In this guide, I’ll share the secret process of how to use contents to market on WeChat. It’s a simple process, and it works universally, no matter what business you’re in.
But before begin, I want to make sure that you know what WeChat is and have a basic understand of how the platform works. If you’ve never used WeChat or you have limited experience marketing on WeChat I highly recommend going through our WeChat Marketing Guide (3 Part Video Series) First.
Let’s get started…
Content Marketing Isn’t New
In fact, content in marketing has been around for decades. Individuals and brands have been using contents as part of their marketing since the 1700s and maybe even before that.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States; published “Poor Richard’s Almanack” in 1732 to promote his printing business. John Deere an American based company that manufactures agricultural machinery created the “Furrow Magazine” in 1895. The magazine was created to give farmers an accurate, unbiased source of information to improve their operations. Till this day, Furrow Magazine remains to be one of the most beloved magazines for farmers in North America.
But of course, the story doesn’t just end there. Procter & Gamble coined the term “Soap Operas” by producing the first radio serial dramas in the 1930s. The purpose of these serial dramas is to entertain housewives after a long day of hard work.
Blendtec created “Will It Blend?” video series on Youtube in 2006. In 2014, “The Lego Movie’ a full feature-length film was released worldwide, on and on and on… I’m not going to cover everything here and there is a lot. If you’re interested in a complete history of content marketing, check out the great infographic by Content Marketing Institute.
Ok… so, we’ve made the point that the idea of “content marketing” is nothing new. But why is it that it has become this buzz word recently?
Well, in short; the internet happened.
Internet and Content Abundance
Prior to the internet, in order for a business, brand, or marketer to reach an audience they had to go through the gatekeepers. These were the traditional publishing companies like newspapers, magazines, radio, and Television.
But with the advent of the Internet, everything changed.
Suddenly, even a 13-year-old kid from London, Ontario Canada can create content, get discover, and launch a career of international stardom (in case you’re wondering I was referring to Justin Bieber). This was simply not possible before the Internet.
Businesses and brands no longer have to go through a third-party publisher to reach their audience. For the first time, everyone can create contents and distribute them to billions of people around the world with the click of a button.
And for the first time, contents have become abundant, easily accessible, and an amazing way to connect and build a relationship with your customer.
Why WeChat Content Marketing?
If you’ve gone through our WeChat Marketing Guide for Foreign Business Owners, you would know that content is pretty much the only way to market on WeChat. Sure, you can pay WeChat influencers to endorse your product, do a product review, or giveaway. And yes, depending on your brand, product or service paying WeChat influencer absolutely work. You’ll see spikes in your traffic or even major increases in sales but it’s short lived.
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely believe in influencer marketing, and there is definitely a place and time for that. But if you’re looking to build a brand, and long lasting success with WeChat than content marketing is the way to go.
The Content Funnel
When talking about content marketing, most marketer either just wants to talk about creating more content or the quality of the contents. And of course, these are important. You do need awesome engaging contents, and you do need to be consistent with your contents. But hardly does anyone talk about the content funnel.
Just like the sales funnel, contents need a funnel too. Like a sales funnel, the content funnel serves a similar purpose, which is to move people through your customer lifetime cycle. Content created for different stages of the funnel should have a specific goal designated. Some contents are created for awareness, some are for conversion, and some are for nurturing. But of course, the length of your funnel will also depend on the type of products or services your sell.
Some products have a shorter funnel cycle. Maybe one piece of content can be both awareness and conversion. For example, a customer may be looking to buy a new toothbrush and he/she came across a review that details about a new brand of toothbrush that he/she may not have heard of before. But the review was great, and since the toothbrush was only $30 he/she decided to give it a shot. So, in this case, the review was a piece of content for both awareness & conversion.
As a general rule of thumb if your product or service has a high perceived risk then your content funnel usually needs to be longer, but if your product or service has a lower perceived risk then your content cycle can be very short.
Now, let us break down the 5 stages of the content funnel:
This is the stage of the funnel that most marketer’s talk about. The goal of this stage of the funnel is simply to raise awareness for your product or service. This is also the stage of the funnel that most businesses does a lot of, simply because this is what they think content marketing is.
The type of content that is required for this stage of the funnel can be very generic, you do not need a very high-quality piece of content. The point of the content is to start driving engagement with your brand.
First Contact (Lead & Nurturing)
If you’re a Star Trek fan, during the movie “First Contact” when Cochrane made his first warp flight, it attracted the attention of the Vulcans to contact the human race. This event is ultimately what made the rest of the Star Trek universe possible.
Your content for this stage should be like the first warp flight. I’m not asking you to invent the warp drive (if you can please contact me), but your content should be intriguing enough for the user to want to take an action for further engagement.
