HOW TO REACH OUT TO CHINESE EFFECTIVELY

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Consumers engagement pattern has caused a major marketing shift in recent years. Social media has outgrown many marketing channels and Chinese embrace it most compare to their fellow users around the world.

Just which social media platform will have fastest results in China marketing? If you are thinking of WeChat, you might have to think twice.

WeChat with over 800 million Monthly Active Users (MAU), is now the most popular tool that marketers think highly upon. No doubt, its multi-tasking ability and user-friendly structure greatly influence consumers’ life. It is a good brand-building channel, but definitely not the fastest outreach tool you expect it to be. A quick engagement outcome is a result of several concoctions and WeChat is where direct communication with fans take place.

Compare to WeChat, Weibo has ‘merely’ 269 Million MAU, but promotion results without advertising, Weibo scores high. This Twitter simulated platform could easily capture 6-figure impressions and above in any campaign, if it is being properly delivered.

Needless to say, media buy could now provide pretty accurate target audience data with quick results, measurable KPI and enable ROI calculation. If cost is not an issue, this is definitely the fast way to reach out to Chinese audience. However, it cannot do without the help of a landing point, which is the social media platform.

Without advertising, WeChat and Weibo combined effort could still reach KPI, but with longer lead-time and it is not impossible.

All marketing tools are inter-related as consumers are more complex than we think. The traditional marketing funnel system no longer applies. Integrated engagement effort does. In other words, you have to be on multi channels at all level of your marketing outreach effort. Ultimately, content is still the king.

The best solution is to start with on solid ground. Establish a quality Weibo and WeChat platform. A good campaign strategy combine with media buy and social media channels would be the most effective marketing strategy.

You have a WeChat account, what next?

Have you wonder why your official WeChat account is not drawing audience? You are not alone. Is it not running well or there were elements you could have missed out.

To address our concerns, let us start from the source, WeChat – the most popular social media platform in China with 800 Mil active users monthly (Source: Tencent 2016 2nd quarter report).

The popularity of WeChat lies on its private interface, which means users will not be bombarded by unwelcome content like advertising (at least not now) and sites they follow kept neatly under official accounts and they could visit by choice. There are a lot of more details, but I guess as a user, I would assume you know how it works.

Base on general observation, most Chinese WeChat users daily flow starts from checking incoming messages, follow-by reading through ‘Moments’ and leaving other content last. This shows that content under ‘official’ platform does not get its immediate attention and might be skipped. Content shared in Moments are well received and score high in readers rate.

Understand how users move on WeChat, indicates that it is insufficient to depend on one channel alone to broadcast our content, unless you have already a huge number of diehard followers like H&M, bloggers or journal/magazines.

Here is a chart (extracted from one of our Live cases) showing readers source. Besides Moments, 50% comes through ‘friends’, ‘conversation’ and ‘others’. What is more important, this account has just 700 fans. Not a lot, but its content generated 35 times readers rate within the month and 1.5 conversion rate daily.

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What to do with your existing WeChat when it is going no where in getting followers nor readers? Let us access the situation with some fundamental questions:

  1. What are the objectives of having a WeChat or any social media account? Think beyond corporate image and consider the possible benefits.
  2. Who are the target audience? What drives them? If you are considering it outside of China, be aware of culture and users background. eg. Malaysia WeChat users tend to be more matured 40s and above; China prime users fall between 24 – 35.
  3. What are the social media goals? Are they realistic and achievable? What kind of support is required? Be specific on your goals. Do not use social media content as a DIRECT selling tool, e-Commerce can still have quality sharing. Content can help you to drive traffic and eventually lead to transactions. But it should not be a piece of ‘hard sell’ material.
  4. The MOST important question we need to ask is, ‘How can the brand differentiate itself from competitors? In this congested market, you need to identify your niche. Consider using a service provider to help you get this part right. It is probably the most important part of your marketing strategy and investment well spent.

Whether you are providing a service or selling a product, think of what interest your clients. If your WeChat is going no where, take a look at these accounts, perhaps they might inspire you (scan barcode). Even if you do not read Chinese, take a look at the content layout.

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Did you notice the similarity? Rich WeChat content. These accounts are targeting a very broad market and have average 20’000 readers rate per article.

The figures demonstrated here should not serve as your indicator unless you are running the same kind of business.

Obviously B2B traffic is lower than B2C. WeChat or any social media, the more followers might not indicate success, however, it does help (if they are alive).

