In this episode of China paradigm, Matthieu David interviews Thomas Graziani, founder of WalkTheChat. The podcast explores how he switched from an agency model to a SaaS product model, how to build a business in China, and what the product WalkTheChat (walkthechat.com) can bring to e-commerce businesses to get access to the Chinese market through WeChat. WalkTheChat has been featured in many blogs, publishers and has been recognized as a top player in the WeChat ecosystem by many international firms based in China.
China paradigm is a podcast is sponsored by daxue consulting where we interview successful entrepreneurs about their businesses in China. You can access all available episodes from the China paradigm Youtube page.
Matthieu David: Hi everyone. I’m interviewing today Thomas Graziani, founder of WalkTheChat, and I am happy to interview you. I’ve known Thomas for some time. He has been a longtime friend of mine, he had met with me for the first time five years ago in Beijing he was still working at a very large company, was not large yet. He was at the very beginning of WalkTheChat. I followed his entrepreneurial story and one of the things I’m very interested in knowing more is how he switched from an agency to a SAAS (software as a service) system to a SAAS business. Which is what he had been doing although I think the last two years. And more about how he came up with this idea you know walk the chat which I see which is the first ideas he had, the first business he started and I’d like to close this. Welcome, Thomas thanks for being with us.
Thomas Graziani: Hi Matthieu. Nice to be here.
Matthieu: How was it, the intro?
Thomas: Pretty good, Very transparent. I like it.
Matthieu: Okay thanks, so yes I know you I think I met with you June 14, 13 may be right. What did you think about WalkTheChat?
Thomas: Around three years ago but I think we know each other before that, because I was I tried to start art photography gallery in January in Beijing and that’s when I first met you because I, I was recommended to talk to you to talk about pricing for my products and that was the first introduction from our friendship.
Matthieu: Ok, I don’t remember. Ok all the things that are going on, and you have been to a very different company like walk the chat. Could you tell us walk the chat is right now?
Thomas: Yes, today we are basically an e-commerce platform which enables merchants outside the china to sell inside China via WeChat. So, it’s like kind of Chinese WeChat version for Shopify. You can create your store and then your Chinese customers buy in China with a completely-China WeChat friendly interface and you receive the money in your bank account in the US.
Matthieu: I see. So to sum up you are providing the kind of plug-in solution for Shopify shops for any –
Thomas: platform and it plugs into other e-commerce platforms. So, you can work by itself without any third party but let’s say you have a shop if I store and you want to run all your orders all using the inventory to Shopify then you can just use a platform to provide a storefront and maybe some kinda specific CRM and targeting and campaign capabilities but you manage your actual orders on Shopify. So, as you are really healthy two options you can really do every single platform, okay you can just use it for the front-end commercial side and use your magneto Shopify store.
Matthieu: Okay, so if one person which is listening to us and has a Shopify shop, he can take your plugin and immediately be visible to the Chinese market. Does it mean that it would be we get traffic immediately? It will have to bring traffic maybe but that’s not which is actually the purpose, which is to connect the bit like i guess a bit like Lengow like l e n g o w in Europe. Do you know about it?
Thomas: Yeah I do, kind of similar and with differences like Lengow I believe I’m not an expert of what they do but the enable to basically have a centralized way of listing your colours in different E-commerce platforms. What we do maybe is a bit more specific to each other is also good more customized for WeChat. But to answer your earlier question so yeah you’re right one our merchants set up on WeChat. They don’t get instant traffic, so we don’t make the promise of merchants that just by listing on a platform they will get sales. When they use on our platform basically it’s just like if you created your Shopify store and then you need to drive traffic to it.
So, we do have clients who get sales very fast but it’s because they already have an interest in their products in China. And then when the launch on widgets some of the customers find it more convenient and start buying. So, we do notice there are some cases of time to launch and without any special promotion. Because they had some kind of existing presence in China they were already sold by other marketplaces when they – when they started launching on Wechat and which items are provided to collect to be cheaper because it was their own channels that even have to pay the fees to all these platforms then kind started buying to it directly. But that’s as a minority of the cases or clients which they have to earn campaigns so that we can get it.
Matthieu: Ok, ok I understand. So can you tell us about WalkTheChat now besides of the company, number of people working or number of clients, anything you can disclose to give a sense of this science and momentum that you’re having now for the audience?
