A few weeks ago Tencent announced its most significant growth of 48% in annual revenue for the last four years. Besides its mobile game business and the incredibly popular WeChat, Tencent is also investing into the search business, adding even more services to its already staggering portfolio, creating a truly alluring ecosystem.
At the moment, many brands are already on WeChat to leverage its incredibly large user base and high usage, utilizing a plethora of features and strategies, but recent developments and upgrades in the functionalities have made stepping into WeChat even more enticing. We selected 4 incredibly appealing reasons that will empower brands with even more possibilities to succeed.
Here are the components of WeChat success in accessing O2O business while becoming a gatekeeper: Mini-programs Nearby, WeChat programs keyword search, WeChat Pay going abroad, and as a bonus — more customized WeChat membership cards. So what are they all about?
According to Tencent, mini-programs will “help broaden and deepen services offering in low-frequency use cases”. Thanks to a new feature, users can discover mini-programs of businesses located around them, therefore connecting more offline services to online users.
Some of the mini-programs that have been developed so far and that can be discovered with the “nearby” function include:
- Bike Sharing
- Food delivery: McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.
- Service aggregators: hotel booking, train tickets booking, etc.
- Places that have created a mini-program to be found easily. For example, massage salons, game centers, bars and restaurants, even schools and educational centers.
- More engaging apps like the app from Longchamps which introduces places in the city such as French bakeries, florists, and art galleries. This was the first luxury brand to deploy a WeChat mini-program.
Food delivery from KFC, Massage salon and Longchamp mini-programs
This new feature can be applied to businesses of various sizes, from the aforementioned small massage salons, now able to make more targeted messages to the clients nearby, to diverse O2O services like food delivery and hotel bookings. It can also be truly relevant for the sophisticated and interactive WeChat mobile campaigns launched by well-known brands, providing even more values to their existing official accounts.
WeChat programs keyword search
Mini-programs are even more interesting now that they are finally discoverable by keywords search. From now on, developers can submit up to 10 keywords for each mini-program through which users can find them on WeChat search: it is understood that keywords should be related to the main characteristics of the brand. The ranking of the results is influenced by criteria such as the quality of the mini-program and its usage. Moreover, developers will be able to check the performance of the keywords during the previous 7 days.
In fact, in the past we actually wondered how mini-programs could reach a wider audience and we were quite skeptical about their capabilities to expand, especially considering their technical limitations. On the other hand, had we had the opportunity to rewrite the article with an extra week of time, we would have said that, as a matter of fact, things are getting better and better. Since their launch, many observers have considered WeChat’s mini-program a serious threat to the Apple Store and in fact even Apple may agree with that conclusion. At the current stage though, the whole range of services available now through WeChat is becoming more consistent and can surely bring new inspiring opportunities to advertisers.
WeChat Pay going abroad
As we all know, WeChat Pay is gaining more and more popularity in China. Tencent's President Martin Lau claimed that WeChat Pay's goal is to permeate all aspects of consumers' life in China.
WeChat is achieving this through two key areas: social payments and offline retail. First, payments between users, including Red Packets, were crucial to establishing their early user base. Second, WeChat was fast enough to catch up with the growing O2O market in China: food delivery, tickets, taxi, etc. At the moment, they have already had a very solid customer base for O2O purchases.
However, WeChat Pay is not going to stay humble. In February, the service launched support for overseas vendors and is going to help “Global Chinese Shoppers” to travel more conveniently. After making a payment through WeChat Pay, tourists will automatically follow the vendor’s account and be able to make additional purchases remotely once he is back to China: being able to reach customers and send them relevant offers is definitely a great opportunity for brands. This strategy can be used by stores targeting duty-free tourists when leaving the destination country, but also by luxury or Western brands that are looking to create a loyal customer base once these tourists go back to their daily lives in China.
More customized WeChat membership cards
Last but not least, a few weeks ago WeChat upgraded its membership card features, which are available for official accounts. Now they can be customized, can support English language and can allow segmented messaging to members.
Virtual version of the traditional physical membership card is not a new thing though, so why do WeChat membership cards stand out?
First of all, users can easily share special offers and discounts with friends through WeChat. And we know how influential personal social networks can be for Chinese consumers. Also, WeChat membership cards will allow CRM integration. One more enhancement announced by WeChat is that discount coupons can now be embedded within moments, meaning that the advertisement options on WeChat are becoming even more personalized.
Example of one of the membership cards
Why brands should be on WeChat
Obviously, WeChat made a significant step forward by improving the tools available for marketers to promote their products in a more efficient way. Making use of all these tools work in unison can help to create more personalized WeChat campaigns and create a bridge between online and offline without leaving the app.
Let’s map WeChat customer journey. Depending on the location, the popularity of a certain app and his social network, a potential customer can find the relevant services; for example, through WeChat search and relevant keywords, he can find the closest gym that was also recently posted in WeChat moments by his friend. If he is interested, he makes a direct purchase through WeChat Pay. Later on, depending on the individual characteristics of the customer that can be collected and analyzed through tools such as a Social CRM, he can receive messages from the official account of that gym including promotions, discount coupons and more personalized membership cards. Results can be more adapted to each customer, increasing the likelihood of the purchase.
WeChat’s growth has been nothing short of revolutionary, in terms of both technical development as well as the user base. Tencent has shown a strong commitment to improve its functionalities and establish a real ecosystem, perhaps with the final goal of creating a fully-fledged OS.
Based on current trends, we can safely assume WeChat’s expansion is not stopping anytime soon and it will become even more intertwined with Chinese society than it is right now. Although a little late to join the party, brands without an official presence on WeChat can still find opportunities to uncover in order to get traction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our experts for more details.
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