If you're interested in the Japanese market, this is the guide for you. The Line app is a messaging app created in Japan for Japanese people. Since Line is a little different than your standard messaging app, we've gone into a little more detail than others. This is your ultimate guide to Line for Business and the [email protected] business account.
This post is designed to help you with your research, we're going to be answering questions like:
- What is Line?
- Why use Line for business?
- What is the difference between Line Business Accounts?
- How do I create a [email protected] account?
- How to generate leads using [email protected]?
- Can I use Line for Customer Service?
What is Line?
When examining the Line interface we see something that is somewhat similar to WeChat. The first tab is a discovery area. This is where you can find Line apps, receive friend recommendations, create groups and see a list of friends and official accounts that you follow.
There are 3 additional main tabs. One for chats, it lists all your conversations in chronological order as well as notifications from the Line Company itself. Another is a typical newsfeed which shows posts from friends and from business accounts you follow. The last tab is a news aggregator that show news based on your location.
Similar to WeChat Pay Line Pay is designed to replace all the payments you need to do in your life. This includes paying for items on the Line Store, paying at physical retail locations, paying online and sending money to your friends.
Line Pay has seen moderate success, a large portion of Line's active users are using the service for some of their purchases. Interestingly, Line Pay has actually become the biggest payments provider in Taiwan. Even banks are complaining that is has taken away a significant portion of their transaction-based business.
Recently, Line has taken a cue from the success of Chinese payment providers AliPay and WeChat Pay and promised to adopt a QR code payments system. While currently using an RFID system like that used by Apple Pay, QR codes will allow much smaller merchants to be able to take payment electronically using only their smartphone.
Line Friends & Stickers
What article about Line could be complete without the mention of Line Friends? What are Line Friends? They are your friends… from Line. Does it make sense? Not to me. I don't let companies provide friends for me. But hey, maybe I'm old fashioned.
Putting the name Line Friends aside I like to think of them as the Japanese cousins of emoji. In fact, that is the that is the way Line Friends got their start. Custom emojis that Line users could send to each other. The key difference is that each Line friend has their own version of each emotion.
My personal belief is that Line Friends took off because they are a little way people can differentiate themselves in a society where conformism is the prevailing trend. Using Line Friends is like saying, we may experience the same emotions but we express them differently.
Did I forget to mention that Line friends are incredibly successful? So much so that there are physical stores dedicated to selling nothing more than Line friends merchandise and these stores even exist outside of Japan.
Why Use Line for Business?
Line has over 600 million registered users of which about 220 million are monthly active users. 165 million of these monthly active users are located in Line's four primary markets which are Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand. Line has been so successful in these countries that the Line annual report actual breaks figures down per country. An interesting tidbit from the annual report is that even though the amount on monthly active users on Line is shrinking ever so slightly, the profits of the company continue to increase.
Realistically speaking, if you are considering using Line for business you should be targeting consumers who are located in Japan or Taiwan. Although Line is also very popular in Thailand and Indonesia the popularity there is actually going down and users are moving toward WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Types of Business Accounts on Line
There are two types of business accounts on Line. [email protected] is an account designed for small business and is relatively easy to create. TheLine Official Account is designed with big brands in mind and creating one means you need to go through an approval process.
A rather unique aspect of Line as a company is that they leverage these business accounts as part of their revenge much more than any other messaging app business account we've seen.
[email protected] Business Account
In order to encourage people to pay more for a Line Official Account, [email protected] accounts have certain limitations. Line will charge you additional fees for going over those limitations. Depending on the types of relationship you have with your customers and the volume the [email protected] may work for you or it may not. But it is definitely a good place to get started. Currently, there are about 8500 [email protected] accounts.
Here is a list of limitations for the [email protected] account:
- Only 10,000 friends
- Only 1,000 messages (broadcasts) per month
- Cannot use the live broadcast function
We haven't been able to test the 10,000 friends limit ourselves so we'd be happy to hear from someone that has. But we have been able to reach the 1,000 messages limit. Just to be clear, when Line refers to messages on business accounts they are actually talking about what we at Rocketbots refer to broadcasts.
