Top 15 Digital Marketing Strategies in China (Done by Experts)

Just the best “report” 2019 that you can find on google about Digital Marketing in China.

Why is having a good digital Marketing strategy in China essential ?

China is the largest market of the world, and it has one of the biggest web communities. In order to leverage all the opportunities it has to offer, companies must adapt their digital strategy to the Chinese Market characteristics. Indeed, most of the platforms available in Europe or United States are forbidden in China (because of the Great Firewall), thus Chinese web users have access to a Chinese substitute which means that they created their own digital ecosystem with their own rules that companies have to follow.

1 – UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY YOUR TARGET

It is essential to do your research before getting into the process of implementing your brand in China. Of course, there will always be some incertitude because it is impossible to calculate everything and to forecast everything that could happen. However, you will need to study what are the expectations of your target, analyze what are their need and how you can give a solution to these need while adapting your already existing solutions to the specificities of Chinese users.

You have to understand your Final CLient or work with an agency that understand them for you.

2 – MASTERIZE CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA

Chinese people are the most connected web users of the world, in 2018 Chinese internet users reached the threshold of 800 million of users (with 788 million using smartphones). They have a particular approach to social media, they give a huge importance to other users feedback, they’re fond of pretty new ways of communicating (live streaming in particular). They swear only by WeChat which is the main app for managing every aspects of their daily lives (we will go more in depth on this subject on point 8!). The Chinese social network landscape is very different and complex, if companies want to be successful they must get the functionalities that these platform have to offer to get the most out of it.

3 – BANK ON 3RD AND 4TH CITIES  

Of course if you want to implement your brand in China you should consider implementing it on first and second tiers cities, however, third and fourth tiers cities have a huge potential! In fact, lower tiers cities population are late users of the internet, compared to first tiers cities they just started discovering the benefits of e-commerce and online shopping. In the years to come, these lower tiers cities will develop and will be the new driving force of the Chinese market.

4 – WORK ON YOUR SEO

BAIDU is not DEAD (not yet)

As you probably already know, Baidu is not Google, it is very important to know the differences between the two so you can adapt your strategy to the Chinese search engine (get to know Baidu better on our article). For your website you need excellent content but this is useless if you don’t have an optimized SEO strategy. 

Baidu’s SEO is radically different than Google SEO. Baidu has nearly 73% of market share, you definitely should focus on how to be highly ranked on SERPs. So here are few tips to start your SEO adventure in China. 

First and foremost, your website must be in simplified Chinese, indeed, Baidu is struggling to read foreign languages. If you can, make sure to host your website in China, the loading of pages and accessibility will be improved and the probability to be better ranked is higher! Focus on your selection of keywords (some precisions about this on the next point!). Be careful on your content, respect China ’s restriction on articles / videos / photos themes, Baidu is watching and will impact your position in the ranking if your content isn’t respecting the law. You need to bring fresh content frequently to have a better ranking. Finally try to have quality and quantity of backlinks !

5 – WITH BAIDU : GO LONGTAIL KEYWORDS! 

This strategy is closely linked to the previous one. But this point is particularly important in the crowded market that China is. Basic SEO strategy would be to choose basic keyword based on your business (you work in the fashion industry and you choose the word « fashion », « clothes » ,… you get the point). Chances are that you are not the only one on the market that operates in this field. The new age of marketing will probably recommend « long tail keyword », at the opposite of the concept of keyword, long tail keywords are in fact sentences that you can use as keyword for your SEO strategy, for example you work in the house furniture field, instead of using « furniture » and « traditional » you probably want to use « traditional French renaissance table ». 

This type of keyword will bring very little traffic to your website but will definitely bring quality traffic. Another advantage to go long tail is that these keywords are way less competitive than the small one (also cheaper if you go for Baidu ads!). 

6- THINK MOBILE

As said in the beginning of the article, 788 of internet users are smartphone users, therefor companies should make sure that their content is readable from a smartphone.

Also M-Commerce is more and more appreciated by users, tech companies are developing new ways of purchasing for their users (like WeChat mini programs which allow users to purchase products from their favorite brand directly from WeChat without having to download a native app), China is a pioneer on digitalization, they implemented the QR codes and now they have largely popularize phone payment (with Alipay and Wechat). Chinese users are early adopters, in 2018 nearly 70% of internet users were using a mobile payment method for nearly 15% in the US and lets not talk about Europe. Creating an optimized website for it to be seen on phones depending on the method you use might be costly however leveraging this opportunity can bring various opportunity and may rise your revenue! Leverage this opportunity! The main example of this enthusiasm for online shopping is the 11/11 event (also known as single’s day) in a day the e-commerce platform generated 9 billion US dollars and 40% of the purchases were made from a mobile shop. 

