Why Every Business in Japan Should Use LINE (and How!)

There are more than 80 million monthly active users of LINE in Japan. (nearly 70% of the population!)

LINE has turned into a service that is a necessity to have in order to live comfortably in Japan. With so many people using it as their main method of communicating with others, it is now one of the first apps that people will download when they get a new phone. Considering this huge user-base, the less number of businesses that utilize this service as part of their marketing surprises me.

Large Japanese businesses have already stepped in, many being the food-chains, but foreign and smaller sized companies tend to forget about LINE’s lucrative and extremely useful business platform: LINE Official Account

LINE Official Account is a service where you can create a business account in LINE, which could be used to do the following:

  • Real-time chat with followers, regarding inquiries, building engagement, reservations, etc
  • Send out coupons, flyers, and discounts
  • Redirect users to HP, product/services page, etc
  • Branding using characters
  • Broadcast messages, images, videos, rich media to followers
  • Receive payments within the app
  • Create campaigns exclusive to LINE such as sticker promotions, etc
  • Reward cards to gain loyal followers and customers… and more!
Why using LINE Official Account is a MUST for your business in Japan
Why using LINE Official Account is a MUST for your business in Japan
  • The sheer amount of users of the service (80 million+ / 125 million) [Statista]
  • Percentage of users opening the message is 60% + (compared to email newsletters which are 21.33%) [LINE/Mailchimp]
  • Push notifications for smartphones allow for higher notice
  • Easier and more accessible method of communicating with followers and clients
  • Allows for a casual/fun alternative to emails, with the use of stamps and stickers
  • Sending exclusive coupons to followers (40% of users who received the coupons tend to use it) [LINE]
  • Choice of having a push/pull method of approaching users. (Push: sending direct messages, Pull: home/timeline)

Depending on your business, you may find one point more useful than the other. Taking a look at the graph on the left-hand side, you can see the types of industries that use the service as part of their business strategy. Almost all kinds of companies could effectively utilize the LINE features, as long as there’s a customer for your product/service.

Noteworthy features of LINE that are beneficial to YOUR business

PR page and coupons that could bring new leads

As a business, it is certainly a challenge to incorporate coupons into its strategy, as it’s simply too difficult to manage and send to users (especially for web services). Using LINE Official Account, you can easily create and manage online coupons, with two variations: Normal and Lottery types.
Not only could you send out a coupon to all your leads, you can send an exclusive one to a few lucky winners! Adding an extra bit of playfulness would definitely be appreciated by your followers.
In addition, you can have your own PR page, where you could add your company information such as address, phone number, etc, as well as some images that define your identity!

Surveys to analyze your followers: Research Page

On LINE, you could create and send surveys to your followers (from your account management screen on your PC). Using this feature, it will allow for you to learn points such as what kind of people use your product/service, how satisfied are your customers, and in what ways you could improve your business/product to elevate to the next level.

Ease of chatting with existing/potential clients  (without having to share private account)

An email is great for communicating with partners and clients, however some things could be solved without the hassle of writing an email. LINE will allow you to build a closer connection with your clients, as well as your future ones, with them easily being able to contact you for any inquiries or reservations.
Not to mention, you could also set auto-response messages for certain keywords, if you hope to automate some of your communication (such as the greeting).

Loyalty needs to be rewarded → Reward Cards

With the number of choices for any kind of  service in today’s world, loyal customers need to be given a prize, and that is made possible by the reward cards feature on LINE. It sends a reward to the user who received ‘n’ number of stamps (with you being able to choose what to send as well as the number ‘n’). A good example to imagine would be the stamp cards used in hair salons!

[Add the newly made Markevell account on LINE by scanning the  QR code!]

The 3 points on LINE to keep your messages QUALITY

Share information that the users need

If you’re looking for coupons but the only messages you receive are updates, you’ll be disappointed, and that’s the same for your followers. Be sure to send content that your users are looking for, which could be researched through surveys introduced previously, or even asking them directly, why they were interested to add your account.

Send with the perspective of the user: timing and content

Depending on your business, you’ll likely have a mix of salarymen/women, housewives, and teenagers, and it is important to be in their perspective when deciding when to send the messages. For example, salarymen would likely see their messages during early mornings on their way to work, while  housewives would check their phones on the later afternoons.
Also, some content tends to work better at a certain period, such as a tourism related message being more appropriate and successful before the holiday seasons.

Real-time updates and appropriate frequency

No one wants constant messages that share similar content, sent there way every 2-3 days. People want real-time updates and information, what’s happening now and in the near future. Regarding the number of times you send messages, try to  keep it around 2-3 times per month, as more than that may lead to your account being considered in a negative way, especially as this form of approaching customers is considered a push/intrusive method.

How to gain followers on LINE

Effective use of QR codes

As I have done in the photo shown above, use QR codes (available from your account screen on your phone) and share it on various channels such as SNS, email, etc. Another clever method is to add this QR code to your business card, so that new connections will easily be able to contact you (with a chance for you to do sales to them through LINE).

“Add friend” button on your HP

Through the application, you will be able to get the HTML snippet of the “add friend” button, which allows anyone to swiftly add your account on LINE. This could be implemented to the contact page of your website, for example, and you’ll be offering a much easier method for people to contact you, rather than a contact form. Not to mention, the added benefit of being able to send the new leads promotional content in the long-term.

How to gain followers on LINE
To Conclude

LINE is a mammoth in Japan, but businesses tend to forget the opportunity available in the platform. With the various features, along with the number of monthly active users in Japan, this service is certainly one that needs to be utilized by most, if not all companies regardless of  their size. Not to mention, it’s FREE (with upgrades available). I look forward to see many of you readers opening your own accounts soon!

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