The Authoritative Guide To Winning More Chinese Customers with WeChat Advertising.

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Why WeChat is the must have media for your China marketing.

WeChat, or Weixin as it is called in China, is the most “social” social media in the world! Like no other app, it uniquely supports so many aspects of Chinese daily life for over one billion monthly (900 million daily) users – so to succeed at doing business in China as a consumer or business marketer, it’s crucial to get your WeChat digital advertising program right, and right from the start!

This guide walks you through joining WeChat with a free personal account and setting up the more versatile Official Account for your business, as well as getting the required approval to advertise on China’s super app. We then supercharge your digital marketing by showing you the proper structure of WeChat’s main ad units, providing examples of some successful campaigns, plus suggest some easy-to-implement advanced techniques and considerations.


Introduce and Blend Your Brand Into Chinese Daily Life.

WeChat is a vast network of many groups and communities – an interconnected ‘social ecosystem’ whereby people are continuously using the platform through their day or week, posting and sharing content, following brands, and using special mini programs to find their way to locations, compare and buy products and pay various bills. So there are quite a few opportunities where your product or service’s brand story can become easily integrated into the day-to-day lives of your best prospects and continuing customers.

WeChat Comprehensive Services: Powerful Marketing 

Put In The Hands Of Every Marketer

WeChat has been central for Chinese companies as part of a social media digital marketing strategy, to share information and boost their brands, and so foreign marketers can benefit from this fast move into conversational commerce in China, that is, e-commerce via chat/messaging, in addition to the social media-style posting capabilities, mini-Web browser and mini-programs allowing companies to provide a complete e-commerce offering entirely within the WeChat app.

Official Accounts

Businesses can qualify and register as an Official Account on WeChat. This allows them to push feeds to both individuals and other businesses to provide them with information and services. 

There are three kinds of Official Accounts: service accounts, subscription accounts, and enterprise accounts. Once an individual or a company opens a certain type of account, it cannot be changed. Official Accounts of businesses and other organizations can then apply to be verified, which costs 300 RMB (about USD $45). Other Official Accounts act as an online service platform for convenient visa renewalor credit card services and hospital or doctor office pre-registration, etc.

Subscription Account verses Service Account

A WeChat subscription account is the basic type of business or individual account, allowing push content and notification updates for subscribed followers displayed in the subscription area of a user’s WeChat messages. These accounts do not support WeChat payment service.

The service account is for those businesses or organizations that require more advanced features on WeChat. It offers more Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) than subscription accounts. This allows more sophisticated firms the tools to create their own applications based on WeChat APIs. This technical functionality allows those users to see the information when viewing their messaging page. Service accounts also support WeChat payment service, and therefore require additional documents during the application process.

Moments

Moments is what WeChat has dubbed it’s social feed of friends’ updates. It allows users to post images, text, and comments, to share music and articles, plus post “likes”. Further, Moments can be also be linked to one’s Facebook and Twitter accounts when not restricted, and can scheduled to automatically post Moments content directly to these two other platforms.

WeChat Pay Payment Services

In China, over 80 percent of WeChat users (about 800 million consumers) have trustingly linked bank accounts, as well as Visa, MasterCard and JCB credit cards to WeChat’s digital wallet to instantly make mobile payments and send money to contacts.

It’s quite common to use the app instead of cash for quick, in-person purchases throughout one’s day, as well as pay monthly bills, order goods and services, transfer money to others with WeChat payments accepted practically everywhere.

Payment services have turned out to be a critical element establishing and maintaining WeChat’s vast ‘social ecosystem’ whereby users are increasingly using the messaging service, posting and sharing content, following brands, and using mini programs to find locations, buy products and pay for things.

WeChat Mini Programs

In 2017, WeChat launched “Mini Programs”.These are an app within an app. Businesses can create mini apps in the WeChat system, implemented using JavaScript plus a proprietary API. Users may install these inside the WeChat app. In January 2018, WeChat announced a record of 580,000 mini-programs. With one program, consumers could scan a quick response (QR) code at a supermarket counter to pay from their mobile wallet. Mini Programs allow various businesses to instantly sell to their customers, using WeChat Pay for payment.

