WeChat is used by virtually everybody in China, and it’s one of the core channels we use for B2B marketing.

If you haven’t lived in China before, WeChat might seem a bit tough to understand. It’s not quite like any specific rest of world (RoW) social platform.

In this post, we’ll explain how B2B businesses can use WeChat to build a fanbase, get more leads, and provide better service to their customers.


About the Author

Why should you listen to me? I’m Tait, the founder of Nanjing Marketing Group. Way back before WeChat, Weibo, or Zhihu, I was doing digital marketing in China and blogging about it. 

That’s back when there weren’t other foreigners in this niche, and before it was cool to do marketing in China. In those days, many companies didn’t see much promise in selling to Chinese consumers. Instead, they viewed China as a manufacturing base. 

I’ve been running marketing campaigns in China for non-Chinese companies since 2008. I’ve worked in all industries, but nowadays my agency focuses on marketing for two niches: B2B, and education. 

For both of these niches, we’re helping our clients sell big-ticket items. Persuading people to choose a university or an enterprise software solution over another requires a different approach to marketing than it does to sell socks or video games.

The B2B-oriented projects we’ve worked on include SAP, China Telecom, Palo Alto Networks, Oxylabs (proxy solutions), Clicks Research (surveys), UMI (also surveys), Bar Codes Talk (digital barcodes), Siemens EDA, Maersk, and many others.


Using Email for B2B Communications in China?

The first thing you should know is that email is not used as much in China as it is elsewhere. The typical Chinese professional will use email for work and might have a personal email account, but they probably don’t check either account very often.

This might sound like a generalization, but ask anybody who works in China or with Chinese clients and they’ll confirm it: Chinese professionals don’t check their email like we do in the West.

For B2B marketing purposes, you can expect your Chinese target audience to open up their email in these cases:

  • They have just signed up on your website, and you have sent them an email notification.
  • They are at work. They might open their email a few times per day.
  • You have told them via WeChat, “Hey, check your email. I sent you something.”

If you send a newsletter or drip campaign to Chinese subscribers via email, expect the open rate to be very low. 


What About WeChat?

Now, let’s dig into the super-app WeChat. Chinese people use WeChat a lot! They use it to keep in touch with friends, read the news, make payments at restaurants, get customer support, learn about products, and more.

With mini-programs, users can shop within WeChat without the need to open a new app or website. They can also order a taxi, use a rental bike, book hotels, earn loyalty points at restaurants, and many other things. 

I know that sometimes it can be easier to understand a new platform if you actually see it in action. For a 15-minute tour of WeChat, check out this video here

How do we use WeChat in the B2B arena? The easy answer: The type of information you’d include in an email newsletter or a blog is the kind of content you should be posting on WeChat. 

This is the major function of WeChat for B2B marketing, so we’ll cover it first, then move on to discuss several other functions.


WeChat Articles > Email Newsletters/Blogs

To harness the power of WeChat for B2B marketing, the key is to write great articles.

If your potential Chinese clients want to follow you, they’ll probably want to follow you first on WeChat rather than via email or another social platform.

After they follow your WeChat Official Account, they can receive up to four posts per month from your account. These will show up right where they see their messages from friends.

Let’s put this delivery method in perspective. Your WeChat posts will show up in the message area of the main app your target audience is using. Overall, WeChat might be the only messaging app most of them are using.

That is so much more powerful than a Facebook post, which is likely to get buried in Facebook’s algorithmic feed.

Your open rates on WeChat should be pretty good. We write superior content, so we expect open rates in the range of 10–30% for our work, with an average of 15%. 

Note: This is higher than average stats, which are under 4%. But, those stats include a wide range of different accounts.

Your WeChat fans can share your articles on their feed (called Moments) by sending a direct message to a friend, or by other methods too. You can expect a share rate of about 3–10% from the users who open the articles. Our current B2B clients have share rates ranging from 9–27%.

A great WeChat article grabs the reader’s attention and guides them along smoothly. It should be educational, relevant to your brand, and easy to read. Our design style focuses on aesthetics and readability and incorporates multiple design elements (including those specified in the corporate brand manual):

  • Short blocks of text.
  • Images. 
  • Short videos (sometimes).

For some examples, check out these two articles. Even if you can’t read Chinese, you can get a sense of our formatting style.

So, now you know that writing great articles is the key to keeping your followers interested. Let’s move on to details about account types, menus, video usage, etc.


