What if you could have an experience as smooth as a native iOS or Android APP without downloading and managing it. Tencent makes this alternative come true with WeChat Mini Program.
From there, their vision is greater: building an ecosystem of online service and productions running within WeChat that can be interfaced with the offline world.
1. They have taken China by storm
Learn more about WeChat Mini APP’s growth here: + WeChat data, insights and statistics: user profile, behaviours, usages, market trends
2. 101: what are WeChat Mini Apps? How do they compare to native Apps and H5 mini-sites?
What are WeChat Mini Programs?
Mini Programs are “mini-applications” built within the WeChat platform. WeChat allows 3rd party companies to develop Mini Programs providing advanced features to users that can run within the APP.
The technology support the objective of WeChat to provide its users with all-in-one experience.
By opening their platform, a rich ecosystem of WeChat developers is born, a commun characteristic with Apple’s APP ecosystem.
They are considered as WeChat’s own “app within an APP” with 2 benefits:
- instant loading
- ease of use
They don’t take up memory on your phone.
This technology enable WeChat to bundle features and capabilities into a single mobile native APP, based on the “super APP” model. Users never need to leave the WeChat application.
For all these reasons, WeChat turns into an app store with this technology.
The cross-functionality ecosystem around it is progressively positioning this “super APP” as “(social) Operating System” for everyday life.
How does it works?
Inherent proprieties of this technology:
- instant – no download needed – eliminate this barrier to entry
- light to offer a smooth user experience
- integration within WeChat Ecosystem
They allows users to avoid all the friction and inconvenience of native APPs.
Mini programs are a kind of app that doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed to be used. They realise the dream that apps can be accessible everywhere. Users just scan or search to open the app. They ‘use it then go,’ you needn’t worry did you install too many apps. Apps can be absolutely everywhere, you can use them anytime, but you don’t need to install anything.WeChat’s founder Allan Zhang
Capabilities to embed in a Mini Program
- WeChat Pay
- eCommerce features with WeChat JS SDK integration
- Interface with offline connected objects
- Social connections
- and many more 😉
Official Account? Mini Program? H5?
- Increasing conversion – Official Account or Mini Program? | February 2018 [Rikai Labs] => Mini Program is a better conversion engine than an Official Account
- User/customer support: Official Account or Mini Program? | March 2018 [Rikai Labs] => The Official Account still wins
All in one place – essential reports to learn the basics
- An Essential Guide to WeChat Mini-Program | December 2016 [CIW]
areWeChat Mini-Programs? A Simple Introduction | October 2018 [WalkTheChat]
- Answer these questions before you build a
mini program| April 2018 [Technode]
- Why and when users like to use WeChat
mini App s| October 2018 [UXSpot]
- 4 Philosophies Underlying the WeChat Mini-Program – Lessons from the Father of WeChat | August 2017 [Zara Zhang]
3. Mini Program case studies
- 10 WeChat Mini Programs You Should Check Out | December 2017 [ChinaChannel]
- Case studies of WeChat Mini-Programs: they are taking social commerce by storm | November 2017 [WalktheChat]
- WeChat Mini App Part II: 4 recent case studies and more updates | June 2017 [Yelin Qiu]
- Chow Tai Fook’s WeChat Mini-Program Lets You Customize Your Own Diamond Necklaces | March 2019 [Azoya Consulting]
- Top 5 Luxury WeChat Mini-program Marketing Tactics | November 2018 [Jing Daily]
- 5 Ways Mini Programs Will Reshape Luxury Retailing in China | June 2017 [Jing Daily]
Tourism / Travel retail
- Thailand’s Biggest Duty-Free Chain is Using WeChat Mini-Programs to Sell to Chinese Tourists | March 2019 [Azoya Consulting
4. Mini Program: strong pillar to drive sales with a variety of models and features to integrate
In the strategy of Tecent to catch up with Taobao/Tmall’s shopping experience leveraging WeChat’s strengths, Tencent is positioning Mini Program as a key channel to drive sales.
That’s why they keep on improving it by regularly adding new features.
More and more brands are using Mini Programs to sell their products.
Mini Programs have proved to be an effective e-commerce tool. In 2018, 18% of Mini Programs were dedicated to e-commerce.