What next if your WeChat is not reach out? Perhaps it is time to get back to the drawing board once more.

 Share with us your experience, we love to hear from you.

Contributed by Sarah MM Chiang, sarahmm@redlineasia.com, Director of Red Line, Hong Kong | China, a Social Media Agency that delivers with excellence (a-redline.com)

 

WeChat Accounts Usage

With consolidated functions of Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, LINE, combined with CRM, Retail, e-Commerce and transaction possibilities, WeChat is now the major social media platform in China, taking over Weibo.

In 2015, over 569 Million active daily users were recorded. Its spiral value is unquestionable. WeChat plays an influential role in China marketing scene. Brands like Coach, Ctrip, Bloomberg, celebrity bloggers, lifestyle brands and enterprises embrace it and more are joining this platform.

If you are expanding into China market, here are the three WeChat accounts you need to know: SUBSCRIPTION     SERVICE   CORPORATE

WeChat Subscription Account (订阅号 ding yue hao)

Subscription account is what most brands or bloggers will use. It is ideal for Magazine, journals, bloggers with high content sharing frequencies.

Besides its daily content upload quota (up to max 8 individual feeds per upload), it allows menu set up and linkage that private does not provide.

Menu is a helpful tool to enable followers to orientate themselves on your WeChat platform and understand what it is all about.

Some successful WeChat bloggers have been able to reach out to as high as 100’000 readers and thousands of shares per feed.

Specialist tips: Although daily feed is allowed, content quality is the key

WeChat Service Account (服务号 fu wu hao)

Service account does not confine itself with 4 times per month upload. In fact, the flexibility of third party APP linkage enables account holder to set up CRM, e-Voucher, lucky draw, LBS, payment functions. An ideal e-commerce platform with minimal investment.

Besides own e-shop, retailers have the option to open JD retail platform linkage on its Service account (prominent competitor to Taobao, TMall), giving them additional retail opportunity.

Brands with own APP will use WeChat as its base platform and link the APP onto WeChat. It further shows how important it is to be on WeChat as it is the most convenient platform for Chinese consumers.

Specialist tips: WeChat Wallet payment does not link to Alipay, but runs with its own system.

WeChat Corporate account (号 qi ye hao)

This is a newly add-on account type in 2016 and it is limited to corporate internal usage.

We will keep a watchful eye on Tencent B2B development. Perhaps very soon, we will see a ‘Social Sprout’ platform in China.

Specialist tips: WeChat account registered by non-China firm cannot be read in China. If you are promoting your brand in China, this is a crucial step. Send us a note, perhaps we could assist.

 

 

How to use WeChat to grow your China business

The latest mobile network tool, WeChat

             – How it helps retails to engage Chinese fans

Burberry has successfully engaged fans through WeChat and Inernational online platform.

Burberry has successfully engaged fans through WeChat and International online platform.

WeChat is the latest mobile network tool that many brands use to grow their China corporate business and retail status.

 

It is more than a Whatsapp. The additional social network option, ‘moments’ allow public sharing with similar functionality like Facebook. Brands have taken advantage of ‘public accounts’ to share through celebrities and influencers to reach out to their target audience.

 

WeChat allows sharing by invitation only, which seems somewhat restricted. However, its playful tools like ‘Shake’, ‘Message Bottle’ and ‘QR code’ combining with offline marketing effort, helps brand to mobilize fans. If these tools are being used effectively, the result could be worth the while since the number of users on WeChat is increasing rapidly.

 

There are a lot of opportunities for company who wants to promote and sell through WeChat. The chance of having a successful launch, pre-defined clear objectives and goals are necessary.

 

Within corporate account registration on WeChat, it has separated between two types of function, namely ‘Subscription’ and ‘Service’ account. Both require brands with China registered company. Either account provides more flexibility in communications with back office menu set up and traffic data reports.

 

‘Service Account’ allows brands like Sephora to establish direct sales channel on its existing WeChat without moving out of the platform. It is smooth and easy for transactions to take place. To establish this, there are requirements that company needs to fulfill besides being a registered China company.

 

With the growing list of shops, malls, group purchase channels on WeChat, there are many ways to further enhance brand’s presence even without an official account. Why is it important to establish a mobile presence in China in addition to desktop set up? 10 out of 9 young Chinese carry smart phone. News, information and online social activities take place on their mobile gadget. Chinese netizens trust comments through their social media network. Any brand wishes to establish a rapport with its target audience needs to be seen and found online and especially on mobile tools.

