Digital marketing in China may seem like a foreign and rather complex area to tackle.
But if you are looking to step foot into the China market or boost your growth, there is no way around digital.
There are 772 million Internet users in China. Over 60 percent of China’s online shoppers research brands and products before they make their final decision.
Here is a step-by-step guide from digital marketing company Sinorbis, to ensure your business is ready to take on the China digital market:
1. Establish your business goals for your China digital strategy
This may sound obvious, but before you start setting up your digital presence in China, you need to get clarity on what you are trying to achieve with it and how much budget you can allocate toward it.
Your goals may look different depending on whether you already do sell through a distributor in China and want to support their efforts by increasing awareness for your brand or if you are completely new to this market. So, spend some time getting clarity on what you’re trying to achieve in your first year or two.
2. Define your target market
The next step is to define your target audience. You should have a clear understanding of the problem that your product or service will solve, and then from there you can identify the target market that will most benefit from it.
It may also be worthwhile to look at your competitors. You may be able to find a niche market that your competitors have overlooked.
For example, you may want to decide to target your exports to a second tier city rather than a first tier city. While first tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai provide lucrative opportunities for companies to sell to China, the market is very competitive and saturated with foreign products, meaning that it will require a much bigger budget to get cut through.
The population of many second tier cities have considerable demand for foreign goods and services in your key sector and a high level of customer sophistication.
Another example is deciding to target Chinese millennial consumers rather than baby boomers. While both generations are huge mobile users and tech-savvy, millennials have a greater tendency to shop online. They are also much more brand conscious and have a stronger emotional connection with brands. Depending on your business, you may find that this younger generation is more likely to drive future growth for the type of products that you export.
3. Build a Chinese website
Once you have established a business goal and defined your target market, you will need a Chinese website. While a website is generally not the first point of contact that Chinese consumers have with your brand, it provides you the opportunity to showcase much deeper information than any other digital channel.
One of the biggest mistakes that many foreign businesses make is that they design a Chinese website for their Western audience. For example, they simply use Google Translate for their website content or they add links to re-direct back to other Western websites or social media. This is a huge mistake. China has a very unique digital landscape – there is no Google, no Facebook, no Twitter etc. This means that you should always design a ‘fully Chinese’ website that is well adapted to the digital landscape.
A great way to get started is to leverage local expertise. They will ensure that your website is mobile responsive, user friendly for a Chinese audience and is fast-loading in China.
4. Increase your visibility on Baidu
Now that you have built a Chinese website, it is important that your website is visible and can be easily found by your target audience. Baidu is the answer.
Baidu is China’s biggest and most popular search engine, with 80% of the internet search market in China. Its dominance in the domestic market means that if you want to reach China, you need to use Baidu.
Some tips on how you can increase your search ranking on Baidu is to have a complete Chinese website (written in Chinese, any hyperlinks to link back to Chinese websites etc.) and share original, good quality content on a regular basis.
5. Be active on social media
China’s social media is vastly different to the Western world. Some of the biggest social media platforms in China are WeChat and Weibo. These simply can’t be ignored.
WeChat has over 1 billion monthly active users. 83% of all smartphone users in China use WeChat. With this huge market saturation, it is important that you are active on local social media platforms. This will increase your brand’s visibility and earn you trust – which will ultimately increase your chance of conversion.
The easiest way to get started is to set up a WeChat official account. This will allow you to start sharing quality, useful information to your followers. You can build up your Chinese customer relationship in this way.
Digital Marketing Success in China
Achieving digital marketing success in China is not a two-week journey. Think the big picture. By following through the steps one at a time and working towards building a stronger presence in China, you will see your business flourish in no time.
Sinorbis, a company offering innovative digital marketing solutions for Western organisations doing business in China. www.sinorbis.com