We’re a few days away from China’s largest shopping festival of the year, the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, also referred to as Singles Day. For those who might be unfamiliar with this day, think of Cyber Monday but on a much larger scale. Last year, $45 billion worth of goods and services were sold in the span of 24 hours which, according to data from McKinsey & Company, was triple the online sales from 2018’s Black Friday.
While the e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is the creator and main force behind the 11.11 phenomenon, nearly every e-commerce platform in China will leverage the holiday’s hype to hold their own Singles Day sales, and brands will use any and all Chinese social media platforms to promote their sales, WeChat included.
With more than one billion monthly active users and accounting for 34% of total mobile data traffic in China, it is unwise to exclude WeChat from your shopping holiday strategies.
Yet with more than 20 million registered WeChat official accounts and 3.5 million of them actively vying for users’ attention, how can you and your brand cut through the barrage of holiday messaging and reach your target audience?
Plan Ahead: Get a Clear Picture of Your Audience
To run a successful 11.11 campaign, you must start months ahead. So while it is definitely too late to apply these tactics to this year’s 11.11, it is never too soon to start planning for next year.
What’s more, 11.11 may be China’s largest shopping holiday, but it is not China’s only shopping holiday. Next month we have 12.12, in June there is 6.18, and there are numerous other smaller ones in between. And these tactics we’re sharing will work for those holidays as well!
That being said, as soon as you can, begin gathering data. Review your segmentation strategy. Set up tags that track every action that a user takes in your Official Account, making sure that the frequency of tag triggers or the scoring weight of each tag can help reflect the true quality of your followers. Group followers based on their behaviors and interests. Incentivize followers to bind their WeChat ID and phone number.
Collecting this data will help you not only to better understand and serve your audience, but when it comes time to run promotional campaigns it will allow you to more accurately reach new audiences similar to your own, thereby increasing ad-spend ROI and the quality of acquired followers.
Promote Your Brand: WeChat Ads
As the holiday approaches, you’ll want to drive new users to your WeChat Official Account using Tencent ads, particularly WeChat Moments ads or in-post banner ads. This is where you’ll get to utilize all that follower data we just mentioned above using “lookalike marketing”.
This form of marketing uses the WeChat Open ID or other key identifier (e.g. phone number/QQ) of your top followers which will be filtered out to create your “seed population”. Once you upload the data of your “seeds” to the Tencent ad platform, it will create a list of users to target who have similar demographic and behavioral parameters as these top followers. These users are more likely to be interested in your ads than other users because they’re similar to your best existing customers.
A key element necessary for targeting lookalike audiences is that seed list of your top or most loyal account followers, which is why the aforementioned segmentation and identification of your followers is so important. The seed list will be most effective with users whose phone numbers have been bound with their WeChat ID in your CRM, as this is a unique set of PII (personally identifiable information) that would generate the most accurate target lookalike audience.
Uploading seed list user data (QQ number/phone number/open ID/etc.) Image Source.
Lookalike audiences can be input on the Tencent Ads platform. Image Source.
Promote Your Brand: KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders)
Working with WeChat KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders or influencers) and KOCs (Key Opinion Customers) is also an excellent way to let your target audience know what promotions you will be offering during the holiday.
When specifically aiming to drive traffic to e-commerce stores on WeChat (which we’ll discuss more in a bit), KOLs on WeChat will have the greatest capability to drive direct traffic when compared to KOLs on China’s other social media platforms such as Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and Douyin, which will block links and QR code to WeChat accounts. However, there is a growing trend among Chinese KOLs based overseas who have Instagram followings to post on Instagram and link back to a WeChat article or share a QR code for an Official Account, so that is an option as well.
Don’t wait until the last minute to reach out to KOLs. Holiday seasons, 11.11 in particular, are extremely busy times for them and they often book campaigns far in advance. And keep in mind that their prices tend to be higher during these peak periods so adjust your budget accordingly.
