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6 Golden Rules of Email Marketing in China

  |  December 22, 2010   |  Comments   |  

Email marketers face various challenges in China: acquiring quality databases, low open and delivery rates, spam, and more. Consider these rules before you start.

Nowadays email marketers in China face various challenges such as difficulty in acquiring quality databases, low email open and delivery rates, and handling spam complaints among others. Here are six golden rules before you start.

1. Leverage Popular Trends to Acquire Quality Email Address

Spam is a very serious problem in China. The concept of 'permission-based' marketing is still at an immature stage. Instead of using CDs with tons of email addresses from an unknown source, marketers should consider turning to popular social media channels such as RenRen or Tianya to collect quality email addresses in the country.

With the strict registration procedures in some social communities, you could leverage it to create a funny game and embed with an email opt-in option inside. Once you draw their interest, with incentives like coupons or gifts, the Chinese Net will eagerly provide their email addresses and you could acquire a large opt-in database within a short period.

2. Cleanse Lists to Ensure Exponential Database Growth

With 1.3 billion people in China, database acquisition rates can grow quickly every month. After collecting a huge opt-in email list, you must practice list cleansing regularly and dig out inactive addresses. This is to avoid overloading your mail server with inactive members and decrease overall response rates.

3. Remember That Relevance Is Still Key

Online and purchase behaviour in different cities can be very different because of the diverse demographics in China. Marketers in the country should recognize the importance of employing demographic, behavioral, lifestyle, and life-stage segmentation to identify cluster of customers, and launch region-specific target campaigns with highly relevant information that their customers want.

4. Nurture Relationships With ISPs

Even though you have followed all best practices (e.g. double opt-in) and authentication processes to ensure your email deliverability, "false-positives" may still happen because of the extraordinarily large email volume that usually occurs in China. Marketers who have issues with deliverability can look for a reliable local email service provider (ESP) who possesses good and trusting relationships with the ISPs in China (e.g. 163, QQ, Sina). These ESPs generally have passed a series of evaluation from ISPs before and can help you increase your in-box rate at a faster pace.

5. Support Simplified Chinese in the Subject Line

Chinese recipients undoubtedly prefer subject lines in simplified Chinese. Before you roll out your campaign, don't forget to check your character code in the subject line to ensure it is in either GB2312 or UTF-8. It will help you avoid low open rates due to strange symbols appearing in your subject line and sender name.

Besides, the Chinese government has recently required senders to insert "Ad" (representing "Advertisement") in subject lines to clarify a promotional email. You may follow this rule but it will certainly affect the open rate of your email campaign. People don't usually like to open "advertisement" actively. Talk to your email solution provider for advice.

6. Give Subscribers an Easy Way to Opt Out

In China, subscribers often complain about the complicated and problematic opt-out methods such as having to make phone calls or send formal emails to companies before they would remove their contact details from the database.

This year, some China ISPs are becoming more vigilant in getting marketers to implement an opt-out system in light of spam. I suggest it is wise to give you and your subscribers peace of mind by inserting an un-subscription link in your emails and auto-excluding them from your database once they register.

Of course, there are more areas marketers must pay attention to when doing email marketing in China. I will share more specifically in different in-depth domains in upcoming columns. Let's share until next time.

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Francis Kwok

Francis Kwok is the founder and CEO of Radica Systems. Radica has become a leading e-marketing solution provider in six markets in Asia Pacific under his leadership. He has worked closely with Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, Global Sources, CTrip, BenQ China, Li Ning Company, and others, and works to enable enterprises to develop highly effective e-marketing campaigns with advanced personalisation technology.

With numerous experiences in the domain, Francis is also a regular author and guest speaker in Asia. Currently, Francis holds an executive position at the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing. He is also a council member of iProA (Internet Professional Association) and a business adviser of SUCCESS of Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department.

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