How Can Singapore Businesses Conduct WeChat Marketing?

WeChat marketing in Singapore

What is WeChat Marketing?

WeChat marketing refers to all processes that are geared towards promoting grow of the business and engaging with the target audience through the popular mobile application, WeChat. It entails sharing content in different formats such as videos, infographics, GIFs, messages etc.

Among Southeast Asian countries and the world at large, a high dependency on digital technology is cropping up. Digitalisation means better consumer services, accelerated market penetration, and high productivity.

Hence, digital marketing has become fast-paced and extremely competitive, with organizations embracing this digital transformation. As more and more businesses shift gears to digital marketing, numerous tools, strategies, and trends are being presented to the market. Updated technologies are defining digital marketing and there seems to be no stopping this new wave.

Here is a video on what is WeChat marketing.

Source: Dan Lok

Digital Marketing in Singapore

Singapore has established itself as the global hub for commerce and trade. Numerous business opportunities are coming up in one of Asia’s strongest technology-enhanced economies, with plenty of opportunities paving the way for SMBs and high-tech businesses in the country.

One factor that has contributed to this is digitalisation. On average, 4.83 million Singaporeans are now online. This is about 80% of the country’s total population. Most of the users use mobile devices to access the internet. This explains why every business in Singapore is going digital.

The table below shows the estimated internet penetration in Singapore.

 

Year

Number of internet users

2017

4.8 million

2018

5.2 million

2019

5.3 million

2020

5.5 million

2021

5.7 million

2022

5.8 million

2023

5.9 million

 

According to statistics, 76% of Singaporeans who are familiar with digital marketing in Singapore agree that the industry has had significant growth in the last few years. While digital marketing in Singapore still has a milestone to cover, the industry continues to grow in the right direction.

Currently, every business has at least a website, social media page, or a mobile app for a marketing campaign.  After realizing the power of digital marketing in Singapore, many businesses are willing to spend a dime to keep up with digital marketing trends.

If you’re in business, you must remain keen on these trends and strategies and become accustomed to the changes as they come. It is paramount that you look out for the trends in digital marketing in Singapore and consequently go to that direction.

Here is an infographic about WeChat statistics.

WeChat statistics

Source: Dragon Social

Overview of Digital Marketing Strategies in Singapore

More and more Singaporean are using ecommerce platforms, which have generated USD 4,906 million in 2019. It is no surprise then that business owners has embraced digital marketing. Digital marketing is used as a way to generate leads, boost sales, promote brand awareness, and improve conversion rates.

For internet marketing in Singapore to succeed, you need to adopt the right promotional strategies that will help you achieve your business goals.  The most common channels used are social networks, search engines, and email marketing.

Here is a brief break-down of some strategies:

1: Invest in a Good Website

Your website is the face of your business, the core of your online marketing campaign. To that end, you need to ensure that your website follows all the guidelines to drive traffic and generate leads. The best decision you can make is seeking professional help from web design agencies.

2: Search Engine Marketing

SEO has become a necessity for you to succeed in digital marketing in Singapore. According to research, about 60% of consumers look up information in search engines such as Google before purchasing a product.

The objective of internet marketing in Singapore is to draw people to your products and services.  Effective SEO will help your website rank high in search engines hence generating leads and increasing conversion rates.

Search engine marketing, also known as pay-per-click, is a common online marketing strategy in Singapore. It entails paying an advertising platform, more often popular search engines, every time a user clicks through your ad.

The table below shows the user percentage of the most common search engines in Singapore.

Search Engine

Percentage of users

Google

96.29%

Yahoo

1.76%

Bing

1.13%

DuckDuckGo

0.23%

3: Content Marketing

Content marketing involves creating and developing various types of content to attract and engage customers. It can be in the form of articles, blog posts, e-books or tweets, all effective in internet marketing in Singapore.

4: Email Marketing

Email marketing in Singapore is a very effective marketing strategy used by business owners to raise brand awareness, connect with prospects, and inform and promote their events or offers. This is because 99% of Singaporeans open their mails every day. 

