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LINE marketing in Japan

Ultimate Guide to LINE Marketing in Japan

LINE, one of the most popular messaging apps originated in Japan. LINE was launched in 2011 and it offers a wide range of features rather than basic messaging. We can make free voice and video calls internationally, use a variety of cute stickers and emojis, and even digital payments with LINE Pay. As of 2024, LINE has over 224 million monthly active users worldwide. In terms of market share, LINE has to compete with other similar applications like WhatsApp and WeChat.

Why is LINE Marketing in Japan Important?

While competitors like WhatsApp and WeChat vie for global dominance, LINE marketing in Japan remains superior for several compelling reasons:

  • Huge User’s Base: With access to LINE’s large user base of over 224 million monthly active users, you can connect with a broad audience, expanding your reach and potential customer base.
  • Engaging Features: LINE marketing in Japan goes beyond basic messaging. Take advantage of interactive features like chatbots, cute stickers, and multimedia messaging to boost the personalized and memorable experiences for your customers.
  • Demographic Diversity: LINE’s user base in Japan is diverse, encompassing various age groups and demographics. While it initially gained popularity among younger users, it has since expanded to include older demographics as well. This is especially helpful for scaling your business through LINE marketing in Japan.
  • Seamless Integration: LINE offers seamless integration with other services and platforms, including e-commerce, payment, and delivery services.

Overall, LINE’s diverse user demographics and high market penetration rate make it an attractive platform for businesses targeting the Japanese market. LINE marketing in Japan offers extensive reach, coupled with various features tailored for businesses, positions it as a vital marketing tool for companies looking to engage with Japanese consumers effectively.

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How to Set Up and Utilize LINE Marketing in Japan

To start LINE marketing in Japan, first of all you, have to create an official LINE account. LINE Official Account is a service where companies and stores create accounts on LINE and send information to users that add them as friends.

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a LINE official account 

  1. Visit the LINE Official Account website: Go to the LINE Official Account website (https://www.linebiz.com/). Click on the “Create Account” or “Start Now” button to begin the process.
  2. Select Account Type: Choose the type of account you want to create. LINE offers several options, including individual, business, and media accounts. For business purposes, select the “Business” option.
  3. Fill in Account Details: Provide necessary information such as your business name, category, description, and contact details. Upload a profile picture and cover photo that represents your business effectively.
  4. Verify Your Account: Depending on your location and account type, you may need to undergo a verification process to confirm your identity and business details. Follow the instructions provided to complete the verification.
  5. Agree to Terms and Conditions: Review LINE’s terms and conditions for Official Accounts. Once you agree, proceed to the next step.
  6. Customize Your Account: Explore the customization options available for your Official Account. Set up automated responses, create welcome messages, and customize the appearance of your account to align with your branding.
  7. Start Interacting: Once your account is set up, start interacting with your audience. Encourage users to follow your account, engage with your content, and reach out to you for inquiries or support. As time goes by, you can continue to explore other features and maximize LINE marketing in Japan!

Key Features for LINE Marketing in Japan

LINE Timeline: Share promotions, information, and updates with your followers by using the LINE Timeline tool. Post engaging and interactive content on a regular basis, such as surveys, quizzes, and behind-the-scenes photos of your company.

Line Shopping: If you are a vendor, you should create a LINE Shopping account so that you can display your goods and services inside the LINE app. Using the platform, create product listings, manage promotions, and easily enable purchases.

LINE Pay: If you can add LINE Pay as a payment option, most of Japanese buyers will be happy to shop at your website or shop as it will be very convenient to pay for them.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for LINE marketing in Japan

A LINE CRM is the integration between a LINE Messaging API and a CRM. Businesses aim to integrate popular messaging channels like LINE with their CRM for efficient communication management in LINE marketing in Japan.

However, most CRMs do not have native LINE integration and have to rely on third-party integrations. This is because they were originally built with email as the main communication channel in mind.

Businesses have two choices for using LINE marketing in Japan: either the LINE Official Account Manager or the LINE Official Account Messaging API.

