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Opening a business in China is becoming less of a hassle in the recent years. But once you have your company up and running, which is the next step? Online marketing is the key in a country where people use their computers for works and live their lives on mobile devices, but where Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not available. So where do you start?
More than 4,000 businesses are created every day in China, according to UHY , an international accounting and consultancy network. The number doubled since 2010 and made China the leader of entrepreneurial eforts in the world. With an economic growth of 6.9% in 2015 – branded to be the lowest percentage in the last 25 years – is China still a good market for developing a business, especially as a foreigner?
While the growth rate is far from being spectacular, the increase in the Chinese service industry in 2015 is picking everyone’s attention – for the first time the service branch accounted for more than half of the economy. At 50.5% the signs are good for a future development and foreign experts are welcome to consult and expand the service area.
As a foreigner you can create a Joint Venture with a Chinese counterpart, start your own WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) or a FICE (Foreign Invested Commercial Enterprise). Any choice you make, your next step is to make your company visible online, since Chinese people buy and live online. Do you think this statement is an overestimated metaphor?
In 2015, China was the largest retail e-commerce market with total sales of over US$899 billion, nearly half of the global’s total. According to McKinsey, in tier-1 cities, 81% of population shop online, while Epsilon states that 72% of China online shoppers keep online all day. 12.7 billion orders are placed on the Alibaba website every year. In 2015, for Single’s Day, Chinese users spent 14.34 billion US dollars on Tmall.com.
More than 780 million smartphones were activated in China until 2016, according to official information from China’s Internet Network Information Center. Forty-nine percent of the population (668 million) is connected to the Internet, with an internet user spending on average over 6 hours 8 minutes on media per day, of which over 3 hours on social media and only 2 hours 40 minutes on TV, 11 minutes on radio, 10 minutes on newspaper, and only 1 minute on magazine.
With your target customers living and spending online, the first step is to go online. In a multitude of social networks – most of them unfamiliar to the Western user, which is the one you should start with?
No matter where you promote your business online, you need to send the users somewhere, and that is your website. Keep in mind a couple of essential aspects and you can count on your website being your best business card.
WeChat just announced that it reached more than 700 million monthly users. While around 100 million might be outside China, the potential the social network has for your business is unimaginable. And that is because not only you have access to an incredible volume of users, but also because these users spend relevant time on WeChat and use integrated third-party apps. The average amount of time an adult spends on WeChat is 40 minutes/day, with 55.2% users opening the app more than 10 times a day!
WeChat is also the answer to your newsletter-related plans. In China, the classic newsletter is dead. Companies use instead their official WeChat account to update and interact with their followers. Here‘s how to do it.
Video content is king on the global markets. It easily becomes viral and it can bring more information to your customer than an well-crafted press release. In China, YouTube is not available, so your option is Youku.
With more than 150 million daily active users, the platform is the most popular of its kind on the Chinese market, with an average of 900 million daily video views, out of which 400 million on mobile devices.
With a market of almost 80%, Baidu is the main search engine in China. With half of the traffic coming from mobile devices and half from computers, Baidu is a good entry point on a specific market for your company.
A while ago we took some time to explain the basics of online marketing in China, both B2B and B2C. The main ideas is that you can use Baidu to give credibility for your business, using the Baidu Trust service, and that you should invest in Baidu AdWords which is an efficent tested tool.
With more than 222 million monthly active users, Weibo is one social network which might remind you of Twitter. Celebrities and businesses have official accounts on Weibo and use the platform to share original content and to get direct feedback from their followers.
Talking about their followers, they are extremely important since more than 44% of them use every day an e-commerce app.
The conclusion is simple. While you plan to start your business in China, also start getting used to the Chinese internet. Begin as a user on the biggest social media platforms and test for yourself the power of online marketing on the Mainland. Then apply what you learn, but always add something fresh and original, Chinese netizens will appreciate your effort!