For email marketing in Singapore to go in the right direction, you need to conform to all the guidelines of proper emailing. Some tactics include having valuable content, right email length, adequate spacing between paragraphs, a strong call-to-action, avoiding including adverts in your emails, to name a few.

5: Social Media Marketing

Social media is huge in Singapore, with millions of users engaging at least one social platform every day. Some of the most common social platforms used by Singaporeans are Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, WeChat, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and others.

The table below shows how Singaporeans use social platforms.

social media usage in Singapore

 

Source: Statista

The numbers above show the popularity of social media and why it is a powerful strategy in internet marketing in Singapore. Using these platforms can help generate leads and increase conversion rates.

For example, Singapore has 4.1 internet users who engage with Facebook daily. Whenever you publish an article and its seen by your followers, the article is shared to broader audiences hence giving you more exposure.

As you can see, digital marketing in Singapore and internet marketing as a whole can help take your business to a new whole level. It has helped bridge the gap between small and large enterprises by enabling the SMBs to reach their target audience and ultimate business goals. The best part is that you can use analytic tools to gauge the success of your online marketing campaign.

With the popularity of social media and the crucial part it plays in digital marketing, the section below will focus on WeChat. We will discuss in detail what it is and how it can be used to conduct business in Singapore.

A Guide to WeChat Marketing in Singapore

Mobile technology has revolutionised the manner at which we connect and interact with people across the globe. Currently, Instant Messaging [IM] mobile apps have gone beyond the standard texting purpose to include features that have made user experience a bliss.

You know about popular messaging or chat apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Snapchat, Viber, telegram, and Voxer. But do you know there is an app that has more users than all the mentioned apps above?

Let’s introduce you to WeChat.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app, owned by Chinese tech giants Tencent. Initially, the app was called Weixin, but when the number of users surpassed 100 million, the name WeChat was adopted to reach an international audience. At first glance, it looks a lot like Whatsapp, but you discover it’s more than that when you start using it.

While it started as a messaging app just like Whatsapp in 2011, it has transformed into an app where you can do more than just texting.

Currently, more than 600 million people have downloaded the app, with more than 902 million daily users and over a staggering billion monthly users. This makes it one of the world’s most popular social networks. According to Forbes, WeChat is one of the world’s most powerful apps.

Here is a break down in numbers:

·     Over 1.15 billion monthly users

·     About 50% of users spend 66 minutes per day on WeChat

·      60% of users open the app more than ten times every day

most active social media platforms

 Source: Statista

What Makes WeChat so Popular?

While some can argue that WeChat is popular in China as global messaging apps such as Whatsapp were blocked, this is not entirely true.

China’s massive population size, a unique development of payment system, densely populated urban cities, high smartphone adoption, and shopping habits have contributed significantly to WeChat’s robust and unique ecosystem. 

Common IM apps are about providing the user with a chatting experience; WeChat goes beyond that. It’s an all-in-one app forming the basis of daily digital life. It can be thought of as the integration of Whatsapp, Facebook, Google and Apple pay. Through it, users can do almost everything including conduct business, pay bills, call a cab, book flights, get takeout, and connect with friends, all in the app.

This is made possible through the app’s myriad features, including:

·    Messaging

·   Video calling and voice calling

·   Stickers/Emoticons

·    QR coding and capture

·   Geo-location searching [Shake]

·   Gaming

·      Brand channels

·    WeChat Pay- WeChat Pay is a mixture of Venmo and Apple Pay. It allows users to link their bank cards to the system and scan barcodes to complete transactions in an instant. Users can also receive and send money to friends in their chats.

·    WeChat moments– this function is similar to the Facebook wall and allows users to share their photos and thoughts in a social media feed.

·     Mini program– this feature was recently launched and functions as a mini-app within WeChat. This covers almost all aspects of a person’s life and integrated into WeChat. These plugins are transforming WeChat into a must-have app and creating plenty of opportunities for tech start-ups.

·   Translation- WeChat facilitates translation from Chinese to English and vice versa.

·   Coupons and membership cards– users can store their coupons and membership cards through their “Card Wallet” in the app.  Users can also exchange and send their coupons through messaging. Also, consumers have the option of purchasing goods directly through the app in a smooth way.

