How To Use WeChat for B2B Marketing + Chinese Business Card Etiquette
Although email is useful for communications in China, you can’t expect it to have the full range of uses it does in the Rest of the World (RoW) market.
In this post, we’ll dig into the super-app WeChat. Chinese people use WeChat a lot! They use it to keep in touch with friends; read the news; make payments at restaurants; get customer support; learn about products and more.
WeChat can be extended with mini-programs that let people shop within WeChat; as well as, get a taxi and use a rental bike; book hotels; earn loyalty points at restaurants and many other things.
But this post isn’t about every possible WeChat feature. How do we actually use WeChat in the B2B area? Luckily, it’s not that complex to understand.
This post is a part of our email course: Top 10 Chinese B2B Marketing Tactics for 2020. If you want to learn more about B2B marketing in China, we will guide you step-by-step; sign up for the ten-part email/video course at the bottom of this page.
WeChat Articles > Email Newsletters, Blog
To make great use of WeChat for B2B marketing, the key is to write great articles.
If your potential Chinese clients want to follow you, they’ll probably want to follow you first on WeChat rather than via email or another social platform. And what about RSS feeds? They probably haven’t even heard of those before.
After they follow your WeChat official account, they can receive up to four articles per month from your account. These articles will show up right where they see their messages from friends.
Let’s put this delivery method in perspective. Your WeChat posts will show up right in the message area of the main messaging app that your target audience is using. In fact, WeChat might be the only messaging app most of them are using. That is so much more powerful than a post on Facebook, which is likely to just get buried in Facebook’s algorithmic feed.
Note that WeChat official accounts come in two flavours: Service and Subscription. We use Service accounts for B2B projects because they have greater functionality and higher article open rates.
Your open rates on WeChat should be pretty good. We expect open rates in the range of 10–30% for our work. Note: this is higher than industry average stats, which are under 5%. But those stats include a wide range of different accounts. We also simply write better content.
Amongst the users that open articles, a good expectation for share rates is about 20%. Users can share a WeChat article on their feed (called Moments), by sending a direct message to a friend or other methods too.
A great WeChat article is one that grabs the reader’s attention and pulls them along smoothly. It should be educational and relevant to your brand, but also easy to read. We tend to use a style that uses:
- short blocks of text,
- short videos (sometimes) and,
- ample design elements.
For some examples, check these two articles. Even if you can’t read Chinese, you can get a sense of the formatting style that we use.
- Customer Loyalty Management | How To Build a Loyalty Project From Zero
- United Arab Emirates Value Added Tax
You can also check this 3-minute video tour of two WeChat articles.
So, now you can get a sense that writing great articles is the key to keeping your followers interested. This brings us to the next point—how do you even get followers to begin with?
Attracting Your First 200 WeChat Followers
The easiest way to get followers is to spend a lot of money on advertising and post content that is funny or sexy. But, that’s not what we do in B2B marketing, is it?
For B2B marketing, we need to attract a relatively small number of followers with a relatively high value-per-follower. Our effort should be focused on attracting followers that are potential buyers, partners, influencers.
The first step to gaining followers is to share the WeChat account everywhere. Users typically follow by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. In China, everybody understands that a QR code means “scan with WeChat” by default.
Here are some ways to get started for free:
- Put the QR code on your website.
- Use the QR code in physical marketing materials (conferences for example).
- Let potential leads connect via WeChat.
- Share with your contacts.
WeChat does not replace your other marketing, especially at the top of the funnel. You will still need to run a search campaign or do outbound sales or collaborate with media in your industry.
Although we don’t usually recommend using ads on WeChat, we do often recommend collaborating with influencers. This is a very popular marketing tactic in China. In Chinese, they actually refer to influencers with the English acronym “KOL”, which means “Key Opinion Leaders”. As an example, we worked with a company that sold medical devices. They needed to get in front of doctors and buyers that help patients with urinary tract infections. To do this, we found a bunch of potential accounts to work with, narrowed them down, created the content and shared it. This drove 700 new followers to their accounts, which were well-targeted people with the ability to buy.
Chinese Culture 101: Business Cards and WeChat QR Codes?
It has become common in China for people to scan each others’ WeChat QR codes to keep in contact. This way you can follow each others’ posts and keep in touch.
However, it’s still the norm to keep business cards as well. While the cards don’t have a functional purpose, they are still part of the cultural dance. To exchange business cards in China, hand it to your contact with both hands, and make sure you hold it so they can see your name and position.
When you receive a card, make sure to read it. If you like, you can comment on it before you put it in your pocket. However, do not: write on the card, place in your back pocket, let coffee spill on it or do anything else that dirties the card.
Luckily, Chinese professionals do not have highly strict expectations for their foreign counterparts to understand Chinese etiquette. If you listen and take a genuine interest in them, their country and business, then they are not likely to be offended if you make one or two minor cultural mistakes. This is likely to cause some debate, so I’ll try to be super clear about what I’m advising here:
- Learn about Chinese culture and etiquette and do your best;
- Always try to listen well (advice that works for communicating with anybody anywhere);
- Try to understand the business situation well, so that you can offer a suitable solution to your buyer;
- Remember to be up-front about your requirements as well.