5 key Things to Know about B2B Marketing in China

Successful B2B marketing in China requires a solid blend of insight, targeting, integrated marketing planning and expert delivery. Get it right and you can build a successful brand in a hugely lucrative, evolving market where the opportunities continue to grow. But, as with B2B marketing in the West, solid strategies take time and consistency to get right, and there may well be an element of trial and error as you measure what works and what may need refining.

The more you can understand about this complex market in advance, the better your chance of success! With that in mind, here are five key things to know and consider:

1. A localised website is vital

A localised Chinese-language website is key, with reliable hosting in China (or located nearby to counteract the firewall.) You may apply for an ICP licence from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) if you have a Chinese business licence. It’s also important to invest in quality Chinese language content, written by experts with a native understanding of the language and cultural nuance. Chinese culture is highly contextual and it’s very easy to inadvertently offend or fail to get your point across if you’re simply attempting to translate English copy.

One tip is to include a WeChat QR code visibly on the homepage of your Chinese website. Equally, if you have a focused sales team for the China market, include their details.

And of course, remember to make your website smartphone-friendly and optimised for handset use! This includes having user journeys that are built for the Chinese market (and as a consequence, different from the ways that Western users read content.)

2. Chinese social media marketing is essential

There are some social media platforms in China for B2B brands to consider! For example, WeChat is a primary focus for B2C marketing, but most B2B brands will use it too and have their own official account. The platform offers businesses various features, including the ability to host a limited version of a corporate website, and the chance to communicate with followers, for example by pushing out articles. There is also a corporate version of WeChat called WeCom (WeChat Enterprise) and this can be used for a variety of communication purposes with customers and clients, as well as for data mining and other business marketing features.

The right social media platforms for your business will depend on your business objectives, and it may be worth focusing on a limited number to begin with, with precise targeting and excellent content – rather than spreading your efforts too broadly.

3. Baidu PPC can be powerful

Once you’ve applied for an advertising account on Baidu (Chinese Google), you can run Chinese-language PPC campaigns, to drive rapid and qualified traffic to your digital ecosystem, while your Baidu SEO efforts bed in and consolidate. Just bear in mind that Baidu is delivered in Chinese, so you’ll need a PPC professional with native Chinese language skills to create and manage your campaigns.

4. Don’t overlook forums

In China, user-generated forums and Q&A platforms such as Zhihu (Chinese Quora) are a great way for B2B brands to build brand awareness and SEO rankings. Invest in quality posts, comments, articles and thought leadership to get your message out there within your target marketplace. A good approach is to pick a manageable number of industry-specific forums and Q&A platforms and then really invest in them, measuring to see what works and what needs further development. It’s all a valuable learning curve!

5. Avoid common mistakes

China can be a complex market for B2B markets to operate in. Firstly, there are a huge number of incumbent businesses across all sectors, and secondly, the market itself is complex, ever-changing and highly demanding. Chinese B2B customers have high expectations and often operate in ways that are different to Western customs. With this in mind, there are various common areas that Western brands should carefully avoid. For example:

– It’s important to avoid having any kind of digital connection between your brand and Western social media and search sites, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter. For example, if you are using Google Maps on your location page, you will probably find that your website completely slows down or is blocked from loading completely.
– Equally, don’t expect to buy data for your marketing lists! Data is heavily controlled and regulated in China, just as it is in Europe and the UK under GDPR.

Extra tips for Chinese B2B marketing success:

1. Gather data and insight for better decision-making
Invest in market research to really understand where your brand is currently positioned in its Chinese marketing journey, and what you need to do next. For example, if you don’t yet have an integrated digital ecosystem that brings your Chinese language website, social media platforms and other digital assets into one place, you aren’t ready to invest in brand awareness or large-scale lead generation. It can also be valuable to invest in user behaviour research and analysis to really understand what makes your targets tick.

2. Think, target and adjust
Remember to incorporate the typical behaviour of Chinese B2B contacts into your marketing workflow. For example, WeChat tends to be more common than email marketing so you may need to adjust your typical Western workflow to meet Chinese needs. That same degree of careful thought and targeting is essential for your marketing mix. For example, techniques such as AI, automation and account-based marketing can all be extremely powerful for B2B marketing in China, but it’s vital to have a clear strategy for how you will use these in the right way for your target audience. When in doubt, get the basics in place and working well before you try more advanced approaches!

3. Get help!
Chinese marketing can be challenging to get right, especially in B2B markets which tend to be particularly complex. However, the help of a Chinese digital marketing agency can help you to maximise the results of your efforts. Market Me China has the skills, experience and highly qualified native Chinese digital marketers that your business needs for success. We work on a flexible basis with clients from across all industries to help them succeed with their Chinese B2B marketing strategies and campaigns.

To find out more about how we can help your business, please contact our friendly team for a no-obligation chat about your needs.