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4 Steps to Develop an Online Marketing Plan for China

  |  November 25, 2013   |  Comments   |  

Consider this approach to draft out your company's online marketing strategy targeting the Chinese audience.

At the end of each year, it’s normally the time to plan ahead for the following year’s marketing plan. Every CMO (chief marketing officer) or online marketing manager, especially those that have newly joined a business with an e-commerce website or a B2B website would be required to draft out their brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Step 1: Identify audience or potential customers for your brand

It’s about connecting the brand (product or service) with the right customers. The CMO or online marketing manager may have been assigned a job to market a brand to the Chinese market, but it’s important to identify the exact range of the brand’s potential customers:

  • The geographical regions where the customers may locate: For example, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, plus other tier-one Chinese cities.
  • Gender and age groups.
  • Annual income.
  • Their personal interests (e.g. How they spent their time on weekends) and what other brands (other than your industry) do they use.

To achieve this:

  • Send out / email an online survey about your brand to your existing customers.
  • Run a focus group: Invite existing customers and customers of your brand’s competitors, and ask them a list of questions about your brand and your competitor’s brands.
  • Search on Google and/or Baidu for industry-specific research reports for quantifiable data.

Step 2: Identify traffic sources that are suitable for your brand

An e-commerce site or B2B site always need traffic (or visitors), and subsequently some of these visitors would eventually convert into customers. It’s important to understand the traffic sources. Traffic source types may include:

  • Search engines: for example, Baidu, Google, 360/So.com, Sogou, Soso, Youdao. And search engines can be split into 2 main categories: paid search and organic search. (There is also mobile search).
  • Direct traffic: the stronger your brand, the higher ratio for the direct traffic your website gets.
  • Social Media: for example, Weibo, Weixin (WeChat), Youku, etc.
  • Partner sites: Sites that are in your industry or are selling products that are supplementary to your brand.
  • Chinese web directories: for example, Hao123.
  • Mobile search and mobile app: Mobile search is an important new star and is growing fast. Mobile app when built appropriately can be more than an underdog to supplement your web marketing strategy.

To achieve this:

  • Go through your website’s existing web analytics data.
  • Study your customer database data.
  • Look at local Chinese external data from Aizhan.com, Baidu Data, Baidu Index, Iresearch, CNZZ and other Chinese market research sources.
  • Look at global external data from Alexa, Google Hot Searches, Hitwise and other sources.

Step 3: Design your website for your potential customers

With a typical e-commerce site, your customers would engage with pages:

  • Homepage: This page is the first impression to represent your brand and for new customers to get to know your products or services.
  • Landing pages (deep-link pages), including product category pages, and individual product pages: Whether visitors arrive at your deep-link pages directly from search engines or through the homepage, these pages present the list of your products or the thorough details of your products.
  • Conversion flow: Once a customer decides to buy from your site, he has to go through the purchase process (i.e. the pages in the conversion flow).

To achieve this, you may start with digging the appropriate data using Google Analytics (assume your site has Google Analytics set up) and focus on reports including:

  • Visitors Flow
  • All Pages report
  • Landing Pages report
  • Content Drilldown report
  • Site Speed
  • In-Page Analytics
  • Funnel Visualization (Goal)
  • Goal Flow
  • Multi-Channel Funnels

Step 4: Design your customer relationship program (CRM) for your potential customers

Typically, you may have to spend 3-8 times more effort acquiring a new customer than simply keeping an existing customer satisfied. It’s important to regularly communicate with your existing customers, find out what they need and sell them what they want (need).

Newsletters via emails: A way to communicate the status update of your company, products, services and brand.

Promotions via emails: For example, communicate with your Chinese customers when your products or services offer discounts.

Loyalty program: With a customer retention program, you can roll out cashback, coupons, gifts, etc.

Mobile: Communicate to your Chinese customers about their loyalty program status, new promotions, and post-purchase information.

Customer care call center / service center: When your Chinese customers aren’t satisfied with your brand and may complain, you need a way for them to reach you (or for you to reach them), and solve their issues.

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Gordon  Choi

Gordon Choi is the co-founder of E-Bizcamp.com, a Shanghai-based firm specializing in data analytics and data integration solutions. Gordon also volunteers at Web Analytics Wednesday China, assisting in the conference and content operations, and volunteer recruitment. Gordon's previous experience includes leading in-house teams at Ctrip.com and Alibaba. His areas of expertise include strategy, solutions and workshops for multi-screen data integration and mobile SEO for the local Chinese market.  

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