 

Bringing your social media mobile is no longer an option, but a requirement. WeChat is presently the best mobile network tool to penetrate into China market.

 

 

 

The Secret of Designers’ Success – Social Media Secrets

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Have you wonder what could be difference between a successful designer and one who tried twice as hard and never get a break?

Besides talent, network, exposure, money, knowledge and operation support, the concoction cannot be completed without participation of fans. Only with a group of advocates are you a step ahead.

While waiting to be discovered, consider taking advantage of technology, using social media to build your brand.

The benefits are huge. You are talking directly with fans, create awareness, communicate and hear what they say about you. You can decide on your product launch at anytime. Link your collection to e-Shop or your retail outlet and start promoting, interacting and selling immediately.

What you now need is a social media specialist to put things together while leaving you to continue to do your best creation.

Do consider a proper social media company that can deliver quality result for you. It is a human intensive work and should be done be a team with product and market knowledge. Social media specialist needs to work on the fundamental of the market, corporate / brand philosophy combine with human psychology, sociology and technology to help you grow strategically.

Understand what the audience wants and provide the kind of information that are inviting. Simply promoting your brand, offering discount without other interesting content could be a put off to fans and eventually cause them to fade out.

While you are creating, consider using technology to help you grow. Select a right social media company to help you grow your fans base and involve in answering fans on a fixed schedule weekly. Leave social media to the expert.

7 almost FREE China Retail Market Entry Steps

Map of ChinaRetail competitions have been very keen these days. Least to say, starting a retail business could be more challenging for designers and new brand owners. If you are looking at expanding into China, here are some tips that might save you cost and time. Be ready to find lots of dos and don’ts in this blog…. bare with me

1) Be different
There are so many brands entering China market daily, which is the one that will capture the audience? It is usually the one, which is different and brings in a refreshing look or idea.
Take a good look at your own brand. What you find common might be treasure to your target market. Look deep.

2) Hire local promoters
It is a natural course to begin China expansion through your China counterpart. However, besides language and culture support, you still need to seek professional help. Don’t totally rely on them.

Local service providers help to promote your brands and set up the entire operation when you do not want to do it internally. You need not reinvent the wheel.

Don’t leave your brand development totally to your agent or exporters without providing any real marketing support unless you just want to remain on trading ground and not developing your brand.

3) Brand name
Since most Chinese consumers are not comfortable with foreign language, have your brand name properly translated that they could say the name easily.
Don’t forget to register your trademark/brand. Believe me, it will avoid lots of painful legal issues in future. You don’t want to give away your hard work overnight.

4) Website
Ensure you have your website set up and you can be found. Buyers and distributors will first go online to check your brand out (almost immediately). It would be a disadvantage to you if you cannot be found online. SEO and search marketing will help your website receive higher exposure. It pays off in the long run.

Your website needs not be too decorative but should define clearly your brand and show off your product in a professional level. Don’t play down on your retail outlets, do show pictures of your shop front. Picture is worth a thousand words. Use them!

5) Pricing strategy
There is a magical price range for every product sells online.
Discount carries a heavy weight for online retail products. Both high end and low pricing products could benefit from such activities.
Price comparison always works well especially for merchandize with retail points. Customers already have the feel and touch advantages, they could easily be drawn into a buying mood if discount is good.

6) Logistic and Storage
Storing your goods in China is logical but complicated to exercise especially for branded products. Besides storage, you need to consider delivery cost, importation paperwork and taxation.
It is perhaps wise to consider using an e-Shop courier to handle delivery and storage and work from Hong Kong. Taking advantage of Hong Kong proximity and being a tax free zone, delivery would be faster compare to sending goods from overseas and enjoy an easy taxation system.

7) Payment
The most crucial part of your business is to receive orders and payment. Many Chinese consumers are uncomfortable paying through foreign credit card or PayPal. Some of the foreign e-Shops are facing such issues (my earlier blog explained that).

Have an agent or service provider to settle the payment on your behalf might be the quickest solution.

Entering into China marketing is like any other part of the world, but the process could be different due to policy and common practice. Make the first move and things will fall into places as you seek.

Share with us your retail success, tips or questions.

Contributed by
Sarah MM, Founder and Director of Red Line – China Retail Help
sarahmm@a-redline.com