E-commerce well-known platforms (VIP.com, JD.com, Pinduoduo, Secoo) are helping to drive towards this trajectory with significant adoption of their own Mini Program (vs. their native APP)
Example of mobile shopping Mini Programs:
- Kuaishou shop
Tips, tactics and best practices to sell efficiently through this channel
- 4 Latest Updates on Wechat Mini-program Help Boost Wechat Store’s Development | April 2019 [Jadegital]
- WeChat Mini-Programs Open Up New Possibilities for China E-Commerce (pt 2) | April 2019 [Azoya Consulting]
5. Traffic to a Mini Program – Entry points and flows between MP and OA
- Learn more about the entry points here: + Traffic entry points to a WeChat Mini Program
- By diverting campaign traffic from the Official Account to a Mini Program, you lose the multi-touchpoint opportunity of turning the visitors into followers. Only a fraction of the MP traffic will make it back to the OA, despite the new entry points.
6. Developing WeChat Mini App
- Learn more about WeChat Mini App development here:How to develop a WeChat Mini Program: requirements, tools, best practices, how is it different from a web application?
7. User Experience and design best practices
- WeChat Mini Program Design: 15 best practices to create a killer user experience | January 2019 [31Ten]
- Apps Within Apps: UX Lessons from WeChat Mini Programs | September 2018 [NNGroup]
8. Measuring the performance of a Mini Program
9. Updates and timeline on Mini Program landscape
|Date||Updates||Source / more details|
|June 2019||[Feature in testing] Be able to rate Mini Programs with ‘star ratings’ – a key feature available Native APP stores to incentivize high quality|
Mini Programs with a high rating will be entitled to advertising credits to help them reach more users.
Already available for Android version
|January 2019||[From version 7.0.3] New home screen for Mini Programs:|
A window resembling a smartphone’s home screen is displayed when swiping down from within the app. The embedded applications also have been made directly searchable from the window, with WeChat adding a Mini Program search bar.
|January 2019||New interface to request user data attached to the WeChat account: phone number, address, fapiao information etc.||screenshot|
|November 2018||New entry point from a Mini Program to the Official Account it is attached to: banner format inviting to follow the OA after |
1 – a MP payment transaction
2 – when scanning a QR code
|1 – payment|
2 – QR code
|May 2018||– The MP user data retrieval engine is now more restrictive, in line with personal data protection regulations|
– Mini-games abusing viral mechanisms can now be reported and taken down
– Sharing capabilities have been restricted
– Tencent is now offering APIs to control user-generated content for content rules violations (see + WeChat Rules and Marketing Restrictions)
– The third-party ecosystem keeps consolidating: mini-program template generators, analytics, backend as a service (BaaS), toolkits etc.
|WeChat search bar added as an entry point|
– This feature helps the users have easier access to the relevant functions “deep” linked to corresponding Mini Program
– For example, if users search
|February 2018||Mini Program ads: they can only link to other Mini Programs|
|December 2017||New Mini Program shortcut bar:|
1 – Add the Mini Program in your
2 – Mini Program
|1 – add to favorites|
2 – Shortcut bar
|November 2017||Mini Programs can now also be included into the paid media zone at the bottom of WeChat articles|
|November 2017|| |
WeChat Shop Mini Program is released: a Mini Program available to all Chinese WeChat Official Accounts directly from the WeChat Official Account back-end. An
|July 2017||WeChat enhanced in-app search results with mini-programs data||CIW|
|June 2017||Mini Program SEO: developers can now submit up to 10 keywords for approval for each Mini Program on which the WeChat users can discover it by conducting searches. When searching for specific keywords, in the search result page, Tencent is testing some paid Mini Programs (Example when typing “Hotel”, this shows an ad of eLong mini-program).||CIW|
|May 2017|| – Brands can now display different content depending on specific WeChat group ID or group name where their Mini Program is shared.|
– Mini Program “nearby” feature lets users find relevant Mini Programs around them. Brands with local stores can use this features to serve in-store customers.
– Tencent launched a Mini Program which enables admins to view data of their Mini Program on their phone.
– Enabled developers to include a Share button on Mini Programs (Tencent forbids any other H5 pages to have a sharing button).
– Mini Programs can access more users data after a one-click authorization, including the past 30 days WeChat Run info (number of steps users take every day).
– Mini Program
– Unlimited QR code tracking API.
– Templates messages to display order status.
|April 2017|| – Individual developers can register and create their own Mini Programs|
– Register and verify a Mini Program with an existing official WeChat account
– Multiple ways to access
– Mini programs are now open to
– StoreMini Programm
– Nearby Mini Program
10. Mini Programs everywhere: Alibaba, Baidu, Bytedance and phone makers following suit
All the other Chinese Internet giants have jumped aboard the Mini Program train and have rolled out their own instant Apps. WeChat’s competitors launched their own versions.
Learn more about it here: + Mini Programs / Instant Apps: how Baidu, Alibaba, Alipay, Bytedance and Phone Makers fare compared to Tencent’s?