Thomas: So, today we work with about 100 paying customers, so the way we work is basically mostly recurring revenue. So, clients pass every month to be able to use our platform and them fee is about between 200 and 1000 USD for that reserve software. But some of our clients there’s more than that, so you are asking earlier do we handle the part about traffic. The answer is sometimes. So for some or all of our clients, we provide this kind of half basic e-commerce layer where we charge between as I said 200 and 1000 USD. And then on top of that, we have some sold services which can include customer service, marketing content. But we don’t do that with all our clients we actually do that with a small percentage of all clients, with who we really want to kind of do the washing the full stack approach so that we really understand how to market to China and we stay connected to the market. I put some of our clients also agencies then we’re selling the platform to their clients, in that case, they would handle everything. So, yeah as I was saying about a hundred clients which can bring between two hundred to ten thousand USD or above of revenue depending on the size and on the services that they purchase from us.
Matthieu: Ok, among the clients you, you are getting now, what’s a typical client, what do they sell? Like I guess it is an only physical product? Or services like travelling or the services.
Thomas: And it can only be physical products because we’re doing 12 audit payments with WeChat and ebowley which has to basically make sure the platform is not being used to funnel money out of China. So, you know the floor seems to be clean when a transaction takes place it must be associated with a Chinese customer ID, and with a shipping number so that then the Chinese government’s if they want, can track and make sure that we’re not using the platform to take revenue out of China. Because converting from local Chinese currency to USD is actually like a very regulated thing. So, we have to operate in this framework which is which is set by WeChat. And to answer your previous question a typical client very often will be either in fashion like cosmetics FMV industry usually we’re talking about client well not super famous things within the niche.
So, very often like mid and niche fashion brands which are might be famous in New York might have some do it in New York or in Italy in the local market. But are not they are not LVMH level of chemists and they want to get started in China so not selling here yet and they want to get visibility and very often our clients would already have some kind of disability in China. maybe some borders already identified the brand start talking about the brand because they don’t have the official channel yet to sell. So, that’s when we come into play and we help them set up this official channel to cause border and they don’t want to have like fruit flies like beat teams in China at this stage, they just want to basically be able to sell to this market ship to this market, and that’s why we help.
Matthieu: So, when do you think a company should contact you when do you think a company stuff so breaking WalkTheChat before you say mid-sized, when you are reaching the mid-size. Do you have any metrics?
Thomas: yeah usually there should be like somewhere above 20 million USD of sales is in the home market. Because getting into China is not necessarily cheap just like we don’t and we try not to our promise in any way to our clients. We don’t tell them well you’re gonna spend like a few hundred bucks on the platform and then you would get sales. We try to be transparent about the fact that there is very often marketing expense to get started in China. So, very often it would be at least dozens of thousands of US dollars spent on paying some key opinion leaders so that they start promoting the brand. So, we have some good cases of companies spending less and sass or recently we had a fashion brand which feels like a thousand US dollars of investment in checking and meters got about just below sixty thousand US dollars of sales for a company which is basically just getting started in the Chinese market.
So, so we are getting good results sometimes with low investment, but is not first still an investment and very often we would advise our times to have at least an envelope of fifty thousand US dollars again put in this marketing. So, we’re talking about brands which are already established in the local market and we can spend a bit on the acquisition to get that initial momentum. Because otherwise, we don’t want clients will just present a list of products and they don’t get any sales. Or we try to discourage this of course are some cases where clients could get to some results without some big investments.
As we said if they have existing visibility in the Chinese market or in some other ways to get customers. So, it’s all about acquisition right each you have a store in the US in France or you have a lot of Chinese tourists. Who is coming to your store then you could actually tell them okay scan this QR code because as you know in China I central offline to an online acquisition. And then tell them okay know that you follow this drug but you can keep buying them farther when you go to China.
So, you can have other ways if you already have some kind of audience. If you already have a flying traffic from Chinese customers, then you can actually manage to do this. Without having to without having to pay too much on acquisition but there needs to be a solution to the acquisition problem. And it can be buying the traffic or it can from usually from in France trees or it can be offline to online but once again this really only before companies who are the stop is in protecting resources.
Matthieu: I understand so if I surprised all the audience to make sure everyone understand you’re providing a solution which can be the software itself you plug you put your product the plug-in which is getting the products how many you have, and making it possible to displace them on WeChat specific page on WeChat where the change plans can buy easily because is that two ways if I in China. Is it correct?
