In just a couple of years, WeChat has become the most popular social media platform in China. International brands are now looking for optimizing their WeChat marketing strategy so they can reach out to their audience through the app better.

Until recently, brands on WeChat had a limited marketing toolset through official accounts, but the introduction of a mini-program has changed the game! In this post, we are taking a look at:

  1. WeChat Mini Programs definition and highlights.
  2. What are the steps to develop one?
  3. How to use it and promote it with efficiency?
  4. Mini Programs in use: a brands case study

If you are looking for tips to develop or promote your Mini Program, this article is for you. Similarly, if you are looking for an agency in China, don’t be shy and contact us!

What are WeChat Mini Programs?

Mini programs are small, lightweight mobile native apps that you can use to do things like order food, book a taxi, or pay bills. They’re built on the WeChat platform and can be accessed through WeChat’s “Mini Programs” directory.

Unlike regular apps, mini-programs don’t require installation. You can just open them up and use them right away for your e-commerce needs. And since they’re just small programs that run inside of WeChat, they’re fast and efficient with very few storage requirements.

Users simply scan a QR code with their device or open a link in the WeChat app that links to the program – no operating system complexities are required.

WeChat mini program example

Features and capabilities

WeChat Mini Programs offer a wide range of features and capabilities designed to enhance user experience and provide businesses with valuable tools to reach their target audience. Some notable features include:

  1. Sub-applications: Mini Programs function as independent sub-applications within the WeChat ecosystem, providing advanced features without requiring users to download separate apps.
  2. Integration: Seamless integration with WeChat services such as messaging, groups, and friends’ recommendations allows businesses to leverage the platform’s vast user base for increased visibility.
  3. WeChat Pay: With integrated support for WeChat Pay, e-commerce mini programs enable frictionless transactions for ecommerce, in-app purchases, or booking services.
  4. eCommerce Features: Brands can create online stores within their Mini Programs using pre-built templates and JS SDK integration, offering streamlined shopping experiences to users.
  5. Livestreaming Capabilities: Businesses can host live events, promotions, or product launches through their Mini Programs, attracting viewership from within the WeChat community.
  6. Localization Strategies: Providing language localization options and culturally appropriate content helps foreign businesses appeal to the diverse audience on WeChat while complying with Chinese regulatory requirements.
  7. JS SDK Integration: The JavaScript Software Development Kit (SDK) allows developers to create custom features tailored to specific business needs while maintaining compatibility with WeChat’s core functionality.

Understanding these key features and capabilities is crucial for marketing managers accessing WeChat Mini Programs as part of their overall strategy for reaching Chinese customers effectively.

 WeChat Mini program: Popularity by Categories

Advantages over web apps and native apps

WeChat Mini Programs have several advantages over traditional web apps and native apps. First of all, they are small applications that function within WeChat, eliminating the need to download another app or leave the platform altogether. This improves user engagement and retention since users can seamlessly switch between their conversations and mini-programs without interruption.

Additionally, developing a mini program does not require testing for iOS and Android versions separately like in native apps, which saves time and resources for developers.

Another advantage is that WeChat Mini Programs have lower costs of acquisition compared to building an e-commerce app from scratch. Businesses can leverage this feature to reduce their development and marketing costs while still offering essential business solutions such as digital marketing campaigns, customer service chatbots, and payment integration.

WeChat mini program users

Moreover, WeChat mini-games provide easy access to a large active user base within the WeChat ecosystem – this offers foreign businesses a unique opportunity to localize strategies that meet the needs of Chinese consumers by understanding how they normally interact with one another on social media platforms.

What are the steps to develop a WeChat Mini Program?

WeChat mini program registration process

When it comes to creating a WeChat Mini Program, the registration, and certification process are pretty straightforward. Here are the key steps to keep in mind:

  1. Register for a WeChat Mini Program account through the official WeChat platform.
  2. Complete the verification process, which requires providing personal information and documentation.
  3. Set up an Official Account if you don’t already have one, as this is required to launch a Mini Program.
  4. Design and develop your Mini Program according to WeChat’s guidelines and best practices.
  5. Submit your Mini Program for certification, which involves testing for functionality, security, and compliance with relevant regulations.
  6. Wait for approval from WeChat before launching your Mini Program.

It’s important to note that each step of the registration and certification process is critical in ensuring the success of your WeChat Mini Program. By following these steps carefully, you can create a high-quality Mini Program that engages users and drives business results.

WeChat mini program example - yoga studio

How much does a Wechat Mini-program cost to develop?

The cost of developing a mini-program depends greatly on what you are looking for and how you proceed. Generally speaking the cost of developing a mini-program on WeChat range from $3K (think template) to $20k (highly customized).

Templates are the route we would advise you to go unless you are a company with a lot of resources, already known in China, and you have a very specific project in mind.

How to use WeChat Mini-Program as a key success factor in your brand development?

