Western companies have soon discovered that email marketing is nearly ineffective in China and in many ways it is seen as a “waste” of resources. According to data from Experian Market Services from 2015, which analyzes the performance of ’email marketing in select Asia Pacific countries, China’s total open rate reaches 10.5% compared to, for example, 33.1% in New Zealand. Deloitte’s China Mobile Consumer Survey 2018 showed that Chinese people check their emails 22% less than users globally.
Why? Let’s start by saying that unlike what has happened in the West, email has never been more popular in China . There are several reasons: various problems with email service providers, firewalls, lack of data and security.
Furthermore, while Western countries have seen a slow rise in technology, from early computers to laptops and then to smartphones – bringing to a major use of computers in professional life – China has gone from the absence of such technology at home to have smartphones in their pockets. All app and service developers in China have been working on mobile use right from the start, and smartphones have replaced computers in most businesses.
Young people in the 1990s started using social messaging programs like QQ to communicate with each other, instead of email, because instant messaging has more functionality and offers more interaction. Finally, when WeChat was released in 2011, it quickly became an integral part of everyday life. The multifunctional instant messaging app has replaced the use of email and, just like in the West, where the email address is part of your identity, the WeChat identity has taken precedence and it is perfectly normal to find it on the business cards.
WeChat “adapts” to the Chinese work culture and integrates better with consumer behavior. It has integrated the functions of social media, e-commerce, mobile banking, communication … reaching 1 billion of users, most of them in China. This is not to say that Chinese people don’t use email, they just check it much less frequently than their Western counterparts. So Chinese consumers haven’t cultivated the habit of regularly using email in their daily life.
The solution? Do “email marketing” through WeChat
With the above in mind, it is essential that any company operating in China undertake their WeChat “email marketing” activities. In fact, WeChat gives brands the opportunity to publish mini-editorials that look just like newsletters and send them as messages to contacts following the account. The type of conversation that is triggered makes the relationship with the consumer more direct and effective.
This means that you must already have your database of “followers” on WeChat – let’s talk about it here .
Not only WeChat
Of course, there are other ways to inform and engage the Chinese public.
The most effective is influencer marketing . Chinese consumers prefer to see content shared by KOL / KOC over content produced by brands. They trust the advice of influencers because they aspire to have the same lifestyle and good taste. If you really want to expand your consumer base, you can’t help but spread your product on popular platforms like RED, TikTok and Bilibili.
In China, social media is not an option, it is vital for companies to enter the market. It is essential to understand that the marketing strategies that work in Western countries are not effective in the Chinese market, and email marketing is one of them.