Thomas: Yeah and it’s yeah and basically as you said follow Chinese customers are completely local experience. Very familiar user experience local logging message, local payments messages, local sharing messages, and then the money, of course, is upon purchase is committed to finding currencies. So, the Chinese customer facing in local currency and the merchant gets the money we share a currency they used to sell So, it’s very seamless experience on both sides.
Matthieu: I think on both side there is no hardware to check currency to display the product on your platform it’s seamless. It’s just translation you can provide the way are they doing they’re to offer a SaaS system. which is helping to put the products sales itself on the Chinese button which is easy to use by Chinese and this you charge 200 to 500 dollars’ amount.
Matthieu: Yeah I mean it’s 200 to 500 for this part of the offer he’s been able to two thousand two one thousand within like also as we are now we are going to classic SAAS evolution or we increasing the pricing as a collect gets more features. So, some of the new premium features we’re going to add which include CRM and some advanced targeting capabilities we’re gonna move creative one thousand US dollars’ plan. And I guess later next year we also have two yearly pricing instead of monster pricing. Today all most of our customers are mostly pricing. Some of them like the platform and then because their signal is a connected fusing it converts to two yearly. But soon recognizing everything to paying for a year, because a good way to get front cash flow for us. And as we get more comfortable with our solution and see one more success cases we are more comfortable with clients paying for the service.
Matthieu: So, we talked about before the interview. You are not charging for the transaction, right? You don’t take a commission on the transaction
Thomas: Oh you know not really so we, so transaction parties’ also Street players it’s like the end customer usually would pay first like a middleman often sent official owner of ten cents in each country. And then I would go to, to be a mark rate, so my merchant sign up they don’t sign up directly with the stance. And signed up with a middleman of ten cents but if he aggregates all the merchants for WeChat. Because WeChat does not want to create accounts for every single merchant. So, the house doesn’t use country do that. So, when the transaction happens to the customer pays yeah WeChat payment the money goes to reach out which it sends it to the payment partner, and then the payment partner we send it to the merchants. So, the way the total Commission is gonna be around 2.5 percent and usually is percent which is taken by WeChat more or less. In 1.5 percent by the payment partner so some of these payment partners have agreements with us and it will give us a very small fraction of a percentage. But we don’t really take it on top of that we took we take it from the fraction take it by the payment partner. Basically, they give us kind of like if you recommend some exciting to someone and then the client could pay the normal price which you would get an affiliate Commission where we get an affiliate Commission from some other payment partners.
Matthieu: I understand so WeChat system, WeChat pay, is partnering with a middleman, do you have some right way of the middleman?
Thomas: Ni Hao Pay, ‘Ni hao’ like hello, Royal Pay so this is a partner for us in Europe royalty oh why al like royal is a partner from Australia but we integrate to like a dozen different providers today. Even more than that because we keep integrating ones that when we have a client who uses a provider which is this alright it has been technology is using blue turns you’ll be providing new terms we will just add them to a platform. And now so that’s like expanding over time.
Matthieu: Okay, so 2.5 2.5 percent is being – which are paid.
Thomas: In total, that was a merchant has to pay in total, taking into account all the stakeholders both in traffic and the middlemen. And easily sign up with which are paid directly we should possibility then we still playing all as the same percentage because basically which is giving a discount to these middlemen and then they get the difference. So, for mentions it makes more sense to use this middleman because they actually provide better API stand which I haven’t handed. Much easier to speak with and much more reactive if there is a question if there isn’t an issue that leather customers want to discuss. So, we don’t really recommend going directly with WeChat. And although it’s just a possibility we also have an integration of course button is very right it’s quite presentable with more problems to the kind of distributer.
Matthieu: Ok, ok basically 2.5% is very little, I mean, compared to, if I remember, Pay Pal and Stripe about 5%, 4 to 5% and that’s for cross-border.
Thomas: This factor is for cross-border payment transaction is very reasonable is like it’s we never had any merchants being bothered by the 2.5% definitely. I mean I merchants the biggest question is on marketing and how to get returns right. So, that’s a real expense of the of the endeavour the world set up on a platform is quite fast I mean is quite it’s quite smooth costs are not outrageous the real cost comes when you have to start paying here being in either the influencers drive traffic. So, that’s where we have to maybe do a bit more and all holding is to explain to our clients what you do this and as we get more and more success is getting easier because we can point to other customers manage true to do it. And it’s a is getting easier over time or two years ago.
