In the modern digital era, establishing a business presence in China involves a multifaceted approach, and one of the key components of this strategy is utilizing WeChat. WeChat, developed by the Chinese conglomerate Tencent, may initially appear to be a messaging application similar to WhatsApp, but it’s more than that. WeChat is a versatile and all-encompassing app, allowing users to perform tasks such as sending money, reading articles, and even applying for loans. This article delves into the intricacies of WeChat Business, exploring the differences between WeChat Subscription Accounts and WeChat Service Accounts, the process of creating a WeChat Official Account, and the verification procedures.
Understanding WeChat: A Brief Introduction
WeChat, known as Weixin (微信) in Chinese, was launched in China by Tencent in January 2011. Initially, it had the appearance of a typical messaging app, but its functionalities soon expanded beyond mere messaging. By 2012, Weixin boasted an impressive 100 million users. As part of its international expansion, the platform was renamed WeChat in the same year, and it is now available in 17 languages, making it a truly global app.
The four main WeChat tabs
WeChat’s interface is divided into four primary tabs: Chats, Contacts, Discover, and Me. Chats and Contacts are dedicated to conversations and connections on the platform. Notably, the Contacts tab offers advanced organizational features, including folders and tags for better management. The Discover tab encompasses various miscellaneous features that do not fit into the other tabs, while the Me tab is where users access personal settings, stickers, and their profiles. Additionally, WeChat Pay is also integrated into the Me panel, allowing users to manage their financial transactions seamlessly.
Where is WeChat Popular?
WeChat’s popularity is not limited to China; it has witnessed substantial global growth. In 2012, WeChat had 50 million monthly active users, a number that has since surged to an impressive 1.31 billion in 2022. It holds a dominant position in China, with approximately 79% of the population using the platform. This dominance remains unchallenged by competitors, mainly due to the wide array of features that have become integral to everyday life.
A map showing where is WeChat popular
While WeChat’s primary stronghold is in China, its influence extends to other regions as well. Countries such as Botswana, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau have also seen WeChat’s rise in popularity. Even in places where WeChat doesn’t command significant market share, it remains extremely popular among the Chinese diaspora.
Exploring WeChat’s Key Features
WeChat is a multifaceted app, offering a wide range of features to its users. One of its most prominent features is WeChat Pay, the in-app digital wallet. Introduced in 2016, WeChat Pay quickly gained traction, thanks to the existing user base of 430 million people. Today, it boasts a staggering 900 million users. WeChat Pay simplifies person-to-person transactions, bill payments, and in-store purchases, both online and at physical stores that support the payment system.
WeChat Pay interface with QR code censored
To make in-store payments, users simply scan or display QR codes. This simplicity, combined with the cost-effectiveness for businesses in comparison to traditional payment terminals, has made WeChat Pay exceptionally popular in both physical and online retail environments. Furthermore, WeChat Pay is not limited to China; it supports 13 different currencies in 25 countries and regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Hong Kong.
WeChat Mini-Programs are another standout feature, offering “mini-applications” within the WeChat platform. These programs serve a multitude of purposes, such as e-commerce, membership cards, games, bike rentals, and more. Businesses that use Mini Programs can also issue coupons that users can redeem for discounts on their purchases within the app.
WeChat Business Accounts: Subscription vs. Service
For businesses looking to leverage WeChat as a customer messaging channel, it’s essential to understand the types of WeChat Business Accounts available. WeChat offers three main types of WeChat Official Accounts: WeChat Subscription Accounts, WeChat Service Accounts, and WeChat Work.
Types of 0fficial WeChat account
WeChat Work is akin to internal company messaging platforms like Slack or Google Chat, designed for use within a business. WeChat Subscription Accounts and WeChat Service Accounts, on the other hand, are tailored for customer communication.
WeChat Business: Subscription and Service Accounts
Both WeChat Subscription and Service Accounts allow followers to receive push notifications and engage in one-on-one conversations. However, these two account types serve different purposes, each with its own set of features and limitations.
WeChat Subscription Account vs WeChat Service Account
WeChat Business: WeChat Subscription Account
Subscription Accounts cater to companies registered in China and are primarily designed for media, influencers, and organizations. These accounts focus on information dissemination and brand communication. Subscription Accounts are permitted to send one WeChat push message daily to their followers. However, they do not support API access, which can be limiting for businesses that manage high message volumes or want to integrate customer communication channels with CRMs and other third-party applications.
