Entering the crowded online Chinese marketplace can be a difficult and time-consuming task if you don’t have the experience. At Haines, we’ve worked with many businesses to help them take their product overseas and get it into the hands of Chinese consumers.
The hardest part of breaking into the Chinese market can often be getting started. Chinese social media platforms are similar to Western ones, but with some slight differences, and it can be hard to wrap your head around these differences when people are so used to using platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The most important platforms when it comes to social media in China are WeChat and Weibo, so setting up accounts on both of these sites will be key to your success.
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Before you start your accounts you’ll need to figure out what sort of account your business wants. WeChat offers two types of official accounts for businesses, a service account or a subscription account, each with their own pros and cons. Subscription accounts allow you to show a lot more content to your followers, giving businesses the option to send out 1 group message per day (as opposed to 4 per month on a service account). Service accounts however come with a lot more features, and allow a higher degree of interaction and communication with customers who’ve bought, or are in the process of buying your product.
When starting an account with Weibo, the most important concern will be getting your account verified. For international businesses, this can be done either by using your own overseas business license and going through a special application process, or by using a 3rd party Chinese license to create your account. Depending on your time frame and plans, either one of these can be the right option. Chinese consumers place a lot more value in brands than Western consumers do, so having a verified account helps to show that your business is legitimate and can be trusted.
Studies have shown that around 50% of e-commerce in Asia is driven by social media, so using key opinion leaders and influencers on social media will help build more trust in your brand than traditional paid advertising. WeChat group chats provide businesses with a great avenue to target specific markets and areas, with the ability to advertise products to group chats of over 400+ people who all have a similar interest. Knowing which groups and influencers to use for your product can be difficult, so if you don’t have a good understanding of Chinese culture, seeking the advice of someone who does is often a good idea.
Marketing your product online is important, but it’s also important not to forget offline advertising. QR codes have been increasingly used by Chinese businesses to try and make finding and buying an item as easy as possible. Chinese consumers have different motivations when compared to Western consumer, they put a much bigger emphasis on the experience they have when shopping, rather than focusing on the price. Using QR codes helps to make the shopping experience as easy as possible, quickly scanning the code will allow you to buy something through your WeChat wallet within seconds, making it so easy you don’t even need to take your wallet out of your pocket.
Although a key focus in Western countries, many businesses overlook the importance of SEO when it comes to selling their product in China. Unlike the rest of the world, Google is not the most used search engine in China, instead people looking to search for something online will use Baidu. Knowing the ins and outs of their algorithm and search model will allow you to ensure that your business ends up on the first page of all relevant search results.
Our marketing team at Haines has experience in launching brands into Asia and with the right expertise and knowledge, we can help get your product into the largest e-commerce market in the world.