7 – MAKE YOUR CONTENT UNIQUE AND DIVERSE

Your content is very important when you will communicate with your users, it needs to be special. To be different from the competition to stand out. Because they meet hundreds of content on their social networks app, Chinese netizens literally don’t have the time to read/ watch/ listen to content they don’t like at first sight. This might sometimes be complex, your content needs to be attractive, useful and informative and creative. Also your content must convey the values of your brand because that’s the purpose right? Work on your story telling, what your brand is representing. Your content must have this special something. 

8 – WECHAT WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND

WeChat or « Weixin » (micro message in Chinese) was firstly introduced on the Chinese market as an app offering messaging (text and voice!) and calling services. But nowadays it has developed to be the most used app in China. It created its own ecosystem, Chinese users can basically do anything with Wechat : text, call, video call, surf on the internet, grocery shopping, buy clothes, book flight and train ticket, book an hotel, order food, and I am not done listing all the features! Companies must leverage to gain visibility, have a good reputation, communicate with their users and so on. WeChat is essential to a good digital strategy in China (here’s an article that goes more in depth on the subject : How leverage WeChat).

You need to create a corporate account and to choose between subscription and service account (advantages and drawbacks are listed in the article above) and then you will be able to put in place your strategy. You will have access to the specific features of WeChat that will make possible to reach Chinese users. Among these features: publish on Wechat Moments (which is basically like the facebook feed), use Wechat ads, the use of QR codes to share on your other social network to gain followers and visibility, also you can create a store (through WeChat html or via the mini-programs), etc.

9 – CHALLENGE OF BRANDS : THE E-REPUTATION

In challenging market like China, a good reputation is essential, Chinese users are very attentive on the image of the brand they use mostly due to the concept of « mianzi » which is the face, it is a very deep concept in the Chinese culture but in a word it is the reputation of a person. So the whole concept of reputation is very important to Chinese people. And because users value what their peers, friends, colleagues think about a product or a brand, it might be very difficult for a brand to penetrate the Chinese market with a bas reputation. You must manage your e-reputation if you want to succeed. 

To do so, you need to create relevant and creative content around the spirit and the values of your brand. Share it on different social network like Weibo, WeChat, be creative and use different platforms to target specific users. Engage them into writing comments, gather feedback to improve your products and service. And finally, use O2O strategy to meet your customers and make them live a real physical experience, make them feel special through the invitation to a memorable event that they will want to share on their social network account which will make your brand look good and positive. (We can help you with your e-reputation, contact us!)

10 – KOL : WHAT PEOPLE TOLD ABOUT YOUR BRAND ?

For your strategy on Chinese Social Media you will need to include KOLs. What are they ? KOLs are influent personalities on the digital ecosystem, they grow a community that will follow every one of their steps and moves. They most of the type have one particular interest (makeup, sport, comedy, music, dance etc) or they can be what we called « lifestyle » influencers who are sharing their daily lives even though they don’t have any specific interest.

Their community usually identifies with them so they are very loyal and influential. That is the main reason why KOLs are so important, they are authentic, and they have a special link with their followers. You can work with KOL to raise awareness around your brand through different action : sponsor their post, make them review your products, make them create something creative around your product, sponsor a giveaway for their followers etc.

11 – LEVERAGE VIDEO MARKETING

If Video services are still used for specific content (live for games, events, …) in the Western countries, in China these apps are booming and used for every day life content. There are two types of videos in particular : short videos and live streaming. The main actor on the Chinese market is Douyin (also known as Tiktok) but nowadays more and more Chinese app are adding the video/ live streaming features to their platform (like Taobao added the live for girls to show wha they bought and their opinions on the products). These apps are growing, and creating opportunities for brands to promote their products through their platform. 

These video are very popular among KOLs, because they can showcase some of their talents (especially dancers, singer, comedian), but it is also a good feature that allow KOL to promote the brands product/services.

12 – THINK ECOSYSTEM IN CHINA: bAT 

What’s BAT ?