WeChat for business – WeChat Subscription Account
In summary, WeChat Subscription Accounts are not the optimal choice for businesses looking to market, sell, and provide support on the platform.
WeChat Business: WeChat Service Account
WeChat Service Accounts are tailored for customer service, with a focus on providing robust API access. Businesses can seamlessly connect WeChat Service Accounts to their CRM systems. Moreover, verified Service Account owners can open WeChat Stores and activate WeChat Pay. The main limitation is that Service Account owners are allowed to send only four push notifications per month to their followers.
What businesses can do with a WeChat Service Account
In a WeChat Service Account, businesses can engage in marketing, sales, and customer support activities. This makes Service Accounts suitable for medium to large-sized businesses that want to leverage WeChat for comprehensive customer communication.
Additionally, businesses have the option to create a WeChat Official Account overseas, making it visible to mainland China users. Having identified the type of account that suits your business, it’s important to choose a messaging inbox that aligns with your specific needs.
Types of WeChat Business Messaging Inboxes
There are two primary methods for messaging customers through WeChat: using the WeChat Official Account inbox or a business messaging platform connected to the WeChat account via the Messaging API.
The WeChat Official Account inbox is a free tool that supports up to 100 agents, each with customizable profiles. However, it lacks features for assigning inbound conversations to agents, requiring manual selection as messages come in. In terms of contact management, it provides only basic tag functionality, and although it offers three types of WeChat auto-reply, it lacks an advanced automation builder. While it does feature an analytics dashboard, there is no way to filter analytics by agent or team.
Types of inboxes for WeChat – WeChat platform vs Leadshouse
For medium and large businesses managing a high volume of conversations monthly, it is advisable to connect the WeChat Service Account to a feature-rich messaging inbox, such as Leadshouse. This choice offers enhanced multi-user support, robust automation, integrations with CRMs and other software, as well as detailed and long-term performance analytics to monitor and improve the efficiency of individual agents or teams.
It’s important to note that businesses can freely switch between the WeChat Official Account inbox and an external messaging platform like Leadshouse. If you do not yet have a WeChat Service Account, the following section outlines the process of applying for one.
How to Create a WeChat Official Account
To establish a WeChat Service Account, navigate to the WeChat Official Account Platform on your desktop and click “Register now” at the top. It is recommended to complete this process on a desktop device as the website is not optimized for mobile use.
How to set up WeChat Official account – WeChat Official Account platform
1. Select “Service Account.” It’s crucial to note that the account type cannot be changed after creation.
WeChat Official Account application – Account type selection
2. Create a user account by providing a secure email address. This email will serve as your access point to the admin panel. Ensure that the email is not already linked to an existing WeChat Business Account. Enter the verification code sent to your email.
WeChat Official Account application – Create a user account
3. Select your country. The required legal documents may vary depending on the country where your company is registered.
WeChat Official Account application – Country selection
4. Submit the identification information of the company and the account administrator. This includes your company’s officially-registered name and registration number, as well as the account operator’s name, mobile phone number, and passport ID number.
WeChat Official Account application – Identification information
5. Choose an account name and provide a brief description. This account name will become your WeChat account ID, so choose wisely. Additionally, add a short description for your account.
WeChat Official Account application – Account information
Upon completing these steps, you will have successfully created a WeChat Official Account. Once logged into the WeChat Official Accounts Platform, you will receive a notification indicating that you won’t be able to send any broadcasts from your WeChat Official Account until it is verified.
WeChat Official Account application – Verification required notification
Unverified accounts do not have access to advanced features, such as sending push notifications, creating Mini-Programs, or using WeChat Pay. It is crucial to verify your account promptly. Additionally, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with how messaging functions on WeChat business accounts to communicate effectively with customers and avoid potential account bans.
WeChat Official Account: A Comprehensive Guide to Best Practices
Now that you have established your WeChat Official Account, it’s time to delve into the best practices that will help you maximize its potential. In this guide, we will not only walk you through the crucial steps for verifying your account but also provide valuable insights on how customers can discover and interact with your WeChat Official Account.
WeChat Official Account Verification
While setting up a WeChat Official Account is free, the verification process does involve a nominal fee and the submission of necessary documentation. We understand that this process may seem intricate, but fear not, as we are here to assist you every step of the way.
