Why Customer Data Will Dictate Your Success in China

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Chinese arch in Shanghai marketplace

China is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest economy. It’s already the world’s largest retail economy. China can seem like a vast, mysterious ocean for businesses trying to gain a foothold there. But in one way China is like every other economy: succeeding in China means using customer data to be where the customer is.

As the economy in China recovers from COVID-19, consumers are spending more time than ever online. This shift in behavior means that brands need to understand how to engage with consumers online, which is where data comes into play.

In fact, many brands have experienced a rude awaking: they haven’t been managing customer data in China very well. Brands thought they had accumulated a stockpile of data – and indeed they did. But that data was disconnected. As a result, many businesses are entering the post-COVID era in clumsy fashion by sharing irrelevant messages at the wrong time to Chinese consumers – most notably product offers that don’t matter. Those businesses are experiencing unacceptable customer churn and damage to their image.

To succeed in China, brands need to take a fresh look at the entire customer lifecycle from awareness to purchase to advocacy and beyond. Then they need to map first-, second-, and third-party data along every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle. Sound familiar? It should: mapping customer data long their journey is a fundamental tenet of data-driven marketing everywhere.

In China, most businesses possess first-party data such as data captured from touchpoints such as WeChat interactions. But this data needs to be managed. What these businesses need to do is unify that data with customer data platforms that aggregate data from all sources and help brands achieve scale. Customer data platforms make it possible for a business to create rich profiles of customers everywhere they live in the digital world, ranging from TikTok to WeChat to a company’s own website. That comprehensive view of the customer gives a business a foundation to create personalized communications across the entire lifecycle.

WeChat is a good place to start in order to build that relationship. WeChat, as the Number One power platform in China, covers the entire customer journey from acquisition, naturing, conversion and referrals. At Pactera EDGE, we recently helped a client enable a marketing automation system on WeChat. Needless to say, understanding consumer behavior on WeChat was essential, which meant understanding customer data was essential, too.

Our initial goal was to get new followers on WeChat to initiate the first transaction. We leveraged the CDP (Customer Data Platform), CEM (Customer Engagement Management) and MA (Marketing Automation) to manage the first 48 hours customer activation. We managed to improve the activation rate by more 120 percent. With this quick win, we saw the impact of the right data can bring in versus the volume of data. In the meantime, we were able to reuse these customer data for nurturing, upsell/cross-sell without extra cost.

The above example is also instructive because of how we helped the client. We picked one platform – albeit an important one – to achieve a quick win base on customer data. Starting with a manageable goal like this will help businesses get started. You don’t need to win over the entire Chinese economy. Start succeeding with one customer at a time. And that means using data the right way to get to know them.

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