COVID has had a massive impact on marketing globally in 2020. With ongoing travel restrictions, trade shows being shut down and in-person meetings going digital – the rest of the world has been moving as fast as it can to digitise their marketing and sales strategies. But what about China? How have things changed for marketing in China and what are the latest B2B marketing strategies to get the best results?
The current sentiment in China
It might be hard to believe, but life is back to a relative normal all over China. While this is great news for China and anyone with business in China, China hasn’t been completely unaffected by the global pandemic. In 2019, China’s exports made up 17.39% of the country’s GDP making it still a very important part of the economy. With the international travel ban still in place and unlikely to lift anytime soon, many trade shows and exhibitions have closed or are running at a greatly reduced capacity. This has meant that many Chinese businesses have started to realise the importance of digital marketing, especially digital marketing for the international market.
Here are some of the latest marketing strategies for attracting more business in China:
#1 Live broadcasting and webinars
Much like the rest of the world, China has been quick to transition to webinars and live broadcasts instead of running in-person events. These webinars and live broadcasts are usually shorter and more ‘to the point’ than Western webinars which focus heavily on being educational. Chinese webinars are usually promoted via an existing social network (WeChat/Weibo etc), through paid ads on Chinese search engines or social platforms and SMS messaging or through third-party platforms like HuoDongXing. It’s crucial that if you decide to do a webinar or live stream for China, you use a Chinese platform to host otherwise you will experience lag issues (even a Zoom call hosted outside of China will not load smoothly within China). We suggest using WeChat Work as it’s free, stable and integrates well with your existing WeChat service account for sharing content.
#2 Inbound content and social posts
While inbound marketing has never traditionally performed well in China – post-COVID China has seen a change in attitude to online learning and more people than ever using search engines or social media to do research. If you have a decent following on WeChat or another social platform it might be worth the investment to create frequent articles and content that they can read and share. If you’re new to creating content in China and want the quickest and fastest results – ZhiHu will generate the best results for not much effort. ZhiHu is quite similar to Quora (western digital Q&A platform) in that your business can answer common questions through their platform which will rank quickly and at the top of Chinese search engines. This strategy is particularly effective for niche B2B industries.
#3 Utilise automation & WeChat Work
Most businesses in China have a sales or marketing team that will contact leads and manage deals via their personal WeChat accounts. This is bad for the sales person who is solely responsible and cannot transfer ownership if they are sick or on holiday. It's even worse for the business which will have no control over what is done on those accounts and may lose large groups of leads should a salesperson decide to go to another company. By implementing a WeChat Work account with QR codes and giving your sales team round-robin access to leads you can centrally manage all of your contact and conversations. WeChat Work is also free, making it THE essential tool to have if you are running a sales or marketing operation in China. Official WeChat accounts in China are becoming more and more sophisticated and visitors have high expectations when it comes to automation and response times. There are many tools for building out the automation part of your WeChat or website in China and improving your conversion rates.
#4 Diversify your advertising strategy
There are more platforms than ever in China and each of them have their own rules, restrictions and application processes. While some will inevitably perform better than others, it’s good to always test 2-3 for your business to see where you get the best results. Baidu is the best option and should always be done first but depending on your industry you may want to test some other options which might outperform Baidu. For a guide to the best advertising B2B platforms and how much it will cost you to advertise in China please read more here.
Does your company need assistance with getting started with marketing or advertising in China? Speak with one of our China marketing experts to find out how we can help.