For many marketers, it’s easy to associate “holiday marketing” with the end-of-year holidays that fall in December. But holiday marketing shouldn’t be a concept we reserve for these year-end events, rather we should look at key season events throughout the year as a way to connect and engage further with our customers.

Too many brands focus on holidays with batch-and-blast campaigns targeting their entire audience, but holiday activity should be part of a year-round focus delivering personalised experiences to individuals on occasions they care about.

Any engagement should be part of a well-planned program mapped out up to a year in advance with promotions timed to coincide with milestone dates, such as International Women’s Day, Mother’s and Children’s Day, Father’s Day, and Singles Day, along with traditional Western occasions now becoming popular in the East, such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. For even more personalisation, you can add the customer’s own milestones such as a birthday or wedding anniversary.

Brands enjoying success in Mainland China connect with their customers through many mediums, creating a journey across multiple touchpoints rather than just one-off connections. And along that journey, WeChat is especially important.

As we highlight in our latest WeChat whitepaper One Billion Customers Can’t be Wrong, developing and executing a WeChat program for your brand is essential.

So how can brands use WeChat to further their omnichannel experience with customers during the holidays?

Combining Traditions with Technology

When planning out a new strategy for any seasonal event, it’s beneficial to look back on successful holiday campaigns and zero in on what made them work so well. For the recent Chinese New Year, many brands found success by combining traditional customs with WeChat technology.

One of the fastest-growing means of interaction was through the traditional “Hongbao” – red packets. Alipay AR Hongbao, for example, received a massive amount of attention after launching such a campaign, distributing 200 million RMB through the game and successfully signing up 120,000 new followers to their official Weibo account. Those results demonstrate how marketing during Chinese New Year matters to both small and big businesses. Various brands such as Procter & Gamble and KFC were quick to support the game afterwards.

The red packet concept can be tailored to deliver special offers personalised to the individual recipient or digital gift vouchers for your most loyal customers through the WeChat channel. Starbucks, for example, has used the tradition of red packets to reward customers with bonus points, through partnerships with WeChat.

In addition to reserving red packets for Chinese New Year, brands could use a tradition like sending red packets to enhance a user’s experience throughout the year. By tapping into your customer data and customer behaviour, you can create campaigns that offer special touches like this on special days such as a birthday. It would enhance the loyalty relationship between the consumers and the brands.

Brands can also enhance this experience by using their customer data to include discounts on items that a customer has previously viewed or have had on wish lists. This not only shows that a brand understands the importance of the holiday for the individuals but also the things they like.

Personalise the Holiday for the Customer

In the Starbucks example above, you saw how Starbucks was able to use a traditional Chinese New Year custom and tailor it to their loyal customers with bonus reward points. With WeChat, you’re able to match a user’s WeChat account with their online/offline data, giving you a complete picture of the person behind that data. Use this information to your advantage and tailor specific holiday deals and incentives directly to customers who truly care about it.

In the example below, we see how Swarovski was able to personalise experiences directly to their individual customers through their WeChat account.

In China, under the influences of the western holiday seasons, most of the shopping malls and stores were covered in Christmas decorations during December. Some brands also chose to launch Christmas campaigns via WeChat to increase the brand awareness and increase purchases happening in China.

During this season, advent calendars are popular, and Swarovski was a brand who launched their own advent calendar. In addition to their physical calendar, they also launched a digital version to promote this campaign via WeChat.

Every day, users could access a different mini-game through Swarovski’s digital advent calendar — which they needed to complete in order to receive the unique cards. Once the seven unique cards were collected, users would receive a Christmas gift from Swarovski. Within this mini-program, the users were offered the opportunity to directly buy the limited-edition advent calendar box through WeChat.

Offer Additional Incentives on Holiday Purchases

Another great way to create better experiences (and holiday campaigns) for your customers on WeChat is through added incentives. As a marketer, you’re regularly compelled to create holiday campaigns around deals. Customers love them, and they entice more sales for your campaign. One way to capitalise on incentives without necessarily slashing prices is by offering bonus items with purchase. This may come in the form of bonus points for a loyalty program or a bonus item that can help you move old inventory.

On Children’s Day, Bonpoint on WeChat offers its top 20 customers a travel bag if they purchase 1,000 RMB of skincare products. In addition, Chinese consumers can make the purchase directly via WeChat Pay.

Clarins launched a WeChat campaign for Mother’s Day, enticing users to leave voice messages for their mothers from the Clarins WeChat platform. If users did that, they would qualify for a free gift to collect in the Clarins stores later in the week. This campaign allowed users to actively interact with the brand by offering rewards to those who participated. At the same time, it encouraged users to go to physical stores where they could also have a chance to win additional prizes.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Chinese New Year may be over, but it is still a great time to start creating WeChat promotions and engagement for your brand for upcoming holidays. You can get started by doing the following:

  • Create a list of WeChat KPIs for the upcoming year: It’s important to identify the KPIs you’re looking to track before kicking off a campaign. Goals ensure you have one target to work toward and will get the entire team on the same page.
  • Ensure you’re correctly capturing contacts: Without an accurate list of contacts, it’s hard to execute any tactics on any channel. Ensuring your contacts are being accurately captured is immensely important for creating marketing campaigns.
  • Integrate your WeChat communication with your other channels: It’s important to note that WeChat can and should be used in conjunction with your other channels. It should be a channel that you incorporate into your strategy, and not a siloed marketing channel.
  • Analyse your customer base: Understanding your customers and the behaviours they display is incredibly important when planning out campaigns. The better you understand your customers, the better you can target them for engagement and conversion.

Unsure of how to get started on all of this? Emarsys can work with you to create a list of WeChat KPIs for the whole year, ensuring you capture contacts, integrate your WeChat communication with your other channels of engagement, and help you build a holistic behaviour analysis — all within a single platform.

We can achieve personalisation of all your organic WeChat content so you achieve a higher efficiency and targeted messaging through segmenting your contacts.

Interested in setting up other campaigns? Check out these tips for setting up marketing campaigns now that you can start testing and refining for upcoming holiday season success.

Final Thoughts

WeChat is a great channel to use when interacting with Chinese consumers especially during the holiday season. It is a “must-have” channel when you plan your future holiday campaigns.

However, it shouldn’t be the only channel you use to interact with consumers. Within holiday campaigns, an omnichannel approach that embraces both online and offline should be used to engage with consumers. In order to establish campaigns with different channels that work together, you need to have one platform where all data can be stored and analyzed. Marketers should not silo their WeChat channel from the rest of their marketing channels. When channels (and data) are siloed, a single channel loses the insights of the consumers’ complete behaviour.