When it comes to advertising in China, the channel we get asked about most often is WeChat — China’s SuperApp.
It’s one of the most popular channels — and for good reason — it has over 1 BILLION daily active users!
What else makes WeChat worth paying attention to?
- 150 million international users make it a great way to target Chinese buyers outside China
- In 2019, online companies in China spent an average of 21% of their online ads budget on WeChat alone
- WeChat Pay has over 900 million monthly active users
- The average user spends over 90 minutes on WeChat each day
- There are over 2.3 million WeChat Mini Programs, eclipsing the 2.2 million apps on Apple’s iOS store
- The average user logs in to view WeChat Moments updates up to 10 times per day
You can find more WeChat (and other channel) statistics here.
But what makes a successful WeChat advertising strategy? And which are the top tactics you should utilize to succeed? Here are 3 among many…
WeChat Tactic #1 — Use the insane targeting options
WeChat comes with granular and advanced targeting options. For obvious reasons, this makes it very attractive to advertisers, especially those who have niched down and know exactly who they’re targeting.
Those who haven’t yet niched love it too.
Why? Because it allows them to run many small tests and see who responds the best. From there they can develop their key target audiences. It’s a real win-win.
The sooner you get clear on your audience, the sooner you can save on ad spend by speaking to only the right audience. Beyond what’s shown in this screenshot are interest and behaviour targeting that are both incredibly granular.
Behaviours and interests as specific as:
- Cheap/budget cars
- Mid-range cars
- Exclusive cars
- Electric vehicles
- Gasoline-powered vehicles
Or perhaps you’re in the gaming business:
- Client-hosted games
- Browser games
- Mobile games
- Single-player games
- Console games
- Board games
- RPG enthusiasts
- ARPG enthusiasts
- Roundup game enthusiasts
- MOBA enthusiasts
- Card game enthusiasts
- Sports game enthusiasts
- Music game enthusiasts
- Simulation game enthusiasts
- Puzzle game enthusiasts
- Shooting game enthusiasts
- Dressup game enthusiasts
- Fighting game enthusiasts
- Adventure game enthusiasts
- Racing game enthusiasts
- Game platform enthusiasts
- Children’s games
- Fairy tale games
- Magic based games
- War games
- Female-oriented games
- Sword fighting games
- Science fiction games and more
WeChat Tactic #2 — Treat it differently from your Facebook campaigns
While you can draw similarities between WeChat and a number of Western advertising channels, it would be a mistake to treat them the same.
In the West, organisations often post without interacting in the comments or having a dialogue with their followers. The ones that do often do better, but it isn’t strictly necessary.
However, in China, interaction and responses to comments are expected. It’s standard practice.
Doing it shows authenticity, responsiveness, customer service and care – among other things.
WeChat Tactic #3 — Set up automated customer enquiry chat replies
WeChat lets you set up welcome messages that new followers see. In addition to these, you can set up auto-reply messages based on particular keywords. This enables you to automate some of your top queries, and save human resources for use on less common queries, or more creative work.
But with AdChina.io, it’s even better in a few ways:
- It’s easier to manage – less crazy-technical
- Great for testing display ads, as it has great targeting and a massive user base
- You can see real-time-adjusted reach estimates as you dial in your targeting
- You receive analytics and reports all in English
Our one-of-a-kind platform lets businesses, brands, and organisations advertise and sell into China across the top channels. With detailed reports and data, you can clearly see which campaigns are performing when it comes to your impressions, clicks, cost, or CPC. Full breakdowns give you exactly what you need to inform your future campaigns.
What ad placement options exist on WeChat?
Ad placement #1: WeChat 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”.
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.
Also, 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.
Ad placement #2: WeChat Official Account Banner
Banner ads can be seen in the middle or at the bottom of Official Account articles.
In addition, when clicked banner ads on WeChat display a Chinese landing page with additional information about the product, along with a call-to-action. Clicking on the CTA button or some highlighted text then takes the visitor to another Chinese landing page with further actions such as following an account, claiming a coupon, or downloading an app.
This type of ad is primarily used to raise awareness and build familiarity with new brands.
