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Using digital in China to enable B2B business growth
Insights | Mar 2021

Do you normally participate in exhibition or fairs to establish or expand your business in China? But in times like these where travelling are difficult you might have had limited opportunities. “Guanxi” is one of the element which is key when doing business in China but in order to get started in China you do not need “guanxi”. But you will need a strong offering, a way to get your potential clients to notice you, and the ability to educate them. Digital is an important element of this like in any market but taking into account of the uniqueness of the Chinese digital landscape where tactics will be differ from the ones we are use to in the Nordics.

EMAIL FOR B2B COMMUNICATIONS

Email is useful for marketing in China, but it’s not utilize at all the same way as in the rest of the world. In general, you can expect Chinese professionals to check their email when they’re at work and very often you need to send a WeChat message or give them a call to inform them about the email. In China most systems do not use email as the primary identifier but instead they use phone number as their login ID. Most Chinese businesses do not request potential customers to enter email addresses in lead generation forms but instead WeChat contacts is used heavily.

WECHAT FOR B2B MARKETING

WeChat is probably one of the most important social media platform in China, and it is used extensively. WeChat could be compared to WhatsApp or Facebook or PayPal or many other things, but none of those comparisons does it justice, because it effectively replaces all of those in China, and more. From the perspective of B2B marketing, WeChat can be helpful in a few key ways. It is a great place for businesses to share long-form content with your followers like newsletters or blogs. WeChat functions like a mini-website for itself where you can create custom menus that allows your followers to find key information easily. Most importantly WeChat is a great tool for you to communicate directly with your potential clients. Instead of requiring potential customers to contact you via email, at least give them the option of reaching out via WeChat as this is much more efficient and thereby will increase your conversion rates.

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The most important social media platform in China – Wechat

LOCALIZING YOUR WEBSITE FOR CHINA

Chinese people read Chinese and even thought they might be able professionally to speak English they still prefer Chinese content. It is not only recommended to localize your website just because of preference it is also recommended due to ranking in Baidu which is the largest search engine in China. It is therefore recommended to create a specific Chinese language version of your website for China with Chinese landing page, homepage, about us and key services pages information of course. The landing page is in particular important as it is also weight very heavy for the search optimization in Baidu. Another important aspect to keep in mind is where the site is hosted. The most ideal solution would be if the website is separately is hosted in China but this will require an ICP license. But there are trade-offs between cost, efficiency and marketing effectiveness, so it’s important to strike the right balance for your businesses goal for China.

BAIDU SEO FOR B2B

SEO in China will probably not get you as far as you know it in the Nordics but with that being said it is still possible to get organic search traffic without applying too much effort. However it is important that you keep in mind in order to drive the heavy traffic search advertising will be needed. The important part to make your site SEO friendly in China is to ensure that your site is localized and that your Chinese keywords are making use of in title, meta description and throughout your pages in a natural, unobtrusive way. Baidu tends to place a lot of search ads at the top of search results—up to seven! Plus, it will rank many of its own resources high up on the results pages, such as their own Baidu Baike. 

BAIDU SEARCH ADVERTISING

Google is blocked in China and in China Baidu is the most popular search engine. In the google world some of the most important elements are “Google ads, landing page, contact form” and in Baidu it is not that different but still different enough that you need to make some adjustments. Think about building the account from the ground with basic marketing plan first and then the Baidu account structure. Due to differences in language and the technical aspects of Baidu SEM, this way you avoid simple translation from English which will not give the optimal campaigns. When building campaign in China ensure that you do it at least a month ahead as it takes a week or two to setup an account in Baidu and then you need to plan the actual campaigns.

ZHIHU FOR B2B MARKETING

Zhihu is a Q&A platform similar to Quora where users can ask or answer questions, then the answers are voted up or down. This means that the more popular answers tend to rise to the top. Zhihu’s user base contains a lot of white-collar professionals and other well-educated users but it is not limited to these groups. The platform is very popular for professionals, they use it to check Zhihu as a point of information during purchase journey. Some of them go to Zhihu directly, while others search on Baidu and see the Zhihu posts near the top of the search results page. It is recommended to use Zhihu to answer questions from users which gives a positive and accurate information about the brands you represent. The tool also provides the opportunity to educate potential customers and through that way create a win-win for the brand and the Zhihu users.

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