  • LINE Official Account Manager: It is designed for businesses receiving low to mid volumes of messages. This option includes basic features such as marking chat statuses as a follow-up or Resolved, adding tags and comments, and sending auto-replies and broadcasts.
  • LINE Official Account Messaging API: It is recommended for Mid to High levels of businesses. To send and receive LINE messages, you’ll need to connect them to customer conversation management software like a CRM. 

These integrations unlock features like:

  • Automated Chatbots: Provide 24/7 customer support and answer frequently asked questions, freeing up your team’s time for more complex inquiries.
  • Targeted Communication: Personalize your message by segmenting your audience based on demographics and interests, ensuring your content resonates with specific customer segments.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Gain valuable customer behavior data through LINE analytics. Use these insights to refine your marketing strategies, optimize campaigns, and measure your return on investment (ROI).

Note that what you can do with the API depends heavily on the software you choose to connect it to. To choose the best integration, you need to know the types of LINE integration that CRMs support.

If you want to connect your LINE account with CRM systems or other marketing tools, you have to follow these steps. 

  1. Check for Built-in Integrations: Explore first that your CRM or marketing tools offer built-in integrations. 
  2. LINE Messaging API Integrations: If your selected CRM system or marketing tools don’t have built-in options, you can build customized integrations by using LINE’s API integration 
  3. Popular CRM Integrations with LINE: Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM are some examples of CRM platforms that can potentially integrate with LINE.

How to develop the right content for LINE Marketing in Japan

content for line marketing in Japan

If you have already created a LINE Business Account, you have to think first about what kinds of content you will use to communicate with your current and future customers as you pursue LINE marketing in Japan. It’s essential to understand the platform’s unique features and user preferences. Some types of content that are particularly effective on LINE marketing in Japan:

  • Stickers: LINE is also famous for its cute stickers function which can be used in chats. So, creating custom stickers with your brand’s theme and personality can help your brand connect with the audience
  • Video Content: Video content tends to perform well on LINE, as it’s visually engaging and can convey information quickly and effectively. Consider creating short videos to showcase your products or services, share behind-the-scenes of your business, or provide helpful tips and tutorials. (Example: if you’re selling kitchen gadgets, creating tutorial videos can help your audience understand your brand more) 
  • Interactive Content: Interactive content such as polls, quizzes, and surveys can encourage user engagement and participation. Use LINE’s features to create interactive contents that encourage users to interact with your brand and share their opinions.
  • Exclusive Offers and Promotions: Offer exclusive deals, discounts, and promotions to your LINE followers to incentivize them to engage with your content and make purchases. Use LINE’s messaging capabilities to send personalized offers directly to individual users or target specific audience segments.

Check out our article on Selling Online in Japan to learn more about how to navigate the e-commerce network!

Optimize your engagement techniques on LINE Marketing in Japan

To maximize engagement with users through LINE marketing in Japan, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Personalized Communication: carefully work on your messages and content to the interests and preferences of your audience. Use data analytics and user insights to segment your audience and deliver personalized content that resonates with each group. To maintain professionalism and cultural respect, we have a podcast episode all about Understanding Business Culture in Japan for you!
  • Use of AI/Chatbots: Use AI-powered chatbots to automate customer service, provide instant responses to common inquiries, and guide users through the sales process. Chatbots can help streamline communication and enhance the overall user experience on LINE.
  • Timely Responses: Be responsive to user inquiries and messages to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. Providing timely responses to user queries and addressing any issues or concerns promptly.

Building and Managing a Community through LINE marketing in Japan

Create Engaging Contents: Post regularly and create content that can cause discussion among community members to increase effectiveness of LINE marketing in Japan.

Encourage User Participation: Encourage active participation from community members by asking questions and feedback, and organizing contests or events. Create a welcoming and inclusive environment where members feel comfortable expressing themselves.

User-Generated Content (UGC): Run contests or promotions that encourage users to create and share their own content. This fosters a sense of community ownership and boosts brand loyalty.

You can effectively improve the potential of LINE marketing in Japan by consistently providing valuable content, encouraging transparent communication, and creating a friendly atmosphere. This transformation can turn your LINE community into a valuable resource that promotes brand loyalty and boosts business expansion in Japan.