Ad placement #3: WeChat Mini Program
Finally, Mini Program ads appear within the Mini Program interface. These are essentially mini-apps all contained within the WeChat application. These ads are capturing a growing amount of traffic and becoming more popular.
Of particular interest are e-commerce and mobile games, making up 21% and 23% of Mini Program advertisers respectively.
So know you know the ad placements that exist. Now how do you actually run an effective campaign?
How to drive sales with your WeChat advertising strategy
It’s not easy to find a decent summary of what makes a great WeChat advertising campaign. Especially in English created for international marketers.
If you’ve looked around for successful WeChat advertising campaigns, you might have run into this problem.
The search results are filled with pages of ultra-innovative strategies used by ‘top-tier’ brands with eye-watering marketing budgets.
It’s not that these articles are bad or unhelpful. There are always valuable lessons and key takeaways. But something about the size and status of those organisations can feel a little unrelatable.
It’s a lot harder to find a quality breakdown, of say — ‘the anatomy of a great WeChat ad’ — for example.
Creating truly groundbreaking campaigns that go viral and attract national attention are simply not realistic. They’re rare for a reason.
But, the good news is if you’re marketing effectively you probably don’t want national attention — you want the attention of those squarely in your target audience.
Anatomy of a great WeChat advertising strategy
Testing: Learn and iterate to see what works for you
When it comes to advertising in China, strategy underpins everything. One key strategy that separates winners and losers in the advertising space is being prepared to learn.
Undoubtedly, that means being flexible and willing to change things up is important. Different angles and ideas won’t always connect equally.
It also means deciding on the optimal channel to start. Then branching out after gaining traction.
Acknowledging that there are no silver bullets — also critical.
As is adapting your message and strategy to fit a Chinese audience. You can simply translate your ads used in the West. That can work. We’ve seen it work. We’ve also seen completely different ads from entirely different angles designed to connect better with a Chinese audience do extremely well. You can see some of our recommendations on that front here.
Placement: Which is most suitable?
If you’re starting with WeChat, you have a choice between the above placement options: WeChat Moments, WeChat Official Account (Banner Ads), or WeChat MiniProgram Ads.
Pick a suitable placement for your particular ad.
Targeting: Dial in the perfect audience
With AdChina.io, you can target based on location, age, gender, education, device and network info, interests, behaviours, and other demographic options. All with real time reach and impression adjustments as you narrow down your target audience.
But, just like with Facebook ads, if you go too broad then your ads won’t connect as well. If you go too narrow, you’ll burn out your audience and show them the advertisement too much.
Great news — Given China’s population it’s hard to go too narrow.
We never say ‘X million is the ideal audience size’ — because it ultimately depends on your niche and budget. What you can do is test an audience of 4 million and an audience of 14 million, and 24 million with everything else the same and find out which works best for your campaign.
Creative: Quality creatives inspire, educate, or entertain
A great WeChat creative ticks a few of the following boxes:
- Teaches something valuable or interesting
- Inspires people to feel emotion
- Entertains them, makes them laugh
- Captures curiosity fast
- Is authentic – posturing and pretending to care about social issues without backing that up with action does not fly in China.
- Is culturally appropriate — at best it connects well with your audience, at the least it doesn’t contain any cultural faux-pas.
- Reflects your brand identity strongly, and the identity of the people interested in what you’re selling
Budget: Test at low budget — Scale up what works, scrap what doesn’t
In addition to that, iteration is key. Scale horizontally.
That means running a lot of campaigns to collect learnings, then continuing and optimising what works (according to your goal, be it followers or conversions) – and eliminating the rest.
Chances are you do a similar approach to your advertising outside China.
However, the best part is you spend a little to learn a lot, then your main budget goes into campaigns that have demonstrated success. And you keep learning a lot as you test and tweak affordably over time.
If your organisation is interested in taking advantage of the incredible power of WeChat ads in China, you can learn more about WeChat (and many of China’s top promotional channels) by creating a free AdChina.io account today. Our WeChina marketing tool and platform gives you complete transparency while running ads.