Prime Your Official Account
So far we’ve discussed using a combination of ads and influencers to drive traffic to your WeChat Official Account. But the traffic won’t matter if you’re not prepared for it. Just as you would decorate your store or update your website for Christmas, you should revamp your Official Account to focus users’ attention on your 11.11 offerings.
When users click “follow”, immediately send them a personalized welcome message letting them know exactly where to find 11.11 sales info. But don’t stop there - take advantage of 48 hour journeys to hammer your holiday messaging home and get the follower to engage with your account.
What are 48-hour journeys? During the first 48 hours after someone follows a WeChat Official Service Account (not Subscription Account), the account can send that user an unlimited number of messages and content, meaning that brands can create customer journeys similar to an automated email sequence.
Time to Convert: Tmall, JD.com, WeChat E-commerce?
Now that your followers are primed to buy, it’s time to lead them directly to the “Buy Now” button. While much of the 11.11 buying action takes place on Alibaba properties such as Taobao and Tmall, these two e-commerce platforms are blocked from directly launching from WeChat, therefore we do not suggest trying to send users there.
If you were to do that, users would have to copy the product link, exit WeChat, open the Taobao app and paste the link to even be able to see the product listing. As you might imagine, the drop-off rate is pretty significant.
Linking to a page on JD.com would be one option, due to their partnership with Tencent, but without applying for their Kepler mini program solution, users would have to shop on a JD HTML5 page, which does not allow businesses to track and guide users through the buying process.
Therefore - to streamline the customer journey and provide a seamless user experience for potential customers, it is best to use WeChat as your “one-stop shop” where users can learn about your product and buy it without leaving WeChat, or even your Official Account using an HTML5 page or e-commerce mini program.
So Which Do We Suggest: HTML5 or Mini Program?
Comparison of H5 pages and mini programs.
HTML5 pages (H5) and mini programs (MP) both have their pros and cons, but since MPs are a “native app” built specifically for use within the WeChat ecosystem, they provide a more seamless user experience, making an e-commerce miniprogram the best way to go.
Apart from a user-friendly design, mini programs have more capabilities that allow brands to glean insights into user behavior and incentivize users to purchase products. As MPs are within the WeChat ecosystem, every action a user makes in your e-commerce MP can be easily tracked and and conversations can be initiated via your service account.
Template messages can be sent to remind users of their abandoned carts or notify them of payment or delivery statuses. Moreover, users can also proactively sign up for reminders from the MP, such as a reminder to let them know when Singles Day sales have started. These MP features are especially important for 11.11 as conversational commerce greatly reduces abandoned carts and keeps interested potential shoppers engaged with your brand.
Signing up for 11.11 sales reminder on Nike mini program
And a final way to drive awareness of your 11.11 campaign is through a social commerce campaign which allows you to leverage your current user base to “activate” potential users by sharing promotions and products with their WeChat friends. Some brands will offer discounts for users who bring in other users, while others create gamified campaigns that make e-commerce more fun and interactive. For example, Sephora has a “Member Get Member” program, where Sephora members are incentivized with rewards to invite friends to sign up and try more products.
While social commerce campaigns can be run with an H5, they are optimized for mini programs. Followers can share something called an MP card with their friends and in group chats. These cards are visually appealing and quite large allowing them to easily capture attention and drive higher clickthrough rates.
Chinese food-delivery miniprogram Eleme offering free meals if users get enough friends to join in and “cut prices”. MP card shown in the center image.
You can never start holiday campaign planning too soon! As we’ve shown, keeping the entire consumer journey within the WeChat ecosystem provides the most hassle-free experience for users and a higher conversion rate then trying to send them elsewhere to purchase.
What's more, if your account, mini programs and campaigns are set up correctly it means you will not only drive sales, but also be able to collect a wealth of WeChat user data which can be used for segmentation, optimization, and retargeting to make your next holiday campaign an even greater success!