What do Chinese B2B customers want – and how to provide it

If your business operates in the Chinese B2B space, it’s vital to understand what your target audience really wants, and then go above and beyond to deliver it. After all, Chinese customers are highly sophisticated and increasingly used to high-quality offerings from domestic brands. So Western B2B brands need to be prepared to work hard to understand their target customers, and then deliver accordingly in a way that fosters brand recognition, conversions – and loyalty.

In this blog, we will take a look at what Chinese B2B customers want from the brands they buy from, and how those brands can meet these needs.

What do Chinese B2B customers want?

Although every business customer will have his or her own needs, these requirements tend to be mandatory across the board when it comes to Chinese B2B marketing:

1. A brand that Chinese B2B customers can understand

Chinese B2B customers value quality brands that offer obvious benefits (your USPs) and attributes such as personalisation, trust, status and respect. It’s vital to invest in your brand in China and ensure it resonates with your target audience. For many Western brands, this will mean partnering with a Chinese marketing agency to get their brand right the first time.

2. A clear, concise and high-quality Chinese language website

Every Western B2B brand doing business in China must have a localised Chinese-language website that is mobile-optimised and hosted in, or near, China. Its customer journeys must be optimised with Chinese readers in mind (bearing in mind that Chinese language readers scan content differently to Western language readers) and the content must be of very high quality. This is a basic requirement, and your Chinese B2B website should form the cornerstone of your digital marketing ecosystem.

3. WeChat (& other considered social media)

Most B2B brands will have a WeChat Official Account. Use this to host a mini-version of your website and post regular posts to engage with your followers. This could be done in a single weekly push of batched articles. Chinese B2B customers expect to see good visibility from brands across the social media platforms they choose to use, so choose the best for your industry and develop them consistently. Your brand may also benefit from a presence on other Chinese social media platforms, but choose the right ones carefully and really invest in your content and engagement.

4. Baidu advertising

Chinese B2B customers recognise and appreciate good quality online advertising as a sign that a brand is legitimate and of good quality. So invest in well-managed Baidu PPC campaigns, optimised and adjusted throughout their lifespan for the best possible results, using techniques such as A/B testing. This will mean having access to native Chinese language skills.

5. Online PR and relevant Q&A forums

Again, Chinese B2B customers value brands that contribute in a meaningful and useful way to top portals, vertical websites, and relevant user-generated forums and Q&A platforms. Investing in online PR and posting articles and useful content on Zhihu (Chinese Quora) and other user-generated industry forums to boost your brand awareness and reputation.

6. Clear and logical engagement

Yes, Chinese B2B customers are very sophisticated, meaning that confident Western marketers can look at strategies and channels such as video, automation, virtual events and AI. But it’s important to begin with the basics and get them right before developing any of these more advanced approaches. The key is to have a well-structured, cohesive and effective digital marketing ecosystem in place that demonstrates success – before continuing to evolve your approaches to incorporate more complex tactics.

Pitfalls to avoid with Chinese B2B marketing

There are also common pitfalls for Western B2B brands to avoid when seeking to engage and convert Chinese customers. For example:

1. Making assumptions

Chinese B2B customers often behave in different ways from their counterparts in the West, especially when it comes to consuming and engaging with marketing content. It is well worth investing in research and insight to develop accurate personas before developing your own marketing campaigns.

2. Connecting Chinese marketing to blocked websites

Remember that Western websites such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and website hosting platforms will be blocked by the Chinese firewall. So localise your Chinese language website carefully so that there are no links to these (including Google APIs for fonts and images or Google maps) as these will compromise the website performance or see it blocked entirely.

3. Relying on LinkedIn

Some B2B businesses find that LinkedIn does work for them, but it tends to be hit and missed. Research suggests that some Chinese professionals will use the platform for job searching, but are less active on it when it comes to engaging with brands.

4. Trying to buy in data

Regulations govern how data can be used in China, much like GDPR in Europe. So bear in mind that you can’t simply buy reputable data lists. Consider strategies for building up your own high-quality, data-management-compliant data lists over time.

5. Taking translation short-cuts

A simple and direct translation of Western content rarely works out. At best, it looks clumsy and at worst it can be offensive. So go the extra mile wherever possible and create truly localised Chinese language content, targeted to your B2B audience.

6. Not measuring results

It’s vital to measure the results of your Chinese B2B marketing campaigns in the same way that you would for a Chinese B2C marketing campaign. Data is key to success – but remember that you’ll need native Chinese language skills to gather and analyse this data on common Chinese marketing platforms such as Baidu and WeChat.

7. Trying to go it alone

Navigating the Chinese B2B market can be extremely complex, particularly when it comes to navigating Chinese digital marketing channels in the native language. For brands that don’t have native Chinese speakers in their in-house marketing team, it makes sense to partner with a Chinese digital marketing agency to gain rapid access to these skills. This will also gain you rapid access to targeted digital marketing skills and the necessary customer insight, for maximum results.

Find out more

Market Me China is here to help you achieve Chinese marketing success in the B2B markets. Our team of native-language digital marketing professionals can help you with every step of your Chinese B2B marketing journey, measuring success at every turn and working as a flexible extension to your own business. Please contact us to find out more.