The growth of e-commerce on WeChat since the introduction of mini programs only two years ago has been incredible to say the least. As of the end of 2019, there are reportedly over 3 million WeChat mini programs, and 18.7% of them are dedicated to e-commerce. Today Tencent celebrated WeChat Mini Programs' 3rd Anniversary by revealing that the total transaction value generated on mini programs exceeded 800 billion RMB in 2019, an increase of 160% year-on-year.
Both Chinese and international brands have rapidly adopted the e-commerce mini program trend, as it comes with many benefits: namely that brands have greater ownership over customer traffic and data, as well as site design, inventory, and branding.
Yet with the average Chinese WeChat user using over 60 mini programs a year (up from 30 a year in 2018) it has become crucial for brands to find new ways to drive traffic to their mini program shops, as well as keep users coming back.
Just as marketers in the West can use retargeted ads and emails to send shoppers abandoned cart reminders, limited-time offers, and new product launch announcements to draw people back to their websites, brands can use Wechat template messages to drive consumers to their e-commerce mini programs.
If you are already familiar with template messages, scroll down further to read our suggestions for five template message that can lead to a dramatic uplift in your brand’s commerce results, if not, let’s first take a look at template messages and how they can be used.
What are template messages?
WeChat Service Official Accounts can push out several types of messages to followers such as welcome messages, keyword replies, broadcast messages, and template messages and most of the messages have limits as to how or when they can be sent.
Template messages are the exception - service accounts can send an unlimited number of template messages to their followers, but the content and format of these messages is highly restricted must follow strict industry specified template provided by WeChat.
Template message in WeChat
These messages are meant to be purely transactional and used for sending followers notifications such as purchase notifications, order status, booking notifications, membership points, etc. They cannot be used for mass marketing blasts and brands must be very careful about the content of these messages.
However, as long as the messages are not overtly promotional, using template messages is a bit of a grey area and there is some room for flexibility. Typically sending template messages in response to an action a user has taken in your store (such as abandoned cart reminders, related coupons, etc) is ok and these are the types of messages we will discuss below.
Creating template messages
Tencent has created thousands of template message templates which are available in the Weixin backend. Depending on which industry your brand’s account it set to, you will be able to access different types of templates for use cases specific to that industry. (Note: Service accounts can only change industry settings once a month.)
Changing Account Industry Settings
Once the industry is set, you can view all the template message templates available for that given industry. For example, under financial services you can find a “Remaining Balance Notification” template while under the logistics industry setting there will be a “Product Shipment Notification” template. Brands can even set a primary industry and a secondary industry to get a wider array of options.
With thousands of available templates, users can use keywords to search the Weixin backend Template Message Library for relevant options.
Once you’ve found a potential template, you can click on “Details” to see what data fields the template includes.
Template Message received by users (center) & what it looks like in WeiXin backend (right)
Here is an example template message. You would be able to change all the parts highlighted above except for the template title and the data field titles. While the data field content is customizable, the data field titles are fixed, so it's important to check and make sure the template has all the fields you need.
Introduction to parts of Template Messages
And most importantly, when your brand’s user data is integrated with a WeChat SCRM platform, template messages can be automatically personalized with user-specific data.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of template messages, we’ll share the five types of notifications brands should take advantage of to drive traffic and sales in their mini program stores:
- Abandoned Cart Reminders
- Limited-Time Coupons
- Coupon Expiration Reminder
- Products of Interest
- Loyalty Status/Membership Points
Five Template Messages that Can Drive E-Commerce Results
1. Abandoned Cart Reminders
With an e-commerce mini program, when a user browses a product, they can be automatically tagged and segmented. Since the user’s open ID will be bound to their shopping cart, if they’ve added a product to their cart but did not complete their purchase, an abandoned cart template message can be sent to remind them to return to the cart and complete the purchase.
2. Limited-Time Coupon
If a customer hasn’t returned to your store in a long time, you can send them a personalized coupon with a limited-time offer related to the products that they previously purchased or have showed interest in.
Limited Time Window Coupon Template Message Example
3. Coupon Expiration Reminder
Then when that coupon is close to expiring, send the user a coupon expiration reminder template message to encourage them to take advantage of the coupon before it’s too late. No one likes to miss out a good deal, so if the coupon is relevant to the consumer’s preferences, this type of template message can drive strong results.
Coupon Expiration Reminder Template Message Example
4. Products of Interest
Track what users are browsing or searching for in your e-commerce mini program. Then based on what they types of products they’ve shown interest in, send them a template message that links to recommendations for other similar products that may be of interest.
For example, a user does a search for red sneakers but doesn’t end up buying anything, you can follow up by sending them an automatically generated template message linked to a page with the top three best-selling red sneakers in your store.
5. Membership Upleveling and Points Notification
Template messages can be sent to notify users every time they earn more loyalty points as well as congratulate them when they reach the next level in loyalty status. Brands can also let members know when they are close to reaching the next level and entice them to spend more.
Membership and Points Notification Template Message Example
- Shopping on e-commerce mini programs has become a regular part of Chinese consumer behavior, however consumers are also bombarded with messages on WeChat on a daily basis, making it easy for them to visit your store once and never return.
- To increase retention and conversion rates, brands should set up automated, personalized template messages that incentivize users to continue coming back to your mini program shop.