Matthieu: Yeah you talked about what you imagine as a success story for one of the clients or spending 8 thousand dollars, so they sold 60 grand US.
Thomas: Yes, I think it is just below sixty thousand US dollars.
Matthieu: Okay eight thousand spending’s, 60,000 as revenues. So if I do the math, I’m around I guess twelve percent. Twelve.
Thomas: This is what you can expect for like successful campaigns, I would say like between five to seven times your investment in insight. Of course it varies, right it’s also there is a lot of uncertainty and also this cost goes down over time because when you do your first campaign you completely rely on the clear in meters, so you don’t have your own asset, you don’t have your own traffic right because when we have our clients.
When we first time helped them to set up this WeChat official account which is like a Facebook page right for WeChat, you will be able to follow it’s they’re going to be able to send notifications and this account will be linked to the shop So it’s like a Facebook page, to a Shopify store so when you get started you don’t have any following so you have to pay to budget for each view and for each sale and as you can – as you expand and as you keep doing campaigns, when you run a campaign you don’t take people directly to the store you ask people to follow your accounts so you are accumulating followers on this account, this asset and your cost of sale gets down over time and becomes more predictable.
So as a beginning gonna have a bit more to spend, to acquire sales and also using you’re gonna have much more variability because people don’t know you and some other influencers are gonna be a great fit, some less and then as time goes by and get to be more disability on ourselves. You’re gonna get on WeChat and earn your weekly, all mostly monthly campaigns on accounts and you will get some sales coming existing away which is a bit more predictable a bit more return.
Matthieu: Okay so it’s 8000 including your fees?
Thomas: No, only marketing but yeah. This is so this is without including me as some initial investment through maybe a bit of design and also office but i think for this tour I mean my enemies it’s a few hundred USD per month right, so I’m not really changing the equation of the ROI and I mean we look at our ROI as a campaign levels, because once you have to the Arianna campaign, you can count reproduce it and scale it and hopefully our fees with because our flat, gets more and more as a part of.
Matthieu: I’m trying to understand so that the audience can have something in mind and project some business ideas. So 50,000USD with no fame, the product is unknown, not much known. So two questions how much does it costs total I mean to spend your fees and so on and so the question behind this is how long did it t take? Because he took a year that means they had to spend for one every month for one year you to do to give you something – some payments so could you give us an understanding of this?
Thomas: For this campaign that you’re talking about, if I think the campaign have been like a month or so after the time has come to go to the store. So usually it’s like takes a bit more time in total but usually we have like 1000USD fee to create a extra account so when our time starts working with us sometimes they just pay this 1000 USD and they don’t pay any recurring fees because we need two three months to get the approval from WeChat. So we started working with them a few months back, with this was it just this one-time fee to create the account and then we designed it and then after this campaign happened like about two months after launch so it’s quite fast.
It means and took us four or five months after maybe first contact and maybe a couple of months one or two months after they actually launched before including all the steps and they didn’t have to pay big amounts in the initial step for the first three months. I think we are just focusing on creating the accounts, so we were basically waiting for approval from WeChat and then the next two months, we’re more focused on really preparing just for running the first campaigns and getting results so it is quite fast.
Matthieu: So it was 8000 USD, Ad money, marketing money. And your fees is like ten to a twelve something like?
Thomas: Just a bit less than that I think. It was like 3000 USD design, one thousand with the account creation. Maybe like a 1000USD at most for a couple of months for content but the content was not really what brought, the content is more flattering on the long term so I think was actually spent on design, creation, icon creation and campaign in total was around 1520 thousand with but since there’s more further lucky case in the sense that as I said I would recommend trying to have a table of over 50,000 USD to get started.
So that against him who is seeing some returns managing to do it without total envelope of 15,000 USD, is rather unusual. This client was was willing to spend more, is just a return can quickly but I think you need to be ready to invest a bit to see, to sector returns if you spend like two thousand USD of online campaigns and you lose. I mean this is quite likely the first or second campaign some of the market be big hits right away because when you find time to find the right investors and it takes a bit of luck to because social media so yes more doing most adventurous, so that is like a hint on this component.
Matthieu: Basically you are on between 25 to 30 percent, which actually when we compared to like Google AdWords or Facebook at work we call – it is pretty good because I remember the e-commerce conventions about one to two percent in the West and if you have the click on AdWords together with one euro, you may have to pick up 250 to a 100 euros before you can sell.