Efficiently Reach And Engage With The Customers You Want

WeChat has a large number and wide range of users with differing ages. Business that place advertisements on WeChat have a wide range of potential customers.

Advertisers can precisely target their best prospects by specific demographic characteristics including gender, age, education, industry, interests, location, mobile devices, and cell phone services provider. Some psychographic tendencies surrounding how users act and react on WeChat can also be specified.

Deepen relationships and sell more to current customers

While it’s true you should and probably are actively nurturing existing and previous customers, most consumers are being bombarded with competitive offers and other messages throughout their busy week. Therefore as a defensive measure, your brand must also be reaching them even when they are not actively involving themselves with immediate purchasing decisions. So connecting with WeChat’s huge base of potential customers could be the determining factor evolving users from prospect into customers by sending content that informs, educates and leaves a powerful, lasting impression.

EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND ADVERTISING OPTIONS

WeChat Ad Sizes

Across their various advertising programs, WeChat has streamlined the ad unit sizes to five popular formats for interchangeable convenience: MR note: section needs work…

640×800 Image + Text WeChat Moments

800×800 Image + Text WeChat Moments

800×640 Image + Text WeChat Moments

114×114 Image + Text Official Account Banner Ad

582×166 Image Official Account Banner

Then you can creatively present your brand persona’s VI (visual identity and MI (mental identity through clickable HTML (H5) landing pages, linked videos, as well as your website or an ecommerce platform like Taobao, T-Mall or a more industry specific site.

WeChat Moments

Advertising on “Moments” is like a cross between Facebook’s on-page ads and it’s newsfeed – where you see your friends’ posts and updates. Ads here look just like normal Moments posts, yet with an additional “Sponsored” tag in the high right corner.

Moments ads can be used to promote an official account or a campaign, encourage users to download an app, distribute coupons, as well as launch location-based promotions.

Before WeChat Moments ads began in 2015, the Moments section had already often become a place for brands to promote themselves. 

In the beginning, an advertiser would buy a campaign directed to 600 personal accounts, with each of these “qualified” accounts having 500+ contacts to be in the network. Qualified accounts then forwarded promotional messages to their list of “friends”. In this way, a marketer could potentially reach over 300,000 WeChat users per campaign. As you can imagine, this was a very manual and time-consuming process.

Today, WeChat Moments advertising allows brands to promote to their targeted audience in a much more sophisticated way:

A Moments ad can include: 

  • Brand name  (based on the Official Account listing)
  • Profile photo or picture
  • A short description (up to 40 characters)
  • Up to 6 pictures or a 6-15 second video
  • Link(s) to an HTML5 (H5) page or Mini Program

Targeting options

  • Location: supports province, city or district
  • Gender & age: 5 to 60 years old 
  • Education: PhD, master, bachelor, high school, primary (K-8th grade)
  • Marital status: single, married, newly married, raising a child
  • Mobile phone: chosen by OS (iOS, Android), type of network used
  • Interests: 18 categories and 122 sub-categories: Cars, Cosmetics, Health, Home Electronics, Education, Child Education, Entertainment, Finance, Real Estate, Furniture, Fashion, Finance & Business, Personal Services, Politics and Law, Professional Services, Cosmetics, home electronics, Sports, Jewelry, Handbags/Purses, Watches, Shoes, Travel, Jewelry, Politics and Law, Luxury Goods, Drinks, and Internet.
  • WeChat behaviour: Currently following your public account, Already using your App, Collected a WeChat coupon from an ad, Previous interest in your ads, and removes users who are not interested in your content. Recently Lookalike audience targeting have become available.

Call-to- Action

Clicking on the button or highlighted text takes the user to a landing page developed in H5 that sits on a Tencent (WeChat)-hosted server for assured availability. This page can be additional information about the product, along with a call-to-action. Clicking on that new button or some additional highlighted words then takes the visitor to yet another page with further company and product or service content and images, plus the ability to take new actions such as following an account, claiming a coupon, downloading an app, etc.