Advertising and Promoting Your Business with LINE marketing in Japan

LINE Advertising Options

LINE marketing in Japan offers several advertising functions to help businesses promote their products and services to a targeted audience. These functions include:

  • LINE Ads: LINE Ads allow businesses to display advertisements within the LINE app, including  LINE Timeline, LINE News, and LINE Today sections. Ads can be targeted based on user demographics, interests, and behavior.
  • LINE Official Account Ads: Businesses with LINE Official Accounts can promote their accounts and content through LINE Official Account Ads. 
  • LINE Shopping Ads: For businesses selling products or services on LINE Shopping, LINE offers advertising functions to promote listings and attract customers. These ads can appear in search results, category pages, and other relevant sections of the LINE Shopping platform.
  • LINE Points Ads: LINE Points Ads allow businesses to offer LINE Points as incentives for users to engage with their ads, such as downloading an app or making a purchase.
  • LINE Video Ads: LINE Video Ads enable businesses to deliver video advertisements to users within the LINE app.

Increasing Visibility and Follower Count through LINE marketing in Japan

Attracting new customers is good but remember if you’re a band that thinks to grow more and more, focusing only on increasing followers isn’t enough. We’ve to try our best to maintain the old customers. To attract and retain followers on LINE, businesses can implement various strategies, including:

  • Exclusive Offers: Offer coupons and exclusive discounts to the followers of your LINE account.
  • Remember that there is no one who doesn’t like exclusive offers.
  • Cross-Promotions: Collaborate with other businesses or influencers to cross-promote each other’s LINE Official Accounts. This can help expand your reach and attract followers who are interested in related products or services.
  • Promotional Campaigns: Run promotional campaigns or contests exclusively for LINE followers. Encourage users to participate by offering prizes or rewards for participation, such as discounts, free products, or exclusive experiences.

Seasonal and Event-Based LINE marketing in Japan

Seasonal events are culturally significant in Japan, offering a unique opportunity for emotional connections with local consumers. By participating in traditional events with an effective marketing plan, locals will have more trust in your brand and your products. Japan has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each season has different traditional events and special days so you have to make sure that you understand the Japanese calendar and culture. 

Here are some special events and days of Japan you shouldn’t miss, according to Medusa Japan:

Cherry Blossom Season (Sakura) 

It’s the time when the sakura starts to bloom beautifully. Most locals love to sightsee the beauty of flowers while collecting and eating special sakura editions of brands. In Japan, even famous brands like Starbucks advertise their sakura drinks, and many others launch sakura editions of their products. So, during this season, you can create creative LINE marketing in Japan campaigns related to Sakura to engage with consumers’ hearts.

Summer Festivals (Matsuri)

The festival period is full of colors and fireworks. Businesses can create marketing campaigns around these events, offering products and services that enhance the festival experience, from yukata (summer kimonos) to festival food.

New Year (Oshogatsu)

Marketing during this time involves offering traditional “osechi” (New Year’s food), “kadomatsu” (decorative bamboo arrangements), and “nengajo” (New Year’s cards). In this way, you can show that you care about your clients and customers. 

Valentine’s Day and White Day

Valentine’s Day is on February 14th, but in Japanese culture, it’s the day when girls give presents or chocolates to boys. In return, on March 14th (one month after Valentine’s Day), boys who received chocolates on February 14th return gifts to the girls. Businesses produce related special edition products before the actual days, and restaurants offer discounts for couples.

Oseibo and Ochugen

Oseibo and Ochugen are key gifting seasons in Japan, offering prime marketing opportunities. Held in mid-July and December, respectively, these traditions involve exchanging gifts to express gratitude and strengthen social connections. Businesses can capitalize on these periods with targeted promotions and curated gift collections, enhancing sales and customer engagement through themes of appreciation and community.

Top 5 agencies for LINE marketing in Japan

CoDigital: CoDigital, inc provides Full LINE Ads Service from strategy, various set-up, and reporting. They assist businesses in formulating their account structure and configuring the necessary settings for ad delivery. They create and send businesses a report on a weekly and monthly basis. They also support the creation of automated reports utilizing the LINE Ads API and spreadsheet.

Hakuhodo Inc.: Hakuho is another major player in the Japanese Advertising Agency. They provide LINE marketing strategies, LINE official account creation and management, creative campaigns, and performance analysis to help businesses achieve their business goal on the LINE platform. 

