How to Write Great WeChat Articles

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 06:31
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For most WeChat marketing campaigns, the key is to create great articles. If your target audience finds your articles interesting, funny or useful, you’ll gain followers, grow your brand and increase sales.

You want users to 1) open your article, 2) read through it and 3) share it. Plus, you probably want your readers to contact you, make a purchase or otherwise convert as well.

Read on to learn:

  1. How to adjust your titles, image and descriptions to increase your open rate.

  2. How to increase read rates by using the right style.

  3. How to get more users to share your articles.

  4. Tips on driving contact form submissions and other conversions.

 

How To Get Users to Open WeChat Articles

Everybody on WeChat is busy. They are following many different accounts, and also have the option of getting their news from Toutiao or Weibo, getting their entertainment from Douyin, etc.

Although open rates will vary based on the industry, according to to a report by KAWO, the average WeChat article open rate had dropped to 6% by mid-2018. At NMG, we see open rates of ~7% for our B2B projects, and ~14% for our education projects.

When you first publish a new article, your followers might see it in one of two places depending on the type of account you have:

  1. Subscription Official Account - in the subscriptions folder. 
  2. Service Official Account - in the chat between you and the user.

Service accounts should generally have higher open rates, and they have various other benefits too, so we recommend them for most cases.

In the image below, you can see the chats in my WeChat account. There’s a red dot on the Service Accounts that I haven’t checked yet, along with the title of the last-published article.

After clicking the account name, a user will see the articles for that account. In the image below, you can see the article feed for just that one account. Each article has a title, description (概要) and big teaser image. 

Something important to note is that you don’t need to think about WeChat’s algorithm at all because WeChat’s chats are organized based on the recency of the last message.

Your followers will see updates for all the accounts they follow, and may or may not choose to click through, so you can apply all your focus on the users, rather than trying to guess what an algorithm will do.

 

What Makes a Great WeChat Article Title?

What makes a great WeChat article title? Like any great marketing writing, is tough to pin down. 

I asked an NMG team member how she came up with a title for a particularly popular article. But she wasn’t really able to tell me… It simply came to her. You see, there can be a kind of creative, imaginative magic to content creation that is hard to explain.

That being said, I can easily set some parameters to help guide you.

Keep it short. 

A title can be up to 64 characters long, but it will only show up to 31 characters. Because of the way the Chinese language works, that gives you quite a bit of space for a title. 31 characters can make up about 12-18 words.

Feel free to make your title shorter than the visible length. Short, punchy titles normally outperform overly wordy ones.

Don’t use clickbait. 

It might help with open rates for that individual article, but users probably won’t read it or share it. Plus, they’ll be less likely to open your future articles since they won’t trust you as much (more on this below).

Speak their language: Use the exact words of your target audiences. ​

Are you selling raspberries but your potential customers are all calling them “razzberries”? Then let grammar take a backseat, because it turns out you’re in the business of selling razzberries!

This tip is especially useful for professional services agencies. They can have a habit of giving their services overly complex buzzword names.

Lightly optimize for search.

Besides finding your article via feeds, users can find it via WeChat search too. If it makes sense to add search keywords to the article, do so.

But make this a much lower priority than attracting your followers to click and open.

As a sidenote, you might want to reformat and repost your WeChat articles in other places such as Zhihu, because that will help you pickup more search traffic. Check the massive China Digital Marketing 101 for more info.

Indicate what type of content it is.

Is it a “How To” post? Then say it. 

One of the popular terms our team has been using this year is “干货”, which is pronounced “Ganhuo” and means “Dried Goods”. It’s used in the title of articles that get straight to the point and give the reader some actionable info.

Example: “干货 | Postern代理工具使用指南” (Dried Goods - Postern Agent Tool Guide).

Other clickable things to include:

  1. Analysis Of ______

  2. __________ Study

  3. X Tips On _____

  4. Important Notification:  ____

Basically, if you have a favourite style of title that you use outside of China, the same idea can probably be applied to China as well.