1. Providing Additional Company Information: This includes essential details such as your company’s registration number, office address, office phone number, and a comprehensive description of your business activities. Additionally, you’ll need to furnish the bank name and account number associated with your company.
Verify a WeChat Official Account – Additional company information
2. Validating Personal Information: The verification staff will reach out to you personally during this stage. You’ll be required to provide your full name, mobile phone number, email address, landline phone number, and passport number.
Verify a WeChat Official Account – Contact person information
3. Uploading Supporting Documents: This involves providing supporting documents for the information you’ve submitted. Ensure that you scan these documents in color. The required documents include your Business License, an official application letter (to be filled out, signed, and stamped), mobile phone statements for the past three months, and copies of your ID/passport/driving license.
Verify a WeChat Official Account – upload documents
4. Reserving Your Official Account Name: At this juncture, you’ll need to decide on your account’s display name. It’s important to note that this name can only be changed through the annual verification process. Depending on whether your brand name is trademarked or not, you’ll have different options for verification.
Verify a WeChat Official Account – chose a display name
5. Paying the Verification Fee: The WeChat Official Account verification comes with a fee of either USD 99 or RMB 300, depending on your business location. Keep in mind that this fee is non-refundable, even if the application is not approved.
Once these steps are completed, you can expect a call from a third-party agency within 5 to 10 business days.
WeChat Business: How Customers Find Your WeChat Official Account
Unlike many messaging apps, WeChat necessitates users to initiate contact with businesses before engaging in conversations. However, users who follow your WeChat Official Account can receive broadcast messages. Let’s explore the various ways customers can find and engage with your account.
Ways to start a chat on WeChat Official Account
WeChat QR Codes
QR codes not only facilitate payments via WeChat Pay but also serve as a bridge between offline and online interactions. They can be employed in physical locations or incorporated into emails and websites.
QR Code for a WeChat Official Account
For optimal use, it’s recommended to display the WeChat logo alongside the QR code to indicate its functionality. Remember, users need to have the WeChat app installed for the QR code to function.
In addition to searching for official accounts by their display names, WeChat allows users to find accounts by keywords found in the business description. This opens up more avenues for customers to discover your account.
Finding a WeChat Official Account With In-App Search
For businesses with Chinese display names, including the English name in the short description can enhance discoverability internationally.
How to Message Customers Using a WeChat Official Account
Messaging through a WeChat Official Account entails certain distinct rules and features. Here’s what you need to know about 1:1 messaging, broadcast messaging, and group messaging.
In WeChat Official Accounts, the messaging window is crucial, and read receipts are not provided. Understanding these characteristics will help you effectively communicate with your customers.
Characteristics of 1-to-1 messaging on WeChat Official Account
WeChat broadcasts, referred to as push messages, offer a means of sharing content akin to newsletters. This feature allows for customization, including rich content and even Mini Programs. Users can interact with broadcasts by liking, commenting, and sharing.
Characteristics of broadcast messaging on WeChat Official Account
While many businesses use messaging apps for sales via group chats, integrating a WeChat Official Account into these chats poses a challenge, as they cannot be added to group conversations.
WeChat Official Accounts cannot join groups
Should You Use WeChat for Business?
For businesses operating in WeChat’s key markets, leveraging the platform for sales and support is highly recommended. Determining whether the WeChat Official Account inbox suffices or if an omnichannel approach is required depends on the nature and scale of your business.
If you’re a small business with limited inquiries, the WeChat Official Account inbox may be adequate. However, for enterprises or SMEs managing interactions across multiple channels, integrating with Leadshouse offers advanced features and tools to streamline the customer journey.
Incorporating WeChat with your CRM system on Leadshouse empowers you to qualify leads, create deals or tickets, and more, all while engaging with customers. If you have any questions or need further guidance, our support team is here to assist you.
In conclusion, by following these best practices, you’ll be well-equipped to harness the full In conclusion, WeChat is a powerful tool for businesses seeking to establish a presence in China. Understanding the nuances of WeChat Business, from the types of accounts available to the messaging inboxes, is pivotal for leveraging this platform effectively. With a WeChat Service Account in place and a robust messaging platform, businesses can tap into the immense potential of this versatile app to connect with customers, market products or services, and provide top-notch support. Visit our website today!