From Marco Polo to TikTok, how to do online marketing for the Chinese market
A completely different ecosystem
Do you need to approach the Chinese market but wonder how to develop an effective marketing strategy? Today, thanks to unique digital platforms and new technologies, it’s possible to grow your business in China.
Mandatory ingredients to intercept the needs and desires of the local population are a deep knowledge of the digital tools available and the right amount of creativity. Here’s a complete guide to the Chinese digital ecosystem.
The right tools to market to China: Baidu, WeChat and more
Forget Google and Facebook, the western world’s leaders. The main Chinese platforms on which to focus initial efforts are Baidu, Weibo and WeChat, the representatives of the Chinese web.
Baidu is China’s most visited search engine with over 665 million monthly active users (MAU), and whose mobile user base exceeds the billion. The full potential of the Chinese Google is yet to be explored.
Weibo is China’s number one microblogging platform through which brands, influencers and celebrities communicate to 390 million users each month with over 3.5 billion posts. It’s the perfect tool to create a direct relationship with your follower base, and one which must be part of any digital marketing strategy to China.
WeChat is China’s main messaging app and is considered an ecosystem of its own. Besides exchanging texts, images, videos and voice messages, users manage a multitude of daily activities. These range from the purchase of goods and services to paying bills. Meantime brands can communicate and share an infinite amount of contents with their followers.
Beyond these three, different platforms have expanded in the West too (TikTok just to name one), and many online shops, which are useful to promote and sell any product.
It’s crucial to make the most of this ecosystem and to bundle the right tools based on brand goals and marketing strategy. Here’s useful advice and a practical guide to help you orient yourself:
- Baidu = google
- Weibo = twitter
- wechat = Facebook/Instagram
- Tmall/Jd = Amazon
- MiniProgram = Owned apps/e-commerce
- LittleRedBook = Pinterest/Instagram
Intercepting online researches, with some tricks.
Similarly to the West, brand awareness and strategic positioning are important marketing goals. To reach these you can’t ignore Baidu: developing a web site capable of responding to all your needs means being able to intercept numerous web searches and thus thousands of potential customers per day.
How can you optimize a website for Baidu?
- A Chinese domain (.cn) to index your website.
- Mandarin texts written for SEO with properly chosen key words that help it appear in top positions during searches
- A fluid and intuitive user interface
- Built for rapid communication with the brand’s client service
Marketing on social platforms
Leveraging brand profiles on social platforms is the best way to maintain direct connections with the follower base. Setting up a profile and nurturing it with up-to-date content helps to build a targeted community, and to consolidate a market position. Offering unique experiences further supports reaching your goal. Once again, what renders marketing to China different from the west, is not what but the where such actions take place. Each Chinese platform in fact plays its own role in an effective communication strategy.
Weibo, besides allowing brands to reach a large number of users with exceptional speed through posts and stories, offers alternative functions such as the game center, by way of playing online, and the possibility to use links and tags to sell products.
WeChat is the most active space to share news and special offers, while TikTok is crucial to reach the youngest users thanks to authentic and spontaneous contents, perfect to promote products to teenagers.
Selling on local marketplaces
Looking to sell online? The Chinese digital ecosystem offers useful marketplaces.
Tmall is China’s main e-commerce platform through which you can buy any products. Foreign brands have access to Tmall Global to sell imported goods.
JD.com is the other large platform and Tmall’s competitor. It offers a vast range of products from tech to fresh produce. Foreign brands can enter “JD Worldwide”. The platform is extremely important and focuses mainly on B2C sales.
Yet to be discovered are Mini Programs, a functionality of WeChat which allows brands to sell products without having to download any new app. It is precisely this integration within WeChat’s ecosystem that makes this solution a valuable alternative to online stores.
Finally, there is Little Red Book, a well-suited platform to sell luxury goods and to build awareness around your products to the over 85 million MAUs.
Marketing strategy to China: multichannel and creative
If your goal is to approach the complexity and vastness of the Chinese market, it’s necessary to organize a plan based on multichannel creativeness. Acting on more tools allows to differentiate the offer and intercept different consumer segments, to adopt the right flexibility for specific activities, also real time. Ready?