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5 Best Digital Marketing Strategies to Enter the Chinese Market

5 Best Digital Marketing Strategies to Enter the Chinese Market

Despite the slowed economy, present geopolitical risks, and the impact of the pandemic, China remains the most attractive global market for foreign businesses.

It continues to provide unparalleled opportunities for businesses around the world and is among the most vibrant markets in terms of the digital environment.

However, knowing where these opportunities lie and accessing the country can be challenging, especially for first-time market entrants.

In this article, you’ll learn the top digital marketing strategies for entering the Chinese market. But first, let’s find out the benefits of doing business in China.

The Benefits of Doing Business in China

Simple. China is the biggest consumer market in the world. With over 1.4 billion individuals as a consumer base, the country offers tremendous opportunities for enterprises to expand and succeed.  

And given its size, it is central to many global and regional developments. China has the leading global manufacturing capacity and a developed supply chain and infrastructure.

Furthermore, it has the biggest e-commerce market worldwide, reaching $3 trillion this year and an impressive growth of $4 trillion by 2027. The country holds about half of the world’s e-commerce transactions in the digital era alone.

The factors that drive e-commerce growth in China are the combination of high internet rates and a vast population, which lay the foundation for online retail. Then, there are government initiatives to enhance people’s digital literacy. 

In addition, China also is known for its market stability and skilled workforce. All these present new market opportunities for foreign businesses.

However, doing business in China is not without challenges. The policy-driven market means foreign businesses must pay close attention to evolving policy trends; the digital landscape is also completely different from that in the West, which requires adapting or even creating a new marketing system for China. 

So, what are the best digital marketing strategies if you want to enter the Chinese market?

Top 5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Enter the Chinese Market

1. Be “Baidu’ed” – Utilize Chinese search engine

Google is our top choice when searching for information online, but not for the Chinese market. For them, they use Baidu. In fact, it has surpassed Google with almost 86% market share.

Hence, understanding and using Chinese search engines will be an essential step for successfully entering the Chinese market via digital marketing. Learn more ways to optimize your visibility in search engine result pages here.

2. Work with a PR agency

Successful business activities depend on excellent relationships. This is more true in China. As such, try to achieve a meaningful engagement with your audience for your business.

Get yourself a local public relations agency in China. There are benefits to it because they have in-depth knowledge of China and its culture, they understand the best media channels for your business and niche, and they have established relationships with industry journalists that can help you establish credibility and elevate your brand awareness.

To achieve even greater awareness, combine this strategy with influencer marketing because it is among the most effective types of marketing in the country. People in China are more interested in the products and services their favorite influencers promote than the brand-promoted ones.

3. Collaborate with established local partners

Acknowledge and value the experience and expertise of established local partners. By forging strategic partnerships or participating in joint ventures with Chinese companies, you’ll gain access to established networks and deeply understand the country’s business landscape.

This strategy reduces the risk of entering the Chinese market and facilitates a smoother market entry. Moreover, implementing it effectively could accelerate business growth and bring long-term success.

But don’t forget successful collaboration requires clear communication, a shared commitment to achieve a common goal, and mutual respect.

4. Go mobile and social

The majority of Chinese people use their smartphones to go online. This is why it’s essential to embrace mobile technology in China

Make your website mobile-friendly and use Chinese social media platforms to promote your products or services or even sell your products directly through e-commerce.

WeChat and Weibo are two of China’s top social media giants. Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) and Douyin are also among the most popular social media platforms. Although your business is not required to be active on all of the platforms, building an active social media presence will help you reach your audience more effectively. 

One thing worth noting is that Chinese social media platforms are built on a closed-loop ecosystem, which means direct external links are usually not allowed. A smarter move is to focus on 1 or 2 key social media platforms as a “hub” and build a strategic funnel based on that platform.

In this case, WeChat is the No.1 choice for most businesses to build their “hub” because of its powerful integrations with third-party apps and marketing features.

5. Localize your brand 

Cultural and traditional values are important in the Chinese community. Therefore, it is wise for new market entrants to refer to Chinese customs. 

Understand their culture so you can localize your business or messages to connect better with your audience. Just look at how McDonald’s China menu incorporated local tastes to adapt to the local market.

Nevertheless, Chinese consumers are also interested in and have been influenced by Western culture, as observed by their purchasing habits.

Knowing these variables will help you determine the differences among people’s behavior and attitudes and know the value orientation of your target audiences.

Note, however, that localization is not as simple as translating slogans and brand names. Brand localization in China requires understanding the Chinese culture and adapting your brand name, content, and brand positioning in a way that will be relevant to the Chinese target audience.

The Takeaway

In essence, entering the Chinese market is by no means, easy. There are fierce competition, trade, and cultural and language barriers to consider.

However, by applying any of these digital marketing strategies we shared above and with continuous innovation, the future of your business in China can set remarkable milestones.

All the best in your new venture!

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