 

WeChat Article Descriptions

The article description (概要) is shown in the list of articles on the account’s page, but only if there’s only one article in the batch (see image above). It can also be seen when somebody shares the article in a chat (see below).

You can use the description to give a little bit of extra information to entice people to click.

If your article has a punchy first sentence (which it should), you could start off with that. As a person begins to read it, they’ll naturally want to click to continue reading.

Another useful tactic is to mention something else that is in the article...something that they might not have learned from the title.

A third useful tactic is to announce the personal/professional benefits of reading the article.

 

What Makes a Great WeChat Article Teaser Image?

Images are very prominent, so they’re very important as well.

Choose an image that is simple, clear, centered and relevant to the core topic of the article. 

It’s tough to crop the images to perfection, because images are shown in slightly different formats based on which part of WeChat they show up in. You can count on the top, bottom and side margins of the image being out of view in various cases.

Occasionally, images will appear tiny. To understand that, you need to know what multiple article pushes are.

 

What About Multiple Article Pushes?

Both Service and Subscription accounts have limits on the amount of posts they can make. But, each “post” can contain up to eight articles.

The post below by Nintendo contains two articles. The first has a big image and title. The other only has a small image and title. There’s even a third and fourth article in this post, but those aren’t visible until clicking through from the Subscriptions folder to Nintendo Switch’s account.

If you post multiple articles each time, make sure that the image of the first article is extra catchy.

The first article in a batch will have a much higher open rate than the others. The chart below is from a report on the top 500 WeChat accounts. You can see the open rates start at 4.3%, then drop to 1.6%, then drop sharply to 0.6% and go even lower.


 

What About Subscription Accounts?

Although subscription accounts can post more content, their posts only show up in the Subscriptions folder.

Here you can see the WeChat Subscription folder second on the list. Although that makes Subscription Accounts an extra click away, the prior advice for titles and images still holds true.


 

One More Thing - Be Consistent

The tips above will help improve your open rate for any given WeChat article.

But remember, your overall open rates will be affected not only by the article itself, but by how much your readers enjoyed your previous articles. 

On the other hand, if you tricked them with clickbaity titles, disappointed them, or didn’t meet their expectations they might keep following you but simply stop opening many of your articles.

So be consistent!

When we’ve taken on WeChat article writing role for existing WeChat accounts, we’ve seen a bump in two phases. First, we see an immediate increase in open rates because of better titles and images. Then, we see a delayed improvement of all metrics as users begin to enjoy the articles more. 

However, when working with marketing teams, keep in mind that it can be tempting for marketers to ‘cheat’. It would be easy to increase immediate open rates with clickbaity titles or sexy images, but those would decrease long-term results.

How To Get Users To Actually Read Your WeChat Articles

Once a user has clicked on your WeChat article, you can celebrate! But wait...will they read on, or will they go back to checking out that cute boy on the subway train and completely forget about your well-crafted article?

Once they look at your article, you have a brief moment in which to motivate them to read more.

Users might read your first sentence or two, or they might scan up and down the article a bit to see if any of the headings or images grab their attention.

WeChat Style

WeChat definitely has a certain style to it. It’s not quite like a blog, and not quite like a newsletter either. Check out this 3-minute video to get a feel for what a WeChat article looks like. 

 

 

A WeChat article can contain text, images, video, audio and even mini-programs. Of these, you should always use text and images. 

But we recommend including short videos wherever they might be useful (more on that below).

Part of the style is determined by WeChat, because authors have less flexibility in choosing formatting options than they would on their own website. But part of it is just WeChat’s culture.

 

WeChat Article Design and Fonts

When working with clients, we’ll set out the branding based on their guidelines, but make sure to keep the fonts large and easily readable. When in doubt, make the fonts larger. 

20-something marketers can sometimes forget how the eyes of a 50-something target reader work, so we advise our TMs to look at their phone from further away and with a slightly dimmed screen.

