so similar to the usual ones, the way to pay is totally different. In western world there are two clear forms of payment: cash or card. In the Asian giant almost nobody uses plastic anymore.
And then how do they pay? Obviously, with the mobile. But not with paraphernalia like NFC, stickers on the back of the mobile, or anything like that. The most used tool is Youtube WeChat Pay, an application through which by simply entering the data of a credit card you can both pay and collect any amount.
The payment procedure is very simple. When someone goes to eat at a restaurant, they take out their mobile, open the application and, with a QR reader, in a second the exact amount is charged without commissions and that tortuous moment of going around counting down to the last cent or of rummaging through the countless cards.
China is a nation where the use of the internet is restricted and therefore it is impossible to access social networks like Facebook. However, this is not a problem for citizens thanks to WeChat, an ‘app’ that is growing by leaps and bounds. WeChat, a messaging service that combines the qualities of the most successful platforms in the Western world such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Instagram, could become a threat to its competitors in the world of social networks.
With the various conveniences offered by WeChat, this application is certainly highly recommended for every serious marketer. Here are the steps:
1. Confirm your credibility through an official account
In China, the phenomenon of fake online accounts is still poorly controlled. This leads to the differentiation of standard accounts and official accounts in the market. Having an official and verified account means that you really are who you say you are. It also allows you to take advantage of the functionality of the official Ad WeChat account. Consequently, it is the first step for anyone who wants to do marketing with WeChat.
Opening an official account takes 1/2 weeks for those who register with a local account (linked to a Chinese business entity). On the other hand, the waiting time increases to 2/4 weeks for accounts of foreign entities. The company must also complete a series of documents that Tencent verifies and certifies.
2. Invest in quality content (that appeals to all users, not just Chinese)
Once your official account has been created, companies can be followed by all those who wish to be part of your network. The types of content you can share with these accounts vary depending on the brand’s goal. In any case, they reach users in the form of newsletters, reported as real messages. Of course, the quality of the newsletter content is key to keeping readers interested. Therefore, it will be important to create a story around your product and convey your message in the best possible way.
3. Develop customer loyalty programs and strategies
Giving coupons to make purchases directly in the application is a good idea. Often times, this type of activity is announced through newsletters, but the operational part takes place within the WeChat mini-programs. The latter are mini-Apps internal to the platform that extend its functionality without occupying additional memory on the device.
4. Be innovative and creative
Official WeChat accounts and even more mini-programs offer many customization possibilities based on company purposes. As for the former, it is possible to create newsletters with innovative graphics that can be linked to the brand. It is also possible to play with different formats, for example creating a horizontal and not vertical newsletter like the traditional ones.
The customization possibilities within the mini-programs, on the other hand, do not only concern the graphic aspects. These mini-Apps are very important tools for marketing with WeChat thanks to their great versatility. They can be rejected as a mini-store for the sale of products in the application. Or they can be turned into mini-games to entertain while keeping users engaged. But it is also possible to employ AI and AR technologies to allow customers to test products through them virtually. In short, the possibilities are endless. Just find the right one for your brand!
5. Encourage follower subscriptions thanks to QR codes
Businesses that want to increase their following on WeChat associate a QR code with their existing accounts or sites. This also applies to point of sale or any sales support materials used offline.
Some experts have clarified that it will be necessary to wait for what marketing strategy to implement to overcome cultural barriers. So far WeChat has done well in markets with a large population of Chinese expats, or with large populations of Chinese-speaking people. However, it remains to be seen if it can produce significant advances among speakers of other languages.