Tencent turns to WeChat, games and deals for global strategy

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s biggest social network and gaming firm Tencent Holdings, which last week reported forecast-beating quarterly results, is close to making Malaysia the first foreign country to roll out its WeChat ecosystem, an executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Tencent’s booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Tencent has made a “breakthrough” in gaining an e-payment license in Malaysia for local transactions, and plans a launch early next year, senior vice president S.Y. Lau said in an interview.

The move pits Shenzhen-based Tencent, Asia’s most valuable listed company, against rival Alibaba Group as they scramble for new growth opportunities outside China.

“Malaysia is actually quite large in the sense that we have 20 million WeChat users, huge potential, and the market is quite warm towards internet products from China,” Lau said.

Southeast Asia, home to more than 600 million people and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has been a key battleground for China’s tech titans fighting for deals. Ethnic Chinese make up more than a fifth of Malaysia’s population.

WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay, which dominate China’s digital payment market, have sought to expand their global footprint, although that push has so far been limited to payment services for Chinese outbound tourists. They can scan-and-pay for purchases in 34 countries or regions via Alipay and 13 via WeChat Pay, according to the companies.

Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial has joint ventures in seven markets for local digital payments services, which operate independently under the partnerships’ brand names.

Alibaba is looking to build a global payment system, while Tencent is more interested in generating traffic for WeChat – two different strategies, some bankers and investors say.

WeChat has more users, but Alipay’s aggregate transaction volume is higher, according to JP Morgan’s John Hall, though other investors note that WeChat Pay can also process large transactions if it’s used on e-commerce platforms.

GLOBAL EXPANSION

One challenge for Tencent, say analysts, is that its success in China cannot be easily exported to other markets.

Tencent is “not in a hurry” to speed up its overseas expansion or increase the monetization rate of its digital assets, Lau said.

“We walk our own path at our own pace … and, to be honest, there is really quite a lot to do in China,” he said.

WeChat, which has ballooned from a messaging app to an all-in-one platform with 980 million monthly active users, could be the “killer product” to spearhead expansion abroad, Lau said, as its embedded payment function draws more services.

WeChat, with an open platform of mini-programmes, was a key revenue contributor for Tencent in the third quarter. Social and other advertising revenue rose 63 percent, while payment and cloud helped “other business” post a 143 percent jump

FILE PHOTO: The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

“Honour of Kings”, Tencent’s top-grossing battle game that led an 84 percent increase in quarterly smartphone gaming revenue, also owes its success to the network help of WeChat, and is expected to find it tougher to crack Western markets, analysts say.

Tencent this month delayed the launch of the game’s U.S. edition, “Arena of Valor”, to next year to “further polish additional gameplay and social features”.

After games and social media, most of Tencent’s other businesses are in digital content, including Spotify equivalent Tencent Music and YouTube equivalent Tencent Video, which also makes its own dramas.

CULTURE CHALLENGE

Lau said the ultimate aim was to export culture from China to the rest of the world, rather than the other way round, which he acknowledged was challenging.

“What we’re aiming to create is ‘super IPs’ (intellectual property) that leverage our different businesses from upstream to downstream,” Lau said, citing Disneyland and the James Bond movies as successful practices in the West.

A big business for Tencent’s recently-listed publishing arm, China Literature, is to sell its popular novels and have them turned into dramas and video games by Tencent’s other business lines.

Tencent this month announced a plan involving 10 billion yuan ($1.51 billion) of investment to boost its creative content ecosystem, though it gave no timeframe for the investment.

Company president Martin Lau – no relation to S.Y. – said on an earnings call last week that Tencent would keep investing in digital content, especially online video, to draw more time from more paying customers.

Overseas acquisitions will remain a key way of enhancing Tencent’s global access and competitiveness, S.Y. Lau said.

Independent technology analyst Richard Windsor said Tencent’s 2016 acquisition of Supercell gave it a strong position in gaming,, while the move to buy a stake in social media firm Snapchat is another piece in the jigsaw.

“It increasingly looks as if Tencent is embarking on a circumnavigation of the digital life pie in order to build an ecosystem to challenge the Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook dominance of consumer digital services,” he said, noting it’s at a “super early stage” in that process.

