Social Consumer Relationship Management (SCRM) allows brands to directly communicate with customers across different platforms. In China, the digital ecosystem is highly developed, and WeChat continues to reign supreme. The multipurpose app clocked 1 billion daily active users at the end of last year, meaning that WeChat is omnipresent in the everyday life of Chinese consumers. It makes sense, therefore, that WeChat is the most effective tool for brands to build a stronger relationship with their customers.
As the backend of WeChat develops, it offers more SCRM features. There has also been a rise in third party backend integration through application programming interfaces (API), making it easier for brands to adapt SCRM functions to meet their changing demands.
WeChat allows third party SCRM platforms to generate parametric QR codes, which tag consumers to the locations or channels through which they start following the account. The prevalence of QR codes in Chinese consumers’ shopping journey is unique to China, with almost every store in the country, from international luxury brands to hole-in-the-wall street vendors, displaying their QR codes for payment and other services. The beauty of embedding QR codes with specific parameters, is that they allow brands to associate their followers with location tags within the SCRM database. This enables brands to push targeted welcome messages, or link users to a personalised sales associate when they chat with the brand on WeChat. It also allows marketers to assess the performance of their recruitment sources.
“Through parametric QR codes, dynamic tagging and advanced segmentation, brands are able to customize communication to their clients rather than simply broadcasting the same message to its entire community. According to the WeChat Luxury Index 2018 – a study we published last year – the open rate of posts that targeted audiences with custom content was 50 percent higher than regular posts that were pushed en masse,” said Pablo Mauron, Partner and Managing Director China of DLG (Digital Luxury Group).
Kering-owned luxury jewellery brand Qeelin has been placing parametric QR codes at multiple consumer touchpoints since end-2017. This has dramatically increased its follower recruitment rate on WeChat.
Once a consumer’s details are captured, often through QR codes in the case of China, they can be added to the brand’s CRM database. APIs can then be employed to share this information with a WeChat loyalty programme. Due to the reach of WeChat, the company is able to provide its business clients the best insights available on their consumer base.
“WeChat Mini-programmes offer obvious advantages to users when it comes to offering a fast and convenient to access membership or loyalty programmes”, said Mauron.
A good example of this would be American label Coach, which uses its loyalty programme to enrol, re-engage and enhance the shopping experience of users. Its exclusive members section allows WeChat followers, who have purchased a product, to access to member benefits, such as membership point management, exclusive consumer services and more.
Thanks to the wealth of knowledge that WeChat gathers on Chinese consumers, brands are able to leverage this information to enhance their CRM databases with behavioural data, through QR codes, dynamic tagging and advanced segmentation. This allows brands to customise their communication and content for their target audience, rather than broadcasting one message to its entire user group.
The open rate of targeted, brand generated posts with custom content is 50 percent higher than regular posts pushed in a group, according to research in the 2018 WeChat Luxury Index, published by DLG and marketing automation solutions expert JINGdigital.
Brands are able to leverage a 48-hour window after a new follower’s initial interaction with their Official Account to proactively engage with them. Thanks to WeChat API, the SCRM platform gives brands the opportunity to set different forms or follow-up messages for specific interactions within that period.
What’s more, form completion rates improve by almost 20 per cent if the engagement trigger is sent within two seconds, rather than 30 seconds, after a user’s initial action, according to data compiled by JINGdigital.
As mentioned, parametric QR codes are an important way of linking both the online and offline aspects of a brand, however, QR codes are not the only O2O system out there. SCRM O2O incentives can work both ways, such as online e-coupons or reservations driving consumers offline or calls to action in the offline world, such as QR codes, pushing customers online.
Burberry successfully integrates its online to offline luxury experience through a seamless, exclusive, personalised service appointment WeChat Mini Programme. This booking system not only drives users into Burberry boutiques to meet dedicated sales staff, but it also allows the brand to collect personalised data.
There is no hard and fast rule for good SCRM strategy, as it depends on a brand’s culture and objectives. Strategy should therefore be considered on a case by case basis.
“The most important component of a successful CRM programme, in China, is directly linked to the objectives that the brand wants to achieve, the type of data it requires and how it is being captured. Also, the experience and benefits it provides to the users”, said Mauron.
What's more, in order to form a cohesive strategy in line with the brand’s goals, a pick and mix approach to SCRM practices should be engaged, applying a range of tools at different times.
“Fendi and Dior are two of our top brands that utilised SCRM to its best. Fundamentally, they paid a lot of attention to make the engagement with each of their customers better. This can be proved by the track record of their customer life cycle management, loyalty programmes, personalised content, as well as the automated recursive campaigns from global as well as the local level,” said Kai Hong, Chairman and Partner at JINGdigital.