How to Enter the Chinese Market though Digital Marketing

As the world becomes more and more digital, businesses are finding that they need to adopt a digital marketing strategy to remain competitive. Especially if you're trying to enter the Chinese market.

When developing a strategy for Chinese digital marketing, here are a few things to remember:

  • It is important to understand that the Chinese market is unique and requires a tailor-made approach.
  • While many Western social media platforms are blocked in China, there are several popular Chinese platforms that can be used to reach your target audience.
  • It is essential to work with a reputable digital marketing agency with experience working in the Chinese market.

In this quick guide, we'll discuss some of the key components of a successful digital marketing strategy for China.

In this guide:

How to Do Digital Marketing in China

Developing a digital marketing strategy for China requires a deep understanding of the Chinese market. As mentioned above, the Chinese market is unique and therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be successful. It is important to tailor your digital marketing strategy specifically for the Chinese market.

The best digital marketing strategies you can use to improve your reach to the Chinese market includes:

  1. SEO
  2. Social Media
  3. Influencer Marketing
  4. SEM
  5. Brand Marketing

SEO in China

There are several ways to go about digital marketing in China. However, one of the most effective is search engine optimization (SEO).

Baidu is China's leading search engine and has a market share of over 72%.

While Google is blocked in China, Baidu is the go-to search engine for Chinese internet users. Therefore, it is important to optimize your website for Baidu if you want to reach your target audience in China.

When optimizing your website for Baidu, remember that it works differently than Google's algorithm. This means that the keyword research and optimization techniques you use for Google will not work for Baidu.

Secondly, Baidu puts a heavier emphasis on website content than Google does. This means that your website content needs to be high quality and informative if you want to rank well on Baidu.

Finally, Baidu puts a lot of emphasis on backlinks. This means that you need to focus on link building if you want to improve your SEO on Baidu.

Related Reading: How to do SEO for Baidu: Complete Guide to Baidu SEO

Here are the things you should note when optimizing your site for the Chinese market.

1. Understand how the Chinese market works

To enter the Chinese digital marketing market, you need to understand how the market works. This includes understanding the different popular search engines in China and the different social media platforms.

Since China is a huge country with diverse cultures and trends, you may observe that a certain marketing campaign that was successful in one region may not work as well in another. Compared to the West, a digital marketing strategy can be uniform throughout. Businesses need to be more nimble and understand the trends to succeed in China.

Another key difference is how Chinese users utilize search engines. Most Chinese users access search engines to find all types of information, such as videos, images, product reviews, news, and much more. While search engine users in the West access search engines to find websites that would cater to their needs.

Also, understand that Chinese people are far more trusting of what they find on search engines. Since other global search engines like Bing and Google are inaccessible in the country, the Chinese have grown to trust the results they see on Baidu.

2. Research your keywords

Before you can start optimizing your website for the Chinese market, you need to research which keywords are popular in China. Various tools can do this, including Baidu's keyword research tool.

There are five essential steps you should take to find the right keywords to target:

  • Understand the searcher's intent:  What is the person searching for? Are they looking to buy a product, or are they just looking for information?
  • Find out what keywords are being used: Use keyword research tools like Baidu's Keyword Planner to determine which keywords are being used by Chinese internet users.
  • Analyze the competition: Conducting competitor research would allow you to see what keywords the competitors are targeting and how difficult it would be to rank for them.
  • Brainstorm a seed list of keyword phrases: After conducting competitor research, you should have a good idea of the keywords that you can target. Make a list of these keywords and phrases.
  • Expand your list: Once you have a list of seed keywords, you can use Baidu's keyword research tool to find more related keywords. You can do this by entering a seed keyword into the tool and seeing which other keywords are suggested.
  • Group and prioritize your keywords: You need to group them into different categories once you have a list of keywords. You should also prioritize the keywords based on their importance and difficulty to rank for.

3. Optimize your website content

Once you have your target keywords list, you need to optimize your website content for those keywords. This includes both on-page and off-page optimization.

Content is crucial for Chinese search engines, especially Baidu. Baidu puts a lot of emphasis on website content when it comes to ranking websites. Therefore, you need to ensure that your website content is high quality and informative.

What should content marketers know before they begin?

  • Start by determining your purpose for creating content. Maybe you want to increase sales or traffic to your website by a certain percentage for the month. Define your content's purpose.
  • Use the information you've gathered to identify your target, who they are, what channels they use and when, and their age group, hobbies, preferences, purchasing habits, and so on.
  • Focus on quality and relevance. This entails creating material that connects with your audience, encourages genuine involvement, and generates interest.
  • Develop a content plan which will include when and how often to publish and the kind of material.
  • Consider how the content will be developed. You may want to employ someone or use freelancers.
  • Make good use of social media platforms and services, such as hashtags and QR codes, and incentives like discounts and KOLs for influence. It's also essential to link your social media accounts to your website.
  • Take precautions with design. In certain parts of China, certain colors are considered unlucky.
  • Use a real person rather than automatic translation services for greater accuracy.
  • Make it interesting. Utilize humor and emojis where appropriate.
  • Use analytics to track and modify your strategies if they're effective or not.