If you send a single broadcast to 500 people, Line counts this as 500 messages. So depending on your customer base, this may or may not be enough. Luckily you can pay $50 USD per month for an additional 50,000 messages per month.
Line live broadcasts function is a lot like Facebook Live streaming, so if you're using [email protected] you won't be able to do this from your Line business account.
Line Official Accounts
Line Official Accounts are for the big brands of the world. There is quite a hefty fee to get involved, you'll need to apply to be approved and there are actually only 677 Line Official Accounts out there.
Unlike other messaging app business account, Line Official Accounts are very much priced at a super premium. The setup of a Line Official Account costs 10 to 12 million Yen (100,000USD) with a continuing monthly cost of 2.5 million Yen. Of course, if you get a Line Official Account you get some additional privileges.
Using Line Official accounts you can create chat menus at the bottom of the screen like WeChat as well as send audio and video messages to your Line Official Account friends.
The coolest aspect of Line Official Accounts is the ability to create custom company stickers that everyone on Line can share free charge. The idea is with stickers you'll create a huge amount of buzz surrounding your brand if they become popular. But remember this is Line, so creating a sticker will cost you 20 million yen.
Line Business Connect
Line Business Connect is additional functionality that you can buy on top of your Line Official Account. We weren't able to figure out how much it costs but we do know about the additional functionality.
A key element of this functionality is the ability to connect Line IDs with your own customer records. With this, you'll be able to send notifications and other promotional information programmatically from your companies ERP or Marketing Suite directly to your Line users.
Other features include additional UI elements that can be used in the chat. The Line Business Connect API will allow you to create buttons, confirmation prompts and carousels much like those in Facebook Messenger. We are at a loss as to how Line is able to charge corporations for these features, but hats off to them.
Getting Started With [email protected]
We're going to go through the rest of the article using a [email protected] account. To get started with [email protected] account head over to the [email protected] home page and start creating an account. First, you'll be asked to choose between an approved account or a standard account. [email protected] approved accounts are only available for companies based in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan.
Since we are located in Hong Kong we went for the standard account. There are only three fields to fill in: business name, business category, and a profile picture. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes. You can also create the account in the [email protected] app if you prefer.
How To Benefit From [email protected] For Business
Below we'll be talking strictly about Marketing & Customer Service strategies using the [email protected] account. As usual we'll begin with acquiring users.
Generate Leads Using [email protected]
You might be interested in [email protected] is because you are interested in finding new customers in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia or Thailand. To understand the best ways to attract users to your account you'll need to understand the ways users can find your account.
Generate Leads Using [email protected] In App Search
In accordance with Lines strategy to get big brands to pay big bucks for their Line Official Accounts, we were not able to find the standard account we made just by searching for it using our business name, Rocketbots. We tried searching our account by using out Line ID which is @cjl4796c but that didn't work either. It seems only Line Official Accounts are actually searchable.
We're not sure if this is related to our ID because Line also offers the opportunity to buy a premium Line ID, which can be your business name. This costs $24 USD for the first year and has a recurring fee of $12 for each following year. However, we cannot verify if this makes your account searchable.
One thing that surprised us about our [email protected] account was that after we added our business account as a friend on our personal accounts we were able to see our company in the official accounts list in our Line interface. You can see that in the above screenshot, the only difference is our accounts shield is not colored in.
Generate Leads Using [email protected] Links & QR Codes
Since users won't be able to search for your [email protected] account you'll need some alternative tools. You'll find those tools in the [email protected] Basic Account Settings. First, you'll notice a QR code that you'll be able to use on your web pages or physical advertising. Once Line users scan this QR code they will automatically start following your [email protected] account. If you're operating a physical location you'll want to print it and place it in a visible area so customers can easily follow you on Line.
Right below you'll find a code for the Add Friend button. This will allow your website visitors to be taken to your QR Code at the click of a button. Inside the snippet, for the button, we've found there is a URL you can use to achieve the same effect. So with that, I humbly offer you to join the Rocketbots [email protected] account.
The key difference between this link on Line and on other messaging apps is that you will not be able to add references these links on Line. Therefore it will be hard to track which links that you put out there users actually came from.