Which WeChat Account Type Should You Use?

There are two types of Official Accounts (公众号): Service and Subscription.

As a B2B business, there’s a 90% chance you should use a Service Account.

The posts from Service Accounts show up in the message area. Users can receive a push notification when you make a new post on the account (just like they would if they received a new message from a friend); thus, improving your chance of having a higher open rate. 

According to one source, Subscription Accounts have an average open rate of 3.3%, while Service Accounts have an average open rate of 5.7%. Another source puts them at 1.2% and 1.5%, respectively.

Posts from Subscription Accounts, on the other hand, will show up in a separate folder in the message area. Your user would need to make an extra click on the folder to reach your content. Don’t forget, the user might follow a bunch of Subscription Accounts, which means more content competing for their attention.

Another benefit of Service Accounts is they are more convenient to use for customer support/sales. Users can message you via your WeChat Official Account. If you’re using a Service rather than a Subscription Account, your operators can view and reply to those messages via their phones. 

This is different than a Subscription Account, which only allows you to view messages on the desktop back-end interface. Various third-party customer support/sales tools connect with Service Accounts.

Finally, one more benefit—Service Accounts can use trackable QR codes.

There is one downside to Service Accounts, however. They can only make four posts per month, with each post containing up to eight articles. Conversely, Subscription Accounts can post once per day.
If you are posting that much content, you should consider the latter, or consider creating both types.


Service Accounts:

  • You should be using it if you’re in a B2B niche.
  • Service messages show up in the message area. 
  • Users receive push notifications (increasing the overall open rate).
  • Four posts per month (each containing up to eight articles).
  • Can use trackable QR codes. 
  • Improved customer service (operators can view and reply to messages on a phone).
  • Average open rate: 5.7% (according to one source).


Subscription Accounts:

  • Messages appear in a separate subscriptions folder (in the message area). 
  • Will appear alongside other Subscription Accounts (increasing the competition).
  • One post per day (each containing up to eight articles).
  • Customer service operators can only view messages on the back-end interface.
  • Average open rate: 3.3% (according to one source).


Attracting Your First 200 WeChat Followers

The easiest way to get followers is to spend a lot of money on advertising and post funny viral content. 

But that’s not what we do in B2B marketing, is it?

For B2B marketing, we need to attract a relatively small number of well-targeted followers with a relatively high value-per-follower. 

Our efforts should be focused on potential buyers, partners, influencers, etc.

The first step to gaining followers is to share the WeChat account everywhere. Users typically follow by scanning a QR code with their smartphone.

In China, everybody understands that a QR code means “scan with WeChat” by default. 

Here are some ways to get started for free:

  • Put the QR code on your website.
  • Use the QR code on your Chinese salespeople’s business cards.
  • Send emails to your Chinese users.
  • Let potential leads connect via WeChat.

The remaining step is the most important—create great content. Of course, other activities can help too:

  • Holding events.
  • Engaging in social media conversations.
  • Advertising (more on that below).
  • Asking our moms to follow. 


Tips for Custom Menus

WeChat Official Accounts include custom menus. The menu helps users quickly find the information they’re looking for and easily get in touch with customer support/sales.

We recommend you add about five to fifteen useful links in the custom menu. Each link can link to a WeChat article or a URL. We typically direct users to Chinese-language web pages that help them progress through the marketing funnel to the next step.

Sometimes, it’s good to use page templates. These let you add many more links, although only to WeChat articles (not external sources). 

Here’s a 2.5-minute video where I show a couple of examples of WeChat page templates.


WeChat Advertising for B2B

Up to this point, we’ve only discussed organic marketing. But, of course, WeChat offers advertising options as well!

It’s been a few years since I experimented with Facebook ads, but they remind me of the WeChat ad interface quite a bit.




The first image contains the targeting options. In the second image, you can see the selected options and the estimated number of impressions, cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and budget.

It’s possible to target users based on their demographics and interests. Ads can be purchased based on CPM or cost per click (CPC).

Ads are displayed in “Moments” (WeChat’s friend feed) and with content posted by other Official Accounts.

There are two types of ads:

  1. Moments (based on a CPM model).
  2. Ads on WeChat Official Account articles (based on CPC).

Ads can direct users to a URL, WeChat Official Account, or landing page within WeChat. Note that if you send users to a URL, you’ll need to have the ICP license for that website.

For our campaigns, we’ve been using landing pages within WeChat because they’re easier to set up and have provided us with good conversion rates.