BAT is the digital behemoth trio of China : Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. These three digital giants are essential for the companies to create their digital strategy. Even further, the strategy should be build around these three group. Alibaba and Tencent have their own ecosystem with their star APP. Baidu has its own branch covering many different digital field. These three companies cover most of the digital market and because of their monopoly it makes it difficult for other companies/ APP to develop their business on the Chinese market. And this is the reason why you should work with these three in order to stack all the odds on your favor. An average Chinese netizens will use at least one of the three ecosystem (if not more). Also Tencent and Alibaba are offering mobile payment service which you will need to leverage because it’s part of the Chinese users lives.

So if you want to get the most of the three companies you should implement your business on each one of them and manage it independently (because the trio is not working together they will not mention the content a competitor displays).

13 – O2O : MULTICHANNEL MARKETING

O2O is basically a digital marketing strategy to push users to go into physical shops through incentives on the digital platforms. In China this process is already very popular, Chinese users enjoy discovering products online, choosing the one they like, looking at the features and afterwards going to the offline shop to experience the physical product. Some brands are even linking the whole process together. Hermès for example is giving a very personalized O2O service by texting their client through the Wechat app, they can discuss products and then they plan an appointment and they go into the flagship. Once there, sales associate already have all the products prepared to optimize the selling process and enhance customer satisfaction.

14 – CUSTOMER SERVICES :THE CENTER OF STRATEGY

If you want to improve your reputation and increase customer satisfaction, you should establish a customer service. Make yourself available to answer to your users need, even if it can be sometimes annoying. However these kind of details may what makes the difference with the competitors, customer service not only increase satisfaction but it might create a word of mouth dynamic in your favor

15 – MAKE USERS MORE ENGAGED

Chinese users are very popular and sought by many brands, it is important to create engagement with them to remember the brand, but engagement can also serve as a support for interactions with users and customer service. Tool apps like Wechat can help create engagement through its primary service: the messaging service. This service not only allows you to interact with the customer but also to personalize the exchange with the user to improve customer satisfaction.

YOU HAVE TO READ THIS…

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4 thoughts on “Top 15 Digital Marketing Strategies in China (Done by Experts)”

  1. The Middle Kingdom fascinates Swiss companies: continuous economic growth, booming middle class, buoyant market, innumerable opportunities. Still, the entry into the Chinese market must be skilfully driven because you have to do things differently in China. This is especially true for the sale of goods and services over the Internet to business customers. Here are three tips from Daniel Bont, China specialist at Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE).

    Swiss SMEs mainly export watches, precision instruments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and machine tools in China. In these sectors, it is very useful and even essential to cooperate with a trusted partner in China. But how to find the right interlocutors in B2B? One of the ways is digital marketing. But beware, digital marketing works differently in China: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google are not accessible in China. The Chinese have developed their own digital tools: WeChat and Baidu, platforms that Swiss exporters must know.

    Let’s focus on Baidu first. The company, founded in 2000, has developed a search engine that holds the largest share of the Chinese market. This tool was designed in China for the Chinese market, it is classified as such in the ranking of websites.

     

    2. Baidu requires skill
    In the search results, Baidu favors, on the one hand, the Internet pages of the .cn top-level domain, and, on the other hand, the websites hosted in China. For Swiss SMEs, this means that they have to configure their website to optimize it for the search engine. In addition to these technical considerations, companies must ensure that all site content is entered in simplified Chinese characters. And for the site to be successful on Baidu, the content must be carefully selected. The government has indeed established a blacklist of words and if these banned words appear on a website, the site simply no longer appears on Baidu.

    Optimization for the search engine is therefore crucial, but so is marketing. Baidu offers its own pay-per-click service. Its features let you increase the visibility of your ads and build brand awareness among your audience. And it’s worth it because China, with its population of 1.3 billion and its 700 million Internet users, has enormous potential.

     

    3. WeChat: a welcome support
    WeChat is also an application that counts a lot in China. Appeared in 2011, the software has become a super-app. It is a platform that brings together over 700 million users worldwide and is about to change the business world in China. WeChat offers businesses three important functions: e-commerce, brand communication and customer service. In the B2B sector, brand communication and customer service via WeChat are particularly attractive for Swiss companies: they can strengthen their brand, take advantage of sales support measures, generate leads and track customer relationships through after sales services. Businesses need to determine how to create interfaces between WeChat and their customer relationship management system to integrate customer experience and customer information.

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