With no Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Snapchat, China is a particular online market for foreign businesses. It is thus obvious you need to adapt your general communication strategy and your online marketing plan.
Why invest in online marketing in China?
I believe that a B2B company’s website is more than an online catalog. A proper website is an efficient tool to attain sales leads and partnership opportunities. Your Chinese sales team can do more in this country with such a dynamic economy and a vast surface.
This is when a website comes in handy. Focus on a series of best practices and dedicate a fraction of your marketing effort online. Thus, your customer and partner networks in China will thrive.
So how can you actually pin your company on the Chinese online map? We have put together a 5-step list, essential for any B2B business planning to expand its operations in China.
Your website MUST be in Chinese
My pieces of advice are worthless if your website is not in Chinese. It won’t be indexed by Baidu, and Chinese customers will not find it. Do not opt for a classic translation of your foreign content. Think about your customers in China and adapt your content to their profile. Get an employee who is fluent in Chinese and make most of every word. If you do not have a viable candidate, choose an agency which can localize it for you.
Before talking to your website’s designer or content contributor, you must ensure that you have had contracted hosting services in China. Your visitors are only expecting 2 seconds for loading your website, and such a speed will be attainable only if you choose a Chinese server for hosting.
However, to host in mainland China, you need a special license from the Chinese authorities, which is called ICP Beian License. The precursor to this license is that you must have a local entity presence.
Baidu rankings are also affected by the loading speed of your website. The de facto search engine in China loves fast-loading websites, which end up having a good ranking on Baidu. So having it hosted nearby means that more pages will be indexed more frequently.
- For optimum results, pair your website with a Content Delivery Network. When you choose a Hong Kong server, make sure it has dedicated lines to Chinese telecom operators.
- Make sure that the website you are designing now is responsive for mobile devices!
Get your company on Baidu
China is a mobile-centric country where the majority of netizens use the internet on their mobile devices. Yet, for B2B companies in China, Baidu is the most important gateway for sourcing potential clients and partners. The search engine also wins good mobile presence in China. If your purpose is to get Baidu to correctly index your website, then the first steps in a good strategy is to check if:
- your website’s code is localized for China
- your website has a Chinese translation
- the content is SEO-friendly to Baidu (as opposed to Google)
Just like Google, Baidu has Search Engine Marketing (SEM) services, similar to AdWords, that you can use when you want to advertise based on industry relevant keywords. If you are not ready to spend your money on a Baidu SEM campaign, you should at least apply for Baidu Webmaster Tools for your website. You can thus keep track of the web pages that are being indexed.
Setting a Baidu SEM account can be a painstaking task for a foreign company. If you are looking for specialists to consult, we are willing to help!
Move to Youku
Are you using videos to showcase products and services? You need to make them available to your Chinese audience. YouTube is one of those platforms blocked in China. While available, Vimeo has a relatively slow loading speed that can be annoying.
Youku is one of the best options on your possible solution list.
- Youku is the Youtube of China. You can upload videos to Youku and embed it into your website in the form of a free service.
- The downsize? It’s not as easy to skip ads on Youku as how you usually do on YouTube, but a professional video tool, which allows you to white-label videos can prevent your users from being distracted by third-party logos or ads.
Build your newsletter on WeChat
Outside China, companies always turn to e-mails when they decide to build a newsletter service. While in China, the story is being told in a different way – E-mail has never played an important role, due to the unique internet-cultural developments.
So Chinese companies prefer WeChat for newsletter-like services. WeChat is a mobile social platform on which practically every Chinese internet user has an account. There is a huge segment of members who do not have e-mail addresses but never feel easy with WeChat account being logged out. Even when their e-mail accounts are properly set up, they seldom access it as much as they do with WeChat. We ever wrote a lot about WeChat account, which you might be interested in.
WeChat allows companies and organizations to set up their own Official Accounts. There are currently around 8 million registered ones, ranging from township to police departments and from small businesses to big corporations.
Even if you decide to continue sending the classic email newsletter, join WeChat, and you will thus double your communication channels! Even in the B2B business, your clients are still WeChat users in their free time!
Set up a live chat
As I mentioned before, the e-mail was never an important part of the Chinese digital life. Netizens are impatient when it comes to getting answers from browsing your website. A better and safer option to capture potential online inquiries or leads is to serve an instant online chat tool. Chinese visitors can get answers in real-time, straightaway from the website.
Implementing an online chatting tool and having at least one customer representative to serve visitors’ inquiries is one of the golden rules of thumb for B2B business in China. There are several options when it comes to implementing an online chat tool. Two of the most popular are Shangqiao, from Baidu, and Business QQ, from Tencent.
It is also available to implement customer service on your WeChat Official Account.