Understanding B2B Marketing in China

David Henriques

The vast and lucrative Chinese market offers a wide range of opportunities for B2B businesses. With a population of over 1.3 billion, breaking into the Chinese market can be very attractive to almost any business, but there have been a few notable companies that have come short trying to expand in the industry. As you might expect, B2B marketing operates differently in China than it does in the West. The market is incredibly complex, with significant differences to Western audiences along with the added challenges of language, different business norms and marketing platforms to navigate through.

Successful B2B marketing in China involves understanding not only how the market operates, but also appreciating the business values that matter in China. If you are a company looking to perfect your marketing strategy in China for the B2B industry, you’ll need to create a comprehensive plan that meets the unique needs, values and interests of the Chinese B2B market. When starting out in B2B marketing, there are all kinds of strategies and marketing concepts to grasp and here are a few that you should take into consideration.

 
 

Stellar Research & Planning

Research and planning may seem obvious, but the unique dynamics of the Chinese market makes it even more of a necessity to have a deep understanding of the industry.  Having a strong understanding of the Chinese B2B market will help measure the risks involved with implementing various decision-based actions. Investing in Chinese marketing experts can help fast-track this stage with vital insights, knowledge, and expertise into the complex business factors that will influence how quickly you can market successfully to Chinese business buyers.

 
 

Chinese Website Optimization

The business environment in China is strongly dictated by the digital sphere. Having a digital presence is crucial for developing a brand image and the reputation of a company. About 80% of adults in China’s biggest cities already shop online and the majority of buyers look for information on the internet. For a B2B marketing strategy to succeed in China, companies must focus on delivering a tailor made Chinese website that is designed and tested for mobile-friendly usage. Chinese buyers are accustomed to viewing persuasive sites with high-quality content in simplified Chinese. It is an essential way to promote your best business practice to potential buyers.

 
 

Baidu is Important

Baidu is the number one search engine in China and B2B traffic comes directly from online research. Buyers will initially search for keywords to find more information about a product. Baidu’s pay per click (PPC) is also a good way to generate leads in China. The results are instant but the quality of traffic is often low. Organic traffic can be the most powerful and effective way to drive traffic. In order to optimize content for your target Chinese B2B audience, Baidu SEO can be used as part of a longer-term and sustained marketing approach that links with other digital marketing strategies and will help your business grow at a much faster rate.

 
 

Communication with WeChat

In western countries, companies turn to e-mail for most business related matters. In China, the concept can be a bit different. E-mail has never really been an important factor in doing business in China due to the unique internet culture of the region. Businesses more than often use WeChat to message or exchange important information. This medium can be great for easy communication and save costs when dealing with your customers and potential buyers. Businesses also prefer to send quotations via WeChat or QQ rather than traditional email.

 
 

Don’t Forget about UGC

User generated content (UGC) may not be fully automated like most content marketing tactics, but UGC initiatives can give companies the opportunity to collect valuable insight on engagement and navigation behavior. It’s important to encourage buyers and consumers that rely on your services to promote your brand. Their promotion will help define the value of your business and attract potential businesses and partners to become a part of the conversation.

 
 

Co-Branding Can Build Relevancy

The use of co-branding as a marketing strategy has become more and more important for successful campaigning. This type of market strategy is normal in Western countries but remains an innovative approach for B2B marketing in China. It can be difficult for Western brands to become and stay relevant. Co-branding can be a mutually beneficial way to overcome that hurdle, provided you choose the right partner and establish an effective marketing strategy.

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Analytics is Essential

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Baidu Analytics is an essential tool for B2B businesses in the Chinese market. It provides valuable insight into your current visitors and shows where improvements need to be made on your website. It is vital to track and record your campaign progress. This allows digital marketing activity to be refined and for resources to be reallocated towards marketing activities which yield the highest return. Baidu Tongji and Baidu Zhanzhang are analytical tools that can produce insightful reports and help you develop an integrated online marketing strategy to deliver a targeted and relevant message to your audience through multiple channels.

 
 

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David Henriques
David Henriques

Digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Sekkei Studio, a digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. More than 10 years of experience in helping the communication of foreign companies in China.

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