In Part 1 of our Tmall Live-Streaming guide, we introduced live commerce on Tmall, its rising significance for brands based in and outside of China, the various types of shoppers to target and a detailed step-by-step process on how to get started. Here in Part Two, we’re going to outline 12 best practices for maximum success, whether your brand is just starting or willing to take things to the next level.
- Build foundational brand awareness before live-streaming. Data shows that consumers in China trust brand names they’re familiar with. Live commerce campaigns, especially those involving celebrities or KOLs, can be costly. It’s worth building brand awareness through other, less-expensive avenues first, building hype and trust to ensure a good ROI when the time comes to go live.
- Align with the Tmall special sales events calendar. Many brands are aware of the now world-famous shopping festival ‘Singles Day’, initiated by Tmall, and held annually on the 11th But this isn’t Tmall’s only special sales event. In fact, throughout the year it has around 30 separate shopping events, including internationally famous days like Valentine’s, locally famous days like Mid-Autumn Festival, and completely new occasions like their ‘house decoration’ shopping event, an annual ‘Foodies Day’, and even an annual ‘Air Conditioning Day’. Targeting niche sales events, that are aligned with your products or brand, will increase the chances of reaching an appropriate audience.
Singles Day Official Live-Stream (Source: China Skinny)
- Decide whether the Tmall live-streaming needs to be profitable or not; either way, prepare for the worst. As aforementioned, live commerce can be costly. If a top-tier live-streamer is going to be assisting, they will be expecting a high fee plus commission on sales of around 20%. Moreover, customers expect discounts and deals. This means that even if a huge amount of inventory is shipped, brands might end up making a loss. This is where decisions need to be made about campaign goals: what is the primary goal? Immediate sales profits, or a rise in brand awareness? All decisions about format, budgeting and performance metrics need to stem from that decision.
- Huge discounts are necessary for live-stream sales. This is worth repeating. Customers in China tune into Tmall live-streams expecting discounts and deals. An alternative, for brands that don’t want their image to be associated with discounts, is to offer limited-edition items or value-added gifts. This is only likely to work if the brand name itself carries significant value in consumer eyes.
Example of a live-streaming for Lancôme with deals
- Prepare your Tmall storefront. Make use of Tmall 2.0. You will be directing viewers to your storefront on Tmall during any live broadcast. It’s worth spending time and money making the storefront look professional, making sure the UX is suited to your target audience, and ensuring that the products you want to push are featured most prominently. Tmall 2.0 adds features such as 3D shopping experiences, loyalty schemes, and personalized pages based on previous shopping habits.
- Pick out your demographics, compare them to Tmall live-streaming’s actual audience. While Tmall’s customers are spread across all of China, the majority of those that engage with live commerce do not come from first or second-tier cities. Those from less-developed cities will have different purchasing behaviours, and purchasing power. Adjust accordingly.
- Carefully select celebrity or KOL presence. Follow a data-led approach on their appeal to your demographics. KOLs and celebrities represented by agencies should be able to provide data on their performance across different demographics. It’s also possible to do independent research – look into what live-streams given individuals have been a part of in the past, what sorts of brands and products they were selling, and how successful they were. It’s also worth watching clips from those live-streams to get a feel for whether their presenting style matches your product or not.
Li Jiaqi (Source: Li Jiaqi’s Weibo, via Jing Daily)
- Consider streamers or KOLs with relatively smaller audiences. There are thousands of KOLs with fewer than one million followers that might be a better fit for your campaign than any other. They may be more niche, and if their niche matches yours, then their dedicated audience is likely to provide a higher value than the followers of a KOL with more general interests. They will also be more affordable, and their schedule may more easily allow for repeat appearances.
- Check the top sales categories for Tmall and Taobao live. They are mostly associated with jewelry, beauty & cosmetics, clothes and bags, and home appliances. Compare these to other live commerce platforms such as RED and or JD.com, which hold sway in other niches.
- Get a post-streaming plan together. After your live-stream is finished, it can be capitalized upon to maintain hype around the brand, and build anticipation for the next broadcast. Make sure to get good screenshots and videos. Consider behind-the-scenes featurettes. Post these across a variety of social media, leveraging that single broadcast for enduring marketing use.
Behind the scenes shot (Source: China Skinny)
- Integrate live commerce with other campaign tools. As we mentioned in Part 1 of this guide, live commerce is a must for brands looking to operate in China now. It is not a silver bullet, however. Live commerce must be matched carefully with specific campaign goals related to sales, maintaining fandom and building on existing reach. There are some goals that other marketing tools will be more appropriate for. Think of live commerce on Tmall as one pillar of an ecosystem.
- Plan regular, brand-run streams. Over the last year, Tmall has significantly expanded options for brands who wish to run their own live-streams, rather than relying on merchants or individuals to run them on their behalf. Broadcasts run by KOLs or celebrities have pros and cons. They do draw a large audience, but the staying power of that audience is debatable. The audience come for their idol, not for the brand. If a brand can curate its own distinct creative output, however, and produce it consistently, then the reliability of its live commerce campaigns, and ROI, will increase over time.
With these 12 best practices, plus the information from Part 1 of this guide, any brand should feel prepared to step into the world of Tmall live-streaming. With the popularity of live commerce growing year on year, there’s no time like the present to get going.
After finishing this complete guide on Tmall Live-streaming, you should by now have enough knowledge to launch and/or improve your Live Commerce campaign on Tmall. If you have more questions, need more assistance or willing to have a conversation with one of our e-Commerce consultants, you can reach out to us in order to unlock the potential of Live Streaming for you brand in China.