How To Do Marketing In China in 2022

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors

THE GLOBAL ENTREPRENEUR | BUSINESS

We can be optimistic about the recovery of the world’s economy, as our vaccination programs have seen considerable success. Once normalcy is established, we can expect China to become one of the most attractive investment destinations. While other countries are still struggling to find stability in their economies, China is already preparing itself for foreign investments with continuous improvements to business and the regulatory environment.

As an investor or a business owner, this is an amazing opportunity for you to seize and establish your presence in the Chinese market.

With about 1.4 billion potential customers, constantly growing markets, exciting business environment, numerous regulatory reforms, foreign businesses can have a fairly easy time competing with domestic businesses.

However, China is a tricky market, to say the least.

There will be a steep learning curve, because the Chinese lifestyle is the complete opposite to the Western lifestyle. If businesses don’t understand the business environment and the culture of China, they will definitely struggle.

how to do business in China

How to Enter the China Market

We have written an extensive guide on how to do business in China. In the article, we have explored all aspects of doing business in China. It’s worth taking a look to gain a better understanding of the Chinese business environment.

In this article, however, we will dive deep into the marketing aspects of doing business in China. China has a relatively unique culture and lifestyle, which calls for a different approach to marketing. 

1. China's online community is huge, so marketing in China has to be online.

Appoximately 70% of China’s population use the Internet. That’s about 900 million people with an online presence. 

That’s nearly 3 times that population of the United States.

When entering China, it’s worth taking your business online. China has some very unique conditions to establishing an online presence. If done properly, you will have a truly powerful tool for online marketing, sales, and branding. 

Remember that China doesn’t use the famous platforms that we normally use. There’s no Google, only Baidu. There’s no Facebook, only WeChat. There’s no Twitter, only Weibo. There’s no YouTube, only Youku. If you want to enter the China market digitally, you need to understand how these platforms work.

2. Chinese customers love to do online research

Chinese users love to spend time browsing the net for information on the products they buy.

This is understandable. If you live in a country with millions of options, you probably wouldn’t want to stick with a few vendors. You would want to explore other options to find the best deals. Considering the number of options available, it’s normal for Chinese to spend hours surfiing the net for the right product.

Moreover, China is notorious for fake, counterfeit, low-quality products. It’s the signature of China’s products, and Chinese customers know full-well that they’re likely to be the next victim. So it’s crucial to spend time reading reviews. That means even more research.

What you should do about this? Put effort into making your website friendly and accessible for research. Make your that all of the information your customers want to read is only a few clicks away.

3. Localize your website your Chinese

Because Chinese people love online research, you need to make sure that they can understand what they click on. Nobody does research in a language they’re not familiar with.

Simply localize your websites and landing pages to Chinese and set yourself up for success.

Statistically speaking, more than 80% of customers want to read the information of the products they want to buy in the language they know – or Chinese (specifically Simplified Chinese). Website localization allows for the highest level of understanding and user experience for your customers.

how to reach Chinese customers

So, how to do website localization for the Chinese market?

Website localization is done by localization engineers who have both the technical skills and language proficiency to adapt your website’s content to Chinese.

And that’s just one part of the puzzle.

Website localization engineers usually go as far as to accommodate for other non-linguistic changes, including web-redesign, website layout adjustment, text properties adjustment, and even cultural adaptation.

The localization engineers will need to know how websites in China look like, how people want to browse in China, what kind of writing style the customers want to read. These factors might seem small, but they have a significant impact on the buyers’ decisions.

Among all of the factors mentioned above, cultural adaptation is the most important step.

As we all know, China is a culturally-rich country. There are a lot of traditions and customs in the country that the Chinese people will go to great lengths to preserve.

In the localization process, there can be some cultural references that appear to be normal to Westerners, but are offensive to Chinese. The use of color also has some cultural significance in some cases, and should also be taken into account.

4. Perform Multilingual SEO on Chinese Keywords

An essential part of doing an online business is performing good SEO practices.

When doing online business in China, you also need SEO, but a very unique type of SEO.

Google and other Search Engines are non-existent in this billion-population country. People use Baidu instead.

Strategies for Baidu SEO will be a little bit different.

For example, the website is required to host in China.

Google doesn’t take into account the hosting location because it is an international Search Engine.

Baidu, on the other hand, is limited to China, so it makes sense why it favors pages and websites in China more because the user experience is perceived to be better.

You also need to have an Internet Provider License (ICP) if you want to be hosted in China.

Next, you will need a domain name with the “.cn” root.

The .cn root is the .com of Google. It is not mandatory to have one, but it is the best.

After that, you can start performing a wide range of SEO practices, including Keyword Research, On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, content creation, content promotion, etc., and start getting your name ranked on the Baidu SERP.

By performing good SEO practices, you will drive high-quality traffic to your website thanks to lots of targeted content that is optimized for high volume keywords. These traffic are already searching for relevant information, which increases the rate of conversion.

5. Content Writing in China Has To Be Tailored For the China Market

China has a very unique culture. It’s the almost opposite to the Western’s way of life.

You can’t bring the Western’s thinking into China and assume that Chinese people behave the same. In other words, there is a huge difference in consumer behavior that you must acknowledge.

Tailored and targeted content marketing attracts both Chinese consumers and business partners.