Developing a WeChat Mini Program requires careful consideration of design and development best practices to ensure a smooth user experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it simple: Use a clean, uncluttered layout that is easy to navigate.
  2. High-quality visuals: Use high-quality images and graphics that are optimized for mobile devices.
  3. Balance text and graphics: A good balance between text and graphics will make the Mini Program more visually appealing.
  4. User experience guidelines: Follow WeChat’s user experience guidelines when designing your Mini Program for optimal performance.
  5. Information architecture: Organize your content in a hierarchy that makes sense to users and helps them find what they’re looking for quickly.
  6. Test, test, test: Test your Mini Program thoroughly before launching to ensure it functions correctly across different devices.
  7. Optimize for speed: Minimize load times by optimizing images and reducing unnecessary features or functionality.
  8. Utilize app analytics: Use app analytics tools to monitor usage patterns and identify areas for improvement.
  9. Cross-platform compatibility: Ensure your Mini Program is compatible with multiple platforms like iOS and Android for maximum reach.
  10. Brand recognition: Stay true to your brand’s identity by using consistent visual elements such as colors, fonts, logos, etc.
  11. Digital marketing strategies: Leverage digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) to promote your Mini Program effectively.
  12. Responsive design: Make sure your Mini Program is designed responsively so it can adapt seamlessly across different screen sizes.
  13. Online presence strategy: Focus on developing an online presence strategy that incorporates both the native app and the WeChat Mini Program together for maximum impact
  14. Legal considerations: Adhere to legal requirements surrounding data privacy, security measures, terms of service, etc., when designing and developing a WeChat Mini-program
  15. Keep updating your Mini Program: Regularly update your Mini Program with new features and improvements to keep users engaged and satisfied.
WeChat mini program example - Starbucks

How to promote your WeChat Mini-Program

Promotion and optimization are essential for the success of WeChat Mini Programs. Below are some effective strategies to promote and optimize your Mini Program:

Link your WeChat Program to your official WeChat account

Then, it will be easy for your community to access your mini-programs and will allow you to interact with them and integrate them with efficiency.

Use WeChat groups

As you should already be a member of WeChat, you may know about groups. If not, consider that groups are a good way for companies to share information, discounts, coupons, and more generally interact with people. You can make your own groups or join other’s groups.

Leverage social media marketing

Use popular social media platforms like Weibo and Douyin to promote your Mini Program. Create engaging content that includes QR codes, screenshots, and videos.

WeChat mini program example - Haagen Dazs

Use ads

Run targeted ads on WeChat Moments and Official Accounts to attract more users to your Mini Program. Use SEO techniques to improve visibility in search results.

Enhance user engagement

Encourage users to share their experiences with your Mini Program on social media platforms, use push notifications and in-app messaging to keep them engaged, and provide excellent customer service.

The power of KOLs

You can use Key Opinion Leaders or micro-influencers to spread the news about your brand/product/app, among their own community. Chinese people act like sheep… If an influencer tells them “this product/app is awesome, I use it every day…”, they’ll use it. End of the story.

GMA case study - Infat Pro

Wechat mini-program in use: Brands case studies

Let’s take a look at two successful case studies of brands that have used WeChat mini-programs to drive significant results. Hopefully, these examples will give you some ideas on how your business could use WeChat mini-programs to reach more customers and achieve your goals.

Wechat Mini-Program Case Study: Longchamp

The Luxury French Brand uses two Wechat mini-programs:

  1. An online boutique/store: focusing on product customization, they allowed users to customize their unique Longchamp bag, with options such as 2 colors, 3 badges, and an imprint.
  2. Location-based photo-sharing platform: it allowed users to search for the nearest store while using a digital map to find their way there. Following what, users can share pictures of their Longchamp bags with the brand’s community.
longchamp wechat mini program - wechat shop custom bag

Expert advice:

Basic and minimal. The custom function is awesome but could be a bit more developed. However, it provides data and insights that can be very useful to the brand to, later on, provide a better personalization service.

The location app, helps people to reach easily their favorite store, but also builds a community and encourages fans to share pictures. They built there a new ecosystem integrating users’ habits on WeChat.

The Dior mini program

Dior is a serial mini-program user:

  1. Online boutique: they offer limited items ranging from 300 to 600 yuan while offering product introductions and campaign videos matching these ones.
  2. Gift Sharing app: matching with the Chinese Valentine’s Day, they allowed people to offer a gift card with a love message on the cover. Plus, they enable their clients to choose a gift option to be purchased: lipstick or perfume.
  3. Once the client decided what to buy, the lovely card will be sent directly on WeChat and the gift can be picked up from the nearest Dior retail store.
WeChat mini program example - Dior

Expert advice:

Dior is a well-known luxury brand but they offer pretty cheap items to be purchased, meaning an easier buying decision for the customers. And which lady won’t be happy to get Dior branded gift?… an excellent move to expand its customer base.

The virtual gift card is also very interesting. Basically, something working in China, but as a luxury brand, it could lead to a positioning issue… it looks cheap. In that case, people prefer a real luxury wrapped gift.

WeChat mini-programs vs. WeChat official accounts

WeChat mini-programs and WeChat official accounts are two of the most popular tools for communication and mini-program development in China. While WeChat official accounts are mainly used as entrance points for customer engagement on the WeChat platform, mini-programs offer more comprehensive features than native web apps such as contactless e-commerce.

Mini-programs allow users to access functions from within the WeChat ecosystem, including items like mini-games, audio/video streaming services and even mini-programs that integrate with other wechat groups. With mini programs, developers can create user experiences designed for their specific needs and can also optimize them for their target audience.

GMA case study. -evoleum

From a customer experience perspective, mini-programs offer customers an easier way to find what they’re looking for without having to download an app or visit a website.

All in all, these two tools offer unique features that improve the customer journey while providing powerful communication solutions.