Tencent will likely seek more overseas acquisitions, Windsor added, which, beyond being expensive, could challenge Tencent in integrating all its digital assets at home and abroad.

Tencent has struggled to monetize its dominance over the Chinese digital life, he said, adding that’s why he sees more upside in Tencent’s market valuation, and prefers it to Alibaba.

($1 = 6.6267 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Sijia Jiang, with additional reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Ian Geoghegan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Do you Know the Full Picture of What's Happening in Your Business?

Many years ago a friend who became a business mentor asked me a question that literally stumped me. He asked me how much it cost to open my doors every day. I had no idea. Ironically I am the one who now asks this question of my clients all the time and I am constantly amazed at how little people know about their business. If I ask this question in a room with a hundred people in it, I am lucky if five people put their hand up to say they know.

We all need to know about every aspect of our business. I am not saying that we should become micro-managers, but we need to know certain basics. The profit and loss of a business is not something that we want to learn about months down the line. After all, what if you don’t have enough money to cover the loss?

Whether we are making a profit or a loss is something we need to know today. Using a very simple formula, I add up the net cost of products and services, the fixed costs like rent and wages, and all other expenses and come up with the daily sales target that is needed to cover these costs and make a profit. For example, if it cost $1000 a day to run a business, and we sold products with a 50 percent mark-up, we would have to sell $3000 worth of products each day to break even. But who wants to just break even? Surely the objective is to make a profit? Ideally we would want to make at least double our cost for the day, so we would have to sell $6000 worth of products or services.

Imagine this equation if we were not selling anything. Our cost just to open the doors would still be $1000 per day, so if we sold nothing in a week, we would be $5000 down the hole. I think every business, big or small, needs to know whether or not it has made money or lost money that day. I know of enormous businesses, operating in thirty countries, that get daily figures that are just more complicated versions of my simple formula–without doubt they know if they have made or lost money that day.

We also have to know what is normal for our business: for example, what products sell and what don’t; what changes in customer patterns and trends and increases in costs are to be expected. If unexpected changes or increases in cost occur, we need to find out why. So much money slips between the cracks in a business that it is ridiculous.

I once ran a reasonably large marketing company. My receptionist ordered all our printing and stationery supplies. We were moving office and came across this huge stockpile of printer cartridges that would have cost about $10, 000. I couldn’t believe it. The receptionist had since left and I had to cop it on the chin but I found out from the supplier that she had made these big purchases to get the gifts that came with buying larger quantities. How much had this cost me? But I learned some very valuable lessons from the experience.

I now watch out for any anomalies in the bills. Things like phone bills going up unexpectedly, an increase in stationery spending, or even an increase in petty cash spending always activate my Sherlock Holmes genes. But how can you recognize anomalies if you don’t know what is normal?

I now always make a point of signing every invoice that comes into the business. I want to know exactly what we are buying and how it is being used. I don’t want to sound like one of those pedantic people who get uptight about someone taking a pencil. I don’t actually care, but if they take it, I like to know. I am actually a very easygoing boss, but over the years I have realized that the difference between paying attention and not paying attention can be tens of thousands of dollars a year. And let’s be honest–surely that money is better off in your pocket rather than being tied up in a ten-year supply of printer cartridges.

Any business owner who knows their business inside and out, and I mean all parts of the business not just the parts that they are most interested in, is way out in front of the competition. The sad reality is that very few businesses have even the slightest idea about any part of their business other than selling the products and services that they specialize in and ultimately this is what stops them from being successful.

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You're 5 Times More Likely to Get Job Interview During this 4 Hour Window

Just as there are best times to send emails, there are best times to focus your job hunt. You should be networking year round, but keep in mind that companies are most likely to hire new employees during September, October, January, and February, according to Monster.com

You can up your odds of landing your dream gig by being proactive early in the day. Research shows that people who apply for jobs between 6am and 10am are five times more likely to get called in for an interview than those who apply after 4pm. 

