Social CRM in China: Inspiring Engagement, Gaining Meaningful User Insights


Iris Chan | April 16, 2021

Credit: Unsplash

WeChat communities may be growing, but more than half of a typical luxury brand’s followers are inactive. How can brands drive more meaningful engagement with its users and generate conversions?

As the digital ecosystem in China continues to evolve, so has the dynamics of content marketing on the nation’s super app WeChat. Many brands tend to view WeChat with the same lens as they do other social media platforms, benchmarking performance against traditional indicators such as fanbase growth and content engagement metrics (e.g. likes and comments). However, the objective of content marketing on WeChat should be focused on driving users closer to the act of purchase (or repurchase), with brands evaluating engagement metrics like clickthrough rates and traffic to online or offline POS.

Most brands on WeChat make use of the Service Account model, which allows them a maximum of four content pushes a month, delivered directly to the message inboxes of followers. Given the level of intrusiveness of such a communication method, the relationship between a brand and user on WeChat is far more active. Users follow a selection of brand accounts for a reason or purpose unlike on platforms such as Weibo, Instagram or Twitter where they might follow hundreds or thousands of brands passively.

However, the latest WeChat Luxury Index 2021 report by DLG (Digital Luxury Group) and JINGdigital found that on average, more than half of a luxury brand’s followers are not actively engaging with it on the platform. This is a huge missed opportunity considering the value of an active participating follower on a platform like WeChat.

One way for brands to address this issue is to leverage WeChat’s open API and integrate a Social CRM backend with its WeChat operations. This will open up a host of possibilities for brands to tag, track and reactivate followers based on the consumer life cycle and design user journeys that can help to better drive engagement. This will also give brands even greater visibility on user actions and interactions with the brand.

However, it is important to note that WeChat won’t deliver insights passively about its users. Instead, the onus is on brands to extract meaningful insights by creating scenarios that drive user-initiated behaviours and actions. There is a vast amount of information to be mined, and rather than gathering data for the sake of it, data will only be valuable if it provides insights that move the needle for a brand’s business. So how can brands better drive engagement with users and yield more meaningful insights?

Segmenting User Groups

One way brands can maximise engagement with users is by segmenting audiences based on their interests, preferences or even the channel through which they followed the brand. By doing so, they will be able to better customise content and communications to target different user groups, increasing the chances of them interacting with the brand.

Content customisation does not necessarily mean that brands have to develop separate pieces of content for different user groups. Instead, they can simply optimise content pushed to different segments by tweaking elements such as the headline, article cover image or abstract to suit the interests and preferences of the target group. Such a practice has shown to be highly successful in reducing the rate at which users unfollow the brand in the 48 hours following a content push, and also increase the clickthrough rate to product pages embedded in articles.

Being one of the top sources for WeChat follower acquisition, QR codes are one of the methods through which brands can easily carry out audience segmentation. By tagging these QR codes based on location (eg. event vs. retail, store window vs. register) or activity (eg. brand article, e-commerce campaign, offline pop-up, etc.), and setting up automated welcome journeys (upon scanning a QR code) that are customised to different entry points, brands can do more than simply greet new users – they can offer link destinations for users based on their interests, ask them relevant questions, or invite them to the brand’s WeChat Mini Program store to discover the latest collection as well.

Test and Learn

With this segmentation in place, brands will also be able to leverage basic demographics provided by WeChat to carry out A/B Testing on baseline variables like article headlines, images, timing of posts, formats and layouts to gain a sense of what works best for its community. Through this, brands will also be able to gather more data about its followers’ preferences, allowing them to further reassess and optimise the testing activities. For instance, brands can test interest in a new product by offering a preview to selected segments and glean insights on the best approach to communicate about the launch, officially.

With testing, brands should always consider the impact to its business in order to identify and focus on the variables worth testing. It is important to maintain operational efficiency and consistency, while leaving room to continually pivot and optimise.

Leveraging the 48-hour Window

Another way brands can generate more engagement and activate consumers is with the help of marketing automation and the 48-hour window. User-led actions such as clicking on the navigation menu, messaging, scanning a QR code or following the Official Account, triggers a 48-hour window of opportunity for brands to reach out to consumers directly with no restrictions on the number of messages or content pushed to him or her.

Therefore, brands should consider designing more user-relevant scenarios to encourage that initial action. As a starting point, brands can set up different menu structures or create alternate headlines and cover images for different consumer segments, as well as customise welcome journeys based on QR code placements, to improve the probability of user-led actions.

Beyond inspiring that initial interaction, brands should focus on creating 48-hour journeys that are compelling and set the stage for future conversations ­­­– or directly move users along the consumer journey, driving them towards the act of purchase. These journeys can be differentiated based on consumer segments, and the stage of the consumer journey they are at. For instance, a new follower that arrives on the brand’s Official Account via scanning a QR code at a brand’s recent pop-up event at a high-end department store in Shanghai can be defined as a “Lead”, with the potential to purchase considering the context. The 48-hour journey could include an automated message that invites him or her to explore the brand’s WeChat Mini Program Store with a direct link to it, or direct him or her to visit an offline flagship store with access to the Store Locator module.

As the WeChat ecosystem grows increasingly saturated with brands and content competing for consumer attention, it is imperative that brands leverage all the tools at their disposal to inspire more meaningful engagement with followers. The possibilities offered to brands via social CRM are aplenty, and it is up to them to harness that potential.

To learn more about WeChat follower acquisition, engagement, content, and key opportunities, watch a recap of our latest DLG Webinar Series: China’s Digital Market on Benchmarking Brand Performance on WeChat.

Omnichannel | Social CRM | Social Media