crm solutions for companies on wechat

A local provider of marketing automation solutions in China on a SaaS basis: China Paradigm #119 with Kai Hong

Kai Hong founded JINGdigital in 2014. JINGdigital is a CRM platform providing clients with digital optimization tools and solutions in Marketing Automation in China. They help international clients to communicate effectively with consumers on WeChat. Essentially, they help brands to define their target market better. Then, JINGdigital reaches out with tailored content to those consumers on WeChat. They have worked with famous global brands such as LVMH, Dior, Intel, Coca-Cola, HP, and Ferrari.

As of 2020, they are nearing the ten million USD mark in revenue. They have raised between five to ten million USD in external investment. JINGdigital employs around 130 staff. Kai Hong started the company with a few other entrepreneur partners. For the first few years, they self-funded the company before they began attracting millions of dollars in investment over the last two years.

SaaS in China is not as developed as it is in the West. Still, in a country where marketing management is relatively new to being automated, JINGdigital’s growth is phenomenal. Every month they generate more than 1,500 new leads. According to Kai Hong, the richness of the features JINGdigital provides, coupled with the ability to seamlessly pair with a brand’s own or a brand’s other CRM platforms, are some Key Competitive Advantages for JINGdigital. Despite the strong reputation they have built for themselves, Hong feels that a strong sales team is still the key to success for any company working in Market Automation in China.

“Maybe 30 – 40% of our employees work in sales or customer support. No matter how great the product is, you still have to have a great sales team”.

Kai Hong, founder of JINGdigital

They aim to be the number one company for SaaS in China.

Listen to the full China Paradigm episode 119 on YoutubeApple PodcastSpotifySoundcloud, or Ximalaya.

Why SaaS makes sense for JINGdigital’s business model

JINGdigital provides services on a SaaS basis. So it charges every month for the software services. JINGdigital charges relatively more than their competitors, with prices starting at around 1,000 USD per month. The higher price is because their service has proven to be highly effective for their past clients.

However, because they charge slightly more than the competition, they generally only deal with clients whose revenue exceeds 15 million dollars a year. For companies in this bracket, JINGdigital’s price is not an issue.

Even for companies with relatively large revenues, investing enough capital to constantly create, iterate, and stay ahead of the competition on new solutions for Marketing Automation in China is almost impossible. For such companies, JINGdigital’s SaaS solutions make more sense financially. Especially when JINGdigital releases new features onto their platform every two weeks. If JINGdigital does have a client who wants a custom-made Marketing Automation solution, they will most likely outsource this particular job and try and keep the contract in-house.

Although Hong can use the terms “CRM” and “Marketing Automation” interchangeably, Hong prefers Marketing Automation to CRM. He feels “CRM” is too vague and takes more time to explain what his company does, so he uses the term “Marketing Automation” more.

What Chinese social platforms work well or would work well for JINGdigital’s Marketing Automation solutions?

Currently, JINGdigital offers solutions on the WeChat platform for brands and companies looking to get into Marketing Automation in China. This is because WeChat is one of the only major social platforms that have opened themselves to third-party providers like JINGdigital. Platforms like XiaoHongShu (Red), Weibo, and DouYin (TikTok) would also be ideal mediums for JINGdigital to work on.

Yet, these platforms have not made their social platforms available outside companies. Time spent by consumers on WeChat is decreasing slightly overall. The aforementioned platforms are gaining more of a foothold. However, Kai Hong is hopeful about the future because interactions with branded content on WeChat are increasing dramatically. The platforms may likely open up to third-party software providers.

“Despite the large number of available platforms that brands could use to reach customers in China, unfortunately, most of them are closed. WeChat is the most open platform right now, and it has very comprehensive APIs available to third party developers like us and that allows us to do a lot of very innovative things on it.”

Kai Hong, founder of JINGdigital

Most of the clients are foreign brands, so JINGdigital needs to be careful to protect the data of Chinese WeChat users. They also need to avoid violating Chinese user data protection laws. Users’ data is stored in China but can be accessed by brands through JINGdigital.

To assure there won’t be any mismanagement of data, JINGdigital has made itself compliant with international standards to protect users’ data. Foreign companies are cautious when handling WeChat users’ data. Thus, JINGdigital’s security systems undergo rigorous testing procedures before clients work with them. It is a point of pride with Kai Hong that their software always passes these tests.

Key Takeaways:

  1. SaaS in China is relatively new but JINGdigital is leading the charge when it comes to WeChat based Marketing Automation in China. It brings out updates every two weeks.
  2. The company has witnessed massive growth and has raised almost 10 million dollars in 3 rounds of investment.
  3. JINGdigital can charge more than local competitors and a similar rate to Salesforce, since they can show prospective clients all the successful figures from past clients. Because they charge slightly higher, they only deal with companies who have revenues of over 15 million USD per year.

Listen to the full China Paradigm episode 119 on YoutubeApple PodcastSpotifySoundcloud, or Ximalaya.