WeChat Moments Ad Costs

Utilizing a CPM (cost-per-thousand) impressions pricing model, WeChat Moments ads use the pricing model through two schemes:

Bidding scheme offering flexible targeting with a minimum spend of 1,000 RMB (about USD $160) per day

Scheduled pricing scheme for advertisers with a pre-defined media schedule and geographic target market (categorized into three groups: core cities, large cities, and other cities)

These ads run from 50 RMB to 150 RMB (Approximately USD $7.50 to 21.50) CPM for static picture display ads, depending on what cities the ad will run in and whether the ad is primarily text-based with a single photo or includes multiple photos. Video ads cost an additional 20%.

Examples and ad anatomy breakdown ads here

Moments advertising is restricted to:

– Companies registered in Mainland China or Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises   

(WFOE) willing to invest at least 50k RMB (~$8,000 USD)

– Foreign companies able to spend $1,500 – $8,000 USD per campaign

Chinese companies can follow the following link to apply: http://ad.weixin.qq.com/ (http://ad.weixin.qq.com/)

For foreign (non-Chinese) companies work with a dedicated Tencent team. 

Start the process with an email to: partners@wechat.com

[[[CLICK HERE to Learn More]]]

WeChat Account Ads (Standard Banners)

Moments ads can be used to promote an official account or a campaign, encourage users to download an app, distribute coupons and generate more immediate action through location-based promotions. 

Similar to WeChat Moments advertising, one can choose a targeted audience. However, you cannot control which specific WeChat official accounts your ads will appear on. They are served up by availability into “slots” throughout WeChat determined by your demographic selections.

WeChat banner ads contain: 

  • A brand logo
  • Official account name 
  • A headline

CPM or CPC Pricing

Banner advertising on WeChat requires a minimum commitment of 50,000 RMB (about USD $7,250) for both local companies (including registered WFOEs) and foreign companies. It’s important to note, however, this “commitment can be spread out over multiple campaigns or media buys.

Based on city size, the CPM pricing for core cities, like Beijing and Shanghai is 20 RMB (USD $3.60) per thousand, medium to large cities garner 15 RMB (USD $2.95) for each thousand sent out, and other China cities can be targeted for just USD $15 (approximately $2,15) a thousand.

Cost-per-click (CPC) buys start at .50 RMB ($0.07 USD).

Call-to- Action

Clicking on the banner takes the user to a landing page with additional information about the product, along with a call-to-action. Clicking on the CTA button or some highlighted words then takes the visitor to another landing page with further actions such as following an account, claiming a coupon, downloading an app, etc.

Banner Ads are displayed in three locations:

  • The bottom of WeChat article
  • Middle of WeChat article
  • Pre-roll (ahead) of a video within the WeChat post

Examples go here of what they look like (anatomy of an ad)

[[[CLICK HERE to Learn More]]]

Two-Way-Pick Banner Advertising

Launched in 2016, Two-Way-Pick banner ads contain:

  • A bigger picture
  • The brand name
  • A logo 
  • A “learn more” button to take users to a HTML 5 (H5) landing page 

The major difference between classic WeChat banners and Two-way-pick ads is that the latter is available on a performance-based price basis: An agreement between an account and an advertiser: the official account is more directly incentivized and the advertiser has better control over targeting and campaign performance. 

For example, if an article of the account had around 100k views previously, the expected views should range between 80k to 150k views. The official account will receive the full price only if the promised views have been attained. Otherwise, it will only get a proportional percentage of the full, estimated price. Either way, WeChat takes a percentage of the advertising revenue.

To qualify to be considered, official accounts must have a minimum of 20,000 followers to host Two-way-pick banner ads.

A brand or their agency can choose the specific official account(s) they wish to place the ads on – which allows better targeting. Further, visiting prospects are presented with a choice of buttons that more clearly allow them to see what content they want to see next improving both the user experience and the advertiser’s conversion rate.

High Value, But at a High Budget.

