WeChat Mini Programs tracking: why use Google Analytics?

Home Blends & Trends 7 April 2020

Since its official launch by Tencent in 2017, WeChat Mini Program initiative has quickly gained wide popularity among users both within China and worldwide. By the end of 2019, the number of Mini Programs was estimated to be greater than 2 million, and they had more than 300 million total daily active users, while transactions on Mini Programs had exceeded 800 billion RMB (USD 115 billion). As WeChat’s global user base reached 1.15 billion, the WeChat Mini Program has become another key revenue driver not only for Tencent, but also for numerous other businesses that are serving their customers through this platform. Enough figures? Let’s deep dive into Mini Programs, and try to understand why properly tracking them is so critical for your brand!

Mini Programs enrich the user experience within the WeChat ecosystem

WeChat, which started out as a basic messaging app in 2011, has been evolving into a comprehensive multifunctional ecosystem over the years – and Mini Programs are now part of this ecosystem. They work like standard mobile apps, but they’re embedded within WeChat and are much smaller (no greater than 10MB) and less expensive to develop than normal apps. 

WeChat-Mini-programs

Mini Programs fall into many categories such as ecommerce, travel, lifestyle, tools, and games. Mini Programs can also include features such as WeChat Pay, live streaming, geolocation and so on. Mini Programs are attractive because of the large active user base that WeChat brings to the table, but also because they offer unique advantages to businesses and customers. Mini Programs are light in size and convenient to use. They do not need to be downloaded separately and are perfectly blended into the WeChat environment in every way. When users are done using the Mini Program or no longer need it, they can easily close or delete it any time. 

The ease of adding and removing Mini Programs adds challenges for businesses in terms of maintaining user engagement. Therefore, brands need to figure out smarter ways to improve user retention. One of the most important and fundamental steps that can help brands navigate in this area is setting up a high quality tracking system for Mini Programs. 

WeChat-Mini-programs-Examples

Why is tracking Mini Programs so important, and why should you use Google Analytics?

Developing a Mini Program for your business is not the final goal. Each Mini Program has a mission, be it product awareness or sales revenue generation. Its performance needs to be measured in the right way and with the right tool. 

No product is perfect from day one, and the same is true for Mini Programs. Iteration is the only way to make sure that things keep evolving, and real user behavior data is the most trustworthy guidance on how to optimize the user experience. Mini Program data can also contribute to a brand’s broader marketing strategy. In this digital age, a customer’s conversion path has never been more worthwhile to study. Various touch points during the journey add unique values to the final conversion, too. When Mini Programs are tracked, their data will provide extra insights and help brands better evaluate their overall marketing performance and optimize budget allocation. 

The WeChat Mini Program has a native tracking solution called “WeChat Mini Program Analytics”, which covers a range of basic dimensions and metrics such as visits, visitors, average visit duration, visitor location, visitor sources within the WeChat ecosystem, etc, but its overall capabilities are still limited. As for Google Analytics (GA), it is a tried-and-true analytics tool for brands across the globe to measure the performance of their websites and apps. 

Google Analytics can also be used to track WeChat Mini Program with several unique advantages such as: 

  1. Advertising campaigns that direct users to the Mini Program are traceable with utm parameters 
  2. Tracking custom events is more flexible when set up on GA. 
  3. GA’s enhanced ecommerce function can offer a more granular level of data on customer shopping and checkout behavior as well as product features, prices and purchase volumes. 
  4. If a brand, especially an international brand, needs to analyze its worldwide performance, it can easily connect Mini Program data with its global website, CRM, or advertising data. GA would be a great platform to help accomplish these goals. 

How can Mini Programs be tracked with Google Analytics in practice?

Unlike a standard mobile app, where user interactions can be automatically collected through the Analytics SDK, translated into https requests and then processed by the Google Analytics server, Mini Program user interactions need to be manually collected by developers through measurement protocol. Once the data is collected, it needs to be sent to a “middle server” (or “bridge server”) first, because GA server is not whitelisted by Tencent so it cannot receive data directly from the Mini Program. Any whitelisted server can be used as the “middle server”; usually it can be the same server that hosts the Mini Program. 

WeChat-Mini-programs-GA

Similar to the process of website tracking, 55’s “design -> build -> run” tracking framework also applies perfectly to Mini Programs. First of all, business KPIs need to be defined as these will be the foundation of creating the measurement plan. Once the tailor-made measurement plan is ready, developers will be trained on how to implement the code. When the developers finish integrating the tracking scripts, 55’s experts will run a quality assessment and check each user interaction to make sure that everything is correctly set up. 55 will also conduct further rounds of examinations after the tracking goes live (“quality check” phase). WeChat-Mini-programs-Tracking-Process

As WeChat Mini Programs’ popularity continues to take off, many more businesses and customers will be drawn to participate in this lively marketing fair. All related services and products will also evolve to keep pace. At 55, we’re excited to see what other surprises the future will bring. Get in touch with us if you’d like to explore the subject with our experts!

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