In June 2021, we presented at the world’s largest festival of innovation in real estate, Unissu’s RE:Connect. At their last event, one of our long-standing customers, Strata Homes joined us to discuss how to digitally transform the customer journey with Salesforce. This time, we spoke to ChatLabs on the topic: WeChat for Real Estate: How to Reach Audiences in China.
This blog is a summary of the discussion for those who prefer to read. For those who prefer video, you can download the recording here.
What is WeChat?
Tom Kruger, VP of Strategy at ChatLabs, began the discussion by clarifying what WeChat is. This is an important lesson for anyone looking to do business in China. A common misconception is that it’s like the chat apps we know in the west, such as Facebook messenger or WhatsApp. But in fact, WeChat is also known as a “super app”. Of course, it does have chat functionality, hence its name. But you can also run your entire work and life schedule on the app.
“You can share files to your friends and family or share files to clients or potential clients on WeChat. You can also go in and actually shop like you would on Amazon. Or you can find items that are maybe second-hand, like you would on eBay. And that’s just scratching the surface on shopping.”
WeChat is an all-in-one app. Importantly, Tom was keen to stress, in China, SMS and email are no longer popular. Those older communication methods see much lower engagement rates. Furthermore, about 25% of total mobile time in China is spent on WeChat. In fact, there are more than 1.1 billion monthly active users.
WeChat goes even beyond just the day in the life of a consumer. There are also government services built into WeChat. Whether it’s applying for your marriage certificate, getting blood test results, getting an ultrasound scan, or even applying for a divorce! You can do all of that via WeChat.
Three key advantages of WeChat for business
Tom shared a screenshot of his own personal WeChat account to demonstrate how brands interact personally with WeChat users. Among conversations with his friends and family were advertisements from businesses. People are encouraged to follow and subscribe to your brand. Your brand becomes a friend of your customer.
Tom outlined three key areas where brands could take advantage of WeChat:
- Service Account: your customers can register an account with you to get content and information, and a direct 1:1 customer service chat.
- WeCom: similar to Slack, with the ability to add external clients and save conversations.
- WeChat mini programs: a tool that you can use to build out your own app within WeChat, as you would on an iOS or Android app.
China’s relevance to real estate
With this backdrop of understanding the power of WeChat, I gave some clarity into why we were looking at this for the real estate industry in particular. In 2019, spending from Chinese investors reached approximately £7.7 billion in the London real estate market alone.
One of the UK’s top property companies is currently working with BrightGen on a project to integrate WeChat with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. They’ve told us that 85% of all their communications are with a Chinese audience. And the only way they communicate with their Chinese audiences is through WeChat.
Real estate challenges doing business with Chinese investors
Most of the real estate companies we work with are interested in doing business with China. But they need to ensure they have the infrastructure to do business effectively. Here are some of the challenges we hear from the real estate industry at the moment:
- They don’t have a 360o view of the customer: marketing, customer service and sales are not aligned, with poor recording of touchpoints with the customer over time. That results in a poor experience for the customer when they don’t get the property they’re looking for.
- Lack of intelligence on the customer: agents aren’t able to access customers’ requirements and marketers can’t get enough information to inform their campaigns.
- Lack of relevant content: messaging is not personalised and is too generic, resulting in the customer receiving information that they don’t want.
- Difficulties in staying connected: inability to maintain communications with customers results in them being less likely to buy again in future.
A connected WeChat experience
Having explored the challenges customers in real estate are facing, Tom went on to talk about how to solve these challenges through WeChat and Salesforce. First of all, looking into Salesforce’s Customer 360. The different WeChat offerings need to merge together. No matter whether the customer is looking at your WeChat mini program, or they’ve joined your account, the interactions need to come back into a single CRM profile. That will give the customer a more personalised, automated brand experience.
Someone might be looking at real estate properties or inventory, they might be a subcontractor you work with, or using WeChat pay offline… Every one of those interactions with a brand can come back to one single ID. That single user ID is what ChatLabs can then bring back into Salesforce, whether it’s a lead, contact or opportunity profile.
Typically ChatLabs pairs the WeChat ID with a phone number and uses that as the master record ID. Once that’s in place, every single engagement that a user makes with your business in WeChat, you will have the insights for. Marketers can then tailor WeChat’s appearance for different customers’ needs. Most importantly, by integrating WeChat with Marketing Cloud Journey Builder, it becomes easier to automate the customer experience to reach specific goals.
WeChat for real estate is no longer an option: it’s a necessity
Just like a customer in the UK, a customer in China will be looking for very specific information, such as location in the UK, number of bedrooms, or proximity to transport links. Through Marketing Cloud, you can provide the lead with timely, relevant content. If you can’t get hold of that intelligence (via WeChat) you’ll be sending your customer irrelevant information and they’ll lose interest quickly.
The Salesforce integration with WeChat gives you insights into real-time data. Customer service, sales, marketing and other departments need a complete view of that customer or that lead. This makes it possible to offer immediate responses to leads through automation. It allows you to immediately align the right agent to the right lead.
With more tailored messaging you’ll see quicker sales cycles, and most importantly, an excellent customer experience. At BrightGen, we’re excited to be working with ChatLabs to implement and integrate WeChat and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Especially where we’re doing this for some of the top real estate firms in the UK.
To discuss your strategy for communications with a Chinese audience, get in touch today to see how we can help.
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