If you’re courting a Chinese audience, as an overseas business you’ll already appreciate the importance of delivering a nuanced customer journey – one which doesn’t necessarily replicate the patterns that a strategy geared towards the “home crowd” could traditionally follow.
Understanding your ideal Chinese customer, and the journey that they are likely to take on the pathway to conversion is an essential component of ongoing success when it comes to making sales. Brands need to align all aspects of their marketing strategy to achieve a frictionless experience, which factors in and facilitates the most familiar patterns, channels and platforms.
WeChat has a huge role to play in the creation of authentic and productive customer journeys for the Chinese market. In this guide, we’ll explore its importance, with specific reference to the consumer touchpoints this popular social media platform provides – and in particular, the way that these support consumer journey mapping.
The Customer Journey Explained
Wherever your customer is based, and whatever you are selling to them, as they move down the pathway to conversion, the core paradigm of all successful customer journeys includes four distinct stages:
- Initial consideration - the customer is aware of their problem or requirement, and considers your brand as a potential solution.
- Active evaluation - the customer performs a calculated analysis of your brand’s offer in relation to their understanding of quality, value and suitability.
- Researching potential purchases - the customer mentally commits to your brand and starts to decide on the specifics of their purchase.
- Closure - conversion is achieved and a sale is made.
WeChat can help brands looking to engage with a Chinese audience at every step of this process. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the key markers for best practice, efficiency of process and ultimately, success, as you harness this valuable social platform to its fullest potential.
Whatever the channel being leveraged, brands looking to improve their customer journeys need to keep a few prerequisite aspects in mind:
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Familiarity breeds trust. Building the scaffolding for your sales funnel on a platform which already hosts your ideal customer does more than ensure good visibility. You’re also demonstrating a deeper understanding of your customer – their preferences and habits. By meeting your customers where they are, you’re showing respect for their time and comfort – engaging them in well known surroundings, in ways which feel comfortable and familiar.
WeChat is, by far, the most popular social media platform for the Chinese market. The latest studies show that in 2023, there were 827.2 million WeChat users in China, accounting for 58.9% of the total population. As a Western business, you’re already leapfrogging many competitors by making the effort to meet and engage with your audience here.
Create Personalised Experiences
A “one size fits all” approach has long been outdated when it comes to modern marketing. A strategic approach to personalisation, that embraces the opportunity for segment-specific or true 1-to-1 messaging and offers, is a critical component of success.
Again, WeChat offers all the tools you need to deliver a well-considered, carefully crafted sales funnel that provides your customers with the tools and information that they need at every stage of their journey towards purchase.
Let’s dive into the five key steps you’ll need to take in order to build up a solid, maintainable and above all, productive customer journey.
1. Develop Key Buyer Personas
Researching your customer is a fundamental step when it comes to optimising customer journeys on the WeChat platform.
In this phase of the customer journey optimization process, brands will need to look at how potential customers are already engaging on the WeChat platform. Starting out by identifying their ideal customer's critical touchpoints on the platform, then marrying this with an understanding of their key pain points, will help to signpost where your brand needs to be showing up with helpful advice and winning solutions.
Whoever your brand is courting, there’s likely to be at least some nuance to your customer profile. By defining and segmenting your audience down into manageable personas, with their own distinct drivers and demographics, you’ll be able to predict and perfect the distinctions to the customer journeys you provide.
Customer profiling is the pre-eminent step to understanding how to deliver a seamless buyer experience. By taking time to really understand your customers and their desires, you’ll lay the most solid foundation for your ongoing WeChat marketing strategy.
2. Map your WeChat Marketing Strategy
Once you have a solid understanding of who your customers are, and what their activity on WeChat currently looks like, it's time to start mapping your marketing strategy on WeChat.
The first component of this is to identify the touch points that you need to be accommodating, with an awareness of which are likely to be the most impactful and important when it comes to signposting your customers to the next stage of their purchasing journey.
One of the benefits of WeChat is that there are a relatively small amount of potential channels for brands to consider. Each channel has its own mode of operation and will be used in a slightly different way by your audience – but they all sit within the familiar WeChat platform.
By showing a good understanding of the role that each channel plays in your customer’s experience and daily use of WeChat, and delivering content that’s appropriate within that context, once again, as a brand, you can demonstrate a great understanding and sensitivity towards your audience.
The main channels that brand will want to ensure they’re active within on WeChat include:
WeChat Official Accounts
Think of these as the equivalent to an official brand page on Facebook – the flagship for your brand and its “home” on WeChat.
Longer form content that is posted with the intention of informing your audience and gaining more organic traffic.
WeChat Mini Programs
Highly functional apps which sit within the WeChat platform and allow your audience to fulfil a specific task or engagement (i.e. booking an appointment or making a payment.)
A short form video feed, offering a popular form of brand engagement.
