Coronavirus: how to replace cancelled inbound Chinese with NZ resident Chinese visitors using WeChat
If Chinese visitors are part of your visitor mix, the measures being taken to stem the spread of Coronavirus could be impacting your visitor numbers due to cancellations. Timing couldn’t be worse with the issue coinciding with peak season. One strategy to combat reduced numbers is to focus on the domestic NZ Chinese resident market, but how can a campaign be implemented quickly and effectively?
Here are five ways you can get exposure to the domestic Chinese market, which is approximately 240,000 people – assuming consistent growth rates from the 2013 census and including 40,000 Chinese students.
1. Place a paragraph of translated text and images on a local WeChat account
One of the fastest and cheapest ways to get in front of Chiwis (Chinese kiwis) is to pay to have your content placed on other WeChat accounts that already have a sizeable readership. The max number of followers of such a WeChat account is typically 5,000 viewers. One of the easiest options offers two placements on 10 accounts for around NZ$1250 reaching 50,000 viewers. Each of the ten different groups cover immigration, education, mothers, shopping, and general audiences (you have to place on all ten as a cluster). Whilst you can supply smart artwork, you can also just supply images, making it a really easy option. There is another one that reaches Christchurch audiences (8% of Chinese population) for just a couple of hundy.
If you’re just getting started with Chinese marketing, this option is free of the red tape of some of the other options which make implementation more time-consuming.
You can have a link to a webpage (which would ideally be translated). The more common technique is to have a QR code which links to either your customer service profile or a page on your official WeChat account which has details of your offer. However, if you don’t yet have an official WeChat account or dedicated customer service profile or someone on your team who speaks Mandarin/Cantonese, you can quickly set up a personal WeChat profile by downloading the app from the AppStore, use the QR code to your personal account, and suggest that questions can be answered in English. Communication is usually via WeChat (very simple to use for messaging pretty much like Messenger).
Long term, you really want your own WeChat official account and company customer service profile, so that you don’t build up a following to a staff member’s personal QR code that then disappears with them when they leave.
In terms of measuring results, the Chinese usually measure the number of engagements/contacts made on the customer service profile (message conversations on WeChat). There are other techniques which give more complete data akin to Google Ads/Analytics, but most of these require having an official WeChat account set up.
Chinese are very savvy shoppers, and some kind of deal or added value incentive with an expiry date is recommended. Sometimes, one attractive image sized to display well on mobile phones with the offer in Chinese on it, and the QR code in the corner, can be better than six or nine images.
2. Banner ads in Chinese digital news outlets
Another reasonably quick option to get in front of local Chinese is to place banner ads on digital Chinese news outlets. You have options like having your banner ad being shown next to a headline article, or on sections that align with your service like travel or shopping. You can also place content based on impressions. Budgets range from $600 up to $3,500 for niche to the most popular pages for a day or three, though you may want to allow more for longer exposure of a week.
Of course you can also place ads in print publications like the Chinese Herald. Our clients have had better results from digital methods.
3. WeChat Moments feed campaign
A meaty option, for those who already have an official WeChat account set up, is to run a Moments campaign. Most Chinese use Wechat daily for 2-3 hours. In NZ, younger bi-lingual NZ-born Chinese also use other social media and Google, though many of the older Chinese still operate largely in Chinese communities, and prefer to engage mainly in Chinese media. However, WeChat is one of the main communication tools, and just like we browse Facebook or Instagram feeds, Chinese browse their WeChat Moments feed. So an ad in this environment gives significant exposure.
Media budgets for these start at $6k plus time for booking/artwork/translation. However, all ads must be approved by TenCent group, campaigns must be pre-paid, and the government may require proof of distribution licences or other validation, which can take a fair bit of sleuthing. Best to plan a campaign like this well in advance.
You also need to have your official account set up to be an approved “advertising” account. Perhaps for a different time, this offers an awesome targeting tool where you can set your target to “inbound Chinese”.
You can also do a Mini Program on WeChat which is like an ecommerce store built into the WeChat environment within the app. Without having to leave WeChat, visitors can browse your store and pay for items. Again though, this is not a short term option. You also need to consider logistics options for delivery.
4. Google Ads campaigns targeted to Chinese language setting
We have had success on a small scale targeting search phrases (we tried both English and Chinese) with the targeting set to the region of New Zealand, and browser set to Chinese language. The click through rate and engagement with a Chinese landing page was above average, but for search, it used only a small budget and would be considered as an ongoing method rather than a tool for a major campaign.
You could also try a Display campaign to the same settings, but I’d recommend placing ads on WeChat accounts over this strategy.
5. Print publications
There are a number of publications that are read by local Chinese, from community papers free to collect at Asian supermarkets, to upmarket monthly magazines. Not so specific to local Chinese, there are also airline in-flight magazines. My clients report more success from digital methods relative to the community papers, but each local Chinese on average influences four other inbound Chinese visitors and their activities, through recommendations, family connections, and arranging tours. So reaching the local market is also a strategy to drive inbound referrals.
Whatever medium you choose, it’s a good idea to plan the customer journey after they’ve seen your ad, to use a good translator rather than Google translate, and if possible, to have a native Chinese person review your draft content to comment on the cultural appropriateness before it gets translated.
Is there another option you think I should add to this list? I welcome your comments.
At Alexanders Digital Marketing in Christchurch, we help Australasian clients to reach Chinese audiences, inbound or domestic, set up WeChat accounts/campaigns/Mini programs, do translation, content creation, and guide clients on suitability of content. If you have a question, message us on LiveChat on our website during business hours or contact Rachel on 03 3488 477. We also do SEO and feel for the Corona beer team whose SERPS will be suffering!