7 Common questions about Chinese B2B marketing

Whether you’re looking to launch a B2B business in China or grow your existing brand, there’s no doubt that marketers face a massive learning curve in this vast, complex country, which is often known as the ‘factory of the world’ due to its manufacturing prowess.

So with this in mind, let’s cover some of the main questions Western marketers have about Chinese B2B marketing.

How does B2B and B2C marketing differ in China?

As in the West, the B2B sales process tends to be far more involved than in B2C markets. Furthermore, B2B sales usually involve more than one decision maker, take longer, and have almost no likelihood of impulse buying.

With this in mind, Western marketers must focus on building trust with their target audience and working to communicate the features and benefits of their product or service offering; focusing on quality attributes, value and features that matter to the end audience. For digital marketing, the focus may well be on product explainers, for example, and carefully targeted online advertising, rather than promos or gimmicks.

Quality is very much the key to success – quality content that can be shared via channels such as a company-branded blog or app, or a social media channel such as WeChat, will have value.

1. What do Chinese B2B customers value in Western products?

This very much depends on the industry and the product or service in question, but generally speaking, Chinese B2B customers are looking for high-quality products and services from Western brands with a strong reputation for quality, reliability and trust. The Chinese value relationships and this market can be extremely lucrative, especially if you are ready to invest in excellent service, impeccable delivery and a quality offer built upon these values.

2. Is a Website vital for B2B marketing in China?

Yes, a Western B2B brand needs to have a carefully optimised, locally hosted and localised version of their Chinese website, specifically for the China B2B market. This website must also be optimised. This is your platform to communicate your high-value USP, and your key attributes such as respect, trust, status and the possibility of personalisation. Your website will act as a cornerstone that links together the other elements of your digital marketing strategy.

With that in mind, your Chinese language website must also have carefully translated content (and ideally, Chinese-targeted content made specifically for this audience), and careful localisation that considers factors such as imagery, tone of voice, cultural factors and readability.

3. How important is digital marketing to the China market?

The short answer is, very! Chinese entrepreneurs and employees are all very heavily connected online, so digital marketing is a powerful way to engage with company decision-makers at all levels. For example, WeChat can be a powerful platform for B2B brands, because of the ability to have conversations on an individual basis and group basis by interest.

4. Which digital marketing channels are the main focus for B2B marketing in China?

Every business will have its unique requirements based on its objectives, budget and product offering. However, the main focus areas for B2B brands tend to be:

  • Chinese Website development (and/or apps)
  • Chinese social media, such as WeChat official accounts (You can use WeChat to host a mini version of your business website and then push out weekly article batches to build visibility, for example.)
  • SEO marketing and Baidu advertising (as Chinese customers value high-quality advertising as a sign of legitimacy and quality.)
  • Online PR: contributions to top portals, vertical websites and relevant user-generated forums and Q&A platforms (such as Zhihu – the Chinese version of Quora) to build your brand awareness and reputation.

Thoughts on Timing

These activities can be leveraged to target business buyers at different stages of the sales funnel and they should be planned in an integrated, cohesive manner that repurposes quality content as much as possible and builds trust, engagement and enquiries.

It’s also important to remember that different channels and digital marketing activities should be timed to suit different stages of the sales funnel. For example, you might use search engine marketing for the ‘search and discovery’ stage, and social media for building your brand reputation and engagement with decision-makers.

Don’t risk trying to do everything all at once, however! It is often wise to start small and build up your Chinese B2B digital marketing activity over time, as you understand what is working particularly well and what can be adjusted for better results.

5. What should Western B2B brands know about data protection?

The China market has some strict regulations and laws that govern the way privacy must be maintained online, including the way that customer data is used and shared. There are also complex cybersecurity laws that must be adhered to. Companies that gather and store data must be compliant or they risk heavy penalties.

6. Is digital marketing sufficient for successful B2B marketing in China?

In most cases, digital marketing will be a key part of an overall marketing strategy for the B2B markets in China. The entire strategy will include offline elements such as direct mail and trade shows, for example. The key lies in integrating on and offline marketing activities to maximise synergies and leverage results.

7. What is the best way to deliver B2B digital marketing in China?

One of the biggest challenges in delivering B2B digital marketing in China is access to native language skills and a deep understanding of the huge array of digital marketing platforms and tools that are available in the country. Often these are far more sophisticated and powerful than Western alternatives, but they are all delivered in Chinese!

So if your brand can work with a Chinese digital marketing agency it can fast-track to digital marketing success in B2B markets by immediately harnessing these marketing and language skills. This saves time, money and effort – allowing you to focus on gaining the right results for your brand.

Find out more

Market Me China is here to help you achieve B2B digital marketing success in China. Our team of native language digital marketing professionals has the knowledge and expertise needed to deliver your brand real results; evidenced at every turn. What’s more, we are friendly, flexible and ready to work with your team in the way that best suits your needs. Please contact us to find out more, and to discuss your unique needs.