Thomas: I mean you can get really good result there, which items that one makes a platform attractive is that you can get results fast of course which suggests that product is good right? It is like – it’s not the kind of product results you can get with any product and you must have some kind of feeds also with a Chinese market, so that’s why I was saying with some kind of fashion, cosmetics items some FMD products, we get really good results there is there is an element of with a local market and if your product is good and if wink investigate to find the right – for your brand then the results can be extremely positive and extremely fast which is I think the impressive part, because entering the Chinese market for most brands is endeavor which takes sometimes years right.
If you have like if you go to the traditional way and you go what like setting up a branch in China, company in China you know as well as I do that a lot of foreign companies might take a year just to get their legal structure created before even talking about creating sales and being profitable. So the idea is that you would start on a phone call and that four or five months later, you will be comfortable on your Chinese market strategy is quite- I think white quite exciting and without such an insane expense. Once again I said as I said we don’t want to make people believe they can do that with just a few hundred bucks but for large SME’s is investing like twenty, thirty, fifty thousand US dollars in neutral campaigns or more and I want of course is not such a crazy, crazy expansion into a little private range market
Now of course, we can elaborate on this, right we can suggest WeChat, once they add that they can start looking for distributors and other things. And WeChat will always the part of this strategy.
Matthieu: How do you identify the keywords and their influences. How do u identify them and how do you work with them, I mean work for money or you in sacrifice them in the sales for you?
Thomas: Yeah, so very often is, most of most things upfront one area and very often we find them to personal contacts or like budget using Network we are starting to build and that’s what I’m saying. We are mostly focused on like this element of like of fashion, cosmetics and FMV because that’s when we start to know bit more air wells and being a bit more used to doing promotions. If we are in other areas where we don’t have anybody in our networks, then we might recommend other companies which are doing farewells, put full-time you know you have company like Parklu which are just care other companies. So there is it just their job to show farewells sourcing for answers. So if there is like known route in France or in our network for specific product we might just introduce these companies. We don’t want to be like influencer management companies, we’re really focusing on the newcomer’s layer.
We just believe that it’s important for us to get a first-hand approach experience of everything that happens for our clients. So we are during a small network of very high quality farewells on some areas like cosmetics, fashion and FMV where we get a lot of lines and then when a client’s reach out to us we just try to see what is it between now other clients is offering? What kind of what is your customer personnel of the client and what are the other energies of these different farewells in terms of gender and age and location, different size of cities in China. So we can find a good match in the general tone out of the Influenster as opposed to the general messaging of the brand. So it’s kind of a manual process and we can meet well because we keep it small scale. As I said we don’t work with all of our clients on this kind of campaigns, a lot of our clients might go to other agencies and we do it when we believe we can really get good results because we have enhanced our ability to do his town campaigns. And we don’t try to do that for our clients, some of our clients most specific needs and we just recommend some.
Matthieu: Yeah, I understand basically it will help them to doing good use of your software like because it could do these themselves because I mean they may not know how do it because of our firmware, you don’t always see. So you know that’s you basic successful in new platform you may have, may help them doing marketing but that’s not you for your business.
Thomas: I mean a lot of clients help, so this help can come from also it can come from other agencies. We have some clients for bravery China savvies in all this stuff but it’s very small percentage of our clients who know a lot about China. So either for someone so blessed for the placement rate for very small number of all kinds and nobody’s can do it themselves for small number we help them. And for a large number we introduce them all they would already have contacts with agencies which are helping them to do this like more like PR/a promotion part of the of them of the launch. So no matter what we make sure that our clients have the right kind of support. The question is, do they have it to start with provided how do we introduce them to people and provide that for them.
Matthieu: Okay what do you think about I think you’re gonna forget is using now QR code in Paris right or some moles, what because that’s very close to you in issue ID right to help local businesses being able to connect with Chinese, tourists or Chinese client and getting sales from that platform. What do you think about it?
Thomas: Yeah, so actually we I mean no this is what you’re describing for your effort what they do is simply providing the payments right. So payment on inside gala Lafayette, what we are looking into is now we are trying to partner starting a bottom with these kind of providers who helped to provide offline payments in Europe in particular. And providing them with the cold water e-commerce on top of that. So today you go to get a Lafayette, you purchase but you don’t necessarily keep buying when you go out. Right, what we provide and what we are starting to partner with offline payment provider is providing is now offline e-commerce probably promised brick which is which is adding to that. So basically you’re going to this tour in Europe in France, Germany in UK where you’re paying with which are payments. And as you’re paying like an invited to follow his account and then once you go back to China you can keep buying products low platform.
