How to Reach Chinese Customers with Multilingual Marketing Campaigns?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors

THE GLOBAL ENTREPRENEUR | MARKETING

“Foreign companies and brands really want to reach Chinese customers because they understand how much potential this market holds. However, China is a unique market that is not easy to enter.”

The potential of Chinese markets

China is a gigantic market. 

The potential that China offers to businesses worldwide is immense. This amazing country has the world’s largest population, an ever-growing economy, a positive attitude towards foreign brands, and tons of supporting policies for new businesses.

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However, China is a very unique market, and this uniqueness can sometimes bring troubles to Western businesses who are unfamiliar with the culture.

Western countries have almost opposing cultural values to Asian countries. This difference in culture made it difficult for non-native business people to “relate” to their Chinese customers.

If we want to reach Chinese markets, we need to create marketing content that “speaks” to Chinese people. This means that the marketing team must understand their customer demographic AND their customers’ cultural values.

Businesses with a large budget for marketing usually hire a team of local consultants who can bring their cultural knowledge to the table and provide the business leaders with local insights.

In this article, we will be your business’s Chinese consultants. Below are the tips that you can use to develop your multicultural, multilingual marketing campaigns in China.

What You Should Know About The Chinese Market?

We should acknowledge a few major unique things about China before we step into the market.

Firstly, they use Chinese – a completely alien language to Western countries. The language is logographic, which means that the words are based on the “image” of what it represents.

Remembering the alphabet of Chinese is already a lot of work, let alone learning it and using it effectively to communicate the messages of your brand.

That’s not to mention there’s a difference between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Different regions use different types of Chinese.

If you want to reach Chinese customers in Mainland China, you’d want to use Simplified Chinese, but if you want to reach Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even the US, you’ll need to use Traditional Chinese instead.

Chinese customers also use a completely different search engine that is Baidu.

Baidu SEO differs tremendously from Western Search Engines like Google or Bing.

Baidu itself has about 600 million active users in 2020. If you want to reach Chinese customers, you can’t miss out on this massive marketing channel.

Lastly, you need to acknowledge the difference in culture. We have written a post about the differences in Chinese culture and Western cultures.

Chinese culture, as well as many other East Asian cultures, was heavily influenced by Confucianist values. You should spend some of your time reading up on Confucianism to better understand the cultural foundations of China and the surrounding countries that were influenced by this ancient philosophy.

Those are the 3 main points. Now we will get into the details of what you should do:

1. Localize your websites to Chinese

Having a website that is specifically designed for Chinese users and hosted in China is the number one factor for success.

Statistically speaking, more than 80% of customers want to read the information of the products they want to buy in their native language.

Even if they express interest in your products/services, but still don’t understand what you are truly selling, you still won’t be able to get the deal.

Website localization is about translating the content to Chinese so that the users know what you have to offer.

But 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 can actually have a significant impact on the buyers’ decisions.

how to reach Chinese customers

taobao.com – A famous Chinese eCommerce site

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 actually offensive to Chinese.

The use of color also has some cultural significance in some cases, and needs to be taken into account.

2. Practice Baidu SEO

Baidu is the number one search engine in Chia.

Google and other Search Engines are non-existent in this billion-population country. 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.

If you want to have an ICP, you will need a Chinese business license. You can read up on the details about how to do business in China here.

Although it is not mandatory, you will have a much easier time getting around and starting your business with one.

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.

It is worth noting that Baidu is just like Google. They want fresh, original, well-written content, but those content must not violate the censorship rules of China.

Pay attention to the “sensitive” content that can get you banned or pushed down on the rankings.

And of course, use Simplified Chinese. If you want to translate your content to Simplified Chinese, we are here to help.

3. 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.

With WeChat, you can connect with your customers. You can create content on WeChat to educate your potential customers on your products and services.

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.

4. Understand the mentality of Chinese buyers

Chinese customers are different from the Westerners in their mentality. They usually don’t trust the brand as much as the Westerners, and are less likely to buy on impulse.

They usually spend a lot of time reading reviews, comparing products until they find the best deals.

Companies should invest in making the best impression from the very moment a Chinese person arrives at the shop.

Emphasize what your customers are looking for. If they’re looking for something cheap, make sure that you throw that sense of “cheap” in front of their eyes as soon as possible.

Chinese customers are, in general, more demanding and asking for a lot when choosing a service.

Customer care in the West exists to deal with the problems, while customer service in China exists to make sure that the customer “likes” the products before they buy. This includes constantly providing the customer with discounts, vouchers, or promising a lot of benefits for them from the get-go.

5. China is an extremely competitive market

China is filled with competition.

After all, there are more than 1 billion people in China, so by statistics, it’s likely that someone there must have developed a business similar to yours there.

It’s not something we should worry too much about, though. Competition is healthy, and we should encourage competition.

You should invest your energy into understanding what your competitors are doing there and how they’re treating their customers, then find out ways to do better than them.

However, sometimes competition in China is a race to the bottom.

Businesses sacrifice quality for the lower price, and customers surprisingly love that sacrifice.

Chinese customers are careful when it comes to choosing the brand, but they aren’t that loyal. There are simply too many options for them to choose from, all of which are quite similar in terms of price, quality, and customer service.

Switching brands is a way to test out millions of other options out there.

Therefore, always keep an eye on your competitors, and watch out if they have something better than you. Competition is really fierce and almost constant in the Chinese business environment.

6. Get to know Chinese Lunar Calendar

differences between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

Of course, the Solar Calendar is still used for official purposes. However, you must not forget the Lunar Calendar. The Lunar Calendar is an integral part of their culture.

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.

Conclusion

A well-prepared marketing campaign is extremely important when you want to reach Chinese markets.

Keep in mind the important points that we mention above, and you’ll be able to connect with people in this highly promising country.

Respect their culture, know their lifestyle, and you will be able to “get in the mood” of a Chinese. It will be an interesting learning experience.

What advice do you want to give to other businesses wanting to reach Chinese markets? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

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