To make the work easier, we use WeChat tools such as Xiumi. It makes it a lot easier to arrange the text, images and design elements more quickly. It also helps keep a brand’s WeChat article formats consistent from one article to the next.

Although WeChat is a mobile-first platform, it’s also possible for readers to open WeChat articles in a browser on a desktop. It’s best that you double-check your article across both formats.

 

Writing for WeChat

As for the style of writing, we feel there’s more flexibility to be, for lack of a better word, “Internetish” on Chinese digital media. 

When clients of ours strictly stick to the professional writing style they use abroad, they often up being perceived as overly stodgy or boring by their Chinese fans. This is true even in the B2B arena.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you should slack off when it comes to the thoroughness of your research and writing. It just means that you do not have to avoid these things:

  1. Emojis

  2. Emotion in general

  3. Memes

  4. Tasteful humour

 

Videos in WeChat Articles

Videos can be inserted directly into WeChat articles, and we recommend you do so if possible. 

(Note that videos can also be shared in a separate area of WeChat, but that’s a different kind of marketing tactic.)

There are three common ways you should use videos in articles.

Use introductory videos near the top of the article. 

This is great if you have video content that is meant to inspire or entertain the reader, before moving on to explain the topic more thoroughly via text.

Use a comprehensive video.

By “comprehensive”, I mean a video that covers pretty much everything that the article covers. It should also be placed near the top of the article.

Insert short explainer videos.

Some things are just easier to explain with a video.  If you find yourself using text to convey something very visual in nature, consider using an image or video in its place. After all, we’re talking about marketing here, not literature.

 

‘Original Content’ Designation

You should also apply for the “原创” (original) mark on your articles. If other people copy the article, it will show your account name on it, driving more traffic back to your account.

You might sometimes want to make exceptions to this rule though. For example, if you’re a brand with many distributors, they might want to use your content but make the sales themselves. In that case it could be better to let them and others simply copy your content.

 

Improving WeChat Article Share Rate

The simplest way to get more shares of your article is to ask. At the end of your article, kindly suggest that the reader share the article.

For them to share, the article needs to not only be good enough that they find it useful, but polished enough that it makes them look good.

While a sloppy grammar error or two might not stop a reader from reading, they might stop the reader from sharing.

 

Driving Conversions on WeChat

Hopefully the content above helped you learn how to create WeChat articles that are more likely to be opened, read and shared. Now, let’s keep your end goals in mind.

Your goal might be simply to get followers, but the projects we work on always have an ultimate goal that is sales-oriented. The most common goals are:

  1. Contact 

  2. Get more info

  3. Register

  4. Make a purchase

Every one of your articles can have a conversion opportunity at the end. However, not everyone of your articles should be about your company. In fact, most (or even all) of your articles should merely be focused on providing value to the reader. 

After you’ve provided fans with genuine value for free, some of them might be interested in engaging further. That’s when you can insert your call to action.

Ex: “Want to learn how much money XYZ factory automation software can save you per year? Contact us for a free quote.”

 

WeChat “Contact” Options

You can drive “contact us” leads through several channels.

Users can message you directly via WeChat. 

This is a handy option for them because it’s just a click or two away. Plus, they may feel comfortable knowing that you won’t be able to endlessly spam them in the future.

Users can click a link to go to your website.

Articles contain a “Read more” link. You can configure it to go to a landing page on your website, or wherever else you want.

Users can click to an H5 page.

Besides your website landing page, an H5 page within WeChat can also be created. It can be configured as a contact form, allowing you to gather more information such as a phone number, email address and inquiry details. This is especially useful if you’re using other marketing tools that work better when you have this information (CRM, retargeting, etc).

 

Next Steps

Hopefully this was useful for you.

As you improve your content on WeChat, you’ll want to measure the results. That way you can know what works and what doesn’t.

Check out WeChat’s analytics back-end to get stats on open rates, read rates, share rates and a lot more.

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