So it’s a step further icing from what’s happening today, all of the merchants in Europe know I still at the stage of simply setting of the payment. What we’re providing is that means to stay in touch with the customer and that’s something we look into right now. Once again I think that’s something which first place prospective, we are simply like in discussion which is offline seven providers trying to find ways to collaborate. It’s not we’re all traffic most of our traffic comes today our lines as I said are mostly brought through influencers participates. What we discussed in the beginning of the conversation, when we said what matters at the end of today’s traffic, one way to get it is by influencers and farewells at what we do today another way to do it is to get it from offline perfect which is what you’re describing wisteria Fayette and that’s also something we’ll look into.
Matthieu: Okay I see. So you have this eboot system where you are building the SaaS and you are also providing services eboot and I feel that’s coming back from your origins, you can’t work the chat as an agency. Could you tell us more about how it began? How you evolved it? How did you sell a lot of business sales which may I can say and few of them being able to do it, which did very well actually like men shame came out from an agency. UpNanny, I think came out from kind of agency at the beginning. So could you tell us more about how you did conversion?
Thomas: Well we’re just very frugal, as an agency we never tried to be nice came in the agency. So this was a tough choice back in the days, now it is getting a bit easier to live with this because we’re seeing some really good progress ons the software side and we’re saying success stories and getting momentum. But basically I chose to not take so many agency projects and took the agency small because I was afraid, I mean I didn’t look like the agency worked so much, we still do a bit of it we see very few agency clients. But like that’s good client, like we just started a small project with Cisco is which we renewed because we helped Cisco give you some out there. We checked processes and sales are the kind that twice marks quite sophisticated.
So they’re easy to work with and some also just come something money helps to bring some capital to business. So we sealed in a bit of it but I didn’t want to do that long term and I didn’t want to be dependent on this to run the business. I didn’t want to out because having clients as an agency’s bravery, can be very crushing because basically you kind of the slave of the client. Right while when you’re running a software business we are today of course we have to be into the clients we have to provide good service but at the end of the day with like now about hundred clients.
We don’t really depend so much on ink on each client and we keep growing and the weight of each client gets smaller and smaller and we give them some peace of mind and some makes it much easier to run as I’m running a business where you’re up in five or ten active clients. And then if you use one it’s like a very big blow for your morale and for your company finance. So yeah I just decided not to get into that and to kind of stay very low key. We kind of stumbled into a year and a half ago. And which is gaining more momentum today which I tried mostly restraint there was not a lot of genius moves which we just quite it and tried some things.
Matthieu: So I told before I know you for some time and always felt that you could have be painful to do it and to refuse clients, for it may be nice protest to as an agency. I know the focus on the product because one of the thing I find really amazing among the expat community China. You are the one who know that my chat is about we chat room every time we still be shameful, WeChat gets a lot of press coverage shares likes and so on. So for you getting quite big on agency should have been possible but it was not part of you basically you help you saw it. It that’s very rare I mean to see an entrepreneur we came to comment to one product and get rid of all the other business you could get which could make money.
Thomas: Yeah there are some different difficult calls like we turn down some product, reject Morgan, with the front government, with boss also work with them but anyway we refused to quote on some bigger projects. So sorry, it was not easy but at the end today I am, I think it helps me because I’m a bit weird, I don’t really have I mean I have very philosophical approach to life. Rights it’s not really about money and I don’t care too much about money. I care about doing these things I want the way I want them to do the way. I want to do it anytime make less money I make less money I have not to buy and to live a happy life.
So money is not freely something which matters too much, I mean it is getting money to do the wrong thing between not helping at respond to get makes the thing I want grow but just getting my any size and brain interesting. So that’s here for me to turn on these projects although they were bringing money but they weren’t there were not what I wanted to do so. So I decided and I still sometimes do today to refuse to quote for things which are quite loud to drink what you got to prove anew but I’m not too good fit for what we do interesting.
Matthieu: Yeah, as an agency never-ending fight and yeah you always have new products with different requirements. So it’s difficult to scare us you know I guess that’s me.
Thomas: No I am always certifying fight but so just in these days the fight I won’t certify it was one of building a software business. So it’s also a never-ending fight you’re fighting against potential bugs or putting on the architecture of your color to bring stability, in putting out transparency, in putting features but one personal standpoint that fighting finding more and more satisfying.
