Ten tips for Chinese digital marketing success that every Western brand must know

You know that the Chinese market is hugely lucrative and enticing for your brand – but that it is hard to crack. In fact, even some of the world’s biggest brands, including Mattel and Home Depot, initially made mistakes! However, modern digital methods and growing awareness of what makes Chinese consumers tick means that Chinese marketing success is fully within the grasp of motivated Western brands. The key lies in mastering Chinese digital marketing – here are ten tips for Chinese digital marketing success:

1. Do your research

Home Depot attempted to launch in China in 2006. Just five years later it retracted, admitting that it had overestimated the Chinese appetite for DIY. Don’t make the same mistake! Not only is the Chinese market vast – with 800+ million online consumers – but it is incredibly segmented and varied, with different demographics, customer motivations, tastes, attitudes, cultural references and values. The takeaway? Do your research and invest in sound, qualified and comprehensive market research before you make the leap. It will save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

2. Don’t simply translate…

It’s tempting to assume that you can simply translate your existing brand content for your Chinese audience. But without true content localisation – or even better, bespoke content produced for your target Chinese market by native digital marketers, there is a huge risk of failure. Chinese audiences expect content that is targeted to their distinct and segmented needs, and which shows insight, understanding and a solution response to those needs. Need convincing? Think about those times you have seen content from another country simply dubbed in English. It doesn’t work – and it certainly doesn’t compel you to find out more. For success – and conversions – go the extra mile and create content that will resonate with your Chinese audience.

3. Get a .cn domain & arrange local hosting

Having a Chinese domain extension (.cn ) is a distinct identifier for China and will allow you to market your business in this rapidly growing economy and lend credibility to your Chinese website.Not sure how to do this? A Chinese marketing agency can carry out the job for you. Baidu also preferentially ranks fast websites, as well as those which are locally hosted – so host yours in China if you have a Chinese business entity, so that your customers can access it quickly. This is especially important for Chinese users who are watching your rich media content on their digital devices.

4. Make sure your website is mobile-optimised

Of the 800 million Chinese internet users in China, 98% are mobile. Unless your Chinese website is optimised for mobile screens, your incoming traffic will immediately bounce away and your hard work will be lost. Remember too that the Chinese love apps, so it’s well worth having both for your digital assets.

5. Organise your payment processing

Your localised Chinese website, any microsites, apps and social media stores will invariably need integrated payment processing functionality. Use payment processors that your Chinese audience are familiar with, such as AliPay, WeChatPay and UnionPay. This will build trust and improve the customer experience.

6. Get seen with online marketing

The right Baidu PPC campaign will drive instantly qualified leads to your landing page – but do allow enough time to get your account set up as the process is fairly onerous. Once approved, you can invest the right time and expertise into crafting your campaign and make your digital marketing budget work harder!

7. Invest for the longer term with Baidu SEO

The right Baidu SEO solution needs to be tailored to your brand and the needs of your audience. Begin with competitor research, identify measurable objectives and implement white hat, quality SEO techniques for the best possible rankings and a sustainable online presence. Ongoing evaluation and refinement is key to success, so invest in continual improvement activity to see the best results.

8. Choose your social media platforms & secure your KOLs

If you aren’t yet familiar with WeChat, Weibo, Youku, Little Red Book and Douyin, now is the time to get to grips with these hugely sophisticated digital platforms. Each of China’s social media platforms has its own unique function and purpose, from sharing user-generated videos, reviews and tips through to engaging with branded content, shopping and privately networking. You may also want to work with a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) to build your brand presence and influence within your target market. These online influencers are hugely powerful in China and work with brands in a variety of ways, from carrying out product reviews through to launching sponsored competitions. An experienced Chinese digital marketing agency can help you to find the right KOL for your brand and budget.

9. Evaluate, review, refine

All Chinese digital marketing activity must be constantly reviewed and evaluated in order to be successful. This fast-paced market never stops, but with the latest technologies available to Chinese marketers, it is possible to keep abreast of trends and make the necessary moves. Carry out regular reporting, take insights from your data and act on it straight away.

10. Find the right partner

An experienced Chinese digital marketing agency partner will provide the expert skill sets, knowledge and resources that you need to successfully launch and grow your brand in China. The right agency will act as an extension to your own team; delivering the services that you need most and evidencing results at all stages. What’s more, they will be able to share the insights and tips that you need to really get to grips with this fascinating and rewarding market, allowing you to better integrate your online and offline activity and see greater returns.

Find out how Market Me China has delivered successful Chinese digital marketing campaigns for our clients, including online video campaign promotion for Be On (part of AOL) and a full suite of integrated Chinese digital services to Ascendia.

Find out more

Market Me China works with Western brands from across a variety of industries, including education, tech, tourism, e-commerce, and B2B. Working on a flexible basis, we support brands who are ready to build their online presence in China and to achieve those all-important conversions – delivering a full range of Chinese digital marketing solutions that generate measurable results. Contact us to find out more.