If you haven’t looked for a new job in while (let’s say, prior to 2016), your résumé (and Linkedin profile, for that matter) might need not just an update, but a substantial overhaul. It is, after all, the one page–yes, still just one page–that plays the biggest role in getting you in the door.

Here’s how to avoid the dreaded, “thanks for your interest, but…” email:

Do…be brief.

There is a range of views on this topic, but I’m a firm believer in the single-page résumé. At our content marketing company, Masthead Media, we receive hundreds of resumes each year, and we tend to de-prioritize those that spill into multiple pages.

Sell yourself briefly, or beware: not every recruiter is going to flip the page to check out your accomplishments on page two.

And don’t…include your college internships (when you graduated a decade ago).

Your past experience got you to where you are now, but it looks pretty outdated to include your role as an editorial assistant when you are now applying for a managing editor spot Use your best judgment…unless your best judgment has you listing your teenage babysitting duties.

Do…include keywords.

The pile of résumés that HR is sifting through–very often with the support of scanning technology that can recognize key phrases–is real. View the recruiter as Google, and your résumé as a blog post. It should be rich with keywords relating to the job position, and be written with answering the following question in mind: “Why should I hire this person?”

But don’t…litter it with buzzwords

That’s great that you’re a “best in breed” “team player” who “disrupts the status quo,” but seriously…show, don’t tell. Replace any buzzword or cliche you want to use with a concrete statement of achievement. Trust me: recruiters are over hearing about synergy.

Do…include KPIs

Were you responsible for sales growth? Hit an impressive number of eyeballs in a social media campaign? Quantify it! You want to stand out from the fakers, and real, provable numbers to back your achievements add an air of legitimacy.

But don’t…bullet out your day-to-day duties

You lost me at “ordered office supplies.”

Do…keep it updated.

Even when you’re not looking for a job, your résumé should be updated yearly, at the very least. To start, it’s easier to remember your professional accomplishments if you note them as they happen, and an updated résumé can be a great “cheat sheet” to reference during performance reviews or bonus evaluations.

But don’t…leave it on the office printer.

As obvious as this sounds, don’t print it at work. Splurge the 35 cents at Kinkos, because it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.

Do…send it to your peers for feedback.

Your accomplishments and work history is clear to you because you lived it. Make sure that your résumé description of it is clear by running it past peers who are familiar with your line of work, but not intimately knowledgeable of your day-to-day. Ask them what stands out, and adjust as needed.

But don’t…include a headshot.

Unless specifically requested–or unless you are applying for an on-camera position–including your headshot is just weird.

Do…proofread.

Or better yet, have a friend act as a second pair of eyes. No matter how impressive your accomplishments, it’s hard to look past the bullet on how you pay attention to “detial.”

But don’t…send as a Word doc.

Those hours you spent formatting, designing, and making sure your entire professional history fit on one neat page? Yeah, all that goes out the window if the recruiter doesn’t have your fonts of choice installed, is operating in a different version of Word, or (worse) is reading in a different word processing program altogether. PDF it…and then proof it one more time.

Do…show your growth.

It’s tempting to go the easy route and list just your most senior position at a company. However, a quick bullet on your trajectory from manager to senior director demonstrates how your company valued you, and how you were able to grow.

But don’t…list your salary requirements.

Talk about presumptuous! It’s way too early to be talking about salary and benefits in this pre-interview stage.

Do…tailor your master résumé for each job.

It’s ok if your work experience crosses fields: Many companies value a well-rounded candidate. However, you want to make your skillset that pertains to the job you’re applying for pop. Rearrange as needed to put your relevant experience toward the top, and add in bullets showing how less relevant work experience may help in this position.

But don’t…state the obvious.

You’re proficient in Microsoft Word? Congrats: so is the entire workforce. Avoid listing programs or skills like this that should be a no-brainer on your résumé.

Do…show your skills.

This is especially important in design jobs. If you are applying for a designer position, probably best to avoid the standard résumé templates found online. This is a natural opportunity to show your stuff–surely you can turn your work experience into an infographic.

But don’t…get too cutesy.

This is a résumé, not a wedding invitation.

