The Real Cost of B2B China Marketing - 2021 Edition

There’s no place like China when it comes to advertising. The Chinese audience is comparatively-speaking very receptive to ads and businesses in China make sure to take advantage of it. At the time when the Western digital advertising market has become saturated and leads are sceptical to advertising, it may be time to consider China who have seen a strong year on year growth in ad spending even during the COVID pandemic.

Is marketing cheaper in China?

While many may think that advertising and marketing will be cheaper in China, it is actually not the case. Many people underestimate their budget and overestimate the return on China marketing. This is due to extremely high competition among advertisers for the attention of the audience, as well as the unreliability of advertising platforms when it comes to targeting. Because of that, working with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is a method widely used to promote the content as they are more reliable in terms of the target audience. This can get very pricey very quickly. Moreover, while the CPC on Baidu is significantly lower than on Google, most platforms require a large deposit when you sign up your account, so the initial investment you have to make is higher overall.

While you need to manage your expectations when it comes to China marketing, we have seen rapid growth for businesses investing in it. As long as you have the right tools and expertise to get started, it is definitely an opportunity you should consider.

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How much does a marketing campaign in China cost?

The cost of your China marketing campaign really depends on how niche your industry is. While there is a huge competition in the China market, your costs will be lower than average if you’re running a niche B2B business. For a large-scale B2C campaign, the cost can easily add up to anything from USD 100,000 to more than USD 1,000,000

That said, from our experience with B2B clients, it is absolutely achievable to work with a smaller budget and successfully promote your products and services in China. Here is what a standard B2B campaign will cost you annually, based on the size of your campaign.

 

Scale of campaign

Items included

Estimated  cost

Small

  • Baidu advertising
  • 1 dedicated Baidu Landing Page

USD 10,000 - 15,000

Medium

  • Baidu Advertising
  • China microsite
  • WeChat marketing
  • Tencent
  • Zhihu

USD 50,000 - 70,000



Large

  • Baidu Advertising
  • China Microsite
  • WeChat Marketing
  • Tencent
  • Zhihu
  • China CRM
  • Automation
  • KOLs (influencers)

USD 85,000 - 100,000


What does the cost of your campaign depend on?

One cost factor to consider is how much you will have to spend on media buying - and this will vary depending on whether or not you have a business registered in China. Some networks, such as Tencent, offer lower ad-buying rates for local businesses. If you’re not ready to take the big step of setting up a business entity in China, you can seek the help of a local advertising agency for media buying. 

Another crucial investment you’ll need to plan for is setting up a Chinese website. We have a great article about the benefits of hosting a website in China and we believe it is one of the things you should never omit in your budget. If you don’t have time to read the full blog, the main advantages of having a China-hosted website include a higher loading speed of your website, as well as a better opportunity to rank in Chinese search engines. If you’re not yet ready to host a website in China, your best bet will be to develop a landing page or a microsite to start with. 

And lastly, you will need to produce content in Chinese. From our experience, it is crucial to have a native Chinese speaker to write and proofread the content, as many translation agencies do not specialize in localising the content. If you do not have a native Chinese speaker on your team, it may be worth investing in a freelancer, or better yet - outsource content writing to an agency that can also help you form a consistent content strategy. 

How to allocate your China marketing budget?

No matter what’s the size of your China marketing campaign, you should make sure to allocate a chunk of your budget for Baidu advertising and social media, such as WeChat marketing. If you have a limited budget, your best bet is to focus on Baidu, Tencent, and WeChat.

It is ideal to include KOLs in your budget (if you are able to afford it), and the bigger the campaign scale, the larger percentage should go towards KOLs, reaching up to 40% for mega-scale campaigns. However, we highly recommend allocating any additional budget to working with KOLs. A mistake that foreign companies often make is to not use KOLs at all, even if their budget allows that - often due to the belief that their industry is too niche. While this may be true in the Western market, there are many specialised influencers - from pet supplies to eyewear, that can bring success for your China marketing campaign. That said, you should not overspend on macro-influencers if you are just starting out. You will get a much better return if you work with micro- to medium-sized influencer audiences to get started.

At the end of the day, the specific budget split will always depend on who is your target audience, and which platform in China they can be found on. While Baidu will always be a safe bet and a priority, there are many unique social media platforms that often combine e-commerce, such as this social sharing app, RED. The only problem is, those apps often come and go as consumers move onto another one, and it’s best to trust local experts when it comes to reliable information on trending social media channels. Thorough research is always recommended before committing to a budget, and you should never limit yourself to a one-size-fits-all marketing plan in China.

Plan your China marketing strategy with us

Our office in Shenzhen, China has an experienced bilingual team that has helped many of our clients effectively reach the Chinese audience with tailored marketing campaigns. Whether you’d like some help with your first China mini-campaign or a full marketing plan with comprehensive local research - get in touch with our team to find out more about how we can work together to open up new opportunities for your business.

 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. 

Baidu advertising services

Martyna Chmielewska

About the Author

Martyna Chmielewska

Martyna has joined Oxygen as a Marketing Intern in 2019. Since then, she has immersed herself in Inbound marketing, content creation, and search engine optimisation for B2B and B2C clients. She is also certified in Hubspot marketing and UX/UI design.

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