How to advertise on Baidu as a Western brand

Any Western brand looking to succeed in the China market will probably have an awareness of Baidu. But how exactly do you begin to use this platform to successfully advertise your Western brand? Whether you are new to Baidu advertising or looking to take your current activities further, these tips covering how to advertise on Baidu will set you up for success.

Baidu key facts

So what are some of the key things to know about Baidu?

– It is China’s leading search engine with over 60% of the market (and 5% of all global searches; amazing when you consider that it is only used within China!)
– Its search capabilities extend beyond text to images, books, maps and mobile searches, as well as local, blog and patent searches.
– It has its own mobile entertainment platform, a dictionary, encyclopaedia or Wiki plus an anti-virus platform, plus more.
– Baidu is heavily regulated by the state, and for Western brands to use it, the paperwork is extensive and can be time-consuming. A Chinese digital marketing agency can greatly simplify and expedite the process.
Chinese website or landing pages are advised when running Baidu PPC campaigns, and these perform better than English language landing pages.
– Cultural, social, geographic, language and other local factors must be considered. For a successful campaign, website or landing pages must be localised beyond basic language translation, so that trends are represented and the unique needs of Chinese customers met.
– The potential audience is vast, with more than 800 million tech-savvy Chinese people online.

Moving beyond Baidu account setup

We’ve covered the administrative complexities of setting up a Baidu account as a Western business in previous blogs. So, assuming that you have moved past the initial stages of creating your Baidu advertising account and have created your Chinese language localised website… what next? These steps will move you onwards…

Optimise your Baidu PPC campaigns

There are various strategies that Western brands can take to optimise the success of their Baidu PPC campaigns. For example, the initial focus is on driving traffic to your Chinese website or landing pages. These three activities will help:

1. Promote your target keywords using Baidu’s search engine

A Chinese marketing agency can help you to identify the correct Chinese keywords and ensure that your campaign is set up to target mobile and desktop customers alike, along with multi-unit keywords. Remember too that you can time campaigns for locations and use your keywords for click generation on Baidu Zhidao (its Q&A platform). This is relatively cost-effective and begins to direct traffic to your Chinese website or landing pages. If you run an eCommerce business especially, it is vital to be optimised and set-up for M-Commerce (including a mobile-friendly website, integrated Chinese payment platforms and so forth).

2. Get better lead results with Baidu News Feed and Baidu Brand Zone

Western marketers can also leverage the power of Baidu news feed advertising and the Baidu Brand Zone.

The Baidu new feed ad is similar to Google Discover and available on mobile devices (essential in China!). The service is discreet and targeted by the audience rather than keywords. Multiple ad formats are on offer, including video, with CPC and Cost Per Time advertising models available. Baidu news feed adverts are useful for brand awareness and to generate website clicks, especially amongst target audiences who may be new to your brand.

With the Baidu Brand Zone, Western brands can capture online traffic via search engine results. Advertisers pay on a monthly basis for the service, in return for adverts and brand information in SERPs. Used with Baidu PPC campaigns, the Brand Zone can greatly enhance brand advertising performance and the service is already used by Audi, Dell, BMW, Apple, British Airways and other big brands. Although expensive, the product offers incredibly high rates of conversion, with 50%-80% click-through rates reported by AC Nielsen, and up to 78% boosted purchase intent (source: China Internet Watch). Compare this to average 1% for Baidu PPC, and the rationale for Baidu Brand Zone’s premium pricing becomes clear.

3. Build brand trust with Baidu Verification

This service displays your business in Baidu search results, accompanied with verified company information. The results also show a ‘V’ against your listing, to signal that you have been verified as a trustworthy and reliable business. This is important for positioning your brand within the mind of the Chinese customer and gives you credibility. Such credibility is particularly important for Western brands who need to build a relationship to begin a longer sales cycle; for example those in B2B or Higher Education markets.

4. Ways to improve your Baidu PPC results

Once you have set up successful PPC advertising campaigns and are seeing positive results from your analytics, you can use tools that help to maximise your exposure. For example:

1) Chat with your customers to drive conversions

Use the Baidu Shangqiao (Baidu Bridge) Live Chat tool, which is extremely popular in China and now seen as a ‘given’ by Chinese customers who are keen to chat with sales reps in a live scenario when they are considering a purchase. By having a Chinese language representative online to answer questions as they are posted, your brand has the chance to convert leads to sales. Consider the value of this immediacy if you operate an e-commerce business! The tool is simple to use and embed onto your Chinese website or landing pages. This means that all customers can access it from across your website. The tool also comes with an external dashboard which provides useful site visit data. Remember that your live chat must be manned by a fluent or native Chinese speaker to be successful.

2) Send automatic customer service messages when you’re offline

Use Baidu Lixianbao as a call back service that provides a vital link to your customers when you’re offline. When the live chat isn’t being manned, users can leave their contact details and request a callback at a time that suits them. This degree of individual attention and communication is key to many successful purchase processes in China, especially in the travel industries, where proactive service can make all the difference to a sale.

3) Create your Baidu business card

Western brands can also build their own business cards into the search engine. This boosts trust and shows that your brand is reputable and well established; all of which are vital attributes in China for successful business. This card will be displayed as a series of links with your company logo on the SERP page. Each promotion lasts for six months maximum before the service must be refreshed. You can tailor these displays according to a search query, location and other factors to tighten up the targeting.

4) Manage your brand reputation

Think of Baike as China’s own Wikipedia. Owned by Baidu, the site is used by businesses successfully as a reputation management tool, by anticipating questions that customers might have and providing proactive information and answers to these questions. Western brands pay an annual fee to have their own page which they can then build and administer from their Baidu company account.

Ready to find out more about how to advertise on Baidu?

Market Me China manages Baidu advertising for a number of Western brands, particularly in the B2B, Higher Education, Travel and E-Commerce industries. From account set-up through to campaign management, results tracking and evaluation, we can smooth the path to Baidu success – and evidence the results of our support. Please contact us for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you.