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Here's How to Do an Effective Email Campaign for Cyber Monday in 4 Steps

Cyber Monday 2016 marked the biggest day in e-commerce history for the U.S. According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent $3.45 billion in online sales, although that number is probably a little higher in reality.

But it seems many online marketers don’t promote their Cyber Monday sales nearly as well as they could. According to MailCharts, a email-marketing company that tracks email programs for 30,000 different companies, many retailers treat Cyber Monday as simply an extension of Black Friday. In other words, they do little in the way of extra promotions, and often don’t email customers about the holiday itself until it happens.

That might save time for the person crafting the emails, but doing it this way means missing valuable chances to stand out before the big shopping day.

If Cyber Monday is as popular this year as it was last, marketers and retailers face a huge task in capturing customers attention. You’ll get started writing those email campaigns now, and start sending them on the early side.

When I spoke with MailCharts’ Director of Marketing, Carl Sednaoui, he had several Cyber Monday strategies that companies should incorporate into their email campaigns. With that in mind, here are a few ways to amp consumers up and make your Cyber Monday sale stand out from competitors.  

1. Start sending emails before Cyber Monday.

MailCharts, who included Cyber Monday as part of its holiday shopping survey last year, noted that 70 percent of emails were sent on or after the big shopping day in 2015. And only about 13 percent were sent ahead of time.

But if you stop and think about it, that approach makes little sense in 2017. Between apps, emails, Twitter announcements, and Facebook messages, consumers are beyond inundated with promotions. You’ll lessen your chances of impressing Cyber Monday shoppers with your deals if you email them when everyone else does.

Instead, use the weeks beforehand to build a sense of anticipation. Send the first message a week or so before the actual shopping day. Mail volume will be lower, which means a well-crafted subject line, such as “Get Ready: 60% Off Acme’s Entire Online Store Nov. 30” can get your promotion into the consumer’s mind, if not their calendar, ahead of time.

Doing it this way also helps avoid customer fatigue, which runs rampant on big shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2. Keep your holiday campaign consistent with your brand.

Cyber Monday may excite people, but if you run a luxury clothing company that’s all about understated elegance, you won’t win many shoppers by sending an email with flashy graphics, emoticons, and words like “zany.” Likewise, a muted color palette and reserved language won’t work for a company that sells sneakers to teenagers.  

Presumably, your brand’s identity already works for you. Even if it needs a little help, Cyber Monday is no time to try a refresh. Instead, consider the look and language used in your existing emails and web copy, and build your Cyber Monday campaign around that. Brand recognition is hard enough on the busiest shopping day of the year; don’t make it harder by changing your style last minute.

3. Create urgency in your subject lines.

Ever read a subject line that says something like, “Last Chance to Get Your Free Gift” and immediately stopped work to investigate? Subject lines that get the most opens tend to be very specific and attention-grabbing. So if your subject lines just read “Cyber Monday Sale,” your potential customers won’t likely feel a need to open the email and start shopping right away.

On the other hand, subject lines like, “Get Ready: 50% Cyber Monday Sale” or “40% Off Site-Wide Sale For Cyber Monday” include all the info a customer really needs right there in the subject line. All the reader has left to do is open the email and click “Shop Now.”

A word to the wise: avoid all caps in your subject lines. It’s tempting to think this will grab more attention. In reality, it’s one of the top email spam triggers out there.

4. Spark emotions with your calls to action.

Urgency is just one way to get customers to click the “Shop Now” button. There’s a wide range of emotions marketers can leverage to appeal to their readers. Shopping, after all, is an emotional experience, even if we don’t always realize it. “Last Chance” or “Don’t Miss Out” can create fear of loss or scarcity, which are powerful motivators. Or, if your consumers respond to more positive calls to action, make them feel singled out and special: “Be the first in line for our Cyber Monday event.”

You will know better than anyone what types of emotions will speak to your customers. Remember them when it comes time to create your Cyber Monday campaigns.

At this point, Cyber Monday is a holiday in its own right, so it’s time to make your promotional plans reflect that. Underscore the word “plans.” The more you can prepare in advance, and the better you can anticipate your potential customers wants and needs, the more successful your Cyber Monday will be.

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