For US based affiliates the growth of the internet and online consumer culture in China presents significant opportunities. There are now over 700 million Chinese citizens online, an internet penetration rate of 55% which is only set to further grow. The scale of the digital uptake in China has been unprecedented and everyone is looking for a slice of this pie.
Your products and services can now therefore be marketed online in China to a whole new audience whom are increasingly consumer savy. The growing middle class of consumer in China have developed a strong desire for western products and services, they are often seen as a byword for quality.
Here are some key tips on how to sell to the lucrative Chinese market.
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To sell to the Chinese you need to develop your e-reputation, the Chinese will often search on forums and websites for reviews about your company and product. Here is a key site for the cultivation of positive e-sentiment, starting the right conversations and generating positive reviews have a great impact in China. The Chinese are especially influenced by the views of other consumers and while forum marketing declined in the west it is still incredibly important in China.
You need to be highly visible online in China. Baidu is the largest search engine presiding over 70% of the market, forget google etc, due to government regulation domestic Chinese firms dominate. Chinese websites and content can optimized online for higher page rankings in the natural search results whilst PPC advertising helps generate leads quickly (although in the long term it is more expensive to keep this type of campaign up).
Being visible and promoting yourself on the right e-commerce platforms is important, setting up stores on Tmall, Tabao and JD.com will enable you to attract many Chinese consumers. What are your price points? Browse these websites and compare what you offer with other stores. Your store content will need to be translated into Chinese and a customer service set up to answer any queries.
Selling on social networks is a unique phenomenon in China. WeChat, the largest network, now boasts over 700 million active users largely in China but also across Asia. They have recently launched a micro-store service where you can create an official account and host a store within the application, this is a huge opportunity with users remaining captive within the app for longer and spending more time browsing than on many commerce websites. Utilize WeChat and it’s integrated services to shift your products/services.
Key Opinion Leaders:
As a US based affiliate you may be established and respected in your field but in China you will be largely unknown. You need to collaborate with influencers online who already have an established following in China. The culture of sharing content is strong in China so partner with those that already have networks of followers in your specific sector.
The QR code is huge in China, they are now embedded on physical products, packages and in most marketing content, the QR code when scanned links to your official WeChat account so create a unique code and offer an incentive for them to scan it, Chinese companies will often link this with games, exclusive offers and promotional discounts. US based affiliates can drive traffic through the clever placing of QR codes, you just need to adapt to this different digital infrastructure.
Adapt your content:
You will need your promotional content and website translated into Mandarin Chinese. Think about how you are going to sell your product? Spend time researching the Chinese consumer and what they look for in your field. A popular example is that cartoon styled animation for logos and adverts is still very popular. What is going to be your selling point for the Chinese consumer? You can emphasize quality and authenticity as many Chinese products have become associated with counterfeits and fakes.
Partnering with local specialists:
The infrastructure is now in place for western business to enter China, you just need the courage to initially invest and to find the right partner to assist you. Working with a reputable agency allows you to leverage their media contacts and expertise, it also frees up your time to work on converting leads to sales while the agency deliver the leads. Look at not just the price but the case studies, quality of work and reputation before partnering with anyone in China, you need to be able to trust them and their ability to grow your affiliate company.
Benji is a digital marketing specialist for Gentlemen Marketing based in Shanghai, China. He is passionate about providing solutions for western businesses entering the Chinese market for more information see his blog and website here.