Comparable to your Facebook wall – a friends-only feed of posted content.
Groups which are created around a specific interest or topic – these are started by an individual, but brands can nurture or engage within relevant groups, posting related content in a purposeful way.
Key Opinion Leaders
KOLs are not a technical channel per se, but should still be a strategic consideration, as popular influencers have been shown to command great reach for brands on WeChat.
Understanding how content moves through WeChat means your brand will be able to deliver with accuracy and maximum impact. Combine this knowledge with the research you’ve already conducted into your customer personas, and you’re ready to move on to the third step…
3. Start Building Your First WeChat Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map:
- Can be created by combining knowledge of your ideal customer personas and their interests, with the most prominent channels that they engage upon.
- Is fundamental to successful marketing on WeChat, as your brand hits each of the four stages: initial consideration, active evaluation, researching potential purchases and finally, closure.
- Pinpoints the kind of content you will offer at each stage of this funnel, refining your offering to ensure that the right format reaches the right channels at the right time, so that it can fully resonate with your audience.
Another primary purpose for customer journey mapping is to empower brands to assess the impact of offers, messaging and customer interactions, based on time and movement through channels.
In summary, by taking time to map out your WeChat customer journey map, your brand stands to benefit from a greater understanding of the most productive customer touch points and platform channels. Additionally, you'll gain a deeper knowledge of the most highly impactful messaging and offers (driven by the most pressing customer interests, objectives and pain points) – unlocking a more accurate and optimised personalisation of the customer journey over time.
4. Implement, Test & Evaluate
Now that your customer journeys are being mapped on the WeChat platform, you can start to use them to gather illuminating data. While all roadmaps have their original foundations in informed assumptions, as you start to push content out across WeChat channels, your brand can quickly start to learn from the results, and refine the outcomes.
Testing your hypotheses about which channels will best serve your audience and drive interest towards your brand or offer will do more than help you to adjust your output. You’ll also be able to reconsider the way that you funnel interest down towards a final sale or lead capture, by facilitating a seamless interaction via WeChat Mini Program.
The following actions and activities will help you to draw accurate and helpful conclusions:
Measure the Impact of Marketing on Your Various Channels to Decide Which Yield the Best ROI
Measure the impact of marketing expenditure for each WeChat channel and touchpoint to refine your customer journey overtime and increase the efficiency of your WeChat marketing strategy.
Remember that while one channel might be getting you results, its success might be dependent upon earlier stages within your strategy – your WeChat roadmap is an ecosystem that works together to get your customers (and brand) to their final destination.
Analyse Conversion & Engagement Data
It’s also advisable for brands to use some form of regression analysis to determine which journeys have the most positive impact on conversions and engagement.
At this stage in your analysis, it’s likely that you’ll have identified vital touchpoints, and can then explore some of the critical metrics for regression analysis. While other metrics can be measured for more granular analysis, these typically include:
- Customer retention
- User numbers for every touchpoint
- The bounce rate at every touchpoint
- Drop-off rate at every touchpoint
- Conversation rates at every touchpoint
As more businesses invest in WeChat as a core component of their marketing strategy, the scope for in depth analytics is increasing. In 2021, for example, WeChat launched an analytics program designed specifically for its Mini Programs, which is packed with stats and metrics.
Additionally, working with VIVA CITY to create and maintain your Mini Programs, will give you access to a full dashboard overview of your progress in this critical element of the funnel.
5. Completing Your WeChat Customer Journey Map
After implementing, testing and evaluating your marketing efforts across touchpoints and channels on WeChat, the acquired data can be used to plot precisely which points of contact are the most effective.
Once you’ve completed your customer journey map, be consistent. Ensure that brand messaging rings true across all stages of your sales funnel, especially if different teams are responsible for its delivery.
Remember that a multi channel strategy is critical to the ongoing success of your customer journeys. WeChat provides the ideal framework for this, offering a rich web of well-used and familiar channels that support an efficient and friction-free customer journey for your Chinese customers.
Set Your Brand Up For WeChat Marketing Success
Brands that maintain a strong focus on creating intentional, carefully considered customer journeys as a fundamental element of their brand are positioned to see the very best results from the huge opportunity that WeChat represents.
As a Western brand, it can feel as though there is a lot to understand and correctly consider when it comes to winning the Chinese market – but WeChat offers the ideal gateway to start building connections and an authentic relationship with your core audience.
WeChat represents an opportunity to get your brand in front of these new customers, learning more about their behaviours, wants and problems. A WeChat Mini Program provides the interface you need to effectively engage, negating the expense of a dedicated Chinese website. It’s the ideal “first step” into the Chinese market – cost effective, quick to launch and easy to control in terms of functionality and content.
With a Mini Program in place, your customer journey has a secure and dependable final destination.
VIVACITY can help your brand take that all important first step.