WeChat is compatible with system platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, macOS and web browsers.

Comparison Between Whatsapp and WeChat

WeChat and Whatsapp are similar in some ways and different in other ways.

The two apps are similar in the sense that they both offer real-time mobile texting platforms for millions of users without charges. Whatsapp is, however, popular in Western countries, Africa, and India with over 1.5 billion users. WeChat, on the other hand, is dominant in china with few users from outside China.

While Whatsapp focuses on communication and file sharing, WeChat provides more than that as highlighted above. WeChat also has a more complex interface than Whatsapp, which is simple and featuring three main tabs.

With Whatsapp, you can send a message to anyone on your phonebook provided that they also use the app. With WeChat, your recipient has to approve your contact for you to start communicating with them.

These are some of the many differences and a few similarities between the two. The table below will highlight all of them in summary. Key to note, the most notable difference between the two apps is WeChat’s additional features.

Below is a detailed comparison of WhatsApp and WeChat apps.

Feature

Whatsapp

WeChat

Free app

Yes

Yes

Ad-free

Yes

Yes

Parent company

Facebook

Tencent holding limited

Platforms

Android, BlackBerry, windows desktop app, iOS, windows phone, Symbian and MacOS

Android, iOS, macOS, and windows

User base

1.5 billion

1 billion

Language

No in-built language support. You need to change the language in the settings.

Yes. Multiple language support within the app.

Major country

Western countries, Africa, India

China

Customization

Yes

Yes

Payment platform

No

Yes. Supports money transfer, sending a gift with verified Chinese number and bankcard

Translation

No

Yes

Sticker gallery

No

Yes

Call non-WeChat friends

No

Yes. Available in limited countries using WeChat Out feature

Social and Games

No

Yes

Mini programs

No

Yes

Timeline moments

No

Yes

Subscription account

Limited to the business version

Yes

Location sharing

Yes

Yes

Friends finder

No

Yes

Require friend approval

No

Yes but can be turned off in settings

Chat

Video, audio and message chat

Video, audio and message chat

Log in

SIM

SIM and Facebook

 

Although Whatsapp remains the most popular Instant Messaging app in the world, providing users with an efficient messaging platform, WeChat offers a wide range of eco-systems with features that make life extremely interesting to its users. Though not popular in most parts of the world, Tencent Company is seeking to expand its market base outside China.

All in all, due to its versatility and solid base in China, WeChat is something of an essential service and a must-have app for Chinese people. As WeChat holds add features that western messaging apps like Whatsapp can’t handle, the possibility of users leaving the messaging app is almost nil.

A brand seeking to use WeChat for marketing purposes in Singapore can benefit in a big way, as discussed below.

How Can Singapore Businesses Conduct WeChat Marketing?

WeChat popularity in china is so great that it has become a basic necessity for the population. With 41% of the people logging into WeChat daily for various functions, WeChat is the real deal for both commercial and social purposes.

work tasks completed on WeChat

Source: China Channel

It is for this reason that companies all over are actively seeking to create a presence in China. One of the best ways is to take advantage of WeChat.

As a business person, you’ll need to learn about WeChat and ways it can help your business.

This section will provide answers on how you can use WeChat for your business in Singapore and its marketing potential.

The first step to WeChat marketing is finding the right account type for your specific needs.

There are three types of WeChat official accounts:

·     Subscription accounts

·     Service accounts

·     Enterprise account

Enterprise accounts are used for internal management of a company and are not available to marketers or the general public. Therefore, we will only focus on the other two.

1: Subscription Account

The subscription account is the official account for a company. This account focuses on information and brand communication. In simpler terms, they are the daily news feed. The account can publish only once daily to subscribers and you publish a maximum of 6 articles each time. These posts show up in WeChat moments.

Having articles posted is suitable for exposure as the WeChat search feature shows related articles as well.

Subscription accounts are ideal for celebrities and small single individual businesses that seek to post plenty of content. This account doesn’t have a lot of restrictions as you don’t require a company business license.

