What channels do you usually choose when you need to contact customers outside China? Well, I think most of you will choose to write an email.

Many of our customers want to try to replicate their overseas marketing strategies in China. The logic is also very simple, "I just need to contact my target audience. Through long-term lead cultivation and incubation process, I will have good results."

In an ideal scenario, this may be a good idea; However, in the reality of the Chinese market, you will probably find that: Because your brand has no popularity and a certain consumer base in China, no one is willing to pay attention to your brand from the beginning.

Email usage in China

Some data show that among the over 900 million Chinese Internet users, only about 5% of them will open email regularly, and in most cases, their purpose is to receive some important information rather than check your promotion email. At the same time, most Chinese consumers will not first think of using email to register members of various platforms or services. In contrast, the mobile phone number may be a more common choice for registration/login. Therefore even if someone wants to know about your brand, there will be basically no reply to the email you sent, because Chinese consumers don't know you sent them an email at all.

When you participate in a business tour in China offline, you rarely find an email address on the business card of potential customers you receive, and the probability of using mobile phone number, WeChat or even QR code as contact information is much higher.

WeChat Business Card:

Based on this situation, can we assert that there is no market for email marketing in China? Of course not. Although Chinese consumers are not very enthusiastic about e-mail, they will still remember to use it in some scenarios:

They just registered an account on your website and need to verify their email.

They use email as a formal communication channel in their working environment.

You tell them through WeChat notification, "Hi! I just sent something to your email. Go and have a look!"

In China, WeChat has became the premise of all marketing activities

The functions provided by WeChat can replace email in people's daily life. Although not many Chinese consumers will check email, WeChat has more than 1 billion monthly active users in Q1 2021, of which 94% of the users go online on a daily basis. WeChat is a communication tool that can not be ignored, and brands can combine it with email marketing strategy.

WeChat Official Account notification = Newsletter

WeChat Official Account (OA) can well help the brands to reach the target audience. Chinese users generally are more likely to find information by themselves. They will not hesitate to subscribe to the content that they feel valuable into their WeChat subscription list.

According to Tencent’s reports, WeChat users read 7 articles every day on WeChat, almost all of them come from the WeChat OA subscription or WeChat Moments news feed which are shared by their WeChat friends.

In other words, Chinese users will fully consider reaching information through WeChat, as long as the content provides them with sufficient value.

Tips for pushing WeChat content

  • Keep pushing regularly
  • Ensure the timeliness of the content
  • Ensure the quality of the content
  • Ensure the content brings value to the audience

For brands, the WeChat Service Account (SA) can be another option. It allows the brand to push messages 4 times a month, which is enough to keep you in good contact with the audience. At the same time, WeChat SA also supports hyperlinks, supports a variety of customized services (automatic message reply, WeChat applet store, etc.), and a series of other applications produced by Tencent (such as Tencent Conference) can enable the brand to create relatively complete marketing closed loop.

In short, brands should consider using less email in their Chinese marketing strategy. Although this may be a challenge for most overseas enterprises who want to enter the Chinese market since they are more used to email marketing.

However, it doesn't mean you have to ditch email marketing. How to balance the communication method between via email and WeChat is very important.

We recommend using email in the following scenarios:

  • Account registration as an alternative to using mobile numbers or WeChat.
  • Customer support form submission (product demonstration, etc.)
  • Send important documents in the sales process, including but not limited to meeting summary, proposal and signed documents.
  • Email newsletter, in addition to WeChat OA message push.

As Chinese marketing agency, we hope you understand the difference of email usage between China and the overseas markets. However, email is not just an isolated case, but also for many other marketing channels in China as well. Some effective marketing strategies in overseas markets may encounter inexplicable failure in China. In the past two decades, China has created such a unique and complex digital landscape and the brands need to pay more attention to the differences and adapt better strategies. Register and subscribe with Yiva Digital to learn more market insights from China.