How to use WeChat Mini-Programs

One of the biggest fea­tures of WeChat are it’s mini-pro­grams. Check out this arti­cle to get to know what the mini-pro­grams are. In this arti­cle I’d like to focus on the use and the future devel­op­ment of the mini-pro­grams. Let’s go!

Using WeChat mini-programs

As a mar­keter, if you would like to see what the com­pe­ti­tion is up to first, you can search for and try out the mini pro­grams from oth­er com­pa­nies or entre­pre­neurs. The eas­i­est way to do this is if you have received a for­ward­ing from a friend or group. Click on this link and you will be direct­ly in the Mini Pro­gram. Of course, you can also go through the “offi­cial” way. To do so, vis­it the “offi­cial account” of a com­pa­ny and find the link to the cor­re­spond­ing mini pro­grams on the page.

If you want to cre­ate your mini pro­gram, you first have to acti­vate the “Dis­cov­ery” in your account. Mini-pro­gram codes are dis­trib­uted as small, inde­pen­dent QR codes. How­ev­er, these codes are pro­duced and released exclu­sive­ly by WeChat. This means that com­pa­nies can devel­op their pro­grams, but the release must be done by the com­mu­ni­ty oper­a­tor. In this way, Ten­cent retains con­trol over all activ­i­ties in its ecosys­tem. Also, WeChat remains pro­pri­etary; out­side or for­eign providers can­not reach cus­tomers here.

The QR codes are the key to com­mu­ni­ca­tion with cus­tomers. Because they can be sent to cus­tomers and shared with friends. The QR codes are vir­tu­al­ly the house keys to the pro­grams that are oper­at­ed in the cloud. Today, mini pro­grams can already replace many apps with less com­pli­cat­ed func­tions. Mini pro­grams are also fre­quent­ly used as demos or test accounts for “real apps”, which cus­tomers can then down­load as a com­plete app to their smartphones.


WeChat Mini-Programs in the use

The poten­tial uses of mini pro­grams are phe­nom­e­nal and will change the future of brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion dra­mat­i­cal­ly. Mini pro­grams are already being used today for the fol­low­ing tasks:

- Dai­ly used apps: These are the prac­ti­cal lit­tle mini pro­grams that make every­day life eas­i­er. Exam­ples of their use are pro­grams for trans­port (timeta­bles, tick­et pur­chase), time man­age­ment (appoint­ment cal­en­dar, appoint­ment reminders), trans­la­tions and surveys.

- Infor­ma­tion and enter­tain­ment: Mini pro­grams can pro­vide use­ful infor­ma­tion, such as stock mar­ket prices. Users can also check the cin­e­ma pro­gram, buy tick­ets, reserve seats, etc. There are also plen­ty of mini pro­grams with games.

- E‑Commerce: Brands can build their e‑commerce plat­form with the help of mini pro­grams. This reduces devel­op­ment costs and offers the per­fect inte­gra­tion of WeChat Pay. The WeChat’s “Cards and Offers” are also pro­grammed with mini pro­grams. Mini pro­grams are used to con­trol and pro­mote give­away cam­paigns, spe­cial offers or user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent. E‑commerce mini pro­grams are pri­mar­i­ly used to increase sales or brand awareness.

- WeChat-relat­ed ser­vices: Mini pro­grams are now also avail­able for adver­tis­ers (i.e. adver­tis­ing agen­cies and Inter­net mar­keters). They work with mini pro­grams that help them to ana­lyze user data and traf­fic. The mini pro­grams help the ana­lysts to track check­outs, research key­words and opti­mize their mar­ket­ing campaigns.


Mini Programs Offline-to-Online

The devel­op­ment of the mini pro­grams is far from com­plete. Every day there are new ideas and pos­si­bil­i­ties to draw even more users’ atten­tion to prod­ucts. The hottest trend at the moment (In Win­ter 19/20) is the pro­grams that serve to merge offline trad­ing with online trad­ing. Cus­tomers can shop from any place and at any time. It is up to them whether they pay for their prod­ucts at the cash reg­is­ter or in the online store.

Devel­op­ment began in April 2017, when the “Store Mini Pro­gram” was launched. A Store Mini Pro­gram can be seen as the vir­tu­al busi­ness card of a store. This vir­tu­al busi­ness card is pub­lished on the “Offi­cial Account” page.

When cus­tomers click on the busi­ness card, they can access all impor­tant infor­ma­tion about the store (name, address, open­ing hours, con­tact, pho­tos of the store, phone num­ber). The pro­gram also dis­trib­utes mem­ber­ship cards, vouch­ers, and fly­ers, which can then be redeemed in the store.

Only four weeks lat­er in May 2017, WeChat released the “Mini Pro­grams Near­by” fea­ture. It enables users to use the mini pro­grams to dis­cov­er inter­est­ing shops or restau­rants in the vicin­i­ty. The pro­grams pop up when a cus­tomer approach­es the loca­tion. The shops can then offer these cus­tomers spe­cial offers and invite them to come by to see cur­rent prod­ucts or collections.

WeChat mini-pro­grams allow the sales­peo­ple to tar­get new cus­tomers while the cus­tomers are made aware of inter­est­ing offers. For shop­ping freaks, these pro­grams offer a win-win sit­u­a­tion. This is because com­pa­nies have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­sem­i­nate select­ed infor­ma­tion about them­selves and thus achieve more traf­fic, more sales, and high­er brand awareness.

The future of Mini Programs

For brands and users, the Mini pro­grams cre­ate the per­fect con­nec­tion between online and offline. Also, the Mini Pro­grams offer retail­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain valu­able cus­tomer infor­ma­tion and con­duct mar­ket analyzes.

The WeChat mini-pro­grams will con­tin­ue to devel­op in the future. The Mini Pro­grams are cur­rent­ly open­ing up to inte­grate exter­nal providers into the app. In my view, it is pre­cise­ly in this area that the great­est change in mar­ket­ing is tak­ing place. I fore­cast that the mini pro­grams will not only con­tin­ue to change the busi­ness world in China.

Have you learned some­thing new? I did, while writ­ing this arti­cle. Any com­ment, let me know below.

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Nora Holtmann is a passionate platform hacker: She loves to discover new platforms and explore their technical possibilities for new businesses. Her specialty is developing new digital business models for social media platforms and reporting on them in books and blogs. That you are reading about her here is the best proof that it works. As a lecturer, she trains online marketing managers and helps them to develop creative opportunities for their companies. Her passion is traveling. When she is not traveling with her backpack, she travels the world via the internet. This way she has made contacts all over the world. She lives in Berlin and also loves to travel culinary to the countries where she is currently mentally active (currently China and Korea are on the menu). Nora Holtmann can be booked for lectures and seminars. Also check out her books on Amazon!

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