One downside is that Tencent (Wechat’s parent) currently only offers these ads a minimum price of 500,000 RMB (~$74,500 USD) to larger advertisers – but it’s a promising sign in the evolution of WeChat advertising!

  • [Examples go here of what they look like, where they show, anatomy of an ad

[[[CLICK HERE to Learn More]]]

Advanced Techniques And Approaches

Generally speaking, the Moments ads that include less than two minutes of well-aligned and relatable mixed media content (text, images, videos, links to purchase, etc.) are the most consistently successful ones.

The most popular and effective Moments Ads contain visually appealing images and upbeat videos that entertain and/or engage, and therefore hold the users’ attention.

Influencer or Key Opinion Leader (KOL) Programs

Just like influencer marketing in the West, you can compensate a popular WeChat blogger to write promotional articles about your product/ service or place a banner ad at the bottom of a content piece. 

As you can imagine, the influencer or KOL economy in China is phenomenal. And if you find the right influencer(s) for your brand, it could be an amazing advantage for gaining market share and increasing sales.

One example is when L’Oréal China cooperated with Papi Jiang—a popular influencer and online blogger who had 10 million+ followers. Well over one million people watched her WeChat video presenting MG beauty products, a L’Oreal beauty brand!


Optimize H5 Landing Pages For Optimal WeChat Campaigns

China is a highly mobile society on the go, so WeChat advertising is rather reliant on the utilization of HTML5 (H5) landing pages as it has become an integral part in digital campaigns, especially mobile platforms like cell phones, etc. Some marketers make the mistake of pushing out basic campaigns because the environment supports it. Rather, let this be a shining opportunity for you and your team to push H5 to its limits and benefit handsomely over those less motivated or aware of all that can be accomplished.

So here are some tips for you to better leverage H5 for WeChat ad development in order to achieve a higher engagement and better performance for visiting and sharing.

Visually Appealing

Attractive images raise results. Spending a bit more on fresh photography or better stock shots can boost the amount of sharing, and therefore increase the page views to a huge extent. And a well-designed story flow is also a must-have if visitors are to be lead to the final destination, which usually also achieves a higher conversion from shopping to sale.

Clear Entrance Links 

Surprising, a great number of ads suffer from low participation simple due to an unclear path to the marketer’s land page. So make sure your clickable buttons and textual offers are visible and provide emphasis on the directions to enter the follow-on landing pages of the campaign.

Data Tracking
T
hrough its use of H5, WeChat landing pages are also a valuable opportunity for collecting important and insightful data for marketers to do subsequent user segmentation and further communication. This is especially true when tracking the relationship chain between users and their referred friends, which brands can identify and turn over the most active and influential users to their brand ambassadors, both on- and offline. 

Call-To-Action Considerations

As we touched on previously in this guide, determining what “action” you want prospects to take when seeing your advertising (i.e. Click on a link to your website for more information, go to an ecommerce site to buy your product now; place a phone call or send an email to your contact center, or visit a physical retail location – is of the highest importance! So how you entice them to take that action depends on what is called your “offer strategy”. Getting people to convert from being a prospect to a buyer needs to be both compelling for them and profitable for you!

As an example, let’s imagine you are a shoe store: Informing your prospects you have “the area’s biggest selection of styles and colors” will likely draw some interest over the next month. Lead with a limited time offer that “all shoes are 20% off this weekend only” and you’ll almost certainly see significantly increased interest (and sales) through the weekend, PLUS an increased number of prospects who aren’t ready to buy are still more likely to read your ad and remember your store after the sale is over. For each kind of business there is a balance among multiple and changing variables to consider in generating awareness, interest, desire and action (AIDA) that marketers need to monitor.

Important Regulations to Consider

Both the China government and WeChat parent Tencent have rules and requirements for advertising each specific industry. We’ll likely expand our look at these in another post, but in the meantime, please take a look on the WeChat official website.

One Platform Makes China Campaign Management A Breeze

AdChina.io

Depending on where your marketing team, agency or media buying service are in the world, time zone and language differences complicate an already complex and ever-evolving frontier. Add to that keeping up on WeChat best practices provides even more challenges. 

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