One last note. There are several different styles of Add Friend buttons you can use and create. However, for these custom buttons to work, your web URL must be whitelisted. Line has actually created a whole separate website to create the code for these buttons called Line Social Plugins.
Organizing Contacts on [email protected]
Once you have a whole bunch of friends on your [email protected] account there should be some way to organize and segment them right? Wrong. Well at least according to Line. There is no way to segment contacts with tags or custom fields available in the [email protected] Manager. You can add stars to contacts, but you can only do this from the [email protected] app. We will discuss this in the responding to customers section of the post.
Sending Broadcast Messages on [email protected]
We have travel finding broadcasts on the [email protected] Manager because they are called are called messages. In [email protected] parlance creating a new broadcast message is called composing a message. Therefore to create a broadcast, simply go message compose and you'll be presented with a rich broadcast builder.
On [email protected], there are several types of rich message broadcasts you can create. Aside from sending your basic text, emoji and pictures you can create and send coupons, do a prize draw, create an actual rich message email marketing style and even send polls or surveys.
To send these kinds of rich messages you'll need to go to the rich content section and create the messages before you can send them. We're not going to go through all that with you but we've played around with it a little bit and it works as advertised.
There is something about [email protected] broadcasts that we have never seen before though, there is no targeting, we've checked in several places in the [email protected] Manager. On [email protected], you can only send broadcasts to all the followers of your [email protected] account.
With your free tier [email protected] account, you will only be able to send 1000 messages which means 1000 broadcast messages. Remember, when you send 1 broadcast to your 5 followers that counts as 5 of your messages.
Customer Service on [email protected]
[email protected] has the potential for customer service. Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, there can be several users logged into the back end at the same time. Even with our free tier [email protected] account, we are allowed to have up to 100 user accounts.
Greeting Message on [email protected]
As on other messaging app business account platforms, setting up a greeting message is easy. Type in the message that you want users to receive upon first taking to your [email protected] account and you're done. As on the WeChat Official Accounts Platform Line reuses the same message builder everywhere. That means you can greet users with an onboarding survey or even a coupon if you like.
Away Message on [email protected]
To set up an away message on [email protected] you'll need to use the Auto Reply function. Although you could use this as an all-purpose auto-reply message like the name suggests it is really designed to be used as an away message. You can choose to send the message on a specific date. At a specific time every day or all the time.
Unlike other platforms, you can actually set up several different auto-reply messages. You can have different messages to cover weekdays and the weekend. Although, auto-reply message on [email protected] is sent with every successive message so it can be somewhat annoying to the user if they keep typing while you are away.
Responding to your Customer Chats on [email protected]
[email protected] lets you respond to customers requests one on one, but only through the [email protected] app. Although the [email protected] app is plenty functional for this purpose, apps themselves are not the best platform if you have a high volume customer support situation. The app has basic functionality required though.
It shows your [email protected] account friends and allows some organization using stars. You can add a star to users that require extra attention, but that is your only tool. There is also a chat tab that shows you all the users who have sent you a private message.
Aside from responding, there is not much that can be done. There doesn't seem to be any way to assign a contact to another team member if you're helping people in a team setting. Nor is there any way to add any tags or comments about any individual friend.
Keyword Based Auto Replies on [email protected]
Last but not least, [email protected] has one additional killer customer service feature, keyword-based auto-replies. Each auto-replies can have a seemingly unlimited amount of additional keywords (we tried 15) and you'll be able to send replies with the same rich message builder as broadcasts.
These tools create some rather interesting options. For example, assemble a series of keywords that indicate a person is unhappy with your company and send them a satisfaction survey. If you set up a keyword auto reply and an away message the keyword based auto-reply will always prevail. Overall [email protected] has the most powerful keyword based auto-reply system that we have seen.
Is That Everything You Can Do With [email protected] for your Business?
We've covered all the messaging features of [email protected] except for posting to the Line News Feed. If you're familiar with posting to Facebook, Instagram or WeChat this will be a familiar process. Something you might want to try is giving out coupons to your [email protected] customers.