If you’re an international company with headquarters based outside of China but are ambitious to push your products and services into the Chinese market, the first thing to do is to localize your Web marketing strategy.
1. Build a Local Website
Register a .cn domain for your website and consider using local Web-hosting providers in China.
Design your Chinese website not just by translating all the content and product names into the local language, but design your website to fit the Chinese user experience or expectations. For example, the Taobao website always has an attribute filter box on top of the product search list page.
2. Monitor Local Trends and News
Keeping track of local trends or the latest news is a good way to better understand local culture. Then you can decide what products or services to market and how, to whom, and where in China.
For example, Baidu has a Trends tool for you to find out how popular a search term is compared to two other terms, and the recent related news to the search term you enter.
3. Create Content in Local Language
Translating your English website into Chinese word by word is one method, but not the best way. Having content written in the local language and knowing the local slang can better engage users.
4. Leverage Traffic From Local Search Engines
When planning your search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search marketing for your Chinese website, take the local search engines Baidu, 360.cn (or So.com), and Sogou into consideration.
For SEO, the major local search engines do provide tools. Make good use of the data provided by Baidu’s webmaster tools. And make use of 360’s webmaster tools for XML sitemap submission.
5. Run Local Keyword Research
Users interact with search engines by submitting their intent by keywords or search terms. Use local keyword tools for keyword research and keyword suggestions. One keyword tool with great coverage is Baidu keyword suggestion tool and it’s available when you register a Baidu search marketing account.
6. Leverage Traffic From Local Yellow Pages
Hao12.com and 2345.com are just a few local yellow pages users have been using and for your brand to get into the markets of China’s second-, third-, and fourth-tier cities or towns.
7. Engage Users Through Local Social Media
Weibo was once the golden egg for social media and is an online broadcasting tool for outspoken users, even though its growth rate and active users have not been growing as fast as when the micro blog was first launched.
Weibo is a great channel to reach the younger generation in China. Most of them are not financially capable yet, but will become the next generation of big spenders.
8. Engage Users Through Local Mobile Marketing
WeChat’s user base has been growing rapidly only in recent years. Used correctly, WeChat can be a viral tool for product or brand recommendation among friends that are connected.
9. Build a Local Customer Care/Support Team
Your customer care/support team members should speak fluently in the local languages as well as work in the same time zone as your customers. Most Chinese consumers are impatient and would not wait on the answering machine or wait for hours for a simple answer or a service dispute.
10. Use Local Online Marketers, Web Analysts, Content Writers, and/or Translators
Having local inhabitants to guide you in a foreign market like China is always important. To operate on local search engines, yellow pages, social networks, and mobile marketing, you will require the ongoing effort of the local Internet marketing team including search engine marketers, SEO professionals, social media specialists, content writers, translators, mobile marketers, Web designers, product specialists, and Web analysts.