Home  › Email › Email Marketing
relationships

Relationships and Localisation: The Key to Understanding Email Marketing in China

  |  July 8, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Global email standard rules don't apply in China; here's how you should localise for the market.

While the commercial potential of the Chinese Internet has barely been tapped, its rapid development and sheer number of Internet users (over 400 million) offer great opportunity for market growth. As global marketers look to reach consumers and businesses via the main driver for any Internet marketing programme - email - standard rules just don't apply.

If you're serious about your company's foray into China, then be advised: you need to plan for the long haul and you need to develop trusted personal relationships, locally. Hurdles you will face include ISP fragmentation (China has six to seven major ISPs), less developed anti-spam technologies, greater volume of mailboxes, different tech specs, more involved parties (consumers, ISPs, and the government), strict advertising rules, and culturally-sensitive content-related issues. Overwhelming? A bit. Rewarding? Definitely.

To help you on your way - invest in relationships. Make time to meet and develop good personal relationships with leading ISPs (mailbox partners) like Tencent QQ and Sohu. Nothing happens in China without personal trust, so it is really important to build relationships with business partners. If you don't have an internal source who can help build relationships, use a third-party mediator with knowledge of the Chinese market.

If you think you can manage your Chinese marketing remotely - think again. Even Internet marketing efforts require a lot of face-time in order to be successful. Marketing operations need to be managed locally. And just because English is widely studied in China, doesn't mean it should be the language used in your marketing campaign. In fact, Chinese is essential for marketing purposes, not only to get the attention it deserves, but to help ensure deliverability. Chinese ISPs tend to be suspicious of English emails and view non-Chinese IP addresses as threats.

Don't stop at localising your email marketing materials; make sure your website and any other links you use are also in local language. Using a localiser from Mainland China (not Hong Kong or Taiwan) will help you be culturally sensitive and increase your chance at success. Localisers will vet your email content and help ensure it is appropriate - that you haven't picked a date when everyone is on holiday, or that your colour scheme, use of numbers (lucky and unlucky), symbols, etc. is culturally appropriate and will not inadvertently affect you negatively - with lasting repercussions.

To develop successful, local campaigns you'll need to be more creative in reaching your customers - i.e., via SMS and IM, which is wildly more important than in the U.S. or the EU. You also will need to make some technical adjustments, like setting up your email servers in China, so you don't have to go through an international gateway, and following local anti-spam and advertising legislation.

Once you have your infrastructure set up, and your campaigns designed and ready to go, remember three things to always keep in mind when launching your email marketing efforts in China: 1) relationships, 2) relationships, and 3) localisation.

Subscribe to ClickZ Asia to receive your weekly dose of the region's latest trends, tips, and insights straight to your inbox.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael  Tsui

Michael Tsui joined Return Path in April 2010 as a Business Development Manager, mainly focused on forging and growing partnerships in China. Michael has a wealth of email marketing experience from his earlier positions at both DoubleClick and Epsilon. Michael received his MBA from Grenoble Graduate School of Management in France and received his undergraduate degree from Shanghai University in China. Prior to business school, Michael worked at Lucent Alcatel as key account manager, and spent time in Southeast Asia. Michael is fluent in both Mandarin Chinese and English.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

Jobs

    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...
    • Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative
      Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative (Agora Financial) - BaltimoreAgora Financial, one of the nation's largest independent publishers...
    • Managing Editor
      Managing Editor (Common Sense Publishing) - BaltimoreWE’RE HIRING: WE NEED AN AMAZING EDITOR TO POLISH WORLD-CLASS CONTENT   The Palm...