WeChat Mini-Programs: Revolutionising the WeChat Ecosystem in 2018
WeChat is currently one of the most notable brands in China. With 902 million active users a day, doing pretty much everything within the app, WeChat has built a presence in China that is hard to ignore. As one of the most important platforms in the country, what will be WeChat’s next big move in 2018?
In early 2016, Allen Zhang, the Father Of WeChat, announced an on-going internal development, aiming to push the company’s business to another level. Later in January 2017, WeChat launched Mini Programs; the ‘use it and go’ app within the app.
The industry has high expectation for Mini Programs. The design allows users to access another app without leaving WeChat. The revolutionary idea attracted attention from other leading companies, who eagerly anticipated the overwhelming success of WeChat’s Mini Programs. Some were even concerned they will replace apps entirely.
The amount of Mini Programs had exceeded 10,000 in Oct 2017, while the number of users is expected to exceed 200 million soon (From lieyunwang.com). Numerous application & platform developers are investing their time and money in building their Mini Programs for expanding businesses.
Nevertheless, WeChat has discovered a few flaws from feedbacks. They noticed they need to do a lot more to unleash the potential of Mini Programs. The future of this new feature seems unstable at the moment and is likely to make China marketing undergoes rapid changes shortly.
In this post, we will go through this exciting trend of WeChat Mini Programs in all aspects.
What exactly are WeChat Mini-Programs?
Mini Programs are sub-applications within the ecosystem of WeChat. Users can access any possible web-App through the browser after scanning a QR code or performing a direct search. WeChat also provides a function of ‘Mini Programs Nearby,’ assisting users to explore more Mini Programs based on their locations.
How WeChat users use Mini Programs?
A regular user can utilize WeChat Mini-Programs in daily life in various ways, such as for booking movie tickets, calling a taxi and or ordering food delivery. (Read more: The Biggest Innovation in WeChat Pay and Alipay.) In most ways, they are similar to using the original app of the corresponding company providing these services. He or she can purchase products directly from E-commerce or KOL businesses through Mini Programs too, which has become quite popular among users.
Mini Programs enable users to send links to a single contact or groups. They can see what their friends are ordering or how the weather in their cities are. Users will receive useful messages from companies, who provided services to them through Mini Programs before.
Here are some real-life examples. Users can scan the QR code of KFC’s Mini Program from a leaflet. WeChat will open the Mini Program directly, where it will perform in many ways like the KFC app. Users may also access the company’s official account through the Mini Program to find more information about the brand and share it with friends.
The users can even play little games on Mini Programs as well. Many brands have created simplistic games to provide rewards and incentives to users of the Mini Program. In the following photo, an individual developer opened a Mini Program that allows users to generate their unique Chinese poems. Thousands of Mini Programs like this appeared last year. Users can explore a lot more than in an app store, as not every entrepreneur has a team to develop a native app. Mini Programs can help the public to discover excellent ideas.
How businesses utilize WeChat Mini Programs?
From the perspective of a business, developing Mini Programs will be more comfortable. It is different from a native app, and building one is much cheaper and lighter regarding workload. For example, the team of Shiliu Po (A successful WeChat KOL) only took three weeks to finish their Mini Programs. The technologies behind Mini Programs lower the cost of developing adaptive user interfaces.
What are the benefits of WeChat Mini-Programs?
1. Convenient to use
The design of Mini Programs holds the critical statement Allen Zhang mentioned, ‘A Good application should allow people to leave immediately after using it.’ For instance, users can avoid downloading an app they presume they will only use once. In other words, there is no need to worry about having too many apps on their phone.
2. High speed
They further simplify and speed up the process of accessing an app. Due to the mechanism, Mini Programs are faster in page refreshing. For users who desire to complete tasks quickly and efficiently, Mini Programs is the perfect fit.
3. Minimum size
The size of Mini Programs is minimal. With only 1 Mb, they help users who only have limited phone storage. Mini Programs reduce the pressure of downloading, which companies can gain more traffics with greater convenience.
Why do businesses want to join?
1. Low cost
The cost of creating Mini Programs is much lower than a traditional native App. In the past two years, app promotion costs have doubled. Start-ups and individual entrepreneurs can hardly afford both the development and advertising fees, forcing them to search for alternatives. Mini Programs are not only cheaper but also fast to complete. Reducing the time required is crucial to companies, especially the young ones with tight budgets. Mini Programs can be an excellent alternative for small businesses as they allow them to accumulate an initial group of users, helping them to get the necessary feedback to improve their products continuously.
2. High conversion rate
They maintain a conversion rate higher than that of WeChat’s previously available marketing channels. WeChat official accounts have their limits concerning promotion. The articles posted on WeChat often have a button to encourage readers to click and consider purchasing, however, the conversion rate through this channel averages at about 1%. While data regarding them hasn’t come out yet, most marketers expect to see a significantly higher conversion rate through Mini Programs. The frequency of Mini Program launches has also gotten much higher, indicating that many brands continue to see value in developing them.
According to Shiliu Po, their newly launched Mini Program had more than 100,000 page-views within the first hour, and the article promoting it exceeded 100,000+ views. No wonder Mini Programs is receiving attention from the industry.
3. Huge social sales
In Mini Programs, the primary source of traffic is sharing within WeChat, which shows a healthy level of engagement from users. Mini Programs also link to subscription and service accounts WeChat articles. This new ecosystem allows businesses to create multiple touch points across the WeChat platform and further develop their relationships with users. These connections can lead to increases in sales, making the prospect quite attractive to businesses both in China and around the world.
What to expect in the future?
Mini Programs have certain drawbacks that Tencent will be refining in 2018. The company wishes to explore more ways to get users involved. As the freshness of Mini Programs in the market has passed, it is time for Tencent to resolve these existing problems. However, it appears they’ve gotten started as they plan to increase the sensitivity of search keywords and optimize the search strategy, which they hope will match suitable Mini Programs with the right users.
Conclusion on WeChat Mini Programs
In general, the industry is optimistic about the potential of Mini Programs. Application developers are waiting for WeChat to enhance the features carefully. Mini Programs will undoubtedly become the new trend in WeChat marketing and China marketing.
Who knows what effects this feature will have on the China social media ecosystem? We’ll be monitoring the developments closely at Dragon Social. If you have any questions regarding China marketing, feel free to contact the Dragon Social team for further up-to-date information!