Simply translating your marketing material is not enough. There are so many nuanced and localized ways of expressing the same underlying concepts to 2 different demographic.

The very same thing that went viral in the US might not have any impact on Chinese customers.

Vice versa, something that had no effect on US’s customers can turn out to be very appealing to Chinese consumers.

That’s not to mention the diversity of China. China is huge, and there are huge differences in the culture between regions. Guangdong, for example, is a highly developed region that has a unique culture known as Cantonese culture. If you’re marketing to this region, you need to know the culture.

As a foreigner, you probably don’t understand the Chinese culture that well. You will need to find local translators, copywriters, marketers to re-adapt and contextualize your content.

pTranslate’s team of translators will help you accurately adapt your content to Chinese and convey your messages to your targeted demographic while also being culturally sensitive. Read more on how to translate marketing content. Sometimes you should even go as far as to transcreate your marketing content.

6. Utilize WeChat

how to reach Chinese markets

WeChat is the Facebook of China.

Almost everyone uses WeChat. With a whopping 1.2 billion monthly active users, WeChat presents enormous opportunities to businesses who know how to utilize its power.

WeChat users can do a wide range of stuff, such as sending messages, picking a taxi, buying groceries, keeping fit, booking a Covid-19 test, and even gaining access to government services. And of course, WeChat allows ads.

No other apps in the West is even comparable to WeChat.

WeChat is a mix of Facebook, Skype, Slack, Amazon, and Paypal.

Companies can create an “active account” to promote their brand. And you definitely should. After you have an active account, you can start building your following and connect with your customers.

Content creation on WeChat is similar to content creation on any other social media platform: the key is to engage your customers and educate them until they develop an interest in your products, which can finally lead to conversion.

It takes time, but eventually, it will pay off.

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7. Understand the Potential of Weibo

With over 550 million active users per month, Weibo is the second-largest social media site in China, behind WeChat. 

Of course, many foreign businesses outside of China don’t understand the power of this platform. If used properly, it can be another powerful marketing channel to reach Chinese customers.

You can use Weibo either by the Weibo mobile app, Weibo website, or the Weibo International App. Just download or go to the website and create an account. After that, you can start building a strategy to build a China following.

8. KOLs define the market trend in China

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are the trendsetters. They create content that relates deeply with the viewers, and brands can connect with them to market their products to the fanbase that these KOLs have already built. It allows them to tap into a highly targeted demographic that they would otherwise have taken a lot of time to develop.

A good tip when approaching KOLs: try to help your KOLs by conversing with your customers. KOLs usually only do the promotion part. It’s up to the brand to build the relationship with the leads.

9. Use TikTok (Douyin) if your demographic is young

TikTok is too famous in the West. In the China, it takes on a different name: Douyin. It is a short-form video content creation platform. There are up to 500,000 daily users that you can tap into.

Always keep in mind: Douyin users are young. If you target a young demographic in China (from 15-24), Douyin is a must. If you’re not using Douyin, you’re missing out.

how to do marketing in China

Remember: Douyin content is very short-form. Always try to capture the attention of the users within a few seconds. If you can’t capture the attention of the viewer within that incredibly short period of time, you fail.

10. Get to know China's culture

If you want to be relevant with Chinese customers, you need to understand China’s culture.

A good way is to understand the Lunar Calendar.

A lot of traditions and customs were based on the days of that calendar, including their New Year, their Mid-Autumn Festival, and their Full-Moon celebration.

If you want to reach your Chinese customers, take some time to read up on the traditions and days that Chinese celebrate, and plan your business activities accordingly.

You can even launch marketing campaigns with themes that suit these days of celebration.

If done properly, you can win a lot of new Chinese customers. They love foreigners who show an appreciation and respect for their culture.

11. China is highly competitive, so try to find yourself a niche.

China is too competitive. Imagine having to deal with billions of people ready to start a business in your niche.

However, you still shouldn’t worry too much about it. Competition is healthy. Competition distinguishes the good from the bad.

Chinese customers understand that a lot of Chinese vendors disregard ethics for profit, so they are very cautious.

In order to deal with this high competitiveness, you need to either find for yourself a competitive advantage or go into a niche.

A niche allows you to focus on a few areas that you believe you’re best at. The ceiling is lower, but it’s easier to find customers who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Of course, you need to find a market that has enough demand. You wouldn’t want to start an English school in first-tier countries where the market is highly saturated.

A competitive advantage distinguishes you from other competitors and tells your customers that you have something to offer.

12. Know China's eCommerce platforms

The 2 biggest eCommerce platforms in China are Tmall and Jd.com. They have massive traffic, and brands can harvest great profits by establishing their presence on these sites.

Smaller brands usually go for ‘Little Red Book’, ‘Taobao’, ‘WeChat Stores’, ‘Pindoudou’, which are more cost-effective.

Conclusion

China is indeed an interesting market to explore, but there are challenges that aren’t easy to overcome. With determination, effort, careful research, and a little bit of time, you’ll still be able to crack the China code. It’s all about familiarizing yourself with the unique and one-of-a-kind business environment in China.

Do you have experience in doing business and marketing in China? If you do, feel free to share with us your thoughts! We’re eager to hear a few thoughts from you.

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