WeChat Advertising Rules

Which companies can advertise on WeChat?

The most important thing is the industry you are in. The industries that can do ads are on this official list (Chinese only). Businesses in some industries will still need to submit special documents.

We recommend you apply to WeChat ads after you run the Official Account for more than three months because WeChat will also check your articles to see what kind of product you sell. 

For example, we applied for advertising access for a business that helps Amazon sellers with logistics. WeChat checked the account and saw we also had content related to how to manage a shop on Amazon. This is totally relevant content for the readers, but WeChat said it was outside our business scope, so they rejected the advertising application. These are the type of troublesome regulations we bump into doing business in China.


What’s the minimum spend?

The minimum initial ad credit is usually 7,000 CNY. WeChat, like other platforms in China, works on a pay-first basis.

There is no minimum daily spend.


How much does it cost to get results?

If you just want to gain followers for your Official Accounts, the cost will be around 20–30 CNY per follower.

However, if you want leads—depending on the strength of your offer and the competition—it may be hundreds or thousands of Chinese yuan per lead.

For comparison, we’re seeing a cost per lead (CPL) on WeChat of about 3X that of Baidu; however, we are sometimes able to generate better quality leads on WeChat.

At Nanjing Marketing Group, we almost always choose Baidu as the first place to advertise, then add WeChat, Zhihu, 360, Douyin, or other platforms afterward. Perhaps this is because Baidu really is the best for generating B2B leads, or maybe it’s just because we are just better at optimizing Baidu campaigns.


WeChat for Managing B2B Leads

Please give up on the idea that you need to send users to your website to complete a form and then communicate with your salespeople via email.

Many users will want to connect directly via WeChat first, so let them.

As mentioned above, it’s great to let them move from your website to WeChat too.

We’ve seen this often cause some confusion between large B2B organizations’ Chinese teams and Western headquarters. 

The Chinese salespeople will probably want to have people connect with them (or the Official Account) on WeChat. Meanwhile, the Western headquarters may want to integrate the WeChat communication flow into their own CRM.

Does that sound like your company? Let me know in the comments.

We have no fixed solution for this, unfortunately. We can just give you the advice from a marketing perspective:

  • Let users use WeChat first if they want to. Also, let them contact you via email, form, or live-chat box on your website. Make it convenient and easy for them!
  • Then, as you communicate, gather additional information about them, their role, phone number or email address, etc.

Various Western tools connect with WeChat. SalesForce, for example, can connect via an app called Charket. In this way, communication via email, WeChat, and other methods can be streamlined in one place. 

It’s not cheap though, starting at 3,000 USD/month for five users.


Video Channels Aren’t Suited for Most B2B Marketing

WeChat’s English interface also has something called “视频号” (Channels). It functions so differently compared to the rest of WeChat that it can be considered an app within the app. You can consider it as being a lot like TikTok.

Here, content can spread much more virally than WeChat articles can. As users browse Channels, they’re shown content that the algorithm thinks they’ll like:

  • Tricks
  • Explosions
  • Jokes
  • Boobs (non-nude)

Unlike TikTok though, the algorithm prefers to show you content that your WeChat friends have interacted with.

Because of how it works, we rarely use it for B2B projects. For our B2B clients, we create content that is very niche. For example, we might post an article on how to optimize logistics processes to get through US customs faster. That type of content is great for a well-targeted group of followers, and people searching for it. But it’s not the kind of content that will grow virally on Channels.

There are exceptions, of course. Here are two:

  1. If you already have the video content available it makes the cost of cross-posting to Channels very low (so you might as well do it).
  2. If your content is popular with a broad audience, go ahead and post it. An example: If you’re a shipping company, maybe show how a shipment moves through the whole system from a Chinese manufacturer to the end client. You could show shipping machinery, the ship, the ocean…maybe some tasty exotic snacks at the other end.


That’s It For Now

Hopefully, this post helped you understand the most important parts of using WeChat for B2B marketing. WeChat really is a great asset to your marketing mix, but also needs to be accompanied by additional top-of-funnel marketing methods.

If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us.

Start With a Free Consultation

Contact us for a free initial consultation. Whether it’s through email, chat, or a scheduled video meeting, we’re here to help.

We’ll identify the potential obstacles hindering your expansion in China, and we’ll recommend the best course of action based on your individual needs.

If you think we’re a good fit, you’ll receive a proposal within a week.

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