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
China is the largest market
KPI and Results focused. We are the most visible Marketing Agency for China. Not because of huge spending but because of our SMART Strategies. Let us help you with: E-Commerce, Search Engine Optimization, Advertising, Weibo, WeChat, WeChat Store & PR.
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 – MASTER 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 users (with 788 million using smartphones). They have a particular approach to social media, they give 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 aspect 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
3 – BANK ON 3RD AND 4TH CITIES
Of course, if you want to implement your brand in China you should consider implementing it in first and second tiers cities, however, third and fourth-tier cities have
4 – WORK ON BAIDU 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
Baidu’s SEO is radically different than Google SEO. Baidu has nearly 73% of the market share, you definitely should focus on how to be highly ranked on SERPs. So here are a 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 keywords 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 keywords 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
6- IN CHINA THINK MOBILE
As said at the beginning of the article, 788 internet users are smartphone users, therefore 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 popularized 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 let’s 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 opportunities and may raise 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 the 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 storytelling, 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 tickets, book a 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 to 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 it possible to reach Chinese users. Among these features: publish on Wechat Moments (which is basically like the Facebook feed), use Wechat ads, the use 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 a challenging market like China, a good reputation is essential, Chinese users are very attentive to 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 bad 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
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. Most of the types 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 actions: 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 everyday 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 apps are adding video/ live streaming features to their platform (like Taobao added the life for girls to show what 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 videos are very popular among KOLs because they can showcase some of their talents (especially dancers, singers, comedians), but it is also a good feature that allows KOL to promote the brand’s product/services.
12 – THINK ECOSYSTEM IN CHINA: 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 built around these three groups. Alibaba and Tencent have their own ecosystem with their star APP. Baidu has its own branch covering many different digital fields. 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 in your favor. Average Chinese netizens will use at least one of the three ecosystems (if not more). Also, Tencent and Alibaba are offering mobile payment services which you will need to leverage because it’s part of the Chinese user’s 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: MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING
O2O is basically a digital marketing strategy to push users to go into physical shops through incentives on 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 afterward 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 associates 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 customer service. Make yourself available to answer your user’s needs, even if it can be sometimes annoying. However, these kinds of details may be what makes the difference with the competitors, customer service not only increase satisfaction but 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.
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Really useful Quote 😉
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.
Digital is the future of the communication, future of retail, future of entertainement, future of date , future of finance in China…
60% of the luxury fashion brands we interviewed have an official WeChat account, compared to only 36% in 2018. Like Facebook, WeChat allows businesses to create their online stores. The Chinese application has more than a billion users, but these people are not exploitable enough as customers. Unlike Alibaba, WeChat is not a market and does not have a central search engine that lists all the merchants selling on its platform.
A WeChat storefront is therefore more comparable to an e-commerce site; he’s online, but he needs a lot of marketing before consumers come across him. People may discover Wechat blinds by scanning a QR code at a physical point of sale. Loyalty Despite the difficulties encountered in generating traffic, WeChat showcases are very attractive for a wide range of loyalty.
Many of these service-oriented features are enhanced by so-called “mini-programs,” which are essentially simplified versions of native applications that run in an application such as WeChat. As a report (Gartner L2) indicates, the increase in the adoption of WeChat stores is linked to the increased use of mini-programs by luxury brands. In total, 69% of the luxury brands in the sample have at least one mini program. The adoption rate among fashion-oriented luxury brands increased from 40% in 2018 to 70% in 2019, while the watch and jewelry category increased from 36% to 62% over the same period.
great article. Congrats.
lot this article, Digital is the future of China for sure
China’s remarkable feat is impressive. The country’s remarkable achievements are evident according to previous research, including the China AI Development Report 2018, which Li spearheaded. China’s share of AI research papers has risen from 4.26% (1.086) in 1997, to 27.68% (37.343) in 2017, surpassing all other countries, even the U.S., which it still holds. China has filed more AI patents than any other nation. The number of Chinese AI companies has reached 1,189 as of March 2019. This is second only to the U.S. which has more that 2,000 active AI businesses. These Chinese firms are more focused on speech (e.g. speech recognition, speech synthesizer) and vision (e.g. image recognition, video recognition) then their counterparts overseas.
Super good article.
China is a super advanced country for digital Marketing.
The strategy of Chinese influence: a sprawling network that now wants to impose itself on the rest of the world
This report indicates, for example, that 2 million Chinese citizens would be paid full-time to relay Beijing’s propaganda and 20 million would act part-time, on demand, in particular to participate in astroturfing actions.
The exercise consists of occupying the networks and flooding them with pro-Beijing messages while giving the illusion of spontaneous support or authentic popular denunciation to denounce speeches hostile to the regime.
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How to Enter the Chinese Market in the Year of Tiger through Digital Marketing
A megalith of a market with business opportunities as diverse as the mind can imagine and a population that is only growing in size.