How can you engage your Chinese consumers on WeChat? One of the most crucial steps in creating connected customers is the welcome message journey.
This journey is initiated when a brand’s Official Account gains a new follower, which initiates a 48-hour window of time wherein the account can send an unlimited number of messages to the user (for this reason, we also call it the 48-Hour Journey). Usually, accounts are limited to only four messages per month, so this window is a truly golden opportunity to engage with and deliver value to your new follower. Using this opportunity well is key to holding on to new followers.
We’ll cover how the 48-Hour Journey works, including user trigger actions and the types of messages that accounts can send. We will also look at the essentials that Official Accounts in the financial and luxury sectors should include, as well as a best-in-class showcase.
- Welcome Journey Walkthrough
- Best-in-Class: Financial Sector
- Best-in-Class: Luxury Sector
01. Welcome Journey Walkthrough
The 48-Hour Journey (or welcome journey) is a unique messaging window that allows a brand to send multiple messages to a single user within a 48-hour window apart from the four-broadcast/month limit.
This window is opened through a user’s action within the brand’s account. If you’re wondering how WeChat users first find a brand on WeChat, you can check out our WeChat 101: WeChat Search Explainer (with best-in-class examples of brand visibility in WeChat).
Trigger Action: How Users Can Follow an Official Account
The 48-Hour Journey begins when a user first starts following an Official Account.
WeChat users can follow an account in a few ways:
- Scan a physical QR code (as in a store, on a print ad, or on another screen)
- Scan a digital QR code by long-press (like in an article in WeChat)
- Searching for the brand in WeChat
- Receiving the Official Account’s contact card from a friend
Types of Messages
Official Accounts can select from several message types to craft a compelling welcome journey for new followers.
Some of them are:
- Clickable website and Mini Program links
- Autoresponders to convey a brand message, answer FAQs, and offer resources
- Media-rich cards
- Mini Program cards
- Article cards
- WeCom QR codes to connect users with brand associates
Brands can use these to show new followers the value in engaging with the Official Account, directing them to resources like customer service, Mini Programs, and special promotions. These journeys can even be customized according to user data like location and language, making it more likely your brand’s content will truly prove useful.
WeChat users are accustomed to instant customer service within the WeChat platform, so the 48-Hour Journey is a perfect time to showcase what your brand offers. Accounts can provide links to customer service Mini Programs, can provide WeCom QR codes for a more personal connection, or can even invite the user to message them right there in the Official Account. Autoresponders can also fill this role by allowing users to initiate the conversation and providing several resources without visually overwhelming the chat feed.
02. Best-in-Class Financial Sector Welcome Journey
Financial companies offer some incredibly developed and customer-centric WeChat experiences, and their welcome journeys are no exception. For our best-in-class example, we’ll look at how ZhongAn Insurance utilizes the entire 48-hour window to appeal to new account followers.
We’ll look at how the ZhongAn welcome journey…
- is customer-centric
- is conversion-focused
- integrates social shopping
- uses follow-up messages
Personalization and customer service to enhance the user experience. ZhongAn uses WeChat APIs to customize messages with the user’s name. Accounts will often do this in the initial message, but ZhongAn sprinkles in this personalization throughout the journey, making the user feel as though they are having a chat with the brand and not just receiving promotional content. This coordinates well with the brand’s friendly persona.
That welcoming and warm brand personality is evident in their customer service. Small touches like a photo in the center of the WeCom QR code make the brand feel approachable. The QR code can be long-pressed to scan, which brings up a “real” ZhongAn sales advisor’s information. The user can instantly add the advisor as a contact and start a direct conversation.
The autoresponder offers customer benefits, free insurance questions answered, policy interpretation, and claim settlement assistance. The second option connect users with an FAQ and AI chatbot combo.
Another resource offered is a livestream where experts explain a certain kind of insurance. Coupled with the customer service discussed below, these resources help the user feel like they have what they need to make an informed decision, increasing the chance of a conversion.
ZhongAn weaves in several types of calls-to-action throughout the journey: encouraging the user to add the sales associate’s contact, suggesting they send a discount code to friends, telling the potential customer how to get advice on which insurance to buy, as well as several colorful images with special offers.
The promotional deals are in the form of clickable Mini Program cards. They often feature spokesperson Zhang Guoli, a famous actor well known for playing the Emperor in several historical dramas on Chinese television. They feature friendly taglines like “[User Name], Zhang Guoli recommends…”
ZhongAn encourages social shopping by offering discounts for the user’s friends and family when they share promotions and by prominently featuring how many people have bought certain insurance policies to date.
One of the Mini Program-linked promotions offers users 100 RMB at the end of the month if they invite friends to participate. Once the user opens the link, the Mini Program guides them to share the promotion with their contacts. Then a counter shows how much the user has earned so far, as well as how much RMB ZhongAn has already given away to other users (over five million – exciting!)
Another promotion from the welcome journey shows potential customers a counter of how many people had already bought the discount insurance package. In China, where group validation is huge, these tactics are spot on. Plus, they can make the user feel like they’re part of a wider community, reinforcing the value of engaging with ZongAn’s account.
One of the most outstanding features of ZhongAn’s welcome journey is how they utilize the entire 48-hour opportunity. It is common for brands to send just a few initial messages immediately to a new follower, and some will send one follow-up message. ZhongAn, however, spaces several messages throughout the period, tailoring each to where the potential customer might be in the buying stage.
Here’s what our experience was like when we started following ZhongAn’s account:
The initial message encourages the user to add an associate’s WeCom contact. About five minutes later, after just enough time to add a contact and say hello, a Mini Program card with a special discount comes through.
When we started following ZhongAn’s account to experience their welcome journey, we did not buy the promotional offer. So, sixteen hours later another message came through asking, “Not sure how to buy insurance? Don’t know who to call to settle claims?” It then provides a clickable link to get more information.
Finally, near the end of the 48 hours, we received another Mini Program card with a different, somewhat more enticing promotion (just one RMB!)
ZhongAn’s welcome journey did a masterful job of providing value and incentive to a new user, and all at just the right time.
03. Best-in-Class Luxury Sector Welcome Journey
Luxury retail brands have created immersive, creative, fun, and convenient WeChat experiences. However, overall, compared to the above example, the welcome journeys are a bit on the subdued side.
Among luxury brands, Hublot’s welcome journey provides an excellent top-performer example. The account integrates these key elements in the journey:
- Special incentives
- Membership for existing customers
- Help to find offline stores
- Customer service information
Hublot customizes their welcome message with the user’s name (we also tried following the account with our WeChat set to English, and they customized for language too!) They then offer a pre-ordering experience for their upcoming release via a Mini Program card, as well as an article introducing the new line of watches.
As far as customer service, users are invited to send a message directly in the Official Account chat feed. This allows the service chat to feel like users are communicating with a friend, not an impersonal company. The message also contains a link for current Hublot watch owners to “immediately start the HUBLOTISTA membership journey.” There is then a clickable link that takes users to an interactive map of Hublot stores. One of the primary functions of WeChat for brands is to nurture existing customers, so these features are especially important.