The Chinese economy stands as the second largest in the world, behind the USA. Much of the world’s manufacturing is Chinese, and there is a massive, and quickly growing, consumer market place within the country that is beginning to enjoy the trappings of the country’s economic growth.
The online world is huge in China. Google has not been able to penetrate this mammoth economy as effectively as the rest of the globe, though there is evidence that many Chinese businesses are impressed with its analytics and the access to information that doesn’t currently exist with their Chinese equivalent Baidu. Google currently holds about 4% of search engine traffic. Baidu is the main search engine provider for China and over the next decade will look to secure this hold despite the advances of Google into its territory. It currently holds about 69% of the current Chinese internet traffic, some 450 million searchers.
Let’s Look At Some Facts!
There are about 520 million people accessing the internet in China, around 75% of this number is through mobile technologies. Mobile technologies have allowed poorer consumers to still gain access to the internet and meant that the online market place in China has become gigantic. It is estimated that around 220 million people shop regularly online in China, 90 million Chinese are expected to book holidays online this year alone, 350 million are online gamers (more than the population of the entire USA), and 200 million Chinese do internet banking. Can you afford to not have your business promoted on a search engine that has 520 million users? Doing E- marketing in China does not have to be as big a jump as many think it is. You can be trading from your current location!
Baidu, SEO & Internet Marketing
SEO in China is very similar to the what you would have practiced on Google, maybe 10 years ago. The building of back links is imperative, and the quality levels are not quite at the same level of Google post Panda and Penguin. Advertising is much more prominent than it is on Google as well, and you have more influence on rankings the more you spend on your advertising. This helps to guarantee your position based on your spend, not always the case with most SEO strategies on Google.
You can also pick particular provinces with Baidu to promote your website, much like you can with Google. This means that you can target up and coming areas where competition is not so high to build your brand authority and help establish your business within the Chinese economy. Many areas only have the internet as a means to buy the consumer products they want due to a lack of service from any physical outlets. This is a huge opportunity for many businesses.
There are many Chinese social media platforms to promote your business online throughout China’s Internet world. TenCent is the biggest platform in China and has around 800 million members. Poor people can access the site through 2 g phones and therefore have a stake in China’s internet revolution. This is why it is the largest service provider. It is a social media hub born out of QQ instant messaging service. Sina Weibo is like a cross between Twitter and Facebook, though it is ahead of the game with image and video uploading. It currently has around 400 million users and is incredibly influential in China’s social media world. This makes it very useful for those looking to launch brands and establish a consumer base within this economy. Wechat which is a part of Ten Cent and a large photo sharing platform is beginning to gain a large share of the social media landscape. The fact is that just like with Google, in China utilising the various social media sites is imperative in building up a brand and reputation with those who you are trying to convince to be your customers or clients tomorrow. The actual membership numbers are truly staggering and continually grow year on year.
Many platforms, like Sina Weibo and Tencent are moving into the western markets currently dominated by Facebook, Twitter and many other more recognisable companies. With 25% of the global social media users Chinese and using Chinese based platforms I would say that we will see those same platforms growing effectively around the world over the next 10 – 20 years. There are many other social media platforms to take into consideration regarding the promotion of your company, and would be wise to seek out an agency that understands what one suits the particular demographic your company will be looking to target.
You should make sure that all websites are in Mandarin, and not through Google translator please; especially if you are serious about breaking into the Chinese Ecommerce market place. Websites are set up differently to their western counterparts as information is not absorbed the same by the Chinese consumer. It is worth using an agency that has experience of creating sites specifically for the Chinese, and can understand the ways of promoting information effectively utilising mandarin and appropriate images and layouts. You want the site to be specifically for your target Chinese audience.
What Are You Waiting For?
Of course you need to investigate necessary licensing, and maybe partners and distributors also need to be found. The best thing to do is work with an agency that has experience in promoting companies into China online, and can help you make the necessary contacts to ensure success. Chinese consumers expect good after sales care, (who doesn’t right?), so make sure that you either hire Chinese speaking customer liaison staff in your country or in China itself to keep any customers you get. This can be scaled appropriately depending on the amount of business you accrue. Touches like this will separate you from competitors that expect to sell their wares without the sufficient support in place.
You could be trading, right now, into the worlds second largest, and quickly growing, economy. So why wait? It is a great idea to test your products or services online there to see what potential may lie in the Chinese market place, relevant to your business. You can gain quite a strong online presence within China for no more than $10,000 in many instances, and that is a lot cheaper than setting your business up there physically. You may want to build your brand up to a particular level before embarking there physically anyway. The fact is that you are probably aware of promoting yourself within the country you are trading in, and are also aware that effective SEO and internet promotion can and will enhance your business traffic, and in the age of social media, gain you loyal followers and plenty of online attention. China can offer you all of that too, and a quickly growing economy to boot. If it is good enough for Tom Cruise, (who currently has nearly 5 million Sina Wibo followers), it should be good enough for your business too.