Web Marketing Laboratory: This is one of the well-known marketing agencies in Japan, authorized agents of Yahoo and Google. They create homepages and LPs that lead to final conversion without missing out on users attracted through advertising. They offer various kinds of marketing services on platforms like LINE, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 

EDAMEME Japan: They offer search engine marketing from 360-degree keyword research and pay-per-click advertisement management and also offer social media marketing to promote  businesses on the most used social media platforms in Japan like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LINE + many more advertising services

Cyber Agent Agency: Cyber Agent Agency is a well-known advertising service agency in Japan. CyberAgent received five stars as the highest-ranking agency for the 5th consecutive term as a Criteo Certified Partner and also recognized as “Gold Sales Partner” in the “LINE Biz Account” section of “LINE Biz-Solutions Partner Program.

To maximize your LINE marketing in Japan to even greater heights, consider partnering with a LINE marketing expert. Our company, Scaling Your Company, can help you find affordable marketing experts in Japan, ensuring you get the best value to achieve long-term success in the Japanese market.

Case Studies for Successful Line Marketing in Japan

L’Occitane

L’Occitane is a Japanese cosmetic brand manufacturing in Japan.  L’Occitane Japan offers a wide range of professional skin care, body care and fragrance products made from carefully selected botanicals. In addition to user data obtained through digital initiatives, the company has been strengthening its CRM marketing by utilizing data collected from more than 100 stores nationwide as well as from its own ecommerce sites.

In October 2013, the company launched its LINE Official Account. Since then, they have built a strong environment that enables great reach to all customers – from potential customers to loyal customers. Through the use of the Messaging API, it is possible to distribute messages in segments with the introduction of digital membership cards. Sharing the know-how, such as the use of scripts and communication methods via the LINE app, has allowed L’Occitane to understand their customers’ needs, likes and interests.

With the shift from paper to digital membership cards, more accurate data can be obtained from the user. This has allowed for the company to improve their understanding of each user’s individual needs and interests. Furthermore, the help of LINE Ads has increased the digital membership sign-up rate by 75%, and in some stores 99% of customers register.

L’Occitane’s official LINE Account Strategy 

L’Occitane made a good system that can naturally make customers sign up for digital membership cards and even added a gift application function that allows users to get free product samples and special gifts when the customers sign up through their official LINE account. This strategy could make people believe that brand and could build a good reputation.

Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Ltd.

Founded in 1902, Dai-ichi Life is a major life insurance company with a history of over 120 years. They started their official LINE account in 2022 and by February 2024 their LINE friends (followers) increased to over 5 million. After they have held two stamp campaigns, they have amassed over 5 million friends, and their target reach among people in their 20s and 30s has increased 20 times. 

Adastria Co., Ltd.

Adastria has approximately 1,500 physical stores, They started using LINE official accounts in 2023. After introducing the LINE mini app for digital membership cards, the number of friends on LINE official accounts from stores has increased rapidly, and at the same time, the number of new dot Estée registered users continues to increase through LINE communication.

Conclusion

online shopping

As you can see, LINE marketing in Japan is a great opportunity for B2C brands to reach Japanese consumers. Those case studies showed various types of businesses’ use of LINE Official Account and LINE Ads and how they increased online sales during the COVID-19 period. If you’re a B2B company, LINE may still be a great platform, but we have an article all about B2B marketing in Japan to guide you!

Setting up a LINE Official Account and using its features, such as LINE Timeline, Line Shopping, and LINE Pay, can help businesses establish a strong presence and meaningful interactions with their audience. Additionally, integrating LINE with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can provide valuable insights for targeted marketing campaigns.

As we can see from successful case studies of brands like L’Occitane, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, and Adastria, the effectiveness of the right strategies for LINE marketing in Japan can change and level up not only the company’s sales but also the brand awareness. 

In conclusion, LINE marketing in Japan is the top and most effective social media means to advertise in Japan providing businesses with a platform for reaching and engaging with consumers. With its unique and large user base, diverse features, and various services, LINE marketing in Japan offers opportunities for businesses to expand their reach, improve customer experiences, and drive sales.

Did you like this article? We have another one all about E-Commerce in Japan. Check it out now!

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