Since it’s first launch as a chat app back in 2011, WeChat popularity has been growing by leaps and bounds. Today, it is much more than a chat app but a whole ecosystem of related apps with complex functionality. In the last couple of years, Chinese were increasingly moving away from traditional social media outlets, such as Weibo, towards mobile and more private WeChat.

Also, WeChat has become one of the marketing channels for virtually every type of company or a brand in China. Having an official account and actively marketing on WeChat are becoming important elements for every business that realizes the importance of keeping their customers close and engaged.

On the other hand, WeChat has often been a disappointing experience for marketers. Obviously, the huge potential of WeChat in marketing is in its ability to reach users directly through their most beloved and personal item, a cellphone. In addition, there is a possibility to know user’s current location that would allow reaching them with more relevant content. Finally, there is plenty to be learned about those users – from the way they use their phones, to what they are sharing in their moments.

Unfortunately, WeChat, so far, didn’t deliver on that potential. Here are the main deficiencies of their platform from the marketing standpoint:

  1. Few targeting options with marketing on WeChat

    Currently, followers can only be targeted by gender, age, account type and location. Even location can be highly inaccurate as it is determined by account registration and not the physical location of the user;

    Marketing on WeChat advertising
  2. High cost

    WeChat marketing by advertising can also be quite expensive. WeChat charges about 10 RMB per click/follower for ads that are displayed at the bottom of subscription messages. This is quite high compared to other online options, so only big brands would usually go for it. Ads in “Moments”, the relatively recent addition, could potentially deliver higher click through rate but they cost at least 5 times more.

    Marketing on WeChat cost
  3. Low click through rate

    Ads at the bottom of popular accounts are often ignored for a number of reasons. The main problem is that once clicked, the user than will be taken out of the app elsewhere, such to a built in WeChat browser. Since most people don’t casually browse WeChat but have some purpose while using it, they wouldn’t typically abandon their activity in the middle to be redirected elsewhere.
    On the other hand, ads in Moments would have had better chance to be clicked if they were relevant to user’s interests or current location. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    Marketing on WeChat and advertising in User's Moments

 

Considering that marketing on WeChat via advertising delivers relatively low ROI, there are basically 2 other options left to make it work:

  • Engaging WeChat’s KOLs to spread your message and attract followers.
  • Grow WeChat follower’s base organically through promotions in other media.

We will turn to those options in upcoming posts, stay tuned!

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