Kai Hong, Chairman and Co-founder of JINGdigital, talks about how brands can truly engage and grow their WeChat communities with the right social CRM strategy.

What do companies often overlook when creating omnichannel customer experiences?

One thing most companies often overlook is operating as a single channel and orchestrating high-value customer experiences across all touch points. Most companies stop short of providing more purchase avenues and maintaining a consistent brand image across channels. Some pioneering companies are doing a great job of continuing the conversation via a particular sales channel – for instance, enabling automated messages to remind customers about their abandoned carts or providing them with personalized in-store recommendations by sales staff. But outside of that channel, companies struggle to keep up with customers and fulfil their needs, be it in terms of information or personalized assistance.

Creating truly a omnichannel customer experience requires the deployment of two key capabilities. The first one consists of building 360 customer profiles from various sources to acquire deeper consumer insights for more effective segmentation strategies. The second one involves adopting a new operating model that enables seamless and unified collaboration across all business functions.

What are some new consumer behaviours and expectations that you see emerging on the Chinese market?
Although Key Opinion Leaders are still very powerful and highly influential among Chinese consumers, we now see the massive growth of social selling and UGC (User Generated Content) platforms like RED (XiaoHongShu). This shows that consumers increasingly demand personalized content and are aware of the value of their engagement and influence. They are evolving from being mere “followers” when it comes to interacting with brands, and really becoming “owners” in this process.

The diversity of information and purchase channels offered by UGC and social networks has allowed Chinese consumers to become more knowledgeable and mobile. As a result, their behaviour is more complex than ever – they are empowered and prioritize their own values, disrupting the traditional purchase funnel. They now continuously cycle through purchase stages and expect brands to recognize and interact with them with personalized content across all channels. It is important for brands to recognize this changing behaviour and to reconsider the way they are interacting with Chinese consumers.

What are some of the social CRM tactics brands can consider to drive WeChat engagement?

There are some main tactics brands should consider driving WeChat engagement. They include maximizing WeChat’s four message pushes a month; scheduling seasonal articles, events and promotions; using Chatbots for automatic message replies or live customer chats; creating customer journeys based on follower interests and behaviors; and creating shareable forms and quizzes. Our recently published WeChat Luxury Index report with DLG on follower engagement provides more details on how to best leverage these tactics according to one’s business needs.

The important thing to keep in mind is that purpose drives engagement. So, while emotional resonance matters, offering a solution to a problem, or satisfying a customer’s needs, is key.

Circling back to omnichannel experiences, WeChat should be considered as an additional touchpoint, and therefore an extension of the seamless customer experience. If brands want consistent engagement from customers, they need to keep in mind that first impressions are crucial to building long-lasting relationships. This is why a personalized welcome journey is crucial to driving engagement. Getting to know the customer, and then providing the Official Account as a solution center and a community that knows and values them, will have a greater impact.

What are some of the steps brands can take to drive follower acquisition and retention?
In terms of follower acquisition sources, brands can actively invest their short-term efforts into acquiring customers by making use of ads and QR codes (placed at various locations). Acquiring followers via sources like search and name card sharing will only come into play in the long-term, as they require brand equity – something that can only be built over time. Brands need to understand which source is the most relevant for their customer base and create an adequate WeChat follower acquisition strategy, which then includes channels, investment, and key performance indicators.

Customer retention should also be considered as another way to acquire customers. I recently read a Nielsen report that stated only 8% of customers consider themselves as ‘loyal’ to brands. I found it to be quite shocking. We used to talk about the 20-80 rule – about how 20% of a brand’s most loyal customers account for 80% of the revenue. This does not apply anymore, and should really alarm brands.

This is when marketing automation comes into play. It helps brands to better leverage four key customer retention tactics: customer lifecycle engagement, segmented personalized marketing campaigns, customer satisfactions surveys, and loyalty programs.


About the author

Annick-Ange Logmo

Contributor

Annick-Ange is a French graduate from ESSCA Ecole de Management. After having lived and studied across Europe and Africa, she moved to Shanghai to study China-Europe International Business, as well as Digital Marketing. Her global perspective and her experience in luxury retail allow her to cover topics related to market trends and consumer behavior.