Building private traffic in China

Building Private Traffic in China: 5 Platforms You Must Try

Last Updated on July 5, 2024

The Chinese market is a hyper-competitive landscape, with approximately 181 million registered business entities targeting local consumers. Given this much competition and varied audiences, building private domain traffic is a high priority if you want to ensure brand marketing success.

In this post, we’ll explore the difference between public and private traffic in China, as well as the different strategies and platforms foreign brands can utilize.


What is the difference between public traffic and private traffic in China?

Public traffic refers to the engagement and visibility generated from domains shared with other competitors. These online sessions have a high customer acquisition cost, with strategies executed through channels like paid advertising campaigns on social media apps and e-commerce platforms.

While these public traffic channels allow the brand to target audiences more accurately and broadly, they do not create a personalized relationship with users.


Public traffic vs. private traffic in China


On the other hand, the private traffic pool includes the brand’s existing customers. It gives marketers complete control over how they interact with their audiences, such as niche-specific consumer groups, official brand apps, or direct communication platforms (WeChat and QQ).

These channels and strategies often attract consumers seeking valuable and personalized services, making them an effective hotspot for brand loyalty campaigns.

With full access to consumer data, brands can use private domain traffic to predict more accurate consumer trends and preferences among their target audiences.


What is private domain traffic and how does it work?

Private traffic operations encompass five phases: customer acquisition, activation, audience retention, revenue, and referral. Marketers should manage private pools generated from these marketing stages by building more channels and touchpoints.

After a brand acquires traffic from public sources (e.g., e-commerce marketplace platforms), marketers can proceed to increase customer value through loyalty programs, exclusive discounts, active content marketing, or O2O campaigns. These strategies not only intensify customer loyalty but also improve user stickiness in the long run.


Private traffic operations in China


Here are the types of private traffic pools you’ll encounter in China’s digital ecosystem:


  • Fans/Followers

A brand acquires this type of private traffic by setting up a business or personal account to promote its offerings. These followers often come from public traffic, and the only way to retain them is to continue releasing quality content that serves the audience’s preferences and expectations.


  • Community

This type of private traffic pool can be created by joining or creating a QQ or WeChat Group that directly relates to your brand’s niche. These communities often consist of consumers looking for others to provide personal guidance on their online shopping queries or experts with relevant knowledge about the industry.


  • Friends/Personal Social Circle

This private traffic pool typically comes from personal recommendations and user-generated content posted by a consumer’s inner social circle. Because of its source, these audiences seem to drive more effective conversions and engagement.


  • Client Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

These traffic channels are excellent for audience retention as they help brands manage and centralize their consumer lifecycle. CRM systems typically leverage data collection from the brand’s official website, independent apps, mini-programs, or virtual storefronts.



5 Best Platforms For Building Private Traffic in China

1.   WeChat Mini Program

Developing a brand-owned application can cost a lot of time and resources, so one of the best alternatives to generating private traffic is launching a mini-program on WeChat. These sub-applications don’t require separate installations since they operate independently within the platform.

Brands typically utilize mini-program applications to create a channel that serves their audience’s specific needs. They can customize it for booking services, reservations, deliveries, e-stores, or even coupon distributions.


Nike’s Mini-Programs on WeChat

Nike’s Mini-Programs on WeChat (Source: Adobe Experience Blog)


Take Nike’s private traffic marketing campaign as an example. They broadcast live training sessions from Tencent Kandian to their brand-owned WeChat mini-program to provide their followers with unique and valuable content related to sports and fitness.

By building direct audience engagement in this channel, the brand also benefits from increased chances of customer conversions. They can also count on the real-time insights generated by the live-streaming content they release on WeChat.


2.   Official Brand Accounts

The most effective private traffic source is the one generated by users who are already searching for your brand or services. Establishing official accounts on social media platforms will not only allow consumers to find you faster but also help a brand reach customers easier.

For example, WeChat official accounts allow access to various content creation tools, such as articles, live streams, videos, and other media content.

Using these elements, brands can create interactive campaigns precisely aligned with your audience’s digital preferences and behaviors. Utilizing WeChat official accounts is also an excellent way to engage with existing customers at scale without diminishing the brand’s authenticity and credibility.


WeChat social media China

Veja’s Official WeChat Account


3.   WeCom (WeChat Work)

The potential revenue that private traffic brings can be easily overlooked, primarily when it’s not managed correctly. Fortunately, WeCom is integrated into China’s biggest super app.

It has business-focused features to engage with your target audience, enhance customer relationships, and streamline operations. You can use it to send targeted broadcast messages to your contacts, including promotions, updates, and personalized messages.


Enterprise WeChat (Wecom)


The popular fashion company ITeSHOP efficiently took advantage of this strategy by creating and managing group chats for different customer segments under different brands. It allowed the business to facilitate more direct and personalized communication with its existing customers.


4.   Tencent QQ Accounts

As a social media and instant messaging app, QQ has the features to facilitate a one-on-one digital marketing strategy. Like WeChat, it includes group chat functions that will definitely work well in serving the needs of different segments of your audiences.

For instance, you can separate group chats between high-paying VIP consumers, product enthusiasts, and customers with general support queries. Marketers can regularly manage these groups by moderating discussions, sharing valuable content, and engaging with members to keep the community active and relevant.