Matthieu: I understand. How did you begin? I know that you have beginning in very different fields I mean picture, photography and how did what the chat begin, you are not a developer, obviously not Chinese, you are not in e-commerce. And how did it begin and how did you decide to create focusing on WeChat. What was the start?
Thomas: Yeah so I just account for a long story. So my background is in engineering but not ever not in programming as you mentioned. I’ve been training messmates from engineering in France and business in UK. Then I went for a short time at Mr. G and measurement consulting which I didn’t quite like. So I quickly left to go to China. Where I bought for kind of kinder electric being French automation company for three years before starting motor chance. This is like personal side as you said it’s nothing neither with e-commerce, no is programming. As I was a Schneider I get interested in entrepreneurship started a few companies. One is a fashion business, one in the photography business and the fashion company, when I started it I started using WeChat the marketing to promote it because I back in the days which are just getting started and what which has this way. And then I realized I mean I didn’t know what is WeChat and something offering these services to companies but it is expected that was building. As you mentioned I started blogging about it that was the first budget the person to write about fugitive English. Now we have quite a very active blog which gets a lot of traffic which will maintaining for the last 3 something years. It’s changed since I started water jet. And yeah and that’s how it started and briefly I realized which I sang was making much more money the output abruptly. So I get up to the photographic project and started focusing on WeChat and then we were like one and a half and kind of just taking some agency projects it’s not really finding out past just looking for what going on to do and for last 3 and a half we have been focusing on this e-commerce product and it much more satisfying because we have great results, month over month, of course it’s pretty nice to see that we are really building something.
Matthieu: Okay I see. So you build WeChat initially because people were asking you to do the same as you having yourself for your initial business that you stopped and after you build blog we talked about it. And you did a lot of common marketing and I have talked about it before about how to build common marketing. What is suggestion now about your system process if I go and see in a web and checking a website, you getting I guess love from such google and of social media, yeah can you tell me about it
Thomas: Yeah, another bad channel for us. So yeah so as you mentioned we also you know about this because you’re the one who first and means me right to go into SEO about three years ago and who also supported me and supported us. When we got started right as beginning right some of your audio teammates were really helpful back in the days it was simple who helped and but if you taught us how to do SEO. So SEO is big thing for us we are if you write any which I created keywords which we type which I shot which as so I think there is a one number one and two or number one two three on the on the first page of Google. And if you type the one that I think we also like number two right which I can’t remember we have core answer and then it’s like we should show website Acura and then no answer. Anyway I’m all these keywords we are really crushing it usually is only WeChat which is a virus for the vast majority of these two worlds and most of the time we address number one. And sometimes our field refers first places for which are advertising, which have killed many years of auditions. So this really helps definitely we getting more client referrals of course correct unis means bringing great qualified traffic. I have liked I think 30 Saline views per month on para on micro profiling them and talk answer for WeChat. And people who ask questions like how it like latest on WeChat abuse the outer ear a qualified and didn’t convert to our website some very qualified traffic. And we realizing now also all the forums about simplify people in discussing how to create a store from Wichita to the Shopify website which list are friendly, China friendly. We will dry some answers and I would like very qualified traction so someone is not just about like the volume is this these foreign channels and me quite efficient driving very qualified lead and this lead convert very high
Matthieu: I see. What do you think about call her because I feel that will of very pretty naive questions, it’s working?
Thomas: And so great that one air force like if you if you are just to browse the most answer questions on for us it would be a lot of things about American politics, updating stuff which is not really relevant to business but as you said yeah it’s very well reference on Google. So most of the time is we no question about which yet you would find our website and then you would find a core answer and the answer would be my answer right. So at the end of the day when people look for information on now on Google being whatever reasons in on Quora. And make sure that people find it where is it and also core is very often seen as first bosses source of information because you get opinion from different people about the questions you’re asking. So beings is really a good way to provide expertise and very often we don’t directly promote a business, but we provide very good expertise and then people websites ends up to provide looking for quick or asking themselves questions about which items and then they converge you like some of our lead magnets. So we also have very good lead magnets on the website so once you go get on the website we have to leave magnets which are working from you. Well one is about entering the Chinese market and one is for semen Bearer is five days’ email post about WeChat efficient marketing. So people will sign up to that and then they would receive five emails. First one about automated each other, accountable for 30 balls traffic falls, about content and chips about STDs which basically would tell them everything about how to market on WeChat. And because what we do is so complex write it into Chinese or complex forest running horses this content is the magnets very important because it enables us first convert some of this traffic to email collection. And also it enables us to kind of start educating these customers so that when they get to us another zero level of knowledge they got maybe five or ten percent’s. And they going to be all the way to express but at least we are speaking from come on and listening and they already know that they have to create an account. There’s all different types of accounts such as in up an account to the store and you know maybe different ways you can drive traffic. So that’s that we helped.
