Digital strategy for winners in China
“ The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Bill Gates
China, with more than 660 million of Internet users is one of the biggest web communities in the world. If you are a company looking to expand its business in China, I am sure you will greatly appreciate the following 5 digital strategies, which will ensure your success in China.
Digital strategy in China
1: Be mobile focused
Official data about Chinese Internet usage says that 80% of Chinese Internet users actually access the Internet through their mobile phone. Also according to China Internet Watch, Baidu mobile users reached 663 million mobile users in March 2016.
Consequently, your strategy should mainly focus on tailoring your current tools to cell phones. If you already have your own Chinese website, make sure that it’s responsive and won’t get all distorted when viewed on a mobile phone.
Mobile marketing strategy
To take this strategy even further, you can create specific tools dedicated to mobile phone usage such as: a mobile app, or even a full mobile marketing strategy.
There is also a growth of M-commerce in China, with the emerging of new features and partnerships on social media platforms such as WeChat. T-Mall is one of the biggest stores and it has adapted its platform to mobile devices.
According to Emarketer, M-commerce generated more than 333 billion USD of revenue in 2015. Another piece of information is from a report published by Experian, according to their research there are not enough companies using mobile marketing strategies. Another way to reach your potential customers is by having a multichannel mobile marketing strategy. You may also register on various famous Chinese mobile apps such as: Taobao, Alipay, WeChat, 17 (a photo sharing app like Instagram).
2: Diversify your content
You may already have a blog or a website, and be publishing regular contents. If until now you have been posting only written articles paired with couple of images, I eagerly suggest you to go take a professional camera and to film …
In our western countries, we have access to YouTube a major platform where anyone can share their own videos. As you may already know, because of Chinese Great Firewall, several foreign websites are forbidden (YouTube is one of them).
Online Video in China
The online video market in China is very profitable. Its revenues exceeded 25 billion USD in 2015. The same year, it was estimated that there were about 450 million online video users in China. Needless to say, that having a Video marketing strategy will definitely serve your business well. Use storytelling strategies to communicate with your viewers by creating compelling and attractive videos.
It should also be noted that the number of users watching videos on mobile phones have now exceeded the one watching on PC/Laptop. About ¾ of video viewers in China are watching online video on their cell phones.
The main platforms in China to share your videos are: Youku, Tudou, Sohu and Baidu video. CNTV can’t be included as it’s a publicly owned video-sharing platform. Just like on YouTube you have the opportunity to ask for ads on YouKu for example. Youku Tudou’s subscription programme has had an incredible increase in revenue in 2014 (5 times higher compared to the previous year).
Source : Jing Daily – official Burberry page Youku 2011
That is actually what several luxury brands did by creating their official page on Youku. In 2011, Cartier, luxury jewel brand, didn’t hesitate, and opened an exclusive video channel on Youku. Others have been seen on Youku such as : Louis Vuitton , Guerlain or Burberry.
3: Go WeChat Crazy
Wechat called Weixin in Chinese is a text and audio messaging mobile app. It’s the most widely used social media in China with more than 690 millions active users worldwide, China being the most dominant market. At least 6 out of 10 WeChat users opens the app at least 10 times a day to check for new messages or news. About 7 out of 10 Chinese adults Internet users are active on WeChat. In terms of age group, Chinese WeChat users are for most of them young or adults with ¾ being aged between 18 and 35 years old.
Wechat is impotant
Being active on WeChat will help you to be more visible and to spread your message across to your target Chinese customers. The first thing you have to do is to create an official account. When subscribing for an official account, you will be offered two options. Choose the account that fits you best. It will give you access to amazing features to promote your products and services as well as to draw traffic towards your website. To name only a few of the numerous things you can do with WeChat to grow your business in China are: WeChat moments (publications with push notifications), QR code to share across all social media platforms, a WeChat mini website, a WeChat M-store, membership programmes, and so on.
4: Optimise your SEO
If you already have a website with great articles, relevant information, high-quality pictures, what you need know is to make it more visible to the eye of your future visitors. Chinese people are huge online searchers. Either to look for feedback on a product, general information or to shop online, they will turn on their Internet.
Baidu Search Engine in China
Baidu is the most famous search engine in China with more than 80% of market share. It also ranked 5th in the search engine global ranking! Most of the searches undertaken by Chinese go through Baidu. The company earned 2,7 billion USD of revenue in 2015. Thus, it’s important to make sure that your website is first in Chinese and then has an optimised SEO strategy for Baidu.
Baidu doesn’t work like Google, thus, you have to create a whole new SEO strategy to respect Baidu’s requirements. Some information may also not be published on your website because of Chinese government rules. Some other tips to have an SEO friendly website are: to include the right key words, publish great and a diversity of contents, a website in Chinese, a locally hosted website, abide to the Chinese government rules and finally make sure that you have backlinks.
5: Have a good e-reputation
Sales in China all start with being visible, known and most importantly having a good reputation. Chinese people attach much importance to what we call in China “Mian Zi 面子”or Face in English. It’s actually quite hard to define the principle of Mian Zi in a few words because it’s one of the basic and most deeply rooted principles in the Chinese culture. If we could only use one word to define the notion of Face in China it would be « honour » or « reputation ».
Another important thing is the fact that Chinese people values information shared by their social network, and more specifically online social network. That is why having a good reputation and positive feedback about your company online is critical. If negative comments were spread all over Chinese main social media and on the web, visitors would tend to trust these findings (even if they may be false).
Manage your e-reputation to ensure that you are gaining whether than losing. There are several ways to go around it: Share high quality and amazing content on social media platforms like WeChat and WeiBo, have people talk positively about you by engaging them and offering them value, use offers, promotions or coupons to attract new followers. Final food for thought, take your online activity back to reality by inviting your WeChat followers to attend an event like for example Mont Blanc with its black and white event, or offer special services to be booked online but delivered onsite.