Tencent QQ social media China


With its social media features, QQ can also help brands improve customer’s stickiness through high-quality, valuable content creation. They can execute this strategy in different formats, such as articles, videos, infographics, and live broadcasts.

Beyond content creation, the platform also includes tools to encourage and drive more user engagement through polls, quizzes, and topic discussions. No matter which strategy you choose, remember that it should be relevant to the interests of your existing consumer base.


5.   WeChat Moments

Moments are crucial to WeChat’s digital marketing ecosystem as they directly cater to a user’s inner social circle. In other words, this feature opens many opportunities to garner private traffic for your brand.

WeChat Moments is very visual-centric. Because of this, it’s crucial to include appealing images, videos, and informative posts that provide value to encourage user engagement.


WeChat moments


Since it’s an organic social feed, the timing and frequency of posts are crucial on WeChat Moments. Posting consistently at times when your audience is most active can increase visibility and active engagement.

It’s also an effective channel for public-to-private traffic conversion because you can cross-promote Moments content through official WeChat accounts, mini-programs, and even offline marketing activities.


Common Digital Marketing Models For Building Private Traffic in China

When building a source of private domain traffic, many businesses often choose between three operational models.

The first one is the shopping assistant, focusing on strategies that help new consumers understand what the brand can offer. This one-to-many model often leverages social media platforms to answer consumer queries and launch promotions to retain audience engagement. You can visualize this operational model as a retail associate assisting customers in a physical store.

The second one is the subject-matter expert model, which works well if you want to target audience groups under the professional, lifestyle, and educational brand categories. This strategy focuses on establishing a community around the business and giving customers a sense of belongingness to improve brand loyalty and stickiness.

Finally, there’s the private partner model. It’s similar to building a brand persona specifically targeted to deliver one-to-one advice or consultations about a specific niche or industry. This strategy can help you become a thought leader in your target market.


Digital Marketing Models For Building Private Traffic in China


Best Private Domain Traffic Marketing Strategies For Your Brand

  • Organize Community Group Chats

Creating group chats for specific consumer groups can help brands identify the varying needs of their audience segments. They can achieve this by utilizing social and instant messaging apps like QQ and WeChat.

As mentioned above, these groups allow for direct, real-time communication with potential and existing customers. Creating a space where customers can interact with your brand and each other fosters a sense of community and loyalty.

It can also be used to share exclusive content, provide customer support, conduct market research, and gather feedback. The key is keeping the conversations relevant and engaging, ensuring members feel valued and heard.


How to save groups in WeChat


  • Join Niche-Specific Forums and Knowledge Platforms

Online knowledge forums like Zhihu and Douban are the go-to sources for Chinese internet users to get expert and exclusive advice about everything under the sun.

By actively participating in these forums, brands can position themselves as industry experts and directly interact with potential customers. Create a presence by answering questions, starting discussions, and sharing valuable insights relevant to your industry.


Airbnb answering questions and topics on Zhihu

Airbnb answering travel-related questions and topics on Zhihu


These direct engagements will likely convert into private traffic, as your insightful answers can drive users to seek more information about your products or services.

Furthermore, these platforms often have dedicated groups and threads for specific topics, allowing you to align your marketing efforts more accurately.


  • Tap into Key Opinion Consumers and Leaders (KOCs/KOLs)

Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) wield significant influence over their followers and can be pivotal in driving private traffic. Remember, these influencers already have an established following and are likely seen as credible sources by regular Chinese consumers.

These influencers can provide reviews, unboxings, and testimonials, which consumers trust more than traditional advertising.


Live streaming on WeChat channels

WeChat Influencers doing product demos on live streams

Why should you consider a private traffic strategy in China?

  1. Consumer Willingness To Join Private Traffic Pools

Targeting consumer groups can be tricky, especially in professional or lifestyle categories. However, research indicates a growing willingness among Chinese consumers to join private traffic pools, driven by the desire for personalized experiences and exclusive benefits.

According to a survey by iResearch, over 80% of Chinese internet users prefer engaging with brands through private channels like WeChat and QQ due to the perceived intimacy and directness of communication.

This trend is powerful among younger consumers, like Chinese Millennials and Gen Zs, who value exclusivity and personalized interactions over the mass-marketing method.


  1. Cost-Effective Marketing

Private traffic strategies can be more cost-effective compared to traditional advertising methods. Building and nurturing a loyal customer base through private channels reduces the dependency on paid advertisements and third-party platforms, which can be expensive.


  1. Increased Conversion Rates

Private traffic channels typically exhibit higher conversion rates compared to public channels. The personalized and direct nature of communication in private traffic pools helps build trust and credibility, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.


Your Trusted Private Traffic Marketing Partner in China

Simply put, private traffic is the most valuable consumer group in a brand’s funnel. Not all marketers understand how the conversion works from public to private domains, so learning these strategies gives you an advantage over your competitors in the Chinese market.


You may also want to read:

8 New Digital Marketing Trends in China


At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the value of building private traffic for your brand. Our team possesses extensive industry experience and hands-on expertise in launching marketing efforts to take your businesses to new heights.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you intend to launch a WeChat Mini-Program or open official brand accounts, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact our team today, and let’s start building private traffic for your business.


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Private Traffic in China: Own your customer traffic
China Private Traffic

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