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- 27 Mar 2013
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The CRM & Mobile Marketing Revolution Begins in China

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Alexis Bonhomme, general manager at TenCent, explains why the Chinese mobile number will become far more valuable than the email address for luxury marketers


In western countries, Internet traffic is moving from Web/PC’s to mobile, whereas in Asia, customer and tech engineers have jumped directly into mobile (WeChat, Line, Kakao Talk). Messaging-Apps ensure intimacy, privacy (I am connected to my friends) and, using geo targeting, naturally increase the rate of quality sharing and conversion.

With the recent boom in Smartphone adaptation and increasing mobile content consumption, Premium Brands are trying to adapt their online and CRM plans, yet are still lacking clear and effective strategies.


 In Asia, customer and tech engineers have jumped directly into mobile 


Follower vs Member

Followers are those that like a Facebook page or follow a Sina Weibo page. Brands are constantly looking at how many followers they have, but often neglecting to understand whether these followers are active, or indeed purchasing something in their retail stores.

Traditionally social media agency KPI’s are based on the number of ‘re-Tweets’ per post, which risks brands or agencies creating fake followers. The Shuabang practice has been well documented in China, where developers use various shady methods to propel an app onto the top of the App Store ranking for free apps.

According to the latest data from Sina Weibo, less than 9% of the Weibo users are actually active, in a community of 50 million users. And within this 50 million, little is known as to which accounts are real and which are simply spammers.

But it is unlikely that brands are going to rid their account of fake followers. Aside from the difficulties in correctly identifying and removing these accounts, there is the issue of followership plummeting as a result? Few brands would erase fake or inactive followers and risk reducing an audience of 200,000 to 40,000 followers.

“As we realize that a big part of our Weibo followers’ base is not active, making sure that are these followers are becoming as active as possible is now a much more important indicator than the total number of fans we get,” explains Julien Chiavassa, APAC head of digital at Clarins. “The switch is being made from quantity to quality of our community, to make sure we nurture an audience who will embrace our brand’s values.”


 Many Netizens have more than one email address. But behind each phone number, there is a real consumer 


Email vs Mobile

Many Netizens have more than one email address. They may be using QQ, Gmail, or Hotmail for their personal affairs, and another to register on merchant or eCommerce websites. Commercial EDM is usually sent to this mailbox with a small opening rate.

Instead, the mobile phone number should be the priority for any marketing or CRM director. Behind each phone number, there is a real consumer, able to receive content directly on their mobile phone. Especially in China where open a mobile phone line is checked, a direct communication (1 :1 communication) is a must have.

The very concept of following a brand implies a one-way conversation, in that the brand speaks and the consumer listens. Whereas a member has a voice, and the relationship has meaning. This should mark the turning point from online marketing as we know it, to an increased focus on directly reaching consumers through mobile.


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Clarins WeChat Advertising & Membership Account ID Card



Asian Mobile Messaging Apps

In the APAC area, messaging-apps like Line, Kakaotalk or WeChat are now leading the market. Focus on Gaming (Line), Commerce (Kakao) or Communication/Brands (Wechat), they analyse customers behaviour and needs on a daily basis. This 1 to 1 communication with the final (and real) customer becomes a must have for brands and filling the gap between Online and Offline.

By consequence, these new Mobile Marketing products are pushing classic platforms away from their active and valuable users (Facebook, Weibo).

Only in China, approximately half-a-billion 3G smartphones will be in circulation by the end of 2013. Users are already receiving on their mobile rich media content (video, photo, music), links to the retail locations or eCommerce websites of merchants.

“ For our China market, we have decided to get in direct contact with our target audience leveraging Weixin/Wechat platform,” confirms Julien Chiavassa. “Connecting with these fans through their phone number is a much more intimate relationship that is being built and allow us to provide content which will be more tailor-made and segmented, creating more engagement from these communities and leveraging geo-localization services to push targeted offers.”


 In China approximately half-a-billion 3G smartphones will be in circulation by the end of 2013 


Optimise your Marketing Expenses

Consumers are spending less and less time on PCs, instead using smartphones for daily life, purchase, gaming and communication. Brands now use Mobile Marketing to create tailor-made and geolocalized campaigns, able to reach the right audience.

With a detailed understanding of your customers, you can adapt your communication strategy and increase your marketing expenses efficiency by talking to your final customers directly, at the right moment.

A Consumer in the cold in Harbin will need a cosmetic winter cream probably in September, while his friend living in Guangzhou will need it in December. Also, maybe this Guangzhou customer would prefer to be contacted in Cantonese rather than Mandarin.

Of course, to leverage each customer profile correctly requires a customer service tool and CRM system, but this is something that exists. Brands are facing different questions, like how to identify the key opinion leaders – a source of great influence in the Chinese market.

At the end of the day, it’s time for brands to adapt their global CRM & marketing strategies to the age of Mobile marketing and Geo targeting. Where they can begin to advertise specific groups of consumers, based on their customer profile or location, and adapt marketing strategy as those consumers change.





To further investigate mobile marketing on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- How Social Media & Luxury Brand Websites Are Impacting eCommerce
- Why Luxury Brand Marketers Should Pay Attention to Mobile
- 4 Rules for Luxury Brand Mobile Content Marketing


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Alexis Bonhomme is the Beijing-based general manager for Groupon-Tencent China (Groupnet), in charge of international premium brands and their digital strategies in marketing/advertising/social media/e-commerce/insights.

Alexis works with three groups of clients: brands currently operating in China, brands planning to enter China, and brands targeting Chinese tourists.

tencent.com