Digital Marketing in China: 5 channels B2B companies should consider

October 7, 2022
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Here is a crazy statistic, there are over 1.6 billion cellphone subscriptions as of July 2022 in China. Looking at this number, clarifies why brands can’t afford not to meet their clients via digital channels, as this encourages companies to look for marketing solutions online to find as many Chinese customers. But even though the Chinese market is so large, it is not as simple as it seems.

First, there is not one ideal digital marketing platform for B2B companies in China. Furthermore, B2B companies with successful marketing experience with western digital platforms, face challenges when dealing with digital B2B marketing in China. Such as difficulties in audiences’ segmentation, low response rates for campaigns, and leads that don’t convert to sales. Regardless of that, according to WordStream, 75% of businesses in China are reporting on how their digital marketing campaigns directly influence overall revenue. For instance, PPC (Pay Per Click) returns $2 for every $1 spent—resulting in a 200% ROI rate.

Our conclusion is that B2B companies in China should think out-of-the-box and approach a solution for these problems in a different manner, sometimes the solution is using a combination of marketing channels, and in certain cases, it is more effective to invest in a local sales team rather than invest in marketing online. From our experience, every company has its own specific needs and a specific solution.

In this guide, we summarized 5 feasible and effective Chinese online platforms that can provide solutions for your B2B company’s needs, and help you maximize the potential of digital marketing in China.

1 – Baidu landing pages (SEM)

Baidu is by far China’s leading search engine, with nearly 80% market share. Although many international brands feel disinclined to build a website in China due to the ICP filing requirements. But, when using Baidu’s landing page service, Jimuyu, ICP filling is not required, and the service provides B2B and B2C companies an easy way to create small websites or landing pages for sourcing customers on a PPC account. In this way, providing a simple and convenient solution for foreign companies to diversify their digital presence in China’s Internet dimensions. If you wish to generate leads across platforms, Baidu’s landing pages might be the best option for you.

In fact, no ICP fillings means international brands don’t need to undergo a lengthy process and can focus on localizing their landing page in terms of copy and design. In this way, Jimuyu offers a wide variety of pre-built templates that align with local customers’ UI/UX preferences.

These also include:

  • Enacting a live-chat function, which Chinese people absolutely LOVE
  • A high level of responsiveness, so the landing page is both desktop and mobile optimized
  • Faster loading speed compared to most foreign-hosted websites, due to being hosted by Baidu

Note that you should account for customer service available to read and reply to messages and leads coming from those landing pages. We recommend this service will be China-based and done by local professionals. If you don’t have the manpower, this is a service you can also outsource. Read more about marketing localization in China.

2 – Baidu & WeChat SEO optimization

Even if you have written the most brilliant piece of content – if no one can find it, it’s worthless. In other words, sharing content on your WeChat official account or on your website without an informed SEO strategy to increase brand visibility will result in bad marketing results.

In that sense, international brands should remember that much like Baidu, WeChat acts as an independent search engine. Searching for any term on WeChat may display articles from official WeChat accounts, a specific article, WeChat moments of your contacts, WeChat mini programs, etc. Hence, WeChat’s search engine offers its users content available within the WeChat platform, separated from search results on Baidu. When considering that around 1.29 billion active users rely on WeChat’s search function for information every month, this is not something any company should take lightly. This suggests that companies should spend time on keyword research in line with their industry terminology and users’ search patterns to grow their exposure to the right customers searching for them.

3 –  PR – Digital magazines

Digital magazines provide readers with professional, high-quality content that appeals to the readers field of interest. Usually, the authors and brands who publish content in magazines are considered industry experts who have valuable insights to share. That creates a perfect ground for B2B companies to offer their articles to such magazines and consequently, spread their word among relevant audiences.

International B2B companies doing business in China can contribute to several digital magazines in the fields of manufacturing, medical devices, technology, plastics, automotive, Agri-tech, water tech, etc. Participated in an exhibition? Make sure you get some press coverage for it, don’t waste any chance of exposure.

Our services assist international companies in the Chinese market. Contact us

4 –  WeChat official accounts

Sharing content on a WeChat official account is THE way for maximizing WeChat SEO. The articles or news’ updates you can publish on the account are the ones you can push in special notifications on your WeCom platform later (read more about WeCom below). They will look more professional than simple messages and will help boost your SEO and keywords.

To market in the best way on WeChat, you can use your own marketing employee/ staff/ team at HQ, but we recommend you at least have someone local looking at what you are advertising. Not only to make sure your content and design are properly localized for the Chinese eyes, but also to double-check the content is compliant with the advertising law. In our opinion, hire a local Chinese marketing specialist.

5 – WeCom

If the name sounds somewhat familiar, then it’s because WeCom is Tencent’s “WeChat for corporate” software. The Chinese giant has already established its reputation as a “super-app”, and like we said WeChat Official Accounts are used by many local and foreign companies for marketing purposes. However, WeCom complements WeChat Official Accounts by some extra value-adding functions for companies:

For starters, WeCom adds the CRM behind the scenes. As the majority of people in China use WeChat also for business purposes, you can be sure your salespeople do the same. But since they are using their personal WeChat accounts, you, as a company, don’t have access to their contact and might lose them if an employee decides to leave. By having a WeChat-based CRM, you not only protect yourself from losing touch with your network, but you are also creating a channel for marketing purposes. Content published on your WeChat Official Account can be shared via your WeCom platform more strategically. Your sales team members can interact and share content in a one-on-one chat with customers, and your marketing manager can broadcast messages for designated groups or segments you created. This way, WeCom provides an option of being specific and business-oriented, as those using WeCom can tag messages and create lists and customer accounts without using a different app. This will help you provide your future clients with tailored up-to-date news, promotions, etc.

The combination of these two capacities (CRM and messaging) facilitates a positive user experience, maintains ongoing professional customer relations, and nurtures customer trust, which is crucial, especially for B2B companies in China as most of the sales are still done in-person and by developing good relationships.

While the five approaches mentioned above can be incorporated into brands’ integrated marketing strategies, digital marketing success in China heavily relies on the involvement of your local teams. Their willingness to share and promote content to drive engagement and increase brand awareness.

At PTL Group we can help you recruit and hire the most suitable employees and support your marketing efforts in the Chinese market. Read more about our HR services in China and marketing localization services in China, and get in touch for further business support in China.

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