4. Build backlinks

Backlinks are also essential for Chinese search engines, especially Baidu. Therefore, you need to focus on link building to improve your SEO in China. There are several ways to build backlinks, such as guest blogging, directory submissions, and social media.

Tips for building backlinks:

  • Find websites relevant to your industry and offer to write a guest blog post for them.
  • Submit your website to industry-related directories.
  • Make sure you have social media accounts on all the major platforms, such as Weibo and WeChat, and actively post content.
  • Reach out to other high authority websites and ask them to link to your website.

5. Monitor your SEO progress

You need to regularly monitor your SEO progress to see if your efforts are paying off. You can do this by tracking your keyword rankings, website traffic, and conversion rate.

If you're not seeing any improvement in your SEO, then you need to make some changes to your strategy. Try different keywords, different content, or different backlinking strategies.

SEO is an ongoing process. Monitor your data and adjust your strategy constantly if you want to see results.

Chinese Social Media Marketing

WeChat is the most popular social media platform in China, with over 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat can be used for various purposes, such as messaging, social networking, e-commerce, and so on.

However, there are also other platforms you should consider, such as Weibo, QQ, and Douyin.

Here are some tips for social media marketing in China:

  • Utilize Weibo and WeChat

Weibo and WeChat are two of China's social media giants. While it is not required to be active on both of these platforms, doing so will help you reach your target audience.

  • Post high-quality content

Posting any old content on social media is not enough. Your content should be high quality, informative, and entertaining.

  • Use hashtags and QR codes

Hashtags and QR codes are a great way to reach more people with your content. Make sure you use them on all of your social media posts.

  • Your social media profiles should be linked to your website

Make sure you link your social media accounts to your website so that people can find you more easily.

  • Use analytics to track your progress

Use analytics to track your social media progress and see what's working and what's not. This will help you make the necessary adjustments to your strategy.

Chinese Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity and trendiness in recent years. And it's not stopping anytime soon. According to recent statistics, over 79% of businesses will increase their social media marketing budget in 2019, including influencer advertising.

In China, a rising middle class that is well-educated and sophisticated is emerging as an increasingly large proportion of the population. 

Purchasing habits are no longer determined exclusively by price; instead, social media heavily influences them. Consumers in China are more inclined to purchase a product if it is mentioned favorably on sites like Xiaohongshu or WeChat.

Here are some tips for influencer marketing in China:

  • Find relevant influencers

The first step is to find relevant influencers who are active on social media and have a large following.

  • Reach out to them

Once you've found some potential influencers, reach out to them and ask if they're interested in working with you.

  • Offer them something of value

To get influencers interested in your pitch, you need to offer them something of value, such as free products, discounts, or exclusive content.

  • Monitor your progress

Use analytics tools to monitor and track your progress and see if your campaign is effective. If not, make some adjustments in your strategy and try again.

Chinese Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of online marketing that promotes websites through paid advertising. Baidu, 360 Search, and Sogou are the top SEM platforms you can test.

Here are some tips for SEM in China:

  • Choose the right platform

Not all SEM platforms are created equal. You need to choose the right one for your business, such as Baidu, 360 Search, or Sogou.

  • Bid on the right keywords

It's not enough to just bid on any old keyword. You need to ensure you're bidding on relevant keywords that will actually bring traffic to your website.

  • Monitor your campaign

Use analytics to track your SEM campaign and see what's working and what's not. This will help you make the necessary adjustments to your strategy.

Brand Marketing

Chinese consumers tend to always go for well-known brands, and they see them as symbols of quality, reliability and social prestige. This is where branding comes to play.

Reliability is a key factor most Chinese consumers consider when making an online purchase. In addition, they are aware of counterfeit and low-quality goods, which encourages them to make better purchasing decisions.

The queuing phenomenon is strong in China. If a venue is bustling, it must be excellent. The longer the line is, the more people are willing to wait. This goes the same with brands. If a brand is popular enough to have long queues, it is worth the wait, and Chinese consumers will be motivated to pay a premium.

There are several different ways you can market your brand in China, such as online marketing, offline marketing, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Here are some tips for brand marketing in China:

  • Use a mix of online and offline marketing

Do not rely on one or the other. Use a mix of both online and offline marketing to reach your target audience.

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

A large majority of Chinese consumers use their smartphones to go online, so your website must be mobile-friendly.

  • Pay attention to detail

Every detail counts when it comes to branding. From your logo to your packaging to how you answer customer questions, make sure everything is on-brand.

  • You need an online reputation management strategy

It's important to monitor what's being said about your brand online and respond quickly to negative reviews.

  • Word-of-mouth marketing is still king

In China, word-of-mouth marketing is still the most powerful form of marketing. So make sure you're providing quality products and services so that your customers will be happy to refer your brand.

In a Nutshell

Marketing in China is a whole different ball game. From SEM to branding, there are several things you need to take into account if you want to be successful. But with careful strategy planning and execution, you can make your mark in the world's largest market.

At Cross Border Digital, we specialize in helping foreign businesses succeed in China. We can help you with everything from SEM to reputation management. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you grow your business in China.