How to Leverage WeChat Mini Program
I want to quickly talk about mini-program because it will inevitably come up for business who are serious about leveraging WeChat as one of the primary marketing assets for your business in China.
What is WeChat Mini-Programs?
WeChat Mini-Program is really an App within WeChat’s ecosystem. So yes, and app within an app. For those of you who may be familiar with WordPress, you can sort of think of it as a plugin but for WeChat.
By the way, if you haven’t figure out what WXSS stand for its Weixin (WeChat in Chinese) Style Sheet and Weixin Markup Language. Clever right?
The other major difference with WeChat Mini-Programs vs say WordPress Plugins is that most Mini-Programs are developed for the end consumers rather than adding functionalities to your WeChat official account.
Should You Leverage WeChat Mini-Programs?
Honestly, it really depends on how the Mini-Program will play into your marketing strategy. I don’t think it’s a must but there is certainly use cases.
Personally, I think Mini-Programs are small Web App that is limited to only work within WeChat. So it’s really only useful if you’re using it as a way to either “add additional value” to your product or service, use it as an easy and low barrier entry point, or to differentiate your self (I guess) by adding a Mini-Program to your service.
But overall, my opinion is if your budget is tied you can do without it and still build a great business in China without having to touch WeChat Mini-Programs at all. That being said, if you have the budget and it fits into your overall strategy someone then Mini-Program is a great asset to your WeChat marketing.
There is however another reason why you should use Mini-Programs which is because Mini-Programs has a limit of 10MB in size which is great for low connectivity and is attached to WeChat, it is very popular amongst the lower-tier cities (3,4, etc…) in China.
So, if you’re catering to that geographic in China then having a Mini-Program may just be the key to your success in China.
WeChat Mini-Program vs Web App Vs Native Apps
A lot of people ask if WeChat Mini-Program can replace web apps or native apps?
In my opinion, not likely in general because while there is a tone of the article talking and debating about mini-program whether it’s a success or a failure, pulling in impressive charts, data, graphs, and case-study at the end of the date it’s just “codes”.
Like a website, a native app or the first Macintosh that has a pointer and mouse, it’s just code.
The reason why in general mini-program is not likely going to replace native app is that imagine if the world has only Apple’s App Store, that is absolute power and a complete monopoly on App distribution. If Apple doesn’t like you’re an app, you’re out of business.
That would be the same, so, while many companies such as JD, –, Didi having a great partnership and relationship with Tencent, and will create a WeChat mini-program to cater to heavy WeChat users, it is unlikely that any company will freely give up all their control over to Tencent.
That being said, for those purpose of your business. It is irrelevant because Mini-Programs are not the core of your business but rather a supporting piece to your overall marketing strategy.
In that sense, the mini-program out wins native app because it is not as intrusive to the user’s phone. With the native app, the user has to download and install the App while WeChat Mini-Programs hides nicely within WeChat’s ecosystem and it doesn’t even have notifications.
How to Leverage WeChat Mini-Programs for Your WeChat Marketing.
What makes WeChat Mini-Programs attractive is that it is small as there is a restriction of 10MB (excluding pictures, videos, and sounds hosted on the server) by Tencent. But what makes Mini-Program even more attractive to businesses is that it allows some really cool ways to interact with your customers and marketing.
If you go back to chapter _ which we talked about advertising on WeChat, you’ll know that even if you don’t create your own WeChat mini-program you can still advertise on Mini-Programs that allows ads.
Use it as a Landing Page
There is an increase in trend of using WeChat Mini-Program instead of H5 (HTML5) as landing pages for one reason which is integration with WeChat’s API. Unlike HTML5 landing pages which are just a regular web page, WeChat Mini-Programs are building on top of WeChat’s API which allows you to have better integration and tracking between your Mini-Program and your WeChat official account.
If you remember in the automation chapter, I talked about tracking is an issue with WeChat and a lot of data are invisible because you really don’t know who came from where. Well with WeChat Mini-Program it’s kind of solves that problem.
Apart from, I do not personally believe there are many other advantages. Yes, there are many talks that H5 is going to be replaced by Mini-Program because it has a lower cost development which is not true, and that it has more functionalities native to a smartphone this is kind of true.
WeChat Mini-Programs are building on top of WeChat which is a smartphone app, so leveraging WeChat’s API, your developer will have more ability to work with smartphone functionalities that HTML5 won’t have (at least not without external framework support) because HTML5 is a hypertext markup language and is designed for the browser and not the smartphone.
Add Support for Your Core Product or Services
You can also create mini-programs that adds support to your products or services by allowing users to submit tickets, browse product guides and FAQ videos. Or if you want to be fancy you can create utility mini-programs that provides additional tools to whatever products or services you sell.
You can also build WeChat Mini-Programs to increase brand loyalty. For example, you can create a Customer Loyalty mini-program where your existing customers can scan QR that comes with each product to earn points and exchange them for gifts and rewards.
One of the most common uses of Mini-Program is to sell products, you can build an entire eCommerce shop using just mini-program with WeChat pay integration. In fact, that is probably one of the most common ways that most international business leverages WeChat mini-programs right now.
While WeChat mini-programs are certainly growing in popularity it is however still very new and in it’s infancy. How the mini-programs are going to develop in China is yet to be seem but my guess is it’s going to be much like Facebook games and WordPress plugins. There will be certain mini-programs that will be very popular and most will be just average.
From a WeChat marketing perspective, we do believe there is a lot of practice use cases business can leverage such as using it as a landing page and creating utility and support mini-programs to increase customer loyalty but we do not believe that it is a must have and should only be consider if it fits in your strategy properly.