This action can vary… it can be as simple as a subscribe or follow, an exchange of their email, name, or phone number, or sign up for a demo. Once you have the prospect’s permission, you can now create content to guide them through your sales cycle.
The conversion stage of the content funnel will widely vary depending on your product or service. Obviously, the goal of this stage is to ask for a sale. In some cases, this stage can be accomplished with case studies, testimonials, or a long form sales letter. While in other cases, a phone call or a one on one meeting will be required to close the deal.
Retention & Upsell
From here on are the stages most marketer ignore, and in our opinion also the most important stages. Just because you’ve finally succeeded in converting a lead into a paying customer, it doesn’t mean you’re done.
Do you have any content to reinforce the customer’s buying decision? For example, Apple offer’s free one hour-long workshop to help their customer with the products. Now, we all know Steve Jobs is famous for making products simple for the customer, but even as simple as Apple products are inevitably you’ll have a customer that will run into troubles. Apple understood that they know that the sale doesn’t end at the checkout.
For you, this could be contents such as FAQs, a guide to help your customer get the most out of your product, examples of how other customers achieve success with your product or services, or industry insight reports. The goal of this stage is to continue to add value to your customers and reinforce that their decision to purchase your product or service is the right one.
This is the pinnacle stage for any business. During this stage, contents are not created by you anymore, it’s created by your raving fans. Now, I’m going to be honest, to move customers to this stage is very hard! And it is easier for certain industry than other.
In particular, creative base companies will naturally have raving fans for some of their products. I’m talking about movies, music, and video games. But if you really think about it, their products are contents. Fans of these products will create fan sites, write a review, and evangelize about the brand.
Now, that you have a better understand of the content funnel, let’s talk about how it can fit into your WeChat content marketing process.
WeChat Content Marketing Process
While this is a WeChat focused content marketing process, in reality, this 8 steps process can really be applied to any content channel.
Step 1: Understand Your Audience
I can’t stress this enough, the key to a successful WeChat content marketing campaign will depend on how well you know your audience. I’ve created a lot of contents over the years and the single biggest mistake I’ve made is creating content that I think my audience will want to read instead of creating contents that my audience actually want to read.
Too often do we just blast out whatever content we happen to have in our library instead of focusing on creating specific contents to address a specific desire for a specific audience. Yes, I used the word “specific” a lot here, but it is damn important for you to understand this point.
For example: let’s say you sell face creams that reduce aging for both genders and you want to attract more customer to buy your cream. You can put in a content strategy that educates people on the process, the cause, and prevention of early aging. And if you’re really smart you would have one section dedicated to just man, and one dedicated to just women.
Step 2: Create
Once you have a clear idea of your target audience, your next step is to assemble the right people, team, and resources require to create these compelling stories.
Remember the word content is not limited to only written forms. Content can be much more. It can an article, a picture, an infographic, an animated gif, a short film, a documentary, a movie, a show, a useful app, a simple tool, etc…
So, depending on the type of content you want to create, and the stage of the content funnel you want to target. The creatives and the tools you’ll need for creating WeChat content will vary.
Step 4: Nurture and Amplify
In today’s noisy world it’s not enough to just publish your content and hope that millions of people will consume it and engage with it. You’ll want to nurture your stories, evangelize, and amplify them. In the case of WeChat, you will want to work with influencer, share your story with them or even pay them to promote your content.
Step 5: Engage and Listen
Part of having a success WeChat content marketing process goes beyond just publishing your content. Once you published your story and attracted an audience you’re still not done. It is time to engage with your audio and listen to their feedbacks.
You’ll need to pay careful attention to all the conversations that evolve around your contents, be ready to reply and engage with your audience. Know what conversion to engage in, and what conversion to keep out is a critical skill you’ll need to develop.
Step 6: Measure and Tweak
With all the hard works out of the way, it is time to step back and measure the results of your content strategy. Naturally, you might be wondering what exactly do you measure, and what KPIs should you be looking at?
With WeChat content marketing, you will want to measure the KPIs of your WeChat official accounts, along with the KPIs of your business goals to give yourself a grand picture of how your content strategy has been performing.
The reason being is, you’ll run into situations where the number of subscription to your official accounts will drop 15% due to your new content strategy and the number of leads drop by 30% but the overall profit has increased by 20%.
In this case, if you only looked at the drops in subscription and the dropped in leads, then you would have concluded that your WeChat content strategy was an utter failure.
With content marketing, you’ll win sometimes, and fail sometimes. Keep trying different strategies, measure them, and tweak your strategy accordingly.
Step 7: Rinse and Repeat
Finally, you will want to rinse and repeat step 2 to 6 over and over again. A lot of people believe that once they create one awesome compelling content then the floodgate of customers will open and shower them with sales. This rarely happens in the real world of content marketing. Content marketing is a long-term play, some of your content will be explosions, some will be crickets. What matter is the long-term impact of your content strategy for your brand.