Understanding how and when to develop a WeChat mini-program is not an easy task. What can it do? Is it the best solution ? How to build a great mini-program ? When should you use an alternative to WeChat mini-program like an HTML5 website, a chat bot or even a WeChat articles ?
Here is a guide to understand WeChat mini-programs. We will:
- First, define what is a mini-program and how to use them for your digital marketing and sales,
- Then, give examples of the best mini-program practices,
- Finally, show what are the alternatives to a mini-program.
WeChat mini-program: definition and capabilities
Definition: A WeChat mini-program is a small application developed within WeChat. It can be a game, a booking engine, a e-commerce application.
WeChat mini-program overall look and feel are very similar to native APP. However, mini-program can only be access through WeChat APP. You can find mini-programs on the Discover Tab and search them directly in WeChat.
WeChat mini-program were launched by WeChat in 2017.
Does Chinese use a lot mini-programs in WeChat ?
Yes, more than 200 millions people in China use mini-program every day.
Why ? Because mini-program are a very good alternative to a native APP. And so, you don’t need to download them into your phone. Thanks to WeChat, you are saving space on your phone and time to get the information.
Today, the most popular native APP also exist as a WeChat mini-program in China.
Mini-program are very popular on WeChat and in 2009 over 1 millions can be access on WeChat.
What can you do with a mini-program ? Do you need one ?
Mini-program allows you to almost everything you would do with a native APP. WeChat has created a dedicated development coding language, and special API for developers. Today, third parties developers and brands can independently create their own WeChat mini-program.
The most popular categories of WeChat mini-programs are Games (42%), lifestyle (39%), News (28%) & E-commerce (28%) - Source: Tencent 2019.
As you can see, the most popular category are the one where users will do multiple visit. If the experience you offer is unlikely to be used more than 3 times and/or only for a short duration, go for an alternative.
Recurrence and time are the 2 key factors to determine if a WeChat mini-program will be successful or not.
WeChat Mini-programs: examples and best practices.
To better understand what is a WeChat mini-program, let’s know discuss some examples and best practices.
WeChat game to have fun and interact with your community
The most popular category for mini-program is game. Games are a great way to make a digital marketing campaign fun, interactive and social.
However, promotional games are mostly played a few times and active only during the campaign. So if you are a brand and you want to build a game on WeChat, a HTML5 mini site will be more appropriate and cheaper to develop.
However, if you want to build a recurrent and social game experience for your community a mini-program can be perfect. Build multiple visit habits by offering time based coupons and gift in the game.
A mini-program to provide customized information and service to your community
Like for a native APP, WeChat mini-program allow the user to log-in with WeChat. Like this, user accesses a personalized and customized experience of your services.
For example, a WeChat mini-program for an insurance company will give you a personalized access to your policy information, track your claims or easily check the hospitals and doctors certified in your area for you to avoid cash advance.
It can be at the heart of your business and service solution to provide a personalized and customized experience to each clients like with a native APP.
A mini-program will also help you to get relevant data about your customer, know more about their interests, habits and how they use your services. It will help you build more relevant content to share with your community on WeChat.
E-commerce, a mini-program to help you sell on WeChat
E-commerce and payment is a key aspect of the WeChat platform, which make it pretty unique and definitely more advanced than most other instant messaging platforms outside of China. As such e-commerce is one key elements that can be integrated in a WeChat mini-program.
Buying with a mini-program is easy, quick and frictionless for the user thanks to WeChat Pay which is the integrated payment solution of WeChat.
What are the alternatives to a WeChat mini-program ?
They are a great tool to develop your eco-system on WeChat and interact efficiently with your community.
As a results, thousands of businesses and brands are using WeChat mini-programs today. But they are not a solution for all your needs on WeChat and if not properly thought through it won’t be use.
Use the WeChat menu and auto reply function to share generic information
First, WeChat is an instant messaging platforms, so some information can be easily share in the chat, don’t overcrowd your WeChat mini-program with generic information that user will most likely ask for in the chat.
Thanks to the menu and auto reply function, you can already share a lot of information with your community and do not need a WeChat mini-program to do so. You have to identify relevant keywords to push the appropriate content based on what the user is asking.
Use built-in WeChat function (Loyalty cards, coupons, Wifi...)
WeChat has some built-in function you can access with your official account - that existed before WeChat mini-program. Do not reinvent the wheels and use those built-in functionalities rather than building them again in a mini-program
HTLM5 mobile websites (H5)
HTLM5 mobile websites (often call H5 in China) are a very efficient alternatives to H5, and their development can be quicker. The vast majority mobile website can be opened in WeChat browser and WeChat allows developers to develop WeChat connected website to let the user easily log-in to access to a customized experience.
H5 WeChat connected website use to be the way to go before WeChat launched mini-program in 2017. They are still relevant in many cases today. The key difference with mini-program is data storage. A mini-program will be able to store some data in the APP. So WeChat will let user access some data even offline, H5 won’t be able to do so.