Matthieu: I understand. So how do you I mean, how does it work, people could like email as they receive some training?
Thomas: Yeah this is about sequence so the email and its Mr. Hobbs platform which then sends baby email he made this quite simple,
Thomas: Especially you can see also the engagement of users, the difference between having an eBook and an email post is if you send out an e-book people easily but also don’t you have no idea. Right you just know if maybe at best you know it opens the email and that’s it but if you send that email costs and you can see we work people actually open Gmail everyday which are two things in sizing that can see which things were clicked. So you can really have some very serious metrics are engagement and I know I’m converting this into which a Facebook messenger reports, which is even more disability engagement of users. And we are reacting this is very new we started doing that a few days ago, but I’m just I just put like 30 buck’s investment on this formatting this messenger course and generated 150 conversations on messenger. So very interesting or time and generated one and got one hour and fifty people awesome my course a messenger. So this is retargeting so these are people who were visited on website and then I retarget them with that and tell them that you want to learn about future marketing and just also. it’s not all of them working big companies possess a beauty of messenger is that I’m this one I’m fifty are not completely horrified. I mean they’re interested but they might not have suspending are but get inside the course. I can ask questions like you have company registered in which country they visit and I can stall all of this data in a hot spot with a ZPR connection and then I can find a way to basically with read out, the ones which don’t have to invest in which at and focus on the ones which are actually very qualified. So this is brand new experiment I started three days ago and I’ve actually doing that myself. Because I really enjoy discovering new ways to engage people with messaging this kind of like many personal experiments with this one of them good results. We are not scared at all I’m still basically pressing the pause and then discovering how it was a good way to provide these kind of courses for messaging which is tempting for us.
Matthieu: I’m still on similar web and I’m seeing that you get a lot of traffic from the US. Is it Correct?
Thomas: This is my also do some people using VPN in China. So like this all of this traffic might be might be Chinese traffic like our main draw graph is yeah US, definitely do people on US, Canada, Europe, Germany, UK, Holland, Modena in Delhi and the Australia, New Zealand. This could be the main domain is where we have a lot of interest in fines.
Matthieu: Okay, it’s bit different from when I get from a similar web.
Thomas: They are dragons and you like our actual analytics I think it’s always difficult because US always tends to be over-represented to the role of VPN access is using some ID in US. If you look at the way to evolve which also mentors for us on Google is like really which are payment, which are store, which are advertising. So the people desist extremely qualified perfect with very high impact.
Matthieu: Still comes on marketing, I feel that we are now we are trying a lot of ways to get new clients, new way on the at the end of the day, what’s retraining the most of most of the client is called marketing stealing.
Thomas: As I said we’ve been to be Freddy Jimenez in yeah I haven’t been very good to leveraging other channels that’s also why content marketing it’s so strong for us. Now I have an important clearly I haven’t been very good at leveraging offline traffic. I mean like conferences and business trips and basically going out to meet fines, we should because I’m not this type of person I’m very selfish I’ll follow them very extreme introvert. So it does not have but actually in bringing next year we’re gonna start doing more of this. So I’m gonna go into like the entire European tour to get a bunch of talks and friends UK, in Netherlands. So we can start to kind of young start leveraging a bit of this capability that is all fine kappa beaches and I think online marketing is still quite strong, when it comes to online conversions especially for all kind of like brinish to be business is hard to just run a Facebook campaign and do very well except as I mentioned retargeting me or you have qualified audience. But if you’re starting from scratch finding people who are high intends to start sending their prices in China it’s not very easy our wires will be well you actually directly get all these people even better.
Matthieu: I understand. Thanks Thomas, thanks for time, it’s really one hour. How you like?
Thomas: I was good, good questions.
Matthieu: We have technical problem today. How did u feel about that?
Thomas: Even better than the first time so I’m looking for two maybe next weeks’ we can try again.
Matthieu: Okay good. Thanks you very much Thomas and thanks for listening