2. Service Account

WeChat service accounts are ideal for SMBs and even larger businesses such as hotels and airlines that work well with booking systems. Unlike the subscription account that only you to post, this account carries numerous sales and service functions.

Upon verification, you can open the WeChat store, add mini-programs, and have access to other features such as GPS, customer service and payments.

These accounts focus on ecommerce, customer service, CRM, and API integrations. One advantage of a service account is that it sits on the first level of contacts. This means that you are not hidden in the subscription folder, and your WeChat account jumps to the top of the contact’s list every time you send a broadcast.

However, the service account only allows four broadcasts per month with 1-6 articles each time.

This is a summary of the differences between the two accounts.

 

Subscription Account

Service Account

Contact location

Subscription folder

Inbox level

Broadcasts

1 per day

4 per month

WeChat Pay

No

Yes upon Verification

WeChat API

No

Yes upon verification

 

How to Register for a WeChat Account

The Chinese government controls most of the user data, and registering for an official WeChat business account requires you provide documentation. To register, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Create Account

1. Visit the WeChat Official Accounts Platform page

2.   Click “register now” at the top

3.    Select account type

4.     Create a user account- provide an email address for future logins

5.      Select country

6.     Provide your identification information

7.     Choose an account name and provide a description

Step 2. Verify Account

1.   Input additional company information, e.g., Office address, phone number, registration number, etc.

2.   Validate the company contact person’s information

3.    Upload supporting documents, e.g., business license, official application letter etc.

4.    Reserve your official account name

5.     Pay the fee- you’ll be asked to pay a fee of $99

However, without a business license, you have three options on the table in Singapore:

1. Register a Company in China

You’ll have the business license necessary to register an official account once you have completed setting up your company. However, this tactic takes a lot of money and time and is not recommended.

2. Use a Third-Party Business License

You can use another business’s business license to register for a WeChat account.  This is because Chinese companies are allowed up to 5 WeChat accounts. You can get a license from them at a cost.

Nevertheless, even though the account is tied to the provider, you can still choose your account details such as logo, name, and description. Your provider’s name will only be found on the information page of the account.

The downside of this approach is that the account is tied to that particular company and can pose some challenges. Choosing a dependable provider is hence, crucial as you risk losing the account after spending money on it.

3: Use Your Personal International Business License

Tencent Company is stringent when approving international companies without a Chinese business license. This came after the application facing a lot of scrutiny from the government because it controls an enormous amount of user data. The company is very cautious with the type of companies or people who register accounts or publish on the platform.

Getting an account this way may, therefore, be very complicated.

How to use WeChat Account for Business in Singapore

WeChat marketing provides a powerful way to connect with customers, collect feedback, and build a database. However, follower acquisition is tough as content on this platform is only distributed to followers, and hence, getting your posts out there can be challenging.

According to a study, only 10% of the accounts on WeChat get views. Hence, promotion is crucial to get your content visible.

Here are a few WeChat marketing tactics.

1. Create high-quality content

Without valuable content, your WeChat account cannot go far. According to research, 49% of WeChat users will share high-quality content. Therefore, always ensure that you post useful, informative, and consistent quality content to attract and maintain followers.

As people quickly get bored, it would be a great idea to incorporate videos and GIFs to make your content more interesting and refreshing.

Most users like when a text is accompanied by short videos or other forms of visual supports.

most preferred content on WeChat

Source: WeChat impact report

2. QR Codes

Although WeChat has an automatic QR code for every official account, you can customize it to match your branding. You can post these codes in your marketing channels, such as other social media platforms.

These codes are very effective in enticing customers as they allow free Wi-Fi access, discounts, and promotions. It is hence, very easy to gain followers and boost sales with this feature. 

3.  WeChat Search

It is challenging to come up with great content daily, and some of your content may go unnoticed sometimes. Although still a new concept, brands are hoping to use this function to boost their content.

This function can help drive traffic to relevant articles and is something you should consider.

4. User Location

User-based marketing is very effective in WeChat. By using the “Shake,” “Look Around,” or “Drift Bottle” feature, you can leverage your follower’s location to target potential customers nearby.

5. WeChat Marketing and Advertising

WeChat advertising helps you gain followers in the initial stages of the WeChat marketing campaign. The most effective way to go about this is to create excellent content to keep your followers. Follow this with an advertising campaign.

For the verified accounts, WeChat offers three advertising options: Moment Ads, KOL Ads, and Banner Ads

·     Moment Ads

Moment ads are similar to the Facebook newsfeeds that show up in the user’s WeChat Moments. To activate Moment Ads, you need about USD 7,500 and this money can be used to buy ads with a variety of targeting options.

The ads price, however, depends on the target audience and city. The ad can include the company name, a brief description, a link to an HTML5 page, and a short video. These ads can only be bought on a CPM [Cost-per-mille]

·    KOL Ads

For an effective advertising campaign, you might have to consider collaborating with an opinion leader. An opinion leader is someone very active on social networks with a large following. You get a lot of exposure and get a following when an opinion leader shares your content.

·    Banner Ads

These types of ads offer cost-per-click [CPC] as well as CPM pricing models, which can help you target the desired audience. The minimum cost required to activate and buy these ads is USD 7,500. As the ads have a CPC model, generating leads and growing your WeChat presence is very easy. Also, predicting return on investment is extremely easy with these ads.

6. Mini programs

Mini programs are very useful in WeChat marketing. If you search within the platform for a brand or keyword, any relevant mini-program appears as the top search result. Every time a user clicks on your mini-program, it is added to their list-right above their current messages.

7. Connect with your audience

One of the best WeChat marketing tips is building a long term relationship with your audience.

As you can be able to communicate directly with your followers through messaging, etc., take advantage of this to connect with them.

8. Make use of all the tools proposed by WeChat

To publish good content and not go on the wrong side of the user, use all the tools provided by WeChat. You can introduce images or dedicated video for your audience in place of textual publication.

9. Create a mini WeChat website

To facilitate your WeChat marketing strategy, create a site on the platform to allow you to customize your page to improve your online visibility.

10. Conform to user experience rules

WeChat is a mobile application. As such, content must be mobile-friendly. To capture the user’s attention, keep your content short and use interactive content such as videos and images

11. Create a loyalty program

With your official account, you can create a loyalty program. Whenever a customer joins your program, his/her WeChat account [WeChat ID and telephone number] is connected to a geo-localized map.

12. Open an online shop

You can sell your products directly to your subscribers with the WeChat Weidian. Weidian is optimized for mobile use and works like Taobao, eBay, and other ecommerce sites.

13. Post at the right time

WeChat is limited to the number of posts you are supposed to share. Therefore, you should ensure that you post at the right time for maximum effect.

Consider these two things when posting an article:

·    Your target audience. When do you think they interact with the platform?

·    When does your competition post? Post your articles when the numbers and competition is low to avoid your article getting lost in the mass.

WeChat Marketing Case Studies

If you are not convinced about the effectiveness of WeChat marketing, here are a few case studies:

1.   Luojisiwei

Probably the best WeChat marketing case study, Luojisiwei managed to gather than 5 million followers. His company is currently valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

This WeChat marketing superstar started his own WeChat shop on Youzan selling millions of items each year. He also ensured that he posted at the right time such that his posts were the first thing his followers saw in the morning.

These are just some of the tactics he used in his WeChat marketing campaign.

2.   Manukora

Manukora is a premium New Zealand honey brand that set up a cross-border WeChat store, KOL, and other strategies mentioned above, which were a success.

Others include Kidsbookmama and Xiaoxiaobao Mama, which both have successful WeChat marketing stories.

Conclusion

WeChat is more than a social networking app. With it, you can launch a WeChat marketing campaign to connect with customers and build remarkable brand awareness. Singaporean entrepreneurs can utilise this platform and its resourceful features to penetrate the market and amplify their businesses to great heights.

Get in touch for more WeChat marketing tips and recommendations. We will also help you set up custom social media marketing campaigns in Singapore